January 27, 2013

Review - A Curious Invitation (Suzette Field)

Since ancient times human beings have gathered together for social purposes. And since not very long after that writers have written about these occasions. The party is a useful literary device, not only for social comment and satire, but as an occasion where characters can meet, fall in love, fall out or even get murdered. 
A Curious Invitation features forty of the greatest fictional festivities. Some of these parties are depictions of real events, like the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball on the eve of battle with Napoleon in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair; others draw on the author’s experience of the society they lived in, such as Lady Metroland’s party in Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies; while yet others come straight from the writer’s bizarre imagination, like Douglas Adams’ flying party above an unknown planet from ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. Suzette Field offers you the chance to gatecrash these parties, spanning most of the history of human civilization, seen through the eyes of the world’s greatest writers.

Find the book at Pan MacMillan and on Goodreads!

Being instantly drawn to this book, which features such a quirky title in combination with one of the most gorgeous covers I've seen in a long time, this proved indeed to be quite a unique read. Suzette Field certainly picked an unusual topic in her book A Curious Invitation, presenting an eclectic collection of bookish parties - from Queen Alice's Feast to The Ball at Mansfield Park, straight to The Thomas Ewen High School Prom and Finnegan's Wake!
The focus on parties as literary device, and possible inspiration for your own fictional party, sounded fascinating and certainly did not disappoint. Not simply a reiteration of what other authors have written, everything from the location of each party to the dress code, food, and entertainment is being highlighted with refreshingly British humor.
Of course some might wonder what use such a book may have, apart from being wonderfully entertaining, and all I can say is, it's not just a marvelous introduction to the broad variety of novels included, even more so it opens a whole new viewpoint from which to dip into these, often classic, stories. Plus, if you should feel so inclined, it will certainly make for interesting party planning too. Of course, being one of London's top party organizers, Ms Field knows her way around parties that are, shall we say, a little different, so why not let her literar(ll)y inspire you to host your own?
In short: A delightfully bookish party planner!

4/5 Trees

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pan MacMillan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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