God and my Right!
We're excited to share two extremely special literary selections with you this month! The first, the fiction text, is White Teeth by the amazing Zadie Smith. Smith is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, winner of the Man Booker Prize (for On Beauty), winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction (for NW), and winner of the Ansfield-Wolf Award (for On Beauty). White Teeth is Smith's first novel, completed when she was only 23. Released to critical acclaim in 2000, White Teeth follows two friends who served in World War II together- Archie, who lives his life by the flip of a coin, marries a young Jamaican woman and drives everyone around him mad by his mediocrity, and Samad, a Bangladeshi Muslim whose life choices directly intersect with the ethics of his religion. The city of London herself joins this large cast of characters who leave indelible impressions on the reader. We chose this book well before recent news from across the pond, but if you want to know more about the diverse and ever-changing composition of Britain, this is the book to read. White Teeth is included in Time Magazine's Best Books Written in the English Language and The Great American Read. If you like this one and want more of Zadie Smith, we recommend our favorite, Swing Time and Smith's most recent collection of essays Intimations on the global pandemic and racial unrest of 2020. All proceeds of Intimations are donated to the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund of New York and the Equal Justice Initiative.
Check out an interview of Smith about her background and the difference between London and New York below.Zadie Smith Interview
For nearly 20 years now, Erik Larson has produced engaging and exciting narrative nonfiction, setting his style as the example for historians and journalists alike. In essence, Larson has brought history to our living rooms with a style that captures the readers' attention like no one else in the field. This month, we're featuring Larson's newest title The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. Through the use of intimate diaries and public records, Larson recreates the story of Churchill's leadership during the bombing of Britain by Adolf Hitler. Larson brings us right into Churchill's inner circle to take a seat at 10 Downing between his wife and his cabinet as he teaches modern Britons a lesson on fearlessness. Named one of the Best Books of the Year and a New York Times Bestseller, Larson's The Splendid and the Vile is sure to capture anyone looking to understand bravery and leadership amid unprecedented times.
We here at Bibliophilic Excursions feel it critical to note that no politician, or person for that matter, is all good or all bad. We chose this book as an example of one cultural narrative, agree or disagree, from the origins of modern British culture. Additionally, it pairs nicely with our fiction text as the main characters reflect on the same era. Over the summer, local activists did choose to deface a statue of Churchill in London. This particular book provides a narrow lens of Churchill's leadership. If you're interested in more diverse portraits, we suggest Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II by Madhusree Mukerjee and Churchill and Empire: Portrait of an Imperialist by Lawrence James.
Check out Winston Churchill's address to the nation after the defeat of Germany in 1945.Churchil, 1945
The first items we're featuring are from Victoria Eggs. We've included their handpainted egg cup, card, and magnet. Victoria (real name) started her business in 2011 simply to make people smile. She is inspired by the world around her including the food she eats, the tea she drinks, and everyday London sights. Victoria graduated with an MFA from the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design in the UK. Her brand won the Gift of the Year Award for Made in the UK. As you know, we intentionally choose small local businesses because we feel they can represent their country the best and we believe in small working with small. Victoria took the time to hand paint each item in your boxes, a huge feat for a small shop, and delivered to us safely during COVID and Brexit. We hope her gifts do indeed make you smile the way they did for us.
A note on egg cups- they were first used in England during the Elizabethan period (1600s), though some archaeologists believe they found a silver egg cup in the ruins of Pompei. Nearly every British home has at least one egg cup, while many even see them as collectible items in more ornate varieties (The Latin word for collecting egg cups is pocillovy). In fact, egg cups are such a part of life in the UK that they simply cannot understand why Americans don't regularly use them. If you don't eat eggs, we understand (one of us is vegan). We've found some amazing crafts complete with your egg cup. Let us know what you made!Victoria Eggs
The Wilkins family has run the Tiptree Fruit Farm in Essex for nearly 300 years. Currently, the farm covers about 850 acres. That's 450 baseball fields! Tiptree is at the forefront, farming to LEAF (Linking the Environment and Farming) standards with each plant drip watered by iPhone and underground rainwater reservoirs. 4,000 visitors stop in each year to see the serious business of fruit.
We've included their very special lemon curd. According to Tiptree Chairman Walter Scott, “At Tiptree we developed a recipe in the early 1980’s; we used butter. sugar, eggs and lemons and called it Lemon Curd. It is quite unique, we use butter and for years our cooks actually cracked each egg from Tiptree but we now use pasteurised egg. Our lemon concentrate comes from Sicily, where the best lemons are grown, and it give an intense flavour. Our Lemon curd is cooked in small pans on a much lower heat than jam and marmalade”, Walter adds “if we used our jam pans we would end up with a big omelette or scrambled eggs!”
Check out one of their recipes below. We'll be trying the Lemon Snowball Cocktail ourselves.Recipe
No trip to Britain is complete without a cup of tea. We've included a lovely souvenir tin straight from London.
Tea became popular in Great Britain around the 16th Century due to its rumored medicinal properties. Catherine of Braganza, the former Queen of England and wife of King Charles II, made tea fashionable among aristocratic women by regularly engaging in ritualistic tea drinking in the castle at a time when tea was 6 to 10 times more expensive than coffee. Sugar and milk were considered a luxury until the 18th century. By the 19th century, daily tea was considered a necessity for the entire country from the Queen to the laborers.
Water should be boiled in a kettle. First, boiling water should be swirled in the teapot to warm the pot then tossed out. Next, loose leaf tea or tea bags are added to the teapot. Then, boiling water is poured over the tea and allowed to steep for 2-5 minutes. Finally, a tea strainer is placed over the cup and the tea is served in a proper teacup and saucer pair. Don't forget to hold the saucer with your off-hand and the cup with your dominant hand. Every finger should be curled into the cup rather than holding one finger out "American style". And there you have a "proper brew". Enjoy!
Find out what historical events made Britain a tea-drinking nation by following the link below.Why Tea?
If you've been with us for more than a couple of months, you know that each month we include a way to get connected. This month, we're issuing a challenge that we've taken recently. In April of 2020, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized for coronavirus. After spending several days in the ICU, connected to a ventilator with his life in the balance, Johnson decided to meet the challenge of the pandemic with a renewed understanding and new stamina for the fight. He challenged every Briton to head out for a morning walk or run because "everything you do later will be easy". He ushered in new health programs for mental and physical health during the pandemic. Johnson affirmed that we can all get through this together. We've taken the challenge, bringing Malcolm the Yorkipoo along in the mornings to greet our neighbors from a safe, friendly distance (he gets to nap afterward while we're hard at work), and we're challenging our excursioners to do the same. So get out there! Take some British pop or an audiobook with you! It'll be a doddle (British slang for something easy). You can find more about the UK's efforts to "Meet the Moment" by fighting this global health challenge with a focus on health at