Our Spoons Came from Woolworths

Barbara Comyns - Our Spoons Came From Woolworths - Little, Brown Book Group

Our Spoons Came from Woolworths

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  • Originally published in 1950, “Our Spoons Came From Woolworths” is the story of the marriage of two young artists in postwar London. They are talented, naive and very, very poor.

    Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns – I have been looking for a copy of this for ages and then on Wednesday afternoon there were not one but two editions at my favourite used bookstore! It doesn’t rain but it pours, I guess. Very happy to finally have this!

  • first discovered the brilliant but now all but forgotten novelist Barbara Comyns about 10 years ago when I came across an old Virago paperback of Our Spoons Came From Woolworths (1950), the story of 21-year-old Sophia and her husband Charles, struggling painters in bohemian 1930s London. Loosely based on Comyns's first, unhappy marriage, it's a story of poverty, unexpected (and often unwanted) babies, and a sad affair that tugs at your heartstrings despite its lack of sentimentality. As part of their acclaimed Modern series, Virago have reintroduced Comyns to another generation by reprinting Spoons, along with another two of her 11 novels – Sisters By a River (1947) and The Vet's Daughter (1959).

    Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns – I have been looking for a copy of this for ages and then on Wednesday afternoon there were not one but two editions at my favourite used bookstore! It doesn’t rain but it pours, I guess. Very happy to finally have this!

    Title: Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (Camden)
    Author(s): Barbara Comyns
    ISBN: 0-7540-4691-5 / 978-0-7540-4691-2 (UK edition)
    Publisher: Chivers Large print (Chivers, Windsor, Paragon & C
    Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

  • Title: Our Spoons Came From Woolworths: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)
    Author(s): Barbara Comyns
    ISBN: 1-84408-927-4 / 978-1-84408-927-7 (UK edition)
    Publisher: Virago
    Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

    Barbara Comyns’ novel Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (first published in 1950) has attracted considerable critical attention recently, much of it a consequence of reissues by various publishing houses of several Comyns novels – notably NYRB Classics in autumn 2015. Because it’s so easy to find online reviews with plot summaries, I’ll simply discuss here some features of the novel that seemed to me so remarkable.

Our Spoons Came from Woolworths | Literary Hub

Barbara Comyns (1909 1992) was born in Bidford-on-Avon, in the English county of Warwickshire, one of six children of an increasingly unsuccessful Birmingham brewer. Living on the run-down but romantic family estate and receiving her education from governesses, she began to write and illustrate stories at the age of ten. After her father s death, she attended art school in London and married a painter, with whom she had two children she supported by trading antiques and classic cars, modeling, breeding poodles, and renovating apartments. A second marriage, to Richard Comyns Carr, who worked in the Foreign Office, took place during World War II. Comyns wrote her first book, "Sisters by a River" (1947), a series of sketches based on her childhood, while living in the country to escape the Blitz, which is also when she made an initial sketch for "The Vet s Daughter" (available as an NYRB Classic). This, however, she put aside to complete "Our Spoons Came from Woolworths" (1950) and "Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead" (1954). "The Vet s Daughter "was published in 1959. Among Comyns s other books are the novels "The Skin Chairs" (1962) and "The Juniper Tree" (1985; forthcoming from NYRB Classics), and "Out of the Red into the Blue" (1960), a work of nonfiction about Spain, where she lived for eighteen years. Emily Gould is the author of the essay collection" And the Heart Says Whatever" and the novel "Friendship." She is the co-owner of Emily Books and lives in Brooklyn."