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The English Understand Wool (Storybook ND Series)
The English Understand Wool (Storybook ND Series) | Helen Dewitt
12 posts | 16 read | 11 to read
A modern amorality play about a 17-year-old girl, the wilder shores of connoisseurship, and the power of false friends Maman was exigeantethere is no English wordand I had the benefit of her training. Others may not be so fortunate. If some other young girl, with two million dollars at stake, finds this of use I shall count myself justified. Raised in Marrakech by a French mother and English father, a 17-year-old girl has learned above all to avoid mauvais ton ("bad taste" loses something in the translation). One should not ask servants to wait on one during Ramadan: they must have paid leave while one spends the holy month abroad. One must play the piano; if staying at Claridges, one must regrettably install a Clavinova in the suite, so that the necessary hours of practice will not be inflicted on fellow guests. One should cultivate weavers of tweed in the Outer Hebrides but have the cloth made up in London; one should buy linen in Ireland but have it made up by a Thai seamstress in Paris (whose genius has been supported by purchase of suitable premises). All this and much more she has learned, governed by a parent of ferociously lofty standards. But at 17, during the annual Ramadan travels, she finds all assumptions overturned. Will she be able to fend for herself? Will the dictates of good taste suffice when she must deal, singlehanded, with the sharks of New York?
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RedHeadReader
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Pickpick

This is a short story really, rather than a book. It's very clever and witty. It really sparkles, and has left a smile on my face.

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Tamra
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“The Arabs understand honor, which embraces generosity and hospitality.” Honor also includes cultivating trust and if one can‘t be bothered to take the time, best not enter into a contract without due scrutiny.

Clever 17 year old Marguerite; her Maman prepared her well.

Since this novella is a tiny little thing, it‘s hard to say much without spoilers. I really want to check out the series of Storybook ND!

LeahBergen I have this stacked and have meaning to try it out for ages! 4mo
batsy I love seeing this cover every time it pops up here 😍🍰 4mo
Tamra @LeahBergen I think you‘ll enjoy it! 4mo
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Tamra @batsy isn‘t it fantastic? It has a subtle connection to the story and on reflection, is perfect. ☺️ 4mo
Caryl This is such a wonderful little book! 🍰🥰 4mo
jlhammar Glad to hear you enjoyed it. It‘s one I‘ve been wanting to read! 4mo
63 likes6 comments
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Caryl
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This is a such a fantastic little book. I neglected to take a photo of its magnificent 🍰 cover before returning it to the library, but I did snap a shot of the page with the line that made me laugh out loud (blurred further down the page, so as not to spoil the joy), so I could share it with the friend who recommended this gem to me. 💖

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Leftcoastzen
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There was a lovely NPR segment ,Littens have given wonderful reviews, & I agree. It is odd , charming, & well written. The idea that ND storybook volumes are slim enough to be enjoyed in a single afternoon is brilliant. I love big books, but sometimes you want a small gem! It‘s as delicious as those Thiebaud cakes look !

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Readerann
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I‘m going to look for more books from this publisher after reading this short little gem. The back cover says: “Storybook ND: the pleasure of reading a great book from cover to cover in an afternoon”.

23 likes1 stack add
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Suet624
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Ann Patchett recommended this 69-page book on IG recently. Fortunately, one of the libraries I frequent had it on the shelf. Like Ann, I read the story, put it down, picked it up shortly thereafter and read it again with a smile on my face.

Reggie Love that cover. 7mo
Centique OMG that cover. Those illustrations take me back to old childhood books and recipes in old magazines 😍 6mo
HardcoverHearts I had given up on short story as a form and then I read this as the very last read of 2022 and spent this year digging into them! It‘s pitch perfect, in my humble opinion 6mo
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Suet624 @Reggie @Centique the cover is a showstopper. 😎 6mo
batsy Yes to that cover. These editions are so pretty. Been meaning to read this author for awhile now and @merelybookish also gave it a positive review. 6mo
merelybookish It's an exquisite story! The cover art is by Wayne Thiebaud. He has a lot of paintings of pie and they are wonderful! 6mo
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Suelizbeth
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This book is recommended by Anne Patchett. It is the oddest little book I have read in a while. It‘s been compared to The Uncommon Reader, which I also loved. Sometimes the smallest books are the best books. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Christine Fantastic cover! 7mo
Suelizbeth @Christine IKR!?!? 📚❤️ 7mo
31 likes2 comments
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merelybookish
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This New Directions Storybook by Helen Dewitt is a delight! I've spent the last few months reading all her work ( 2 novels + 1 book of short stories + this), and it's BY FAR my favourite. Her writing is always smart but it's often bloodless. In this one, she actually uses that sang froid to her advantage.
Bought this copy at Shakespeare & Co back in April, so that added to my enjoyment. Kinda intrigued to read more of these ND storybooks.

Ruthiella Awesome. I had no idea this existed! 7mo
batsy An author I've been meaning to get to. I love the look of these editions 😍 7mo
LeahBergen I‘ve been wanting to read this. The cover is amazing! 7mo
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merelybookish @Ruthiella Honestly I think it's her best work! 7mo
merelybookish @batsy This is a good place to start. But The Last Samurai is a worthy read too. (You can skip some of her other stuff imo 🙈😬😜) 7mo
merelybookish @LeahBergen The entire series is beautiful but I do love Wayne Thiebaud's art! 7mo
Suet624 Ann Patchett raved about it and that‘s when I grabbed it from the library. 7mo
merelybookish @Suet624 I agree with Ann Patchett! 7mo
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Robotswithpersonality
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With apologies for a metaphor moralizing food, (pleasure should not be guilty): The cover is a great fit, this feels like a slice of sinfully rich cake, no redeeming nutritional value. High society crimes, villains which thanks as much to snobbery as fraud and theft, you love to hate, but make for a delightful escapism in hearing descriptions of the luxuries they indulge in while 'getting away with it'. 🧐

Robotswithpersonality The inversion of the traditional exploited teen trope was refreshing. 👌🏻In different hands, I could see a longer treatise on what a 'cold' upbringing does to the narrator after the time frame covered, but that was definitely beyond this moment of sly fun. 7mo
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Robotswithpersonality
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A considerate employer who acknowledges their mistakes...now let's have a few more outside the realm of fiction, please.

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Robotswithpersonality
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Walkability - key factor in choosing one's neighborhood. ☺️

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AlexGeorge
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The idea behind the Storybook ND imprint is to offer “the pleasure of reading a great book from cover to cover in an afternoon.” Helen DeWitt‘s THE ENGLISH UNDERSTAND WOOL is a crackling tale, full of wit and fury, whose deft evisceration of the publishing industry is just one of its many pleasures. Fabulous. @skylarkbookshop has this and others in the series in stock.

18 likes2 stack adds