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OP: La Bonne Table

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by Ludwig Bemelmans

Ludwig Bemelmans (1898–1962) was a traveler, bon vivant, essayist, illustrator, creator of the irrepressible Madeline (one of the beloved twelve little girls who lived in an old house in Paris), and much, much more. Although his work achieved considerable publicity a few years ago when the late chef/writer/television star Anthony Bourdain announced (on camera, in our store) that this was one writer whom everyone just had to read, Bemelmans had already been a giant figure in the world of books. 

This collection contains many essays that he had written over the years, providing behind-the-scenes glimpses of the great food establishments and the larger-than-life people who owned or ran them. Heavily illustrated with Bemelmans’ own witty drawings in second color printing and delivered in his trademark style—irreverent, mischievous, and utterly charming—the pieces form a travelog of the high life that is absolutely timeless. 

Published posthumously in 1964, it was assembled by the prominent editors Donald and Eleanor Fried. It includes pieces published variously in such magazines as Holiday, Town and Country, Vogue, and The New Yorker. Some had appeared in others of Bemelmans’ books, but a good number appeared here in book form for the very first time. 

La Bonne Table has finally been reissued in a handsome paperback after many years of unavailability, though we are very fortunate to have located an excellent hardcover copy of the first printing of the American edition, published simultaneously in the UK. 

The book has been read—as indeed one might hope—but handled respectfully, and the pages are clean, the binding strong, and the case, Very Good, shows a touch of light damage along the top edge and some shelfwear. The unclipped dust jacket is Very Good with some small chipping and closed tears around the corners and edges, and the beginning of discoloration along the top. A previous price is lightly penned on the front flap. Overall, a good looking copy, now protected in a mylar sleeve. This is a scarce volume and most definitely a collector’s item.

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