Friday, September 26, 2014

A Little London Magic

St. James Park

 I am just getting back from a wonderful trip to England. Autumn arrived while we were there, though everyone thought it felt more like Indian summer. The weather was beautiful --  sparkling sunshine and blue skies. Once I catch my breath, I will write more about the trip. But here are a few highlights from bustling London: 

 Anne Boleyn crowned as queen in "Wolf Hall"
Photo via here

A performance of the breathtaking "Wolf Hall," the play based on Hillary Mantel's gripping novel about Thomas Cromwell. The drama starts out with a glittering court dance and rapidly descends into strategic plotting in dark castles. Thomas Cromwell is at the center of things as he tries to help the King get out of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon so he can marry Anne Boleyn. We watch as Cromwell rises to power and his mentor Cardinal Wolsey sinks into disgrace. Do you remember the actor Nathaniel Parker who played Inspector Lynley on the television series of the same name? He stars as King Henry VIII and is fantastic in the role. Ben Miles who plays Cromwell is also excellent. He is in every scene and you can't take your eyes off of him. Just as the novel did, this play makes history live and breathe.

 Tower of London

   The art installation at The Tower of London to commemorate 100 years since World War I. The red ceramic poppies represent fallen British soldiers and have been added every day since August. By November the moat will be full. It was a poignant sight to behold.

Tower Bridge

A walk across Tower bridge on a beautiful day is always a treat

Peter Harrington Rare Books

A visit to the lovely Peter Harrington Rare Books was a reminder of the beauty of books. I have never seen so many beautiful editions of favorite books in one place. This visit resulted in an exciting purchase: the five volumes of "The Diary of Virginia Woolf." It will be fun to find the perfect bookshelf for these.

St. Mawes, Corwall

And then there was Cornwall...

It was easy to conjure up a Daphne du Maurier novel during our first walk into the little seaside village of St. Mawes on a breezy, sparkling morning. The seagulls were cawing as we walked along the cottage-lined road that leads into the village. The boat-filled harbour was in the distance and the water was just beginning to catch a few glints of sunshine. A dreamy, enchanting place. I bought a few novels set in this beautiful part of England which I am now reading. Can't wait to do a blog post on all the books I bought on this trip! And more on London, Cornwall, Devon, and the Cotswolds. To be continued...   

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ready for Fall

September, 2012

Every year at about this time I start to get excited for fall and begin to anticipate the upcoming season -- the weather, the clothes, the food, the colors, the holidays. I am ready for fall. Do you feel this way? Here in Los Angles the heat is intense but I am dreaming of a chill in the air, cozy sweaters, autumn leaves, and fires in the fireplace. It all sounds heavenly right now. Fortunately the September issues of many magazines are out and there are some very exciting things coming up. Here are a few that have got my heart racing...


"The Imitation Game" starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Photo via here

Benedict Cumberbatch seem to be everywhere these days. In the film The Imitation Game he plays Alan Turning, the English mathematician who helped crack Nazi Germany's Enigma Code during World War II.  On the heels of his great role as Sherlock Holmes, he is once again playing a brilliant problem solver. Perfect casting. I can't wait to see this one.


Photo via here

Fall and new books just seem to go together. Here are a few that sound very intriguing:


Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Everyone in the book world is excited about a new book by Marilynne Robinson. This is the third in her much-praised Gilead trilogy.

The Dog by Joseph O'Neil
I loved Netherland by Joseph O'Neil. His latest book is about a New Yorker who moves to Dubai to escape his problems and finds himself strangely at home. If it's anything like "Netherland," it will be filled with beautiful writing, witty insights and sharp commentary about the modern world.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel
After wowing the literary world by winning the Booker Prize two years in a row -- for "Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up the Bodies" -- Hilary Mantel has written a collection of contemporary short stories.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan
This new novel by Ian McEwan (one of my favorite writers) is about a prominent London judge who faces the ruling of her career. The case is about people using religion to refuse medical care for their children and the life of an exceptional teenage boy hangs in the balance. This one sounds so good!  


Photo via here

Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi is the owner of Ottolenghi restaurants in London and also a cookbook author. His book Jerusalem was one of the most popular cookbooks in recent years. Filled with fabulous middle eastern recipes, it is a must for the creative cook. His newest book "Plenty More" is a sequel to "Plenty," which was filled with delicious and beautiful recipes for vegetables.

Make It Ahead by Ina Garten
A new book by Ina Garten is always an occasion. After all these years, she is still my go-to in the kitchen. I have purchased my ticket for her book tour in November. I went two years ago when she was promoting her earlier book "Foolproof" and she was fabulous! In person she is elegant, very funny, and always down-to-earth.

Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from Our Kitchen by Zoe Nathan
Zoe Nathan is a celebrity of sorts here in Los Angeles. She is a young baker who has three very popular cafe/restaurants in Santa Monica and has just come out with a cookbook. People are very excited about this. She is one of the many amazing young women in Los Angeles who have developed successful businesses and continue to inspire all of us!

Photo via here

A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse by Mimi Thorisson
Mimi Thorisson is the creator of the beautiful blog Manger. She lives with her family on a farm in Bordeaux where she cooks and entertains with great flair. She shares her recipes and life style on her blog. Her new book "A Kitchen in France" is divided into four seasonal chapters and is part cookbook, part memoir. This book promises to be a beauty!


Natalie Massenet's house in London
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The design magazines at this time of the year often feature inviting and cozy interiors. Fall is a favorite time for nesting and I love the idea of warming up a house with a little touch of red. Did you see this piece in Architectural Digest on Natalie Massenet's house in London? She is the founder of Net-A-Porter. The red chairs in her dining room/library are a perfect touch. And don't you love a dining room filled with books? Go here to read more.


This is a popular time of year for lectures and book signings. I can never get enough of UCLA Professor Charles Batten's lectures and beginning in September he will be giving a fascinating series of talks on the subject "Caught in the Act." Each of the novels in this series presents "the mysterious relations of moral choice and circumstantial compulsion, of will and fate, in the lives of its characters." Our first book is "The Picture of Dorian Gray." The others are: "Lord Jim" by Joseph Conrad, "Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton, and "The Ambassadors" by Henry James. Go here to find out more. As a side note, I just finished "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt and think it definitely falls into this category!


Swan Lake
Photo via here

The Australian Ballet will be bringing their groundbreaking production of "Swan Lake "to Los Angeles this fall. The original production starred Rudolf Nureyev and Margo Fonteyn and played at The Music Center over fifty years ago. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Music Center at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and to celebrate their big 50th they are bringing back this critically acclaimed production. I already have my ticket to this one!


Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at the Tate Modern in London
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Probably the art exhibition I am most excited to see this fall is Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MOMA.  It originated at the Tate Modern and is opening in New York in October. In the 1940's, Matisse turned exclusively to cut paper as his primary medium. He cut painted sheets into forms of different sizes and shapes and arranged them into compositions. This was a blockbuster show at the Tate. I hope to make it to New York to see this one.


The play Wolf Hall in London
Photo via here

If you can get to London this fall, the theatrical offerings are incredible. Hilary Mantel's books Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies seem to have taken over the London stage. They have been turned into plays and are now running at the Aldwych Theatre on alternating night. They are so popular that the run has been extended -- through October 4.

Happy September!

By the way, have you read The Secret History by Donna Tartt? What an excellent book! I loved it.