Borrowed from the Morrab

Borrowed from the Morrab

Every month, we plan to bring you a round-up, so that those who aren’t on Facebook can enjoy them too.

We always enjoy working with libraries, and the Morrab Library – in Morrab Gardens – has been a regular venue for our LitFest workshops over the past few years.

As some of you will have seen on Facebook, we are working with the Library to feature books with a Litfest link. These might be favourites of supporters or team members, or might be written by (or about) contributors, or might link to our theme for the year (2019, Borders: 2020, watch this space)

Our theme for 2020 is – Beakaway! And here is our final round-up (for now) of ‘Borrowed from the Morrab’

Victorian Country Parsons by Brenda Colloms

Is it possible to be nostalgic for something that one has never experienced first hand? The life of the 19th century rural parson has always appealed to me, and this volume confirms the said ‘nostalgia’: if there is a better word, I hope that Litfest regulars will help me to find it. The book floats along in nice little chunks – an ideal ‘dip-into’ escapist read. My favourites ? Dorset poet and friend of Thomas Hardy, William Barnes, Sabine Baring-Gould (of course), and it was also nice to know that Patrick Bronte was perhaps not quite so bad as he’s often made out to be. Relax. It’s the 19th century. Make allowances, and enjoy the vicarage garden… the book will be returned to the Theology Room upstairs on January 7th (LC)

Found Wanting by Robert Goddard

Usual theme; a quiet life completely disrupted with the main protagonist having to rise to lots of challenges. This is the first Robert Goddard novel I’ve read and it’s clear that he is very good at creating a cast of dubious characters, a fairly complex scenario and a narrative with lots of plot twists. Potentially this book is a page-turner but for me I had to make the effort to finish reading it. The author has written loads of similar books and perhaps I need to read a few more and become a fan. (JP)

Maestra by L. S. Hilton

The book has received lots of rave reviews when it was first published in 2016 with comments ranging from “delicious escapism “ to “a gripping thriller”. However, these reviews have all appeared in the paperback edition of the said novel and this reviewer had little time to research whether there is a broader spectrum of reviews which perhaps offer more and different opinions.
Anyway, there is plenty of graphic sex, violence, duplicity and fashion and this should keep a lot of readers happy. Judith, the central character, is essentially a beautiful female gold digger with a penchant for expensive clothes and disposing of anybody who gets in her way. Apparently this is the first part of a trilogy but, sadly, the Library doesn’t have the the two following tomes. There is also a suggestion that there was to be a movie of the books but whether it’s already happened and I’ve missed it or it’s never materialised needs further investigation. (JP)

Press Here by Annie Gurton

Subtitled “ managing the media for free publicity” this is a good primer for those without much experience in the press/public relations world. The author gives very clear definitions of the various roles operating in the broad arena we call the media although we can argue that things have changed since this book was published. We all know what a spin-doctor does but is an influencer a rebranding of the old public relations operative or is this a new creature in the neighbourhood? And how much has the digital world altered our perceptions? Perhaps this book could do with some updating but, nevertheless, is still a good read. (JP)

And from our previous round-ups:

Ever wondered what it’s like to work in the second-hand book trade? Well, you could quiz the Litfest team, who have a mole in the Oxfam shop – or you could settle down with this book – the latest of our recommendations via Facebook

Also recommended for November: “another book in the long saga of Jack Reacher, with guaranteed violence and some sexual references.” Not familiar with Reacher? He is “an ex-military policeman who drifts around the USA and in the process finds trouble wherever he goes,” and “grief and blood-letting” are to be expected. We are reliably informed that the book has been described as “morality pornography.” Is this a plus or a minus? Should we be approaching Child with a view to a Litfest appearance? Well, yes, that might be optimistic. But do let us know your thoughts.

d – and a whole pile more…

Following hot on the heels of Lee Child is Miles Goslett, with another tale of underhand skulduggery – only this time, it is – shockingly – a piece of non-fiction. The sad story of David Kelly – whose death has been blamed on the Blair’s government’s WMD claims and the subsequent Hutton Enquiry – has been updated for this paperback edition, so if you’ve read the hardback, it’s worth dropping into the Library to catch up on the latest instalment. Conspiracy theory or truth exposed and spoken to power? Again – you decide.

And finally, more non-fiction – if you’ve ever wanted to know more about early photography in Cornwall, this fascinating book by Charles Thomas – packed with facts and illustrations is a must

As always – please feel free to comment or contribute. Fuller write-ups on all these books are on our Facebook page – always worth a look at https://www.facebook.com/penzancelitfest

Sybil – Benjamin Disraeli

“A few years ago, my book group decided to read ‘Sybil or Two Nations’ by Benjamin Disraeli. It was first published in 1845 and was born out of Disraeli’s concern for the terrible conditions in which many working class people lived. It’s a roman à thèse – a novel with a thesis and Disraeli thought that it was important to tell people in the introduction that he was not exaggerating the deprivation he depicted within its pages.

“I wondered if the Morrab Library had a copy and the catalogue indicated there was one. We searched and eventually we found a three volume, leather bound edition tucked away on a top shelf. It was a first edition published by Henry Colburn in 1845. Clearly no one had borrowed it for many years although the pages were cut and it had definitely been read. Someone many years ago had thought this little book was important enough to add to the Library collection. The lives of many people in West Cornwall in 1845 were unbelievably tough and I hope those who read this particular copy of ‘Sybil’ in 1845 could relate it to the poverty they would have seen every day.

“It was a privilege to hold in my hands a book so freighted with history. At the book group meeting everyone else had modern paperback copies. I had an original. If you want to read it too – go on. It’s still there.”

Sybil, ready and waiting for its next reader


Folk in Cornwall – Rupert White

Bright elusive butterfly?

“Subtitled ‘Music and Musicians of the Sixties Revival’, this book is essentially the recollections of some of those who were active on the Cornish folk scene back then and complimented by the memories of friends and relatives of pivotal characters who are no longer with us. It’s interesting to note that at least three of the people mentioned in this book took part in the 2019 Penzance Literary Festival. In addition Brenda Wootton, a giant of the Cornish folk scene and beyond, is featured in the book and, coincidentally, her daughter talked about the biography she wrote of her mother at the same festival.

“The book is also about the clubs and venues – many of which have now disappeared. Times have certainly changed but the folk singers and singer-songwriters still populate pubs, clubs, festivals and open mic events across Cornwall.


“Another interesting element of the book is the so-called ‘beatnik threat’ which ruffled lots of feathers locally although in reality the beats we more into jazz. The folkies had longhair, didn’t have much money, often wore sandals and looked scruffy – and so, according to some of the local values of the time, they were a threat.

“This book is a taster – for the full menu, other books are available. Let us know your favourites!”

We have a new – related – section on our Facebook page: ‘What We Are Reading?’ Hope to see you there!


And finally…this one just speaks for itself.

We love the Morrab Library – and we also love the Acorn Bar. Cheers!

100 years ago – a ‘deplorable continuing stream of women in and out of the public houses.’ Some things never change…

If you would like to contribute to this feature and our Facebook page, please send us a message – info@pzlitfest.co.uk.