It started because I wanted to expand my territory — isn’t that the aspiration of all despots? From my desk (in the former dining room) to the now beautifully plantation-shuttered front windows (of the former living room), the space is all mine, defined by the eight bookcases that line the walls. It is the “sitting room” extension of my office, the borders neatly delineated by the change from hickory to oak floors.
Despite my best efforts, DH and The Kid tend to ignore border signs. Perhaps they are not obvious enough. So there I was, contemplating the construction of a fortress of books, Michael Ball playing in the background — because Michael Ball, hitting all his high notes, can be amazingly inspirational. I found Michael Ball ten years ago and bought — actually bought! — several of his CDs. He does pop, he does Broadway, he does a bit of blues . . . . but a constant of his recordings is his signature song “Love Changes Everything,” from the musical Aspects of Love. And until a week or so ago, I did not know that Aspects of Love was based on the book of same title by David Garnett. I did, however, know who David Garnett was — all courtesy of my current interest in Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.
What can one say about a man nicknamed “Bunny”? That he was the son of Constance Garnett, that he was a conscientious objector during WWI, that he lived with Vanessa Bell and her ex-lover Duncan Grant, that he was also Duncan Grant’s lover, that he was present when Vanessa Bell gave birth to Angelica Bell (her daughter by Duncan Grant) and that he thought it would be interesting to marry Angelica when she grew up — and that he did in fact marry Angelica when she grew up . . . .
It was a pretty incestuous crowd; modern soap writers could learn a thing or two from their collective history.
I chose not to read Aspects of Love, but did find The Old Dovecote. Imagine my surprise when DH brought the book home from the library — a skinny little board book with just 27 pages:
It is a hand-made book, published as part of the 18 volume limited-edition Woburn Books (other writers include D.H. Lawrence, E. F. Benson, Algernon Blackwood, G.K. Chesterton, Sylvia Townsend Warner, and Robert Graves), published by Elkin Mathews & Marrot in 1928-1929. Another surprise: that David Garnett was a decent writer! Now I am ashamed that I could recall only the salacious details of his life.