Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sweet Somethings

Are you looking for the perfect little something to give your literary friends? You know, the ones with their noses in a book? You might describe them as having a romantic sensibility. They are the ones who  want to dress like a Nancy Mitford heroine or read poetry while walking in the English countryside. They would rather be on the misty English moors than sitting poolside. They see the romance and nostalgia in a garden and feel the magic of an old manor house. Whenever Scottish tartans and tweeds show up on the runways, they feel validated. They swoon over discovering an old edition by Colette and are always inviting you to author signings. Maybe you need a birthday present, hostess gift or just a little something to say you care. Here are some recent discoveries I have made. They are some very special "sweet somethings" I received for my birthday, as well as some other little treasures I have discovered while traveling this summer.

Well-Read Women, Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines by Samantha Hahn

Nora Ephron said, "Above all, be the heroine of your life." Here is a book that will inspire you to do just that. Clarissa Dalloway, Dorothea Brooke, and Nancy Drew are some of the literary heroines that are brought to life in beautiful watercolor portraits by the artist Samantha Hahn. Along side each illustration is an inspiring quote. These great women in literature have resided in our imaginations forever and this book reminds us why.

One hundred postcards, each with a different quote by Jane Austen. Other than their obvious purpose, they would also make great party favors. It would be fun to put one of these at each place setting for your next book club meeting. They would inspire some fascinating conversation!

Fictitious Dinners by Dinah Fried

This book gives us photographic interpretations of famous meals from contemporary and classic literature. My favorite is the Boeuf en Daube from the dinner party scene in To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. Along with a description of the scene from the book, the author tells us that Boeuf en Daube is a classic French stew made with beef braised in wine and herbes de Provence. She also tells us that To the Lighthouse was printed at Hogarth Press, the printing house in London that Woolf owned with her husband, Leonard Woof. And that the original dust jacket was illustrated by her sister, painter Vanessa Bell. You will love all the fascinating tidbits that come with each of these literary meals.

Walking Home, A Poet's Journey by Simon Armitage

 Simon Armitage is an award-winning poet who decided to walk the Pennine Way in England, ending up in the Yorkshire village where he was born. This book tells the story of that journey and explores how the traveling poet fares in the modern world. He walked for nineteen days and covered 256 miles, reading his poetry to those who wanted to listen. Part memoir and part travel guide, this book sounds perfect for the admirer of nature and poetry.

Living Life in Full Bloom by Elizabeth Murray

As a garden lover, I was intrigued by the title of this book. Not usually a fan of self-help books, I thought this one looked promising. The author offers us pathways and daily practices to deepen our passion, creativity and relationships. She divides the book into four personality archetypes -- Gardener, Artist, Lover, and Spirit-Weaver. This book promises to help us find the way to greater creativity and love for life. An invitation to live life "in full bloom" is hard to resist! 

Under The Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

Nancy Horan's new novel tells the passionate love story of the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson  and his American wife, Fanny. Apparently their story was quite an adventure, as exciting as any of Stevenson's own famous tales. He wrote the classics Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. I can't wait to read this new book by Nancy Horan as I know nothing about Robert Louis Stevenson's life. It would be fun to then read one of his books, maybe Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde

Diary Of A Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield

And finally, one of my favorite books has just been published by Persephone Books. Written in the 1930's, Diary Of A Provincial Lady is a comic masterpiece. Persephone books always come with a bookmark (shown above) that reflects the pattern chosen for each book's endpapers. In this case, the design is taken from the Harper and Brothers, New York cover of 1931. This edition is a beauty! 


  1. As a lady of romantic sensibility who walked in Cornwall and Devon this spring, I shall look for all of these books. I would like to read about RLS because he seems to have travelled everywhere like Jack London. I will put the Horan and Armitage books on hold at the library. Merci.

  2. I truly appreciate your uncovering such wonderful tid-bits. I love your perspective.

  3. Wonderful selection of books as always Sunday.Have just finished reading "Jane Austin's Guide to Modern Life's Dilemmas" by her great niece (great 5 times removed!) Rebecca Smith,enjoyable reading for our blissfully hot Summer in our wild orchard.

  4. Oh what delicious finds. I have already thought of several friends who might need gifting...myself included. You always have wonderful book suggestions! I hope your gardens are doing well this summer. Bonnie

  5. Oh, Sunday, what a scrumptious selection, all of which I ams rue would be a delight.

  6. Sunday, these are some excellent gifts! I love the post cards from Jane Austen! I have bookmarked this page for Christmas gift ideas, as it is never to soon to start on that.

    Have you read Fannie's LAst Supper by Christopher Kimball of Cooks Illustrated, magazine? It is a great book.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  7. What a wonderful selection. Particularly interested in "Fictitious Dishes" and "Well Read Women".