Monday, January 26, 2015

Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature

Title:  Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature
Author:  Lisa Borgnes Giramonti (Author), Ivan Terestchenko (Photographer)
Publication Information:  Potter Style. 2014. 288 pages.
ISBN:  0385345992 / 978-0385345996

Book Source:  I received this book through a publisher's giveaway free of cost in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Blogging for Books.

Opening Sentence:  "Who can forget the sleek glamour of Gatsby's glittering mansion in West Egg?"

Favorite Quote:  "We don't just read a great story, we inhabit it."

I love the idea of this book - to see iconic rooms from literature brought to life. The reality of the book is that it does not seek to create images of rooms from literature, but rather to draw stylistic similarities between texts and use the concepts as a basis for offering advice for decorating in the style of _______________ (fill in the name of an author or book.)

The quotes from the chosen literature are beautiful and reminiscent of images from the books. One of the final chapters in this book is a listing and descriptions of all the works that form its foundation. The book's "style-gurus" include Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, and Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. The book uses particular works as inspiration rather than the whole body of work from the author because style can differ greatly from book to book.

The photography and some of the rooms are lovely. The variety ranges from the glamorous to the very natural and to one called "Anything goes." Based on the variety of decorating styles included in the book, different rooms may appeal to different people. The decorating ideas themselves are not new and not unexpected. Earthy colors and natural materials for a natural look. A collection of well-worn pieces for a homey look. An eclectic combination of colors and materials for a style that says, "Anything goes." Gold and silver for a more glamorous look. And so on.

The connection between the literature and the decorating advice seems tenuous. I enjoyed both but separately. The collection of what literature has to say about decorating would make a text on its own. The decorating component is a survey of different styles and could also stand on its own. Putting the two together seems to work to the detriment of this book.

As an avid reader, I "see" books in my mind. The author's words conjure up images of people and places. Having read many of the books referenced here, those are the images I looked for in this book, and I did not always find them. The rooms pictured did not always match the image in my mind, and that is a powerful obstacle to overcome.

Is the fault mine for not understanding the vision correctly? Then again, my interpretation of style is mine, and this book simply presents a different vision. So, as I continued through the book, I stopped associating the two and simply appreciating both - the reminder of the texts and the sometimes lovely rooms.

This, perhaps, is the challenge with interpreting classics, as many of the inspiration books are. Whether the interpretation is in a movie, a play, an essay, or a book about decorating, the comparison to the original is always there. It is a high ideal to aspire to and very difficult to achieve.

The biggest thing I leave the book with is not the decorating advice, a memorable room, or the wish to incorporate any specific ideas into my own home. It is the desire to revisit the books referenced and conjure up the images within, and to read the ones I have not read and see what worlds lie within.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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