|My current bedside reading|
The first book on my bedside table, and which I am now almost finished reading, is Frances Osbourne's excellent and compelling The Bolter. Written by the subject's great-grandaughter, it is the story of Idina Sackville, an English aristocrat who "ran away to become the chief seductress of Kenya's scandalous 'Happy Valley set.'" The book is ultimately a sad and tawdry tale of a once-enchanting woman who made many rather unfortunate choices in her messy, pleasure-filled life, and who ultimately bore the consequences of same. It is a delicious, cautionary tale, indeed.
The next book in my stack is Louis Auchincloss' A Voice From Old New York: A Memoir of My Youth. It is a slim tome, published (I believe) posthumously, of the recollections of the male Edith Wharton of my parents' generation. I've read about half of it (Reggie, like many, keeps several books running at once), and I find it to be moderately absorbing so far. Mr. Auchincloss provides a crystalline view into the rarified world of what was once left of the old Knickerbocker families, a subject he considers with somewhat mixed emotions.
I look forward to burrowing into John Julius Norwich's Trying to Please: A Memoir once I finish the first two books on my table. The author is the son of the celebrated Sir Duff and Lady Diana Cooper, both of whose fascinating memoirs I read with pleasure in years past. I am intrigued to read the perspective that Norwich, their only child and heir, brings to their stories, as well as to his own.
The fourth book on my table is Ethan Mordden's The Guest List: How Manhattan Defined American Sophistication—From the Algonquin Round Table to Truman Capote's Ball. Back in my late twenties and early thirties I enjoyed reading (and in some cases re-reading) Mr. Mordden's collections of short stories about a group of young men who frolicked on the Manhattan/Fire Island Pines axis that I also frequented at the time. Since then we've both grown up, and I look forward to delving into his book on a subject that Reggie always enjoys learning more about: life among the social moths that once circled the flames in the city he is most fortunate to call his home.
The last book in my bedside stack is Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise, a biography by Sam Irvin. I've always wanted to know more about the enigmatic Miss Thompson, star of cabaret, movie musicals, and authoress of the famed Eloise at the Plaza series and, apparently, one of the great (and more complicated) creative characters of the twentieth century. Now that Mr. Irvin has come out with his well-received book I have my chance.
And there you have it, Dear Reader, Reggie's current bedside reading. I am particularly pleased with this selection of books, and I look forward to wiling away many delicious hours between their covers.
Tell me, what's your current reading list?
Photograph by Boy Fenwick