The book will look quietly glamorous on the coffee table, especially if left open at the double-page photograph of the Delaire Graff Estate, Stellenbosch, or even better on the knees as one looks with increasing astonishment at the beauty on every page.
The William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum is now closed but the catalogue, a hefty book, intellectually and physically, is still available. At over eight pounds in weight this book should be placed on a table of dining height to be dipped into time and time again.
The third book, House Proud: A Social History of Atlanta Interiors, 1880-1919, loaned to me by my old prof, is something of an exception for me, for, generally speaking, I'm uninterested in anything that happens locally. The book reads like an academic thesis – no bad thing – and one written by someone who enjoyed herself writing it. It also has a curiously old-fashioned feel due to the book designer's use of coated papers and a curly, turn of the twentieth century display font. Atlanta decorating at the end of the nineteenth-century and the early years of the twentieth-century was no different from that in the rest of the country and, judging by the plentiful black-and-white photographs of overstuffed interiors, as suffocating as it must have been in the years before air-conditioning was invented. This book, though, is more than a book about decorating (it's a social history, after all) because it places these houses and rooms in the period after Reconstruction when Atlanta began its long journey to enter the modern world.
Book four is actually book three of Deborah Harkness's The All Souls Trilogy – The Book of Life, a long-awaited work about magic, vampires, witches and daemons, time travel and all those other things that unite us, that has given me many an hour's enjoyment since I read the first book, A Discovery of Witches, three years ago. I'm one for re-reading and typical male, I suppose, I like a proper beginning, middle and ending, and lots of action within a credible, thus well-constructed universe. This trilogy has a proper ending that feels also like a new beginning in the sense of there could well be sequels.