You know Jasper Fforde’s Tuesday Next spends loads of time living in books? She’s always having to sort out Heathcliff and stop Japanese tourists from changing the plots? Well, In An Ideal World, I would live in a book by Atlanta Bartlett.
Pale & Interesting is her latest – with Dave Coote. I’m sure Dave is lovely but Atlanta’s the star for me. A few years ago I bought The Relaxed Home by her and ever since then I’ve been painting things white and trying to look whimsical. Honestly, some of my happiest moments have been spent trying to distress a perfectly calm candelabra.
Anyway, the new book was mentioned in Country Homes and Interiors which I was reading as I have delusions of becoming middle class and changing my name to Jocasta. And my friends, it’s a gem! What that woman can’t do with a bit of old sheeting and a jam jar she found in the garden you could write on the back of a stamp.
The whole book is like walking into the world all of us would live in if dogs, children, horses, ribena, old people and marmite didn’t exist.
It's all so lovely. Pages and pages of whiteness and peonies and candles and vintage and silk things and mirrors which have gone all mottled and spooky. Haaaaah, (I just did a big sigh). And just when you think it can’t get any better, she hangs an antique tea dress on the outside of a cupboard and suddenly you’re having tea with the Mitfords and being effortlessly droll.
Can you hear me Atlanta? I WANT THAT TO BE ME!!!
I want to live on page 42 where I will become opulent yet low-key and I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!
I am going to change…
I won’t ever be irritable or get shouty or sweary. I will sit on your elegant day bed which is old but contemporary and I’ll pretend I’m in Paris with a wig so big it has its own mouse.
I will salvage and collect and learn to use the word texture. I will sell the dog and ban red wine at all times.
Of course, there is one down side: I may never read fiction again. I’m just going to look at the pictures in Pale & Interesting and escape to my own world and be winsome and chic.
And I’ll never drop ketchup on anything ever again.
5 lovely big stars ....probably sitting on a mantelpiece by a twig.
Pale & Interesting by Atlanta Bartlett and Dave Coote, Ryland Peters and Small. You can buy it from Amazon here.