“I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these” Mr Darcy famously observes.
I happen to agree wholeheartedly with that gentleman. While my own library is regrettably not of Pemberley proportions, I nevertheless find myself adding to it more frequently than my modest salary can reasonably permit. I would rather skip the restaurant and the movies than walk out of a bookshop empty-handed.
I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively, see many beautiful places, and meet many wonderful people. Yet it is to the quiet domestic settings of my world – the sofa in my Paris flat, the primrose silk elegance of the Louis XVI armchair in my parents’ drawing-room, the lamp-lit circle of my bed, or the scented sun-dappled warmth of the grass in the orchard – that I return with greatest pleasure, to immerse myself in the pages of a book.
There are books to suit every mood, interest, and desire. They open up unsuspected vistas of emotion, infinite horizons of thought. I never tire of the written word. Of its rhythms and cadences, its homeliness and its exoticism. I can find more pleasure at times in the mouthing of a certain lovely word than in closing my fingers about the velvety roundness of a new-plucked peach.
Solitude is sweet to me. I am not of those who grow easily bored or lonely. Nevertheless, there inevitably comes a time when one longs for company again, to share a moment’s warmth and liveliness with a friend and kindred spirit. And what a moment it is, when, casting aside day to day trivia, you discuss the pen-and-ink characters you are learning to know and greet as friend or foe, the ramifications of a plot, the choice of a word, the workings of narrative and style, the novel treatment of a theme! Eyes light up, faces grow animated, and the level in the teapot falls steadily lower. Words buzz about in your head, and are gradually sifted through and pigeon-holed. Or on the contrary trigger new chains of thought, spark new questions, set you on a track you never would have thought to tread before, perhaps even unloose within you a hitherto untapped fount of creativity.
I invite you, my friends and fellow readers, to share in this adventure. Most of you are too far away to join me at the tea table, and for this I am the sadder. But thanks to modern technology, there is a remedy, so come and join the bookish chatter!
© Florence Berlioz 2010