Sunday, 30 November 2008

Bitten By Colette

A trip to Paris is not complete without a visit to the most bohemian of bookshops on the planet, Shakespeare and Co. Currently owned by 94 year old George Whitman, who still reads a book a day and believes that he is in fact living in a novel himself. The original bookstore was opened (at another location) by Sylvia Beach and soon became the haunt of the literati. T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway being amongst some of the visitors in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Today it houses an eclectic mix of new and second-hand books, along with a small library of first editions.
Watch out for Colette, (not a ghostly apparition creeping along the creaking corridors) but the bookshop’s dog famed for stealing gloves from unsuspecting browsers. Colette was so keen on the day that she tried twice! “That’s Colette, watch out for your gloves” I was warned as I made my way up the rambling stairs to the 1st floor library feeling a tug on my glove at the same time. I thought little of it but meeting up later with Sue outside she declared “I’ve just been bitten by a bloody dog and it’s stolen my glove too”.” Oh that will be Colette I laughed as the one of the tousled haired bookshop staff came running out of the store to retrieve the kleptomaniac dog. Luckily the bite was more of a nip so no blood was shed.

Wasn’t it Colette who said : “Dogs think they are human. Cats think they are God.”

By the way if you are interested in writing your own novel Faber and Faber run a series of amazing four day workshops every month in the upstairs library of Shakespeare & Co with sessions run by leading authors including Jeanette Winterston, Tobias Hill and Rachel Cusk and also feature guest lecturers. Not to be missed if you can get a ticket!

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