REVIEW: Personal Pleasures by Rose Macaulay
Personal Pleasures is an anthology of 80 short essays (some of them very short) about the things the feminist critic and novelist Rose Macaulay enjoyed most in life.
Ever since I read and loved “Business as Usual,” I’ve kept an eye open for other books that are being reissued by Handheld Classics. Some look interesting while others I’m not so sure about. I’ve never read anything by Macaulay before but the idea of short entries on the pleasures of life appealed to me.
Macaulay loved language, spending time perusing her father’s Oxford English Dictionary for fun. When she lost her belongings during the blitz, it seems her books were what she missed the most. I can get behind that. She was well read and also sent in information to the OED (used later when they revised their first edition) as well as actually invented a few words herself (used in this book).
“Personal Pleasures” is composed of (fairly) short essays (do not be put off by that word) on an eclectic variety of things that Macaulay enjoyed in life from the excitement of going “Abroad” and experiencing new things, the wonderful aroma of baking bread smelled by passing a “Bakery in the Night,” beating Marie Condo in advice about “Getting Rid,” luxuriating in a “Hot Bath” (but don’t forget a towel), “Logomachy” (there, I learned a new word about words), to the many and varied joys of “Reading.”
Part of the enjoyment of this book is seeing a master of the language at work. Though in the spirit of how Macaulay wrote her essays – including the flip side of pleasant things – I will admit that some of the quotes she includes from favorite historical authors makes reading a few of them slow going at times. This is a book to be dipped into rather than read straight. I knew that to begin with and did indeed discover my focus flagging after 5-6 entries. I’m not finished yet but I can see this being a delightful palate cleanser to turn to in between other books. B