|The announcement in the window of Rural Residence
The book signing was held at Rural Residence, a treasure trove of a store in Hudson, New York, which was the subject of a post that I did last year at this time. Timothy Dunleavy, the owner/proprietor of Rural Residence, hosts book signings there from time to time, most recently for Hermes Mallea's Great Houses of Havana. Another party for the book was recently held in New York at the 1st Dibs Gallery, and was featured on New York Social Diary, where yours truly is a sometime contributor.
|Stacks of books, ready for signing
The book signing party at Rural Residence for Mr. Mallea was a great success, full of friends and well-wishers, and so well attended that at times the crowd spilled out onto the sidewalk in front of the store. People were buying books by the armload, and the author spent much of the evening sitting at a table busily writing inscriptions, hardly able to circulate around the room given the demands for his autograph. Fortunately he didn't need to leave his chair as all were there to see him, one by one.
|The author inscribing our copy of his book
Hermes Mallea and his partner in business and life, Carey Maloney, have a weekend house in the area and we see them out and about at the larger parties in the county. They are charming and pleasant company.
I spent several hours this morning reading through and looking at the photographs in Great Houses of Havana. I am impressed. It stands head and shoulders above many of the decorating and architecture coffee table books that have been rolling off the printing presses in recent years. It is a scholarly, well-researched, and beautifully illustrated tour of residential and civic architecture built in Havana in the one hundred years leading up to the Cuban Revolution. Mr. Mallea writes articulately, thoughtfully, and knowledgeably (he is, by profession, an architect and a partner in M (Group), a design firm based in New York).
|The party in full swing
Great Houses of Havana contains a lot of information, both written and visual, about the history of Cuban architecture, the island's pre-revolutionary culture, and the colorful and visionary people who built and inhabited the buildings showcased in the book. Great Houses of Havana is richly illustrated with many contemporary and vintage photographs of the buildings and their interiors, and their occupants (including one of Mrs. Earl T. Smith, the wife of the former U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, and who was the subject of an earlier post of mine). Many of the once-private houses featured in the book are today public museums or serve as ambassadorial residences, and appear to be well cared for—in some cases exceptionally so.
Dear Reader, I encourage you to consider getting a copy of Great Houses of Havana, as it is a worthy addition to the library of anyone interested in architecture, design, cultural history, and the fascinating island of Cuba. That would certainly describe me, and I suspect it would also be an apt description of many of the people who read this blog.
You can learn more about the book and its author at www.greathousesofhavana.com
Please note: Reggie has received nothing in return for making this recommendation, nor does he expect to. He is recommending Great Houses of Havana solely for its merits and for the pleasure of his readers, which is why he writes this blog in the first place.
Photographs by Boy Fenwick