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Our Spoons Came From Woolworths: A Virago Modern Classic (Virago Modern Classics) by [Comyns, Barbara]
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Our Spoons Came From Woolworths: A Virago Modern Classic (Virago Modern Classics) Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Length: 209 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled
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Review

"I defy anyone to read the opening pages and not to be drawn in, as I was . . . Quite simply, Comyns writes like no one else" --Maggie O'Farrell
"Comyns's world is weird and wonderful ... there's also something uniquely original about her voice. Tragic, comic and completely bonkers all in one, I'd go as far as to call her something of a neglected genius." --Lucy Scholes, "The Observer"
"A second glance, in the first person, at a very young marriage and the years of haphazard irresponsibility and even downright poverty which were to follow, in which some sordid circumstances are lightened by a commentary which has a childlike charm, an apt precocity." --"Kirkus Reviews"
"Comyn's voice has childlike qualities; she looks at everything in the world as though seeing it for the first time. In later books, though, her narrators' naivety is deployed in order to provoke horror; the gap between what the reader knows and the narrator doesn't serves to make the reader fascinated and fearful." --Emily Gould, "The Awl""

"A Depression-era artist struggles with crippling poverty and sexism in bohemian London; the result is a surprisingly charming and funny novel...Much of the story revolves around issues of reproduction, housework, and economic opportunity that contemporary feminists would see as questions of justice. But Sophia narrates a story of fairy tale-like fatality, casting an amused, self-deprecating light on even the most painful moments." "Kirkus"starred review
"I defy anyone to read the opening pages and not to be drawn in, as I was . . . Quite simply, Comyns writes like no one else" --Maggie O'Farrell
"Comyns's world is weird and wonderful ... there's also something uniquely original about her voice. Tragic, comic and completely bonkers all in one, I'd go as far as to call her something of a neglected genius." --Lucy Scholes, "The Observer"
"A second glance, in the first person, at a very young marriage and the years of haphazard irresponsibility and even downright poverty which were to follow, in which some sordid circumstances are lightened by a commentary which has a childlike charm, an apt precocity." --"Kirkus Reviews"
"Comyn's voice has childlike qualities; she looks at everything in the world as though seeing it for the first time. In later books, though, her narrators' naivety is deployed in order to provoke horror; the gap between what the reader knows and the narrator doesn't serves to make the reader fascinated and fearful." --Emily Gould, "The Awl""

"Comyns's world is weird and wonderful ... there's also something uniquely original about her voice. Tragic, comic and completely bonkers all in one, I'd go as far as to call her something of a neglected genius." --Lucy Scholes, The Observer
"A Depression-era artist struggles with crippling poverty and sexism in bohemian London; the result is a surprisingly charming and funny novel...Much of the story revolves around issues of reproduction, housework, and economic opportunity that contemporary feminists would see as questions of justice. But Sophia narrates a story of fairy tale-like fatality, casting an amused, self-deprecating light on even the most painful moments." Kirkusstarred review
"A startling, immersive excavation of poor, young womanhood and marriage gone awry in 1930s London. Jane Yong Kim, BOMBmagazine
Our Spoons contains one of the best distillations of Comyns' peculiar style currently available stateside, and is essential for understanding her dark, delightful oeuvre...calculatedly meek, yet sharp enough to give you paper cuts. Amy Gentry, Chicago Tribune
Her capturing of youth is so fresh and accurate that nothing is lost in the passing of decades. There is a modern sensibility at play in her women and their experiences, their attitudes and reactions towards love and sex, marriage and having children...quietly startling...Comyns s skill is subtle and surprising...I felt both thrill and pride, and I expect as her work continues to be reissued this sense of finding a hidden gem will be shared by other readers, startled and attracted by her talent. Lauren Goldenberg, Music and Literature

A curious hybrid: a mixture of domestic disaster, social commentary, comedy, and romance...What I find so really excellent in this novel, in addition to Comyns s powers of description and the slow fuse of her comedy, is her ability to show the cold world and its indecencies without spelling everything out...Comyns is a virtuoso at portraying bad behavior...written beautifully, with dash and economy, and truly unique in [its] eccentric black comedy, whether grotesque or ineffably subtle. Katherine A. Powers, TheBarnes & Noble Review
"I defy anyone to read the opening pages and not to be drawn in, as I was . . . Quite simply, Comyns writes like no one else" --Maggie O'Farrell
"Comyn's voice has childlike qualities; she looks at everything in the world as though seeing it for the first time. In later books, though, her narrators' naivety is deployed in order to provoke horror; the gap between what the reader knows and the narrator doesn't serves to make the reader fascinated and fearful." --Emily Gould, The Awl"

