Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Books, Old Bookstores and a Festival for Book Lovers


If you happen to be in New York today or tomorrow (May 1 or 2), and you love books, head for the beautiful but recently shuttered storefront of Rizzoli Bookstore on 57th Street for a special final sale.

Although the facade has been boarded up since April 11 following an unsuccessful bid to save the building, the bookstore is holding an all-out sale from 11am to 7pm Thursday, May 1, and Friday, May 2, in which new design, architecture, art, fashion, and photography books will be discounted by 50%

It will also be a chance for Rizzoli lovers to say goodbye to this glorious place, the interior of which is the most beautiful bookstore in the world. 

Oh, Rizzoli, we will miss you.


Closer to home, the annual Clunes Booktown festival is approaching this weekend, May 3 and 4. Set in the historic old goldmining town where they filmed Max Mad, the festival offers a chance to pick up a huge range of gorgeous books, from vintage and new, for very low prices. I found a few Chanel books here for $10 - $20. And the architecture of this town (a well-kept secret) is worth a wander too. 



Those who love Paris and the tea salons of Maison Ladurée will adore a new book that details the interiors and inspiration behind each of these exquisitely outfitted cafes. 

From Madame Pompadour to the Empress Eugénie and Madeleine Castaing (whose former home is now, fittingly, a Ladurée), the book is a sumptuous look at both the decorating styles and the elegant details. Interior designers will love it. There's even a 3D pop-up/fold-out tea salon to amuse your inner girl. 

Decorating and Inspiration: Ladurée. Published by Chene. $49.


If you can't afford a vintage copy of Cecil Beaton's much-loved book The Glass of Fashion (above), which sells for $500, a new version is being being re-released soon by Rizzoli. The cover artwork is lovely – perhaps not quite like the old Beaton covers, but beautiful nonetheless. Cecil loved a splash of red.

The Glass of Fashion: A Personal History of Fifty Years of Changing Tastes and the People Who Have Inspired Them. Written by Cecil Beaton, Foreword by Hugo Vickers. Rizzoli. $29.95.


I have recently finished writing/rewriting a book I've been working on for three years. THREE years! Don't ever become an author. Truly. No one sane would do this job... Especially when, just as soon as you parcel up one manuscript, you have to begin another...

This is the start of a new book. A lovely book, which I've been looking forward to working on for many months. As you can probably guess, it's going to be a fun project. The ribbons are from a previous book but the paints are for this new project. I get to do watercolours for this one!

On the other side of the study, however, is a scary sight. So scary, we have commissioned a builder to build enormous floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to create a formal library, so our house doesn't look like a frightening pile of leaning spines. (There are lots more leaning piles like this one.) The lovely builder, Pete, and I spent an hour recently measuring dozens of book spines, from B-sized novels to architecture tomes, to ascertain the varying shelf heights. 

It will take a while for the cabinet maker to create the library, and then a few days for Pete to install it, along with a new wall and shelves for another (upstairs) study/library area. Not sure how much it's going to cost, so I'm starting to recalculate the budget for this forthcoming business trip. Might be backpacking all the way?!

(PS If you've emailed me, please forgive me for the delay. As you can see there's a lot going on, with builders and books and suitcases/bags (actually the bags are under the eyes), and I'm not even sure what day it is half the time. But I promise to reply.)


  1. Book order from Edward Hamilton arrived on my doorstep with several books. Including a Cecil Beaton & a Sir Roy Strong. Love both men.

    Imagine, each book mentions the other. Had no idea they were friends.

    Perhaps they will produce a perfume matching the now shuttered Rizzoli shop, above. I could roll naked in the fragrance of a used bookstore.

    Have you done Sir Roy Strong's garden, The Laskett, on your trips?

    One of the few I"ve not been in, that I must be in !!

    Was in Great Dixter with Christopher Lloyd, had lunch with him in USA while he was on lecture tour.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  2. I love your blog, it's such a visual feast, although not much of a gardener I am willing to learn. I often return to posts just to gaze and I hold your passion for books and am so envious of your soon to be completed bookcases. I constantly search the internet to look at bookcases but alas the budget does not extend to one at the moment. Thank you for your beautiful blog and also the lovely Faux Fushia for the introduction to it.

  3. Hi Janelle

    I have just received your book on Provence for my birthday and it is a visual delight. I am already planning my next trip as a result. Merci , Shell - A Darlings Nest

  4. oh what a pity i have only found this post now…after the clunes book sale…never mind, always next year I guess…

    absolute luxury to have huge amounts of bookshelves…nothing finer in a living space I always think...


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