November 30, 2011


Yes – I am fully aware that I have a stack of books right here waiting for me to get back to reading at a normal rate of consumption (Ve-e-ee-ery slow lately!) but … these relatively new titles are among those on my “Want-to-Read” list. You have one of those too, right?  I was chatting with a Bedside Table Books community member (Hello Jessica!) the other evening about good book club titles to suggest. These are ones I’d have on my suggestion list. Have you read any of them? Let us know what you thought. What titles are on your current “Want-to-Read” list?


Eloise … and Kay!

November 22, 2011

Ahhhh Eloise. Who doesn’t love this little scamp?  She’s precocious, chatty, and cheeky, lives in New York City’s Plaza Hotel, torments her Nanny and the hotel staff, has a pet turtle named Skipperdee (he eats raisins she’s ordered from room service) and a pug called Weenie. She’s a busy one for all of six years old and she’s a favourite of several generations of storybook readers for sure. I couldn’t even begin to do justice to all of the reincarnations of Eloise out there so instead I offer this link to her home page where you’ll read about her various stories and the background. Meanwhile for present-day activities at The Plaza Hotel be certain to take a peek here.

Eloise was first published in 1955 and is a product of the imagination of one Kay Thompson – a musical performer, renowned vocal arranger for the likes of Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, actress famed for her appearance with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in Funny Face and a generally quirky character herself. She collaborated with illustrator Hilary Knight who was perfectly skilled in bringing to life the words of Kay in the form of our beloved Eloise. It seems obvious that Eloise was just a smaller version of the real-life Kay though rumours swirl that her God-daughter Liza Minnelli was the inspiration. To straighten out this story and learn more about the lively Kay Thompson I’m delighted to report we can turn to the pages of a newly released biography by Sam Irvin.

If you think Eloise is a handful, you’ll be astonished by the sassiness of her creator.  This quote from Kay has me hooked on wanting to learn more about her:

I’ve discovered the secret of life: a lot of hard work, a lot of sense of humor, a lot of joy, and a whole lot of tra-la-la!
— Kay Thompson


Goldfinch by Janet Hill

November 16, 2011

On November 3rd I introduced you to the scrumptious artwork of Janet Hill. You will remember the beautiful colours and charming subject matter, often featuring readers with their books. I jotted a quick note to Janet and let her know I was a fan and, as such, had featured her here on Bedside Table Books. She kindly replied, professing her own love of books, and mused that because they were all around her they seemed to find their way into her paintings.

Tonight, as I was about to climb into bed with my book (looking much frumpier and more flannel-ized than the lovely lady above!), I thought I’d drop in on Bedside Table Books and see what was happening. And something WAS happening. A flurry of visitors was making its way over from Janet Hill’s blog site. It seems (and you’ll have to click here and read the story for yourself) that Janet was intrigued by John Gannam who was chatted about along with her here on the 3rd of November. She was so taken by his work in fact, that she was inspired to create the absolutely gorgeous painting above. She writes that she painted it with Gannam and the impish Holly Golightly in mind. The work is called “Goldfinch” and you will want to spend some time admiring it on Janet’s etsy site. Sadly, it has already sold. I am sure it will make its new owner very happy though!

And so I thought I’d share this tale with you – I love a little story of sharing ideas and inspiration … and always with a book in hand.

I’m not sure how this little gem of a movie managed to soar under my book-lovin’ radar but it did … until now. It appears to have been and gone in local theatres (if it “been” here at all) but I plan to persist in my search to find it. Fingers crossed that it’s still on its way to us. Do let us know if you’ve seen it or hear of its arrival. In the meantime, here are two trailers (I couldn’t decide which I liked best) for you to enjoy. It appears to be a literature lover’s dream movie. For those who read in French, the film is based on the novel by Marie-Sabine Roger called La Tete en Friche.

Do you share my delight in artwork that captures the enjoyment of reading? I discovered the work of these three artists in recent weeks and knew I had to share their masterpieces with you. I hope you think they are as fun as I do! As usual, clicking on the images will link you to more information.

John Gannam (1907 – 1965) This talented illustrator’s watercolours were a prominent presence in the world of mid-twentieth century advertising. The  images above appeared in ads for Pacific Sheets company. Comparisons are frequently drawn between his work and that of his peers Norman Rockwell, Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper. Gannam, however, seemed content with commercial pursuits and didn’t cross over into the world of fine art with the same gusto. His reclusive personality may have factored into his decision. This cute little anecdote below gives us a glimpse.

“Some years ago I chaired the Society’s lecture series. I had Johnny scheduled one evening and he hated it. He claimed he had nothing to say. His only courage was a tumbler of straight whiskey kept just out of sight in the wings offstage. Frequently he politely excused himself, to supposedly clear his throat. His naturally quiet voice was difficult to hear in the rear; it became totally inaudible when he strayed. I finally forced him to hold onto the stand of the microphone even when he walked around. He began to lean on it, and since it was telescopic, it slowly began to get shorter with Johnny following it down, still talking. He ended up bent way down with his head about on the level with his knees and the student audience howling with glee. What his pearly words were at that time remain known only to his knees.” 
-Kenneth W. Thompson

Janet Hill –  These alluring vignettes are scrumptious (Insert a deep sigh here) and evoke a vintage feel with nostalgic and sometimes sassy sentiments. I have encountered this Canadian artist’s work in several different settings recently and have been thoroughly charmed each time. In an interview in Matchbook magazine’s October 2011 issue, Janet comes across as your favourite bright and quirky chum. Turn to page 61, “Free Spirit” and chuckle over her first date story while learning more about her approach to living creatively. Her work is fun, affordable, and easily accessible on her Etsy website. I’ve been trolling the site with Christmas gifts in mind. (And nooo, not just for myself!)

Paul Beliveau – Another Canadian treasure, Paul Beliveau paints with incredible realism. His collection of serigraphs features cleverly combined book spines as colourful cultural statements. This multiple award winner’s art is featured in a wide variety of significant personal and corporate collections. Superbe!

And don’t forget earlier “artistic” posts: Jane Mount   and Sophie Blackall  and Alanna Cavanagh.