Ask the book buyer about discovering more about Norwich and Norfolk
I’ve recently moved to Norwich and starting afresh in a new city is exciting but can be daunting, so here are some of the books that have helped me discover more about this fine city, says Jarrold book buyer Holly Ainley.
This fortnight I’ve been thinking about what it means to be an incomer; to be, as the dictionary defines it, ‘a person who has come to live in an area in which they have not grown up’. I have only recently moved to Norwich – to Norfolk, in fact – and though I didn’t grow up in the city I moved from either, I had been there over a decade and so had a decent understanding of the community, the area and its history. Now, I’m starting afresh.
Part of the experience of being an incomer is starting to piece together the story of where you live, through conversation, new encounters and, if you’re lucky enough to have a local history section as abundant as we do at Jarrold, through books!
So here are some of the books that have helped me begin to learn about the rich history and heritage of this fine city and this beguiling county; from ancient times, to medieval, to the inspiration it provides today. For fellow incomers and for lifelong residents alike, these books shine a light on a very distinctive place.
Time Song: Searching for Doggerland
In 2015 Julia Blackburn won both the biography category and ‘book of the year’ prizes at the EDP/Jarrold East Anglian Book Awards, for her biography of Norfolk fisherman, artist and embroiderer, John Craske.
Her new book, Time Song, is an absorbing, utterly original work investigating Doggerland, an area of country that once connected the east coast of England with mainland Europe until it was finally submerged by rising sea levels around 5000 BC. Blackburn interweaves history with memoir, through a medley of interview, poetry, images and research. Fragments from her life are combined with a series of eighteen ‘songs’ and stories about the places and the people she meets in her quest to get closer to an understanding of Doggerland. A unique reading experience.
The Welcome Stranger: Dutch, Walloon and Huguenot incomers to Norwich 1550-1750
Strangers Coffee House on Pottergate, run by the local independent coffee company of the same name, has quickly become a favourite of mine, so I was intrigued to learn that its moniker holds vital significance to the story of Norwich and its community. Those of you who are local will know that ‘Strangers’ was the name given to the many incomers to the city from Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
In this fascinating, detailed book, esteemed local author and historian Frank Meeres delves into the history of these people, where they came from, how they lived and the legacy they left on the city and on families who can claim ‘Stranger’ ancestors. The perfect accompaniment to a coffee at the aforementioned café!
The Medieval Churches of the City of Norwich
Norwich Heart and East Publishing
First published in 2010, this definitive, beautifully-produced guide to the city’s medieval churches has been out of print for years so I was particularly delighted to be approached with an offer to stock the only remaining copies you’ll find in the city.
Like most newcomers, I’ve been struck by the profusion of churches in the city and this guide, with both new photographs and archival material, offers a detailed history of each, celebrating their architecture, historical relevance and cultural contribution. There are rumours that a new edition will be published in the next year but for now, I highly recommend snapping up a copy of this one and setting off for a self-guided tour!
The Stone Circle
£18.99 (Jarrold price £14.99)
One of the first books I was recommended by my colleagues in the book department was the addictive, Norfolk-set crime series by Elly Griffiths featuring witty, lovable series character, archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway. Ruth lives in a remote cottage on the North Norfolk coast and after being called on by the police to help identify human bones found on the saltmarshes, now regularly assists on new and historic murder cases.
I am probably preaching to the converted by recommending this book (the books are all bestsellers for us) but it really is the perfect mix of mystery, intrigue, a smattering of romance and stories that interweaves Norfolk’s rich archaeological history. This, the eleventh in the series, is true to form, with another difficult case, a continuation of the tangled romance between Ruth and DCI Harry Nelson and plenty of references to the county and its heritage.
Meet the Jarrold book buyer
Holly Ainley started her career in bookselling at an indepdenent bookshop in Brighton, since then she has worked as a literary scout and has worked in publishing as an editor. Here at Jarrold Holly brings an understanding of books and publishing from a variety of perspectives and she cannot wait to meet you to help make finding your next perfect read a magical experience. Holly and her team are available instore to help with all your book buying needs, so pop in, browse and say hello!
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