Sunday, December 14, 2008


I have recently joined the Folio Society and have received my first shipment of beautiful hardcover, illustrated books. I'm not much of a collector, in fact I don't really like having excess stuff hanging around, it makes me feel burdened and uncomfortable, but since I've received these books I have felt a pall of covetousness coming over my brain. I have visions of a whole shelf filled with the colours and gilded lettering of these hardcover beauties- heck I have visions of an entire library filled with them!

And I've resurrected an old fantasy of having a private lending library in a huge unnamed city. It will be a tall red brick building sandwiched in amongst the grime and anonymous architecture if the City. Inside will be rooms and rooms of lovely books and club lounges with ottomans and strong wooden shelves. Only those who stumble across it by luck will be able to join and the library will be a group of quiet kindred spirits. As the owner I'll lurk around the dim shelves reading my own books and observing the pleasure found in books.

One of my Folio books is Gerald Durrell's "My Family and other Animals" This is a wonderful semi-autobiographical story of the Durrell families adventures in Corfu in between the wars. I love everything about this book from it's rich charcterization to the evocative and detailed descriptions of nature. Durrell has a keen eye for colour and the landscape and sea life of Corfu comes alive in the pages of this book. It is the perfect book for summer holidays.

"Ahead lay a chocolate-brown smudge of land, huddled in mist, with a frill of foam at its base. This was Corfu and we strained our eyes to make out the exact shapes of the mountains, to discover valleys, peaks, ravines, and beaches, but it remained a silhouette. Then suddenly the sun shifted over the horizon, and the sky turned the smooth enamelled blue of a jay's eye. The endless, meticulous curves of the sea flamed for an instant and then changed to deep royal purple flecked with green. The mist lifted in quick, lithe ribbons, and before us lay the island, the mountains as though sleeping beneath a crumpled blanket of brown, the folds stained with the green of olive-groves. Along the shore curved beaches as white as tusks among tottering cities of brilliant gold, red,and white rocks. Rounding the cape, we left the mountains, and the island sloped gently down, blurred with the silver and green irridescence of olives, with here and there an admonishing finger of black cypress against the sky. The shallow sea in the bays was butterfly blue, and even above the sound of the ship's engine we could here, faintly ringing from the shore like a chorus of tiny voices, the shrill, triumphant cries of the cicadas."

"My Family and other Animals" Gerald Durrell, 1956


Damon said...

Excellent: a good Folio is a wonderful thing, Shannon. They're sometimes brazenly, beautifully bright. Others are subtle, quiet, full of hidden details (e.g. small illustrations, nice textured cover, etc).

I work on and off in a second-hand bookshop. We see quite a few of these. If you ever have a hankering for something specific, drop me a line.

(I have on hold a Folio version of Jane Austen's letters, for myself.)


pRiyA said...

i didn't know 'My Family and Other Animals'came in an illustrated version. What gorgeous illustrations! i must get my hands on a copy. it is one of my favourite books too!

Cheryl Alena Kinzel said...

You make beautiful things Shannon. Happy holidays and enjoy all of your beautiful summer weather. We are at -30 here. I love Lawrence Durell's writing, sadly no illustrations.

Eva said...

Folio books are amazing! Have many of them, just lovely!