We raided The Folio Society’s library of gorgeous books to chose our top 5 book gifts for Mother’s Day – from Elizabeth David’s Mediterranean recipes and stories to the addictive Miss Marple Short Stories.
All Folio books are completed with exclusively commissioned illustrations to bring the text to vibrant life and feature specially designed hardback covers as well as elegant typeset on the highest quality paper.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Introduced by Margaret Atwood and illustrated by Anna C. Lepar, $59.95
For the novelist Margaret Atwood, Anne of Green Gables, set in the idyllic countryside of Canada’s Prince Edward Island, was so much a part of her childhood that she cannot remember when she first read it. And at one level it is just that – a marvellous children’s book in which the resourceful heroine’s vivid imagination lands her in endless scrapes: she mistakes currant wine for raspberry cordial, puts liniment instead of vanilla into a cake and dyes her flaming hair green. But as Atwood says in her introduction, this is a book – like Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist and The Secret Garden – that pursues you into adulthood, in which the headlong adventures of an endearing orphan are underpinned by the darker realities of human behaviour – gossip, malice, love withheld.
A Book of Mediterranean Food and other writings by Elizabeth David
Introduced by Julian Barnes, $79.99
A Book of Mediterranean Food, her first great classic, was based on memories of happy years spent in France, Italy, the Greek Islands and Egypt. Combined here with a selection of essays from An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, it reveals a passion for good food as well as a marvellous ability to evoke atmosphere and place, whether it is the beautiful almond country surrounding Valencia or the pleasure of buying piping hot pissaladière in the markets of Marseilles. Here are market stalls piled high with aubergines, tomatoes, melons, figs and limes; wooden barrels of glistening olives; the sheen of rain on an old terracotta oil jar; fresh dates in tortoiseshell colours and the pungent scent of fresh saffron. In the belief that producing good food should always be a ‘labour of love’, Elizabeth David provides a stunning array of recipes that introduce the reader to the individual flavours that characterise Mediterranean cuisine.
Miss Marple Short Stories by Agatha Christie
Introduced by Stella Duffy. Illustrations by Andrew Davidson, $64.95
One of The Folio Society’s all time bestsellers, The Complete Miss Marple Short Stories is now available in this new edition featuring newly commissioned illustrations by Andrew Davidson. This complete collection features all 20 short stories, including ‘The Tuesday Night Club’, ‘A Christmas Tragedy’ and ‘The Case of the Perfect Maid’. They are neatly encapsulated by Henry Clithering’s cry at the solution of ‘Ingots of Gold’: ‘Miss Marple, you are wonderful!’
The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates
Introduced by Ian Jack. Illustrated by Alice Tait, $49.95
Gorging on ice cream, wondering whether to cook two roast geese or three, mixing up cocktails whose strength leaves casual visitors prostrate – the Larkins are gargantuan in their appetites. Magnificently vulgar, their house contains a galleon-shaped cocktail cabinet and gold taps in the bathroom (over which local ladies exclaim in horror). Yet the entire Larkin family is also blessed with an acute appreciation for nature and beauty, revelling in hearing the nightingale, wandering through the bluebell wood and enjoying the splendid bounty of their surroundings. The Larkins infect everyone around them with their own Homeric lust for life; from prim Miss Pilchester who longs for Pop’s velvety kisses, to the anaemic tax officer who falls in love with the exquisitely seductive Mariette. ‘The Larkins’ secret,’ H. E. Bates wrote, ‘is in fact that they live as many of us would like to live if only we had the guts and nerve to flout the conventions.’ By the end of this effervescent comedy the Larkins have seduced, charmed or outwitted every other character – and the reader as well.
Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
Preface by Elaine Feinstein. Illustrated by Anna and Elena Balbusso, $67.95
If a single book could be said to represent Russian literature, it is Alexander Pushkin’s magnificent novel in verse, Eugene Onegin. First published in full in 1833, it is considered to be the fountainhead of literature in the language. Its fame is international: it has inspired films, television series and a ballet as well as an opera by Tchaikovsky. Pushkin’s tour de force is as sparkling, witty and deeply moving today as when it was first written.
Onegin, a dashing, cynical and bored nobleman who has taken over his uncle’s estate in the country, spurns the love of the shy, bookish Tatyana Larina. But as Eugene’s life unravels and Tatyana’s blossoms, their roles are transformed. Eugene Onegin moves effortlessly between feeling and frivolity, delicious comedy and desperate sadness.The story’s rich emotional range is perfectly conveyed through Pushkin’s much-imitated 14-line Onegin stanza. This is also a wonderful portrait of Imperial Russia, from ‘the crush, the glitter and the gladness’ of St Petersburg balls to the peace of the snow-bound countryside.
What are you getting mum for Mother’s Day?