Sunday, August 3, 2014

Four book reviews

From its foil-stamped jacket, embossed and gilded buckram cover boards, its moving tribute by his friend Muriel, the book about David Collins, ABDCS: David Collins Studio, is, as Muriel might say in one of her more Brit moments, "Brill!" The publisher, Assouline, as befits the work of this uncommonly talented architect and designer who died last year at the age of 58, has done a handsome  job with this book  by allowing the work to speak for itself across full-page and double-page spreads with little text – short paragraphs by Collins that have none of the usual philosophizing guff that all-too frequently gets spouted these days.

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 TrilogyThe 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. 


  1. OMG! Lori Rush taught me too! Will have to get the book!

  2. Dean, thank you. Lori Rush never taught me but I know her slightly through ASID. Oddly enough, we have never met socially. I think the book is worth having.