Sunday, 25 August 2013

A Fine Romance~~Book Review {Indulge me, please?}

Gentle Reader~~I beg of you to humour me today as we make a small departure from gardening in the Garden in the Shire and join me over tea as I talk about one of my most favourite people in the whole, wide world, Susan Branch , and her new book "A Fine Romance"  My back is still bad enough that I cannot garden, and it isn't a complete departure from gardening, for in this book Susan, a born Anglophile, and Joe, tour England, visiting many of the notable gardens and places of historic interest across the land, by way of tea rooms, pubs, eateries, country markets, quaint shops, country lanes and meadows, and the highways and byways that make up the quintessential English countryside.  I am just bursting to say lovely things about this book I have added to my Susan Branch book collection (this my new favourite one, of course) and Amazon just will not let me review it there!!! Bad Amazon!  So, Gentle Reader, I beg your indulgence~~


This {above} is my own precious copy, with a mug of Twinings tea tea in my favourite Emma Bridgewater mug that has a big, Pumpkin, crow, and bat design.  Anyone who knows me knows that Autumn is my favourite time of year, but I think this design is now discontinued.  Maybe Emma Bridgewater will bring out a new pattern for this Autumn?  What bliss that will be if she does!  I adore pumpkins too~~and Pumpkin Pie is my very favourite!  Gentle Reader~I digress~

Question: what treasured possession would you save from your house? Hmmmmm, let me think~~~

Susan is an American artist and illustrator, who creates the most beautiful, witty, charmingly hand written and enchantingly illustrated books.  She brings together everything she loves best in life and expresses it with a contagious passion, sharing recipes, illustrations, favourite quotes, photographs, and so much more along with her own beautiful, handwritten prose.  She is quite contagious, in a good way of course!  This contagiousness is not helped in that I seem to share a love of almost all the same things!   She is not that well known in the United Kingdom, but I do hope this book will change all that!  Each page of every book by her that I own is a pure delight.

From delectible front cover to delicious end cover, "A Fine Romance" is brim full of Susan's own, unique, inimitable style of writing and illustrations.  It begins some years ago with how she met the love of her life, Joe, and then leaps forward to the present day {well, last year actually, for a good book is always a long time in the making} when they celebrated twenty~five years together with a two~month long trip to England.  The journey begins as they depart their home in Martha's Vineyard, and we travel with them as they arrive in England by way of a proper and very stylish "crossing" aboard the Queen Mary II. 

Susan's band of loyal followers, a very friendly, amicable, fun~loving, and very supportive army, are known as Girlfriends.  We follow her on the F.O.S.B. Facebook page, and on Twitter too, as well as her wonderful Blog.  {We squeezed ourselves into every nook cranny in the Cocoon aboard QMII, the car, each and every room along the way, so it is a good thing we are all so friendly and get along well with each other.}  Thanks to modern technology we were with her every step of the way last year, so it has been a long year waiting for the adventure to continue with the arrival of the book.  If you follow the link to her blog, you will see even more, and be able to join in for yourself if you wish to.  No doubt, some of you reading this will already know all about this little haven on line!

Back to the book~~Susan and Joe arrive in England, with all their luggage, including Susan's paintbox and drawing supplies, and all the accoutrement of tea too!  {I always carry tea making provisions with me~~one never knows where one will end up, and tea, a priority of any traveller, should always be as properly served as conditions permit!}

In case you want to read the book, which is a magical darling of a diary of an adventure abroad shared, for yourself~~and I'm so hoping you will~~I shall not say too much more about the details, other than they spend the next two months exploring the English countryside in a magical way, meeting up with old friends, visiting stately homes and gardens, and the arrival at the home of one of Susan's most admired and loved authors, Beatrix Potter's Hill Top now owned by The National Trust.   Sissinghurst, Batemans, The Lake District, Jane Austen's home, Emma Bridgewater factory, ~~you get the drift~~ just a few of the places visited and beautifully written and described in Susan's own inimitable style which leaves you wanting even more!

Oh, Susan!  I have that exact same Olney hat that you are modelling in your book on page 173!  The fourth one down, on the bottom, 'cept I wear mine t'other way around!   {Big Smiley Face here}

Eventually, the dream is over, and Susan and Joe arrive home where the long job of writing the book began for Susan.  {I wonder how she found this?  Was it hard or easy, revisiting every lucious moment of such a dream of a holiday?}

Did I mention that this book is perfect in absolutely every way?  Not just the selightful illustrations and every blissful word, but it is perfectly sized too, just right for holding in the hands, neither too big nor too small, like a small bear's bowl of porridge it is just right.  A pleasure to look at, to hold, to own, and to read~~like sitting down to visit with an old friend you haven't seen in a while, but it is as if you only met up over tea and cakes the day before~~

I try to get through life without regrets, but I do wish I had not bought from Amazon UK and gone direct to SusanBranch.com, for those books came with a personally signed bookplate and mine does not.  I am so happy and excited, but also a little envious, of all the Girlfriends who will meet her and get their copies personally signed on her booksigning tour!  She has had a purpose~decorated van you know, which you can see if you visit her blog or the F.O.S.B. page too!  It s'wonderful!  Who knows, maybe when she and Joe return to this island, they may come to Wales {Scotland and Ireland too}and do a trans~Atlantic book signing tour~~now, there's a thought!

As I draw to a close, I hear the church bells ringing out across the valley, over my own, small corner of this wonderful world that is made all the richer by the lovely Girlfriends and the friendship we share through Susan Branch.

EDIT TO POST:

Gentle Reader~~Since I created this entry it has been brought to my attention (via @dearsusanbranch on Twitter) that signed copies of "A Fine Romance" will soon be available from Much Ado Books and also from the Jane Austen House. I would urge you, in support of local businesses, to check this out if you live in the UK and wish to purchase a copy. I am sure they will fly out of the shops like hot cakes!