Book Description

Barbara Comyns' delightful classic novel set in bohemian 1930s London, with a new introduction by Maggie O'Farrell.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1314 KB
  • Print Length: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (4 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CXU7HVK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #155,521 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

Top customer reviews

Format: Paperback
I have read this book a number of times since I was a teenager and just reread it in one delightful sitting yesterday. Comyns has a fantastic voice, and its hard to believe that the book isn't biographical. Set in Bohemian London in the Thirties, Sophia is a young woman married to artist Charles. The book sees her through poverty, pregnancy, and infedility though at all times is touching, humourous and historically interesting. One of the things I've always liked best about this book is the fact that is unchallenging and easy to read but is a genuinely excellent piece of English literature. I have read little of her other works, but what I have read I've also deeply enjoyed.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So many places we shared, I laught, I cried and I got cross. A really good read.
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By Jo D'Arcy VINE VOICE on 26 April 2015
Format: Paperback
The reason I bought this book is simply because of the title. Woolworths was a memory of my childhood, from being separated from my mum, to the pick and mix, to even remembering getting meat cut at the meat counter, it was where I bought my first single on cassette and where you went to buy your Easter eggs and Christmas chocolate. If you needed something you would find it in "Woolies".

As does Sophia, she got her spoons in Woolworths. Except this is not the mid-eighties but some fifty years earlier in the mid-thirties.

Sophia has embarked on a marriage and I fell in love with her voice as from the beginning she tells us how she fell in love with Charles, a painter and the life they embark on together. The trouble is although they are people within society, they have chosen to live a bohemian life rather away from the constraints and rules of normal society.

It is funny to begin with and you feel the adventure that Sophia is on as she tries to embrace marriage, motherhood and ultimate poverty whilst maintaining this façade that her life is in fact the way she would have chosen it and she is of course happy to anyone observing. We are chosen to observe but we can see that Sophia is not happy.

However, a number of events have a life changing effect on Sophia and she experiences some truly happy moments amongst the tragedy.

This book is a glimpse into the private life of the author, as there is some autobiographical parts to this story, but also a glimpse into society and how you were treated when you were outside of the social norms.

Sophia is full of dreams as is her husband Charles, who just seemed to be dreaming of himself all the time and had no care for anything else.
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Format: Paperback
First published in 1950 and set in the 1930s, Barbara Comyns' quirky, semi-autobiographical novel 'Our Spoons Came from Woolworths' focuses on the lovely Sophia, who is twenty years old and working in a commercial studio when she meets her future husband, Charles, a penniless easel painter. They marry as soon as Sophia is twenty-one, and move into rooms in a dilapidated London house costing twenty-five shillings a week and, as it is only Sophia who is bringing in any money, and only two pounds a week at that, they are naturally very hard-up. The limp and ineffectual Charles refuses to find a regular job and things become even more difficult when the naïve Sophia unexpectedly becomes pregnant - she tells us she thought birth control meant that 'if you controlled your mind and said "I won't have any babies" very hard, they most likely wouldn't come.' Charles, who is insensitive to everyone's needs other than his own, blames Sophia for the pregnancy and, when she becomes upset, tells her it's no use crying about it, and anyway perhaps she'll have a miscarriage. Sophia doesn't have a miscarriage, and her experience of giving birth and trying to bring up a child on very little money, whilst working as an artist's model, and doing all the shopping, cooking and cleaning, and then finding herself pregnant again, moves this story from what is initially a quirky and lighthearted tale of Bohemia to a novel with much deeper undertones.

Although from a middle-class background, Barbara Comyns' family situation was precarious; when she was fifteen her father died, leaving huge debts and her mother, who had been drinking steadily, had a breakdown.
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Format: Paperback
This starts off as a light hearted comic story about a rather eccentric bohemian couple marrying against the advice of their families, but swiftly becomes a poignant story of survival during the lean years of the early 1930's. Sophia's husband treats her with an offhand selfishness and cruelty which sadly rings true throughout. Each new degradation, caused largely by his refusal to 'lower' himself by seeking actual work, is recounted with the same matter of fact style that is used throughout the novel. You cannot help but empathise with Sophia, or to be grateful that this story really does have a happy ending. I'll be looking out more by Barbara Comyns after this experience.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This really was not my cup of tea.
I found it very difficult to read as I wasn't sure what style the writer was going in. In the end I told myself to read it as if it were a diary do that i could forgive the writers writing style. The storyline I found to be very boring and I didn't fall in love with any of the characters and by the end of it thought the leading lady deserved everything she got. It may be you sort if book and you'll think "what was she talking about?" But I had to force myself to finish it and even though it's really short it felt like I was reading War and Peace.
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