For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to all things foreign and exotic. This fascination started when I was a kid, when our Episcopal church in New Jersey had a retired Bishop from India come to take over our parish. I remember being completely taken with the Bishop and his family, especially his lovely wife, Shala. A professor at a nearby university, her sari’s, beautiful smile and pretty accent made a huge impact on me at an impressionable age. Combine this with the Beatles traveling to Rishikesh to study with the Maharishi, and Sajid Khan starring in the TV series Maya – (does anyone else remember that show???) – and I was completely captivated by India. Ever since, I have had a very strong desire to travel and intense curiosity about other cultures that has continued right up to this day.
One of my first jobs out of college was working at a little jewelry store in Stonington Borough. This ended up being a good and a bad thing: good, because I got the chance to explore all the wonderful shops and restaurants this tiny enclave of Connecticut has to offer, and bad, because I got the chance to explore all the wonderful shops and restaurants this tiny enclave of Connecticut has to offer and, subsequently, was extremely broke.
Despite being post-college poor, on Sundays I would sometimes like to treat myself to slightly more fancy fare than usual by visiting Noah’s Restaurant just down the road for their famous brunch.
In this modern era of movie viewing, when you can watch almost anything you want anytime you want, it’s kind of amazing that people still go to movie theaters at all! But there is something about the shared experience of seeing a movie, especially in the beautiful, vintage theaters that now house many of our art house cinemas, that keeps people coming back for more.
The Online Slang Dictionary defines “My Happy Place” as “an envisioned calm place”. I would define “My Happy Place” as a favorite place – whether real or imagined- that I can return to again and again, that not only offers an escape from everyday stresses, but also brings the same kind of warm, contented satisfaction you get when with visiting old friends or a eating a big plate of mashed potatoes.
For me, this usually involves stepping into a story set in another era . My deep love of period pieces (especially British) began as a kid watching Masterpiece Theatre with my Mom. From there I began exploring my Dad’s collection of classic literature for books or plays that I’d seen dramatized on TV and in movies: Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy and above all Jane Austen. A keen observer of human nature, Jane Austen wrote characters with humor, intelligence, wit and very human failings then set them against the formal, structure and manners of 19th Century English society. Add to this idyllic settings in London, Bath, and numerous country manors and estates and the result for me is pure bliss…
I stepped into the bookshop and breathed in that perfume of paper and magic that, strangely, no one had ever thought of bottling.
CARLOS RUIZ ZAFON
If I had to credit one thing for my obsessive love of bookstores, I think I’d have to trace it back to watching Beauty and the Beast when I was little. There is definitely video footage (which I will NOT be sharing here) of me stomping around the living room in my bright yellow Belle gown, a basket containing a book swinging wildly on my arm, singing at the top of my lungs about how there must be more than this provincial life. I remember being just as swept away with wonder as Belle was when the Beast revealed his extravagant library. Couple that with years of reading Harry Potter, idolizing Hermione Granger, and dreaming about the magnificence that is the Hogwarts Library and you’ve got a bonafide bookworm, but more than that, a beautiful bookstore and library fanatic.
So, considering all that, you can imagine that when An Unlikely Story opened in Plainville, MA, I was determined to visit as soon as possible and dragged the family along with me.