Today I was trying to remember the name of a book I usually refer to as "The White Camel Travel Book." It's a delicious novel disguised as a travel memoir of the old English Empire style. It's actually called The Towers of Trebizond (only took me three Google pages to recapture the title).
That exercise made me think of all the wonderful books my friend Beverly introduced me to. They include I Capture the Castle, another wonderful, quirky novel. I love how it starts: "I write this sitting in the sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea cosy. I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat can be inspiring -- I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen house."
Beverly died almost two years ago (Sept. 2005) after an 8-year battle with lung cancer. Beautiful, lively Beverly will be remembered by her friends for, among many things, her incredibly good taste in books. She was an intrepid reader and had read lots of good books. She didn't watch TV. All the more room for books in your life, I think she once said. I just wish I had asked her for a complete list of her literary favorites.
Although I couldn't get into her very favorite books, a series of historical novels about Scotland by Dorothy Dunnett, I adored everything else she suggested. Most books she liked were set in foreign locales, probably because Beverly was a great travel agent. She had been everywhere ... really.
Maybe I will try those Dorothy Dunnett books again. In remembrance of Beverly. And the hilarious white camel.