Friday, January 1, 2010

Reggie's Bedside Reading

I have exhausted Holiday at Darlington as a subject, so I'm going to shift away from the house for the next several posts.  If I'm boring myself with it then I must be boring you, too, Gentle Reader.  It's time to move on...

Today I post about the books on my bedside table.  These are the ones that I chose to read while at Darlington during my time off from the bank.  I have hardly had the chance to do all that much reading, though, what with all of the time I've spent working on this blog and throwing our party.  These are books I look forward to reading...

Photo by Boy Fenwick

The first in the stack is Iles Brody's The Colony: Portrait of A Restaurant And its Famous Recipes, published in 1946.  Chapter one begins with these entrancing words: "A quarter-century history of the swankiest restaurant in the world.  How an obscure bistro became the cherished second home of the most outstanding men and women of our epoch."  The Colony was a precursor of today's Swifty's and Le Cirque in Manhattan.  Full of gossipy stories, bold-faced names of the era, and noteworthy recipes of this famous spot, this should be a fun read.

Next: Some Favorite Southern Recipes of the Duchess of Windsor.  No pretense is made that the Duchess had any hand in writing it, as it is noted simply that it comes with a foreward by the Duchess of Windsor--all of three pages.  This slim tome, published in 1942, includes menus and "nearly" 140 recipes for dishes supposedly chosen by the Duchess herself and "...tested and verified by the Home Institute of the New York Herald Tribune."  Should be amusing anthropology.

Third: The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham, by Selina Hastings, was given to me the other day by my freshman-year college roommate. This is a current book, published in England, and written by the biographer of Evelyn Waugh and Rosamond Lehmann.  I expect it to be a delicious, nasty romp.

Fourth: Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes, the author of the delightful Snobs and the screenplay to Gosford Park, one of my favorite recent films.  I'm only several pages in to it, and enjoying it immensely.  I'll let you know what I think of it when I've finished.

Finally: Too Much Money, Dominick Dunne's posthumously published novel of warfare in the trenches of New York society.  I have devoured all of his previous books, sought out every article he wrote in Vanity Fair, and regularly tuned in to his absorbing show on Court TV.  Boy and I saw him regularly at Swifty's and I would often see him on the street near my office in midtown, where he had an apartment.  I don't care that the reviews have been mixed--I'm looking forward to reading it.


  1. Hi Reggie- Oh how I love posts about books! I'm also a huge Gosford Park and Dominick Dunne fan- his "The Way We Lived Then" has been a fixture next to my bed for years, as I love to pick it up and glance through it from time to time....Have your read the Mapp&Lucia series by EF Benson? A must if you're into houses, English country life in the 20's and 30's, and eccentric English characters.........Robin

  2. Interesting reading -- I'll have to find the first two books -- they look fascinating!

  3. Hello Robin,
    The Lucia books are a great favorite of mine. I once spent a plane ride beside myself with laughter, much to the annoyance of others in the cabin. Too funny. Thanks for visiting.

  4. They're all tantalizing, but the one that jumped out at me was the new
    biography of Somerset Maugham. Only last week, Lady Selina Hastings
    was discussing her approach to Maugham (and her previous subjects,
    E.Waugh and N.Mitford) on BBCRadio4 by admitting that she doesn't
    "do nice", preferring personalities that were prickly. If the Maugham bio is anywhere near as good as that of the others, we're in for a treat.

  5. Can't wait for the reviews! I just finished the Vickers bio of Beaton per your advice and am picking up the diaries as I find them.

  6. Dear Toby,
    I understand that Maugham was one of the prickliest pears out there, really quite nawsty, so shoukd be goof fun, if not excrutiating at times.

    Mrs. Blandings,
    I am so happy you've enjoyed Vicker's bio of CB. Now you must read his bio of creme de menthe in his veins Baron de Rede, which I heard him speak of at a lecture a year or so ago.


  7. The Colony is one of my favorites from that genre. If you haven't discovered it already, I encourage you to seek out Cleveland Amory's "Last Resorts," about the heyday of America's summer colonies from Bar Harbor to Fisher Island. Wickedly amusing.

    Your blog is a delight!

  8. Happy New Year !!!

    2010 New Year's Fireworks show

  9. What an interesting selection. A long winter ahead makes for perfect weekends of reading by the fire. I did no reading for most of November and all of December-looking forward to cracking open several new books. A Dominick
    Dunne among them.

  10. My kind of list but especially looking forward to your review of the Colony Club which i remember with mixed emotions (not exactly a teenagers paradise particularly if you went with your aunt!) Maugham's bio and particularly Vickers book of Baron de Rede must be great. Thanks for the tip, credit card in hand!

  11. Baron de Rede's book is at amazon for $250 (ouch!) so better hang on to your copy and keep it under lock and key!!!

  12. Great list. I too am looking forward to the Dominick Dunne. Also, Frognall Dibdin is spot on about The Last Resorts, but one also shouldn't miss the even wickeder 'Who Killed Society' by Cleveland Amory, complete with it's faux social register cover...

  13. Frognall:
    Thank you for the suggestion, I anticipate reading "The Last Resorts" with pleasure, a book that I am not familiar with.

    Yes it is quite dear, but he was the greatest catamite of the 20th century, so this is not surprising.

    "Who Killed Society" sits on my bookshelf here at Darlington, and is a great favorite of mine because it claims that one of my father's wives was a contributing factor to its demise. This gives me the greatest of pleasure considering how grand she has become in the meantime, at least in her own imagination...

  14. Given the Dutchess' declared distaste for food (which lead to weight) in general, I am completely surprised she would have been tied to a document largely detailing a very fine cuisine, heavily laden with fats!!

  15. Your profile list of Dominick Dunne and Vanity Fair was what lead me to your Reggie Darling blog. I loved Too Much Money, although I never did figure out who some of the characters were being portrayed.


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