The title, “What Shall I Say?” A Guide to Letter Writing for Ladies’, and the picturr of a glamorously dressed woman, hair immaculately coiffed, sitting at a traditional writing desk, pen in hand evokes a different world. A world of stately drawing rooms, spacious gardens and scented note paper. As if reading the index was not entrtaining enough, there are actual examples of what to say when writing to complain of being attacked by a vicious dog, of piano playing or the crowing of fowls. Should, per chance, you friend ask you to be her bridesmaid you are instructed in the correct way to accept her invitation. On the other hand, should you wish to decline, that is also shown:
My Dear Bella,
‘I can’t come! And I’m so disappointed for more reasons than one. Have I betrayed myself?’
What could possibly have happened? Has she been having an affair with Bella’s fiance? Has she run off with the milkman? What could possibly prevent her from starring at her friend’s wedding? The letter continues:
‘I am compelled to go away to the south of France with my mother. She is troubled with her chest again …’
This slim volume is packed full of gems like this. More than enough to stir the imagination of any storyteller. What if you should bump into the Queen at the supermarket. How should you address her, or her son, daughter, lady in waiting, gate keeper? Every bookshelf should definitely have one of these. And where can you buy one? Shakespeare and Co. The famous Paris bookshop is packed to the rafters with every imaginable king of book from the oldest to the newest, the biggest to the smallest. As I made my way in and out of all its nooks and crannies I fully expected to come upon someone who had been looking for the exit for several years. It’s that sort of place.
Don’t miss it if you have to go to France with your mother – or anyone else for that matter.