A former co-worker once said that a really good cookbook rises to the level of art. If you believe that, you’ll want a copy of Venezia (Andrews McMeel, $34.99), by Tessa Kiros, on your shelf. I know Julia Child and French cooking are all the rage right now, but let’s not forget about Italian food! Venezia presents Venetian fare in a way that will make you want to start cooking immediately—or to book a flight to Venice. Either way, you’re a winner. You could even put this book on your coffee table; there are plenty of gorgeous photos of Venice to look at. So go ahead, open Venezia and take yourself away (gastronomically, photographically) to beautiful Venice.
There is sex, there is scandal, there is betrayal—in other words, everything you’d expect in a good courtroom drama. Emma Donoghue based The Sealed Letter (Harcourt, $26) on a real divorce case in 1860s Victorian London. The players in this drama: Emily “Fido” Faithful, early feminist, accomplished businesswoman; Helen Codrington, beautiful, bored, impetuous; Harry Codrington, distinguished Admiral, husband of Helen. When Helen embarks on a dangerous affair with a young officer, she recruits her friend “Fido” to help cover her tracks. But when Harry discovers the affair, the lid is blown off their unhappy marriage. Fido must choose between the friend she loves and the truth. But what is the truth? Who has betrayed whom? Great writing by Donoghue propels this story to its dramatic and surprising conclusion.
Can’t make it to Paris anytime soon? No worries, simply open the pages of Louvre: 400 Masterpieces (Abrams, $40) and take a stroll through the halls of the Louvre without being pressed for time or plagued with aching feet. Daniel Soulié, a Louvre historian, has designed the book to approximate an actual trip to the museum, with each chapter representing one of the nine Louvre departments. So take your time and enjoy the rich reproductions. The works depicted in this book were randomly selected, so you may be surprised at what you see and what you don’t see (e.g., no Mona Lisa).