Read an Excerpt
It is my birthday. I am fifty-five years old. This is my third love book and the second one edited with someone else. My first was with my closest friend. This time I am working with my daughter, Natasha Tabori Fried. The timing is perfect. I am deeply in love again.
Two years ago I was in Kauai to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of a dear San Francisco friend. He had invited ten of us to share a house on Hanalei Bay for a week. One of the ten was his newly single best friend. Well, the daily rainbows, the rain on the roof at night, the moon in the sky, and the phosphorescent fish in the water (making stars above and below) certainly created the perfect backdrop. But our union, Franco's and mine, goes on. Our families and friends have merged. We have a life together in San Francisco and in New York. He's a technology guy and I'm a publisher, an editor, and sometimes, a writer. We're not the same at all. But we pair well.
I was reading a poem of Rumi's at one point this last year, as I flew back and forth between the two coasts:
When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you are not here, I can't go to sleep.
Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.
And I laughed, thinking how wonderfully specific someone else's experience could be to my own. This book is filled with such recurring recognition.
My daughter -- now twenty-eight -- and I read, talked, and shared with each other material that we loved. She rediscovered Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë. I discovered Nikki Giovanni and Simon Ortiz. We tossed anything we didn't both loveor anything that the delicious, merry, and very turn-of-the-century illustrations didn't resonate to. The images now marry brilliantly to everything from The Velveteen Rabbit to Napoleon's jealous letters to his wife, Josephine, to the songs of Cole Porter and the Gershwins, to the plays of Shakespeare. They adore their association with the recipes, and soar with the poems. The illustrations are key to this volume's charm.
This book believes that love is here to stay. It is packed with all the diversity that the Western world has to offer on the subject. Johnny Mercer's Something's Gotta Give is certainly different than Robert Frost's Never Again Would Birds' Songs Be the Same and, artistically, bears no resemblance to e.e. cummings' Somewhere I Have Never Travelled. But each of these creators is celebrating the beloved. Mark Twains ever-perfect Adam and Eve ("We?" says Adam. "Where did I get that word? I remember now -- the new creature uses it.") sets the tone for the books commitment. "He" discovers "she" in this divine piece and, complicated as the discovery was and often is, he cannot live without her.
This fat little book is overflowing with love. It is in love with love. Love at its deepest, highest, most touching place. Oh, yes, there is some obsession: Cole Porter's Nigbt and Day speaks of it, Sarah Bernhardt celebrates it, and the aphrodisiac dinner even attempts to instigate it. And there is certainly passion.
But there is also tenderness and humor. Love has a way of bringing everyone to the same place, and when Queen Victoria confides her love for her future husband, Albert, you come to the heart of the book. You will find this commitment spoken of in endless ways: in Robert Bly's exquisite Such Different Wants, and in the amazing letters that Winston Churchill, John Adams, and Dylan Thomas write to their wives.
Finally, there are the perfect recipes: chocolate mousse, fortune cookies complete with suggested fortunes, and unbelievable lemon hearts. A Forgiveness Breakfast will occasionally be in order and it, too, is here. But mainly, primarily, there is our hope that you will find this vibrant little book filled with profound and wonderful surprises.
To you, from Natasha and me,
Copyright © 1999 by Welcome Enterprises, Inc.The Little Big Book of Love. Copyright © by Lena Tabori. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.