20 comments:

  1. Hi Deborah, I'm sorry to hear your back is still troubling you. Susan hasn't scheduled a stop anywhere near me yet so I may still not get to meet her. Did you ever see my posts about my week on Martha's Vineyard last year? You can find the first of 9 posts about it starting with this post: http://cathy-morningmusings.blogspot.com/2012/09/marthas-vineyard-carriage-house.html I have some photos of her Woods Walk path and her house and garden.

    As for the signed bookplate. If you'd like, I'll scan mine and post it to your Facebook page (I saw your post on FOSB's FB page and get to your FB page that way. You can snatch it from there and print it out for your book. :-)

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    1. Hello Cathy, I'll have to check out your blog! Oh, that would be so kind of you to scan it and share to my FB page. Thank you! xo

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    2. Deborah, I sent it in a message to your "Other" Messages Account.

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    3. Squeaks with excitement! I found it. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Will be printing out to keep in my copy of "A Fine Romance"

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  2. What a lovely review! You have a wonderful way with words and your review makes me want to read my own copy again!

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    1. Hi Lina! Lovely to see you and thank you for your kind words about my writing. Oh, keep reading my friend, keep reading, I can barely put my copy down! Deb xo

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  3. Deb---I LOVE your review !!! My daughter-in-law adores this lady's books & Blog !! Thanks for telling me bout this----I need to get a copy !!!! Hugs--Beth

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    1. Hi Beth! Yes, you sure do need your own copy! You will love it, I'm sure. Susan's style is unique and just touches the heart. Hugs right back atcha! Deb xo

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  4. Hi Deb,
    What a lovely review of a true "treasure." As I reread A Fine Romance again and again, I will always be dreaming of a visit to the UK someday soon. I am beyond thrilled that I will finally have the chance to meet Susan as her book signing tour brings her to the Chicago area. I have tickets for both a book signing and a tea party with this amazing kindred spirit who inspires us all. She is such a blessing in my life! On those most special of days, I will certainly be thinking of all of the Girlfriends ~ near and far ~ who add such sweetness to my life! Hope you feel better very soon, Deb! Your blog is a treat to read!
    Dawn
    ♡♡

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    1. Hello Dawn! You lucky Girlfriend! Susan is a blessing indeed and I know you will love your day at the signing and tea party. Think of all the Girlfriends you will meet to ~oh! my! Such fun and excitement. Thank you for your kind words about my little blog. Deb xo

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  5. Hello Deborah: I think that maybe as Amazon are now saying the book is not yet released could be the reason why they are not letting you review it - I am not sure how I managed to get my review on, but pleased I did.
    I love your Blog review and have become a Follower!! I was really sad when I finished AFR, and will read it monthly me thinks as it is so uplifting. I certainly am extremely thrilled with my signed copy which I shall treasure for always.
    I have a Blog too which you might find interesting - not gardening I'm afraid but all about my love of sewing, quilting and of course my family.
    www.devonquilts.blogspot.com
    I wonder how many UK Susan fans there are! I know just 2 others, but there must be more like us.
    Have a good day - hope your back improves x

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    1. Hello Angie~Lovely to meet you! Thank you for the follow! I'll be over to check out your blog shortly as I love quilting too. I know of two other Girlfriends in the UK also, I wonder if they are the same two as you? I'm pen~friends with several lovely ladies whom I met through F.O.S.B.
      I *love* "A Fine Romance" and keep moving it from room to room so I can indulge myself some more!
      My back is greatly improved, but I must take great care now! Thank you. xo

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  6. Hi Deborah! Had to say hello and thank you for such a lovely review!!! I feel so blessed! And FYI, to you and Angie (thank you for the review!!!), we have almost 3,000 Girlfriends in the UK!! Oh yes we do! Isn't that wonderful? One day I hope to invite everyone to come to Stourhead and bring a picnic lunch -- all of us on the lawn near the grass bridge -- I can picture it now. Until then xoxo stay well, thank you again Debs, Susan

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    1. Oh, sweet surprise! Hello Susan! My pleasure, and we Girlfriends are the blessed ones and that there are 3,000 of us in the UK~ and what an event to look forward to at Stourhead ~~ count me in!
      Debs xoxo

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  7. Hi Deb
    I came across Susan's lovely work when I was looking for a nice, attractive kitchen calendar. I found Susan Branch's beautifully illustrated one that now graces my kitchen wall and I love writing on it - it's so pretty. Guess I'll be looking for the book now too ;-) xx

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    1. Oh! I bet it looks wonderful in your new kitchen too. Book is now available on Amazon (not my favourite place to buy, but needs must) You will love it I am sure~~Debs xoxo

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  8. Ps It's Julie Eirios Nicolson here. It wouldn't let me comment using my name, only anonymously :-(

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    1. I don't know what is up with Bloggle~land these days! Waving from across The Shire :D

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  9. Hi there, i found Susan through a fellow blogger, a reader of my blog. I m so glad I blog hopped that day! I received my copy of A finer romance yesterday, its beautiful, a work of art :) I cannot wait to read it now. I found You from a comment You left on one of Susans posts, You mentioned Wales Where I live And was raised so had to pop over :) I love your blog to and have been following you over on facebook too . Have a lovely day, best wishes julie x

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    1. Hi Julie! I have met and made several new friends thanks to Susan Branch's blog and books. She is a wonderful person and I'm so happy to be part of her Girlfriend Army. Hope you are enjoying AFR as much as the rest of us have!

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Thank you for stopping by today ~ I love reading your comments