Friday, February 26, 2016

Let Me Tell You How to Spend Your Money



Like many of my fellow bloggers, I struggled with writing about under-the-radar authors, for many of the same reasons they've cited.


  • ·         Hey, we're all under-the-radar!

  • ·         What if I leave someone out?

  • ·         Everything I love is under-the-radar! I am the only person I know who has read War and Peace! I confess that I read it partly because it was just a life goal to be able to say that I read it. It surprised me by being a good book! But it is hardly under the radar. Check out the new Andrew Davies-adapted miniseries (which put W&P on my brain). It is awesome, and I love Andrew Davies's work and think he should have been tapped to adapt Harry Potter for the screen. If you have also read W&P, give me a shout out.


I digress.
 
At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I want to share with you a company that has given me many recommendations for under-the-radar books of the past and present. My only connection to this company is as a customer, so my recommendation is completely disinterested.

Bas Bleu's tagline is "Champions of the odd little book...and wellspring of inspired gifts for readers." They call themselves a "bookseller by post." Go ahead, click the link and fall down a rabbit hole that will make you happy to spend your time and money. In addition to all the cool literary stuff you can buy (I have the Little Women t-shirt), the company's blog is also a fun read. Much as I enjoy browsing the website, I'm always delighted to get the catalog in the mail. 

One really cool feature (which I've seen only in the catalog and can't find on the website) is the invitation to review and recommend "odd little books" for them to carry—in return for which, accepted review(er)s receive a gift certificate.

My edition came with the equally funny PIGEON PIE, about a bumbling (is there any other kind?) aristocrat who stumbles on a nest of German spies in the first days of WWII.


Probably my favorite book that came to me by way of Bas Bleu (and which I don't think they're carrying anymore—but never fear, it's around) is Nancy Mitford's Christmas Pudding (1932). Mitford is better known as the author of Love in a Cold Climate, but this early novella is hilarious. You'd probably like it if you like Downton Abbey, but it's much funnier than Downton Abbey (which to be fair, isn't trying to be funny), so you might like it even if you don't like Downton Abbey.

An ensemble cast ends up together in two houses (well, one new cottage trying to look old and one crumbling estate) in the Cotswolds over the holidays and hilarity ensues. Perhaps the plotline most of interest to writers is author character Paul Fotheringay's dilemma: his debut novel, Crazy Capers, which wasn't supposed to be funny, is being hailed as the comic novel of the year. He's so depressed he decides to turn to biography and settles on Lady Maria Bobbin, a "minor woman poet" of the nineteenth century, as his subject. There's just one problem: the widowed Lady Bobbin (holding Compton Bobbin in trust for her son) doesn't want to give him access to his subject's journals. Paul's friend Amabelle Fortescue (retired courtesan) puts him in touch with her friend, Etonian Sir Roderick "Bobby" Bobbin, Bt., and they all cook up a plan for Paul to be hired (under an assumed name) as Bobby's holiday tutor, giving Paul access to the journals and getting Bobby out of doing any real work. Amabelle rents a cottage nearby (preciously named Mulberrie Farm) and brings her friends down, while a host of aristocratic relatives descends on Compton Bobbin. 

For more, check out this delightful essay in The Guardian, and put Christmas Pudding on your December reading list.

9 comments:

  1. I'm going to read War & Peace next! Before I watch the new miniseries. But first I'm reading a couple of volumes of Russian history. That puts me way under the radar, I fear. Thanks for the great other recommendations :)

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  2. Wow, Courtney! It's not even noon on a Tuesday, yet you've already made us blush. Thanks so much for being a cheerleader for Bas Bleu and our odd little books. For years now we've been saying we have the best customers in the book business...and you've proven us right! Thanks to the support and encouragement of readers like you (and Holly!), we get to continue sharing great books with our fellow bluestockings. Oh, and be sure to keep your eyes on your mailbox in the coming weeks: Our Spring 2016 edition is on its way!

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  3. Geeeez, Courtney, because I don't have enough on my "THERE ISN'T ENOUGH TIME! YOU'RE GETTING OLDER AND THERE SIMPLY ISN'T ENOUGH TIME LEFT!" list?

    :D

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    1. Haha...I'm right there with you, so at least you're in good company!

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  4. Yup, another thing for my "I don't have enough hours in the day but now I have to find some more!" list!

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