“It’s just a little something,” my friend Pat said, handing me a small blue and white gift bag. ” It has absolutely no practical purpose at all.”
“That’s actually the perfect kind of gift,” I answered. Reaching inside past the tufted white tissue, I pulled out a bound book of postcards entitled Reading Woman, each of the 30 cards a beautiful reproduction of a fine art work depicting a woman reading. I paged through the book, a miniature art gallery in the palm of my hand. Some of the paintings were familiar, others less so, each one of them capturing the sanctuary to be found between the pages of a book, the moment’s release from the burdens of everyday life, the hour when a woman’s imagination takes flight and she becomes immersed in the pages of her story.
Interesting, isn’t it, that so many different artists through the ages would choose to paint a woman reading. Obviously, the mysterious allure of reading belongs to the observer as well as the participant. I’ve spent some time looking at each card, noticing the way each woman holds her book, the play of sunlight/candlelight/lamplight/shadow on her face or falling across the page, noticing when a china cup sits beside her or a small animal nestles at her feet. I smiled with delight at the Victorian woman, languishing in her claw footed bathtub, her book splayed open on a table beside her; wondered at the young woman wearing a red dress, perched on a folding chair beside a swimming pool, lost in a book while her friends bathed in the water.
And so, I became determined that these beautiful postcards not be placed (however lovingly) in the back of my stationary drawer – that they have some “practical purpose” after all. It occurred to be that it would be fun to have some of them on the wall in my reading rooms, the one here, and the one in my house in Florida. So I carefully removed some of my favorite cards from the binding and went in search of collage frames in which to place them. I found the perfect pair of frames, one for each place, and now have a lovely collage of Reading Women for each of these rooms.
One of the paintings is perfect for the header of this blog. As soon as my son (the designer) returns from his travels, I hope you will see it there.
And the remaining 20 cards…well, I think they should be used as they were intended. Winged messengers to send to other women who read.
So, if you would like one of these small portraits for your own, simply e-mail your postal address to me at beccasbookstack (at) gmail (dot) com, and I will send one off to you.
A gift from one reading woman to another.