One good thing and one rather disturbing one

I tried to buy a book for a friend in the US from today – the book itself cost $15 which works out as £9 and change at the current exchange rate. I asked for Super Saver Delivery. because there is still time.

And they wanted to charge me £27 – the book was going to be £15 of that which means they were ignoring the exchange rate, but they were slapping me with quite staggering postage and packing charges (it’s an ordinary-sized book) and some sort of surcharge. WTF?

Is there some new US law about foreign money that no-one told us about? Or has’s computer gone into meltdown?

I certainly shan’t be buying from them any time soon.

Meanwhile, I have to work out how to send my friend this peculiarly appropriate book…


And in other news, go and see Bright Star and take tissues with you. I saw it with ephemerita and we both cried buckets and so did most of the cinema.

For those people who don’t know, it’s the Jane Campion film about the last years of Keats, during which he wrote the Odes and ‘St. Agnes Eve’ and most of the stuff he is actually remembered for. He met Fanny Brawne and they fell in love, but he was too poor to marry, and was dying, and eventually went off to Italy for his health, and died. She never forgot him, even though she married and had children – and she kept his letters, most of which we have, along with her correspondence with his sister.

I have never seen grief so fabulously conveyed on film as in the scene where Abbie Cornish as Fanny hears of his death; I felt almost indecent watching it.

Some of the film is amazingly manipulative, but effectively so – Keats’ friend Brown is shown as a sexist clot whose own feelings for Keats are pretty intense, which explains his preventing her visits to Keats when the poet was ill better than lectures on medical ideas could. The simple closing credits have Ben Wishup recite the Nightingale ode over a vocal arrangement of the adagio from the Mozart 13 wind instrument serenade which has pervaded the film.

One of the best and most serious things I have seen in ages – and, in the way it takes Fanny’s fascination with fashion and sewing seriously, a film where feminism enables us to dispense with all the sexist nonsense of Victorian critics who thought Fanny an unworthy object of a great poet’s devotion.

It’s fabulous.


About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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14 Responses to One good thing and one rather disturbing one

  1. fjm says:

    There has indeed been a change in US postal law. It has hammered the magazines and Amazon is also one of the losers. We’ve stopped using .com.

    • the_magician says:

      I concur … in fact two changes, one for printed matter, the other is that there is basically no “surface” post anymore, everything gets charged as airmail. At least, that’s what I’ve had an American friend tell me …

    • I think is offering free shipping not just in UK but also in US now. offers free shipping within UK and Europe.

      For alternatives to The .Com

    • time_freak says:

      You have to spend $25 in the total order to qualify for super saver shipping. So it will actually work out cheaper if you find something extra for $10 to send this person in the same package.

  2. When you’ve brought up the entry for the book you want, try replacing the “.com” in the URL with “” and see whether you can get the book through . It often works for me.

  3. badger says:

    I have to work out how to send my friend this peculiarly appropriate book…
    Ask a US-based friend to order the book as a gift to your friend (assuming the shipping charges are better for them), and reimburse them using Paypal?

  4. rozkaveney says:

    What none of this explains is the pound for dollar exchange rate, of course.

  5. calimac says:

    Considering how few years Keats had, the term “the last years of Keats” is particularly poignant.

    • rozkaveney says:

      I’ve always imagined someone tactlessly introducing Keats to Schubert in Heaven, and Schubert moaning about dying at 31, and Keats going ‘jammy bastard’. On the other hand, Arriaga died at 19 or something.

      What’s the youngest age at which anyone has written or painted anything of note and then died? My guess is that among composers, Arriaga holds the record over Lekeu and Lily Boulanger, but there maybe some Baroque composer I don’t know about.

      • cmcmck says:

        Carl Maria von Weber died tragically young as did Samuel Coleridge Taylor. Poetry wise, there’s Thomas Chatterton and John Clare. Art wise- Aubrey Beardsley. Isabella Beaton of cookery book fame also died very young.

        On the other hand there’s someone like the composer Alan Hovhaness who lived well into his nineties and produced well over a hundred symphonies, the poet Joseph Leftwich (a contemporary and friend of Isaac Rosenberg) who lived and wrote into his nineties or the artist and Kz survivor Zoran Music who lived to be almost a hundred and painted on until the end!

  6. x_mass says:

    another option is to try forwarders like

  7. I would seriously complain to Amazon’s customer service. Though, not sure where you were shipping it, but they charge exchange rates and tax based on where the shipping address is.

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