Sunday, December 9, 2007

Review: Sixpence House

Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins

Summary: An account of Collins' attempt at moving his family to Hay-on-Wye a small Welsh town with 40 antiquarian bookstores (and not much else).

My thoughts: While the town of Hay sounds like a book-lover's dream vacation destination and Collins has a pretty good sense of humour, the point of this book was rather lost on me. Collins and his wife decide they can't afford to live in San Francisco any more and are craving a rural setting so they move not to a small town in the US, but across the Atlantic to Wales (with their baby son and hundreds upon hundreds of their own books). They'd visited Hay on vacation and liked it, so they try their hand at living there. But the town is a bit too weird and they can't find an affordable, non-deathtrap house, so they come back (apparently to live in a small town in Oregon or Vermont, which would have made sense in the first place). They don't even live in the titular Sixpence House, they just try to buy it before realizing it's a deathtrap. Collins peppers the book with passages from obscure books that he finds in Hay and there are some interesting characters in the townsfolk (particularly Richard Booth, the "King of Hay," who turned it into a bibliophile's mecca), but overall, I didn't find it particularly gripping. I'd certainly like to visit Hay some day, though!


Anonymous said...

Too bad it wasn't that good - the book cover is really cool though.

Sam Sattler said...

Hay is indeed a book fiend's idea of paradise but, as I found out when I moved back to Houston from London, I spent more on shipping the books bought there than then what I paid for them in the first place.

I agree with you about the book. I found it to be a big let down and probably would have given up on it if I had not been a bit familiar with Hay and curious about his impressions.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Stephanie - it wasn't a fling-it-across-the-room type book or anything, just kind of...meh.

Sam - I can believe it!! I should probably not go to Hay for that exact reason! I'm glad I wasn't the only one who found it a bit of a letdown. I really did *want* to like it...