The shop was opened by a local, Joanna Virgin, in partnership with Polly Jaffé and Patrick Neale who have a thriving bookshop of the same name in Chipping Norton. Joanna grew up in the Cotswolds and attended a local prep school, Kitebrook. Following university she worked at Waterstones and then at HarperCollins Publishers before going to work in the book trade in New York. Joanna returned to settle in the Cotswolds with her husband and children and taught at various schools in the vicinity.
A voracious reader, Joanna’s passion and knowledge of literature is evident in the broad and varied selection of books on the shelves and her enthusiastic ability to make insightful recommendations. Unlike the staple high street bookshop, Jaffé and Neale offers a colourful variety of titles with many little gems to be found alongside more mainstream authors.
From the outside, the shop looks deceptively small and quaint. Do not be fooled: once inside you will be drawn into the stylish interior. Oak shelves, designed as scaffolding, line the walls creating a cool, contemporary look. A long room leads to the back of the shop, which opens into a lovely light and airy space. Large tables, comfortable armchairs and free wi-fi encourage visitors to sit, relax and read. Proper coffee and a selection of delicious home-made cakes make this irresistible.
But Jaffé and Neale is more than a bookshop - its thriving book club brings the local community together once a month, to discuss an array of fiction and non-fiction titles, with a glass of wine thrown in for good measure. In addition, Joanna is determined to create a convivial forum for cultural expression and to this end she has organised a number of exciting events at the shop. Luring famous authors out to the sticks is not an easy feat, but since opening last November Jaffé and Neale has hosted a multitude of famous names, including Eastenders actress and Celebrity Masterchef winner, Lisa Faulkner, Heart FM DJ and children’s author Matt Brown, champion jockey Declan Murphy and the pioneering grief counsellor, Julia Samuel CBE, and there are more events in the pipeline.
Even if you’ve nothing else planned, it’s worth making the trip to Stow simply to go to Jaffé and Neale.
For further information visit their website www.jaffeandneale.co.uk or call 01451 832000.