Go to Homepage   Leslie George: Victoria Bath and Beauty: The Fine Art of Pampering Oneself


William Morrow & Company (Hardcover),
ISBN 0688162991
I'm trying to puzzle out why my editor tapped me to review Victoria Bath & Beauty: The Fine Art of Pampering Oneself. Maybe her warped sense of humor is showing. After all, she knows that my idea of pampering myself in the bath involves a cold Diet Coke ™, a bowl of potato chips, and a good mystery -- in paperback, in case I drop it in the tub.  

And it's hard enough to find time for that, much less for whipping up my own bath salts and potpourri. All from fresh, natural ingredients, of course. Who does she think I am, Martha Stewart? 

I figure she decided, after seeing me in yet another luminous purple ensemble (tastefully accessorized with fuchsia or lime green, of course), that it would be fun to force feed me an entire book of the subtle, pastel color schemes and lush, soft-focus photography you'd expect from the editors of Victoria magazine. She probably expected me to run screaming into the night from a sudden attack of color deprivation. Or develop an inferiority complex looking at the models with their long, Pre-Raphaelite tresses. 

Well, I think I foiled her nefarious plot. I actually enjoyed playing with this book. The décor may be a little low-key for my taste, but I can't fault the presentation. If you like the whole antique linen, natural fibers and worn paint school of decorating, you'll swoon. Although according to a good friend who owns a home cleaning service, this kind of décor is impossible to clean. You shouldn't even try it, she warns, unless you really like spending your time dusting and ironing and hand washing, or have a full staff of the kind of dedicated servants even the rich can't afford to hire anymore. (Or unless, like me, you espouse Quentin Crisp's philosophy that after the first few years the dust doesn't get any deeper.) 

Anyway, the book has its charms. I'm seriously thinking of trying out some of the recipes. I don't think I'll manage the Lemon-Tangerine Hand Cream, and if I had a capable masseur around the house I'd find better things to do with my time (and his) than mashing up marigolds for massage oil. On the other hand, some of the recipes for scented baths sound pretty nifty, and I can relate to the concept of turning even the smallest bathroom into a spa. 

So if you're tempted to call up some evening in the next few months, think twice. I plan to be very busy field-testing this book. And for heaven's sake, don't show up uninvited. I'm going to be really ticked if I have to get out of my tub to answer the door, shedding rose petals, cloves and scented water all over my hallway. 

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Donna Andrews


Donna Andrews is currently revising the sequel to her St. Martins/Malice Domestic Award-winning mystery, Murder, With Peacocks.

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