Darling Memories of Larkin


A recent arrival at the “Friend” offices stirs a memory for Angela.

In the “Friend” office we’re really lucky to be sent lots and lots of new books every week by publishers keen for us to feature them in the magazine.

Recently, a set of five slim paperbacks arrived in the post and made me feel both excited and nostalgic.

I first read the Larkin novels of H.E. Bates at high school and loved them immediately. They are consistently funny, sometimes charming and often anarchic.

I did NOT love the TV series starring David Jason and Catherine Zeta Jones, however, which to me gave a sugary sweet presentation of the stories and sanitised the gloriously subversive and chaotic characters of Pop and his family. But let’s not go into that!

Pop Larkin

Birthday celebrations

Incredibly, it’s 60 years since the first Larkin story, “The Darling Buds Of May”, was published, and to celebrate, publishers Penguin have released new editions of all five novels, with very pretty cover artwork by Becky Bettesworth (www.beckybettesworth.co.uk).

Their arrival on my desk prompted me to dig out my very own battered, much read copy from my bookshelf, an omnibus edition of all five books with cover artwork by the fabulous Beryl Cook.

While I love the prettiness of the new pastel covers, I have to say I prefer Beryl’s version, which fits more closely with my own mental image of the larger than life Larkins.

Which got me musing about book jackets in general . . . How often do you judge a book by its cover? Would a reader new to H.E. Bates form a different opinion if they discovered them beneath Penguin’s new covers instead of Beryl Cook’s? I have no answers – but they are fascinating questions!

Karlie Simmonds

Karlie has worked in Digital Media for over 10 years, she is passionate about health and wellbeing and lives in Edinburgh with her partner, children, and Pug, Poppy.