A Tactile Tey
So, what’s a book to you? Electronic ink on a screen? Or paper, black ink, and the texture of the cover against your fingers? The words are the same, right? Sure—but the experience isn’t.
For just under 70 years, the Folio Society has made “editions of the world’s great literature, in a format worthy of the contents, at a price within the reach of everyman.” A Folio Society book is the ultimate reading experience: the tactile pleasure of crisp print on quality paper, with illustrations that lead the reader further in and words that engage the mind.
Proof that we can still do things right in a modern age.
I was thrilled to be asked to write an introduction to the Folio Society edition of Josephine Tey’s A Shilling for Candles. I’ve long loved Josephine Tey. This subtlest of writers crafts slim stories with complicated people moving through the most diabolically clever of plots. A murder mystery without a murder. A policeman who spends a whole book on his back in a hospital bed, investigating two victims five centuries dead. Or in the case of A Shilling for Candles, an actress in the spotlight who craves the quiet life.
We expect a crime writer to be clever. We open a mystery anticipating a turn of plot that takes us by surprise, characters with unexpected layers, a solution that makes perfect sense—in retrospect.
What we don’t expect is sly.
Josephine Tey is sly—sly in its meaning of sleight-of-hand, those deft turns of phrase and character that cause one afterwards to look back, frowning slightly over a thing glimpsed at the corner of the eye…
This is a gorgeous book. I particularly love the way Mark Smith’s illustrations don’t so much illustrate as they evoke. Such as this one, where you can feel the way the reporters are crowding in…
If you love your bookshelves, you should consider treating yourself to a copy of this, to pet it and preen…and to read, again and again.
The Folio Society’s page is here.