Continuing on with my bookshop challenge, this week I finally made it to one of the ones on my list of those I really want to visit this year, Much Ado Books in Alfriston, East Sussex. I’ve read a lot about the bookshop over the last year or so and knew I wanted to see it, it has a great reputation so I was genuinely excited about it. It is award winning after all!
Alfriston is the prettiest of villages, as a lot of East Sussex villages tend to be, and it became immediately apparent that this was a tourist location. The village is nestled at the foot of the South Downs and there were a lot of walkers in town. The parking was excellent though, and free, more’s to the point!
Much Ado Books wasn’t difficult to find, it has a large gate and sign out onto the main road. When you enter through the gate you come into a little covered area where they have put a number of book cupboards containing lots of second hand books, there’s a date night box on the table in the middle and the most marvellous tree decoration. Straight away I felt that this place was something special.
Walking out into the garden of the shop, yes the garden of the shop, I saw lovely areas to sit as well as chickens and a shepherds hut with more second hand books in. Man that shepherds hut smelled good, all woody!
Continuing up the path you come to a large building of which the ground floor is the new book part of the shop. It was truly magnificent and literally brought tears to my eyes. This was a beautifully set out bookshop, so neat and tidy and colourful and well thought out. There were book reviews with the books, cut out from the newspaper. I felt like the bookshop owner was letting me personally know that they sold the good books. And not only did they sell good books but they sold you nice copies of them.
I was so pleased to find Susan Hill’s book “Jacob’s Room is Full of Books” in hard back with dust jacket. I have been wanting to buy this for a while, since reading “Howards End is on the Landing”,
which I loved. But I only ever see paperback versions of it and I leave them. So seeing this magnificent copy just meant it got bought.
They had a lovely display on Frida Kahlo and I suddenly realised I just had to read about her! At the desk when I was paying the man told me that they could open a bookshop dedicated to her, she suddenly seemed really popular whereas last year no-one seemed to buy them. I blamed him entirely and told him it was because his display was so good, I wouldn’t have bought the book but for the display!
They had a nice selection of Murakami books who I’ve been meaning to read for ages but never got round to but, again, the lovely hard back dust jacketed book wasn’t being left!
And in the Shepherds Hut I found an autobiography of G K Chesterton, who wrote Father Brown, that piqued my interest.
After shopping my little heart out I walked around the pretty village of Alfriston which has the original The Steamer Trader Cookshop
Surrounded by hills and with sweet little tea shops littered along the High Street this is a delightful village with a beautiful bookshop at the heart of it. I really couldn’t recommend the bookshop more highly, so beautifully set out, a real labour of love quite clearly. And worth it because I am totally in love! I wish I lived nearer, I think I would move in!!!