(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)
The little book, dated 1894, caught my eye. With its rich turquoise, red, and gold filigree cover and the title “About Women: What Men Have Said” it was impossible to resist.
I couldn’t help but wonder who had purchased it first. Was it some heartsick young man, seeking to find in the words of the poets what he couldn’t find a way to express on his own? Or, perhaps, a long-married man in search of a romantic token for an anniversary. It might have been a mother, hoping to curb the rebellious tendencies of a wayward daughter by reminding her of the virtues most desired at the time by the opposite sex. There was no inscription or message on the flyleaf so I’ll never know the book’s journey before it arrived at Anita Trinkle’s new shop “Eye Candy,” but it doesn’t matter. The book, wrapped in tissue and with a scrap of lace as a bookmark, came home with me.
Even in an age of constant wireless communication, there is something about a beautiful book that is hard to resist. And the little volume filled with verse and scraps of poetry singing the praises of the “fairer sex” is a peek into an age when women were valued for their purity, demure manner and motherliness above everything else.
Organized by months of the year, each day of the month features a few flowery lines from poets and authors like Shakespeare, Ruskin, Thackeray and Byron. Flipping through the pages, I stopped, for no particular reason, on August 18. The passage for the day was from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.
“The glance of a woman resembles certain wheels which are apparently gentle but are formidable...You come, you go, you dream, you speak, you laugh, and all in a minute you feel yourself caught, and it is all over with you.
The wheel holds you, and the glance has caught you.”
Ah. Obviously, as the book makes clear page after page, there forces that never change. And, as was the case with the book in my hands now, love at first glance is nothing new under the sun.
If you go:
Eye Candy Antiques
3017 N. Monroe Street, Spokane, WA 99205
Mon. - Sat:10:00 am-5:00 pm
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Home Planet and CAMera: Travel and Photo blogs, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com