Monday, 10 December 2012

Introducing: my North African correspondent

Liverpool Lou is a creature of many talents; she's a real creative whirl. From perfectly executed make-up artistry, star-turns on the stage and creating home interiors accessories using perfect stitchery, to being an all-round great friend - she has it all.

She has recently done me a huge disservice by moving thousands of miles away to live an ex-pat life of intrigue and adventure amongst the souks and spices of Marrakech. As a form of absolution, she's agreed to give me regular blog posts on her literary loves and loathes, being a voracious reader with an eye for style and substance. I imagine her reclining on a tiled rooftop, lounging on cushions, whilst reading her latest volume of choice, donning a beautifully printed kaftan, channelling something of a Talitha Getty look.

{Talitha Getty photographed in Marrakech by Patrick Lichfield}

She's managed to drag herself away from the roof-top jacuzzis, cocktails on the panoramic terrace and haggling for leather goods long enough to give us her first instalment. Hope you enjoy: think you're going to love her posts.

A Novel Noel

If I am ever stuck for a present idea, I will often turn to Waterstones for a solution. The humble and wonderful book is sometimes sadly considered to be a “boring” gift. Well, I say there is one out there for everyone. You want something personal? Check. Beautiful? That can be done. Not too pricey? Absolutely. If you give it some consideration, even the most hardened non-reader can be satisfied. I have picked a few “classics” here, but classics which look particularly gorgeous. This week, I propose that you judge a book by its cover. Gasp.

{£8.99 from Penguin Books}

People either love it or hate it. I love it. Old fashioned English upper class life, plenty of wit and a twist of sadness. I cannot relate to the characters’ way of life at all but their feelings, wants and needs are all too familiar to anyone with a shred of humanity. And it is so funny. Love the pink on this edition - would make a good nail polish colour.

{£12.99 from Penguin Books}

The dear, sweet, ever-positive Candide has his optimism levels tested beyond his imagination in this faux naïve novella. The utterly, shamelessly sarcastic tone is hilarious. This is the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition which is particularly easy on the eye. (All of the lucky books in that series are bestowed with beautifully illustrated covers.)

{£6.93 from The Book Depository}

The classic cover of the classic novel. That blue! Those eyes. Perhaps someone you know will be inspired by the forthcoming (and amazing-looking) Baz Luhrmann take on this – get them the book. I’ll leave my love of the Luhrmann for another post, maybe.

{£8.08 from The Book Depository}

This is the edition I borrowed from the library where I work just a couple of months ago – I suspect it may only be available in the USA but to be honest there are so many gorgeous versions of this excellently witty little satire you may be spoilt for choice. It is certainly comparable to Gatsby – decadent and carefree Bright Young Things career around at parties only to eventually realise the emptiness and meaninglessness of their lives. (All the same, I would still like to spend perhaps a just couple of months doing nothing but flying from one party to the next, wearing beads and feathers – or sometimes a bit of Saville Row tailoring and a top hat? – knocking back gin fizzes and telling everyone it’s all just too shame-making, darling.) I should have lived in the jazz age.

Now all you need to do is write an inscription which will mean your offering will be that bit more personal and treasured forever (even if it doesn’t actually get read).

Love Liverpool Lou x.

*Note from the Editor: just found this hardback series of F. Scott Fitzgerald books, published to celebrate the 70th anniversary of his death, with beautiful covers by Coralie Bickford-Smith. With beautiful art-deco patterned foil jackets and matching bookmarks, these classics of literature would be perfect for your flapper-loving, jazz-age obsessive like Liverpool Lou.

{anniversary edition by Penguin Classics}


  1. Oooh, Ed, what a find. Yes, this jazz age obsessive certainly would love a copy like that. Better get back to my rooftop lounging now...

    1. They do a whole series of them - the covers are all just gorgeous - would make any bookshelf look decidedly glamorous.

    2. Jonesy - a little something I found which I think you're going to love: The Book Cover Archive