Pictured are John Ledingham, left, and Arthur Stockwin, following last night's talk at the Methodist Church.
Arthur brought along the letters he found after his mother's death, still in the Fuller's box where she kept them. He also brought family photographs and a long photograph of part of the Front. Hearing some of the letters it was hard to believe they were written almost a hundred years ago - they are so fresh and the relationship that develops between the young couple is so vivid.
John somehow managed to reduce over 250 pages of letters to a twenty-minute summary, quoting brief extracts as illustration. The book itself represents only about a quarter of the letters between Gerard Garvin and his parents. I can't think when I have read a more moving collection of letters. They give a fascinating picture of life in England during the war: Gerard's mother kept him supplied with food and clothes - he sent his washing home weekly and in one of his final letters he says, '...can you send me some Tiptree, or some of Beach's Farm, which I'm told is as good, and a folding knife, fork and spoon. Please don't send many sweets because I don't eat them much now.' The letters from his parents survive because Gerard packed them up and sent them all home just before he died. He also wrote a final letter of farewell shortly before the final battle. His reading list while at the front is extraordinary - Moliere, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Thucydides - a full list is at the end of the book. He was clearly a very clever and very well educated boy. A year after his son's death, J L Garvin visited the Somme and saw where Gerard had been killed. Afterwards he wrote about the battlefield in the Observer (he was the editor): 'Here are poppies, deep cornflower, wild mustard, thyme and the rest...The spirit of earth is weaving patterns of bright wonders and robing our dead as kings.'
I am so glad we were able to rearrange this talk and very grateful to John and Arthur.
Welcome to The Woodstock Bookshop
The shop opened in May 2008 and is on the main road in Woodstock, just next to the bus stop. We can supply most books to order by the next day and have several thousand books in stock: to order books ring or email the shop. We have a large selection of children's books and are happy to advise and recommend. We can also supply second-hand and out-of-print titles. We offer discounts for school orders and for book clubs and have a free local delivery service.
We were on the regional shortlist for Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2009, 2013 and 2017, and listed in the recent Independent's Top 50 UK Bookshops.
Two monthly book groups take place at the bookshop - a poetry group, initially formed to read collections submitted for the annual T S Eliot Prize and now following a slightly wider brief; and a book group focusing more on fiction. Both are open to everyone but occasionally space is limited - please contact us for details.
We hold a series of informal talks and readings throughout the year. If you buy any book at the talk the cost of the ticket will be deducted. Please ring or email to book a place - early booking advisable.
The Woodstock Literature Society also holds an excellent series of monthly talks - do visit their website for further details.