Saturday, April 19, 2014

Old and Rare

Old Books, Rare Friends – Two Literary Sleuths and Their Shared Passion –by Leona Rostenberg & Madeleine Stern

Nonfiction / Memoir
292 pages
5 Stars

This is a book about old and rare books, and the two women who spent their adult lives finding them and bringing them to the light of the modern world. This is a book about enduring friendship, formed in college, and growing throughout their lives. This is a book about Life lived the way it should be—not as a book sleuth, but doing whatever it is you want to do.

The biggest problem with this book is that I didn't want it to end. I thoroughly enjoyed it from page one to page last. Early into the book, I decided to read more slowly, and to only read a couple pages a night to make the book last longer. Didn't work. All of a sudden, I found myself at the end, nights before I wanted to be there!

Their sleuthing of Louisa May Alcott and all "Thunder' stories she wrote under a pseudonym fascinated me. I had no idea she wrote anything beyond the Little Women books I read so many years ago.

Their story is delightfully told. First one tells her story, and then the other tells hers. Now and then, they write a chapter together. Because of these two women, and their love of the printed word, especially way back when, many old manuscripts, pamphlets, and books that very well may have been lost to history, and now in the hands of collectors, libraries, and museums where they are cared for, and shared.

Starting with their first venture into finding, collecting, and selling old and rare books, they enjoyed little more than each other's company and the hunt. And writing their catalogs, articles, and their own books (which I shall now have to hunt, find, and read)

This is a book I not only will keep and treasure, but one I will read again. And possible even again after that.

A delightful story, delightfully told, and perfect to read before turning out the light.

An aside: The woman who gave me the book wrote to them, and they, in turn, wrote back a delightful letter. Both a copy of my friend's letter, and their reply are in my book. Sadly, so are the dates of their deaths, so I cannot also write and tell them how much I enjoyed their book.

1 comment:

  1. As the woman who purchased this book and who wrote to the two authors AND received a cordial reply, perhaps what touched *me* the most as being special is that their reply in the 1990s had been typed on "onion paper" on a typewriter! At a time when the rest of us had switched to computers and abandoned our typewriters.