The English Bookshop

Driving back to St Antonin Noble Val last week to re-stock and prepare the bookshop for another season, I was reminded of just how seldom it is that an idea matches up to the reality. Owning a bookshop is one of those rare exceptions. The sentiment, so often expressed by friends and visitors who see it as an ideal life, plutonic even, something they would dearly like to do is validated by the fact that it is all of those things . The joy and the privilege of inhabiting this wonderful 13th century building and the enjoyment of meeting people still wanting to engage in reading stories carved from trees is all you could want it to be.
The town itself is medieval in feel and appearance and is soon to be the subject of a new film starring Helen Mirren film (‘The Hundred Foot Journey’). All of which, makes our decision to put the shop on the market very sad indeed. I have looked at various options: keeping it for those who love books and want to try their hand at it or those in the trade who want a busman’s holiday in a French town. I thought of setting it up as a writers’ retreat, possibly for New Zealand writers seeking some variation from the Katherine Mansfield house at Menton. Or for writers’ workshops, or the like. But the reality – our reality of needing to buy in England – cannot be ignored though I have tried hard to do so. Any thoughts, business plans or even offers welcome although, secretly, I won’t be too disappointed if it takes a while to sell!

By Peter Tait

A retired teacher and head for 17 years, now focusing on writing, both on education and further fiction and non-fiction (previously having published two novels and a non-fiction book on Thomas Hardy's wives and other women, a biography, poetry and numerous articles on education).

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