Dinner with a Book: A Room of One’s Own

Dinner with a Book: A Room of One’s Own

Friday nights are not what they used to be. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Cross your heart and tell me honestly –  are you sure you want your pre-lockdown Friday nights back? 

I guess that depends on how you spent them. All night bar-hopping can be fun, yes, but how much do you miss waking up to that slap of remorse on Saturday morning?

Going to movies is certainly missed – but thanks to Netflix at least there are options. What I am longing for most, though, what I’ve truly got an appetite for, is dinner somewhere nice. Flickering candles, starched napkins, the background buzz of fellow diners. I miss the leisurely perusing of a menu, now replaced with the wearied scanning of instructions on yet another supermarket deal.

Guess what – those dinner places miss us too; and more than that – they need our support as they struggle to stay afloat. The once guilty ritual of a takeaway has become a good deed! Tap in to those karma points and order something local. 

What ‘Dinner with a Book’ will do is provide you with a delicious theme and good company. ‘Company’? I hear you ask. 

But no, we won’t accompany you ourselves, and we won’t suggest you break the rules with illicit meet-ups. For what is better company than a good book? 

Let’s start this Lunar year with a new routine: stop by your library, get the book, then pick up that takeaway. Come home, set up the solo dinnertable of your dreams, and live your Fridays anew.

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Virginia Woolf  – A Room Of One’s Own

In the light of the upcoming celebration of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, it seemed appropriate to choose a text this week that contributed to the development of feminism.

Back in 1929, Virginia Woolf declared that women were denied two basic conditions that are essential to create art: a stable income and a room with a lock on its door. Over a meagre Oxbridge dinner finished with prunes and dry biscuits and washed down with water, she wondered, why was one gender denied prosperity, independence and appreciation that the other enjoyed so easily?

It is tempting to laugh at the quotes she collected from the works of respected men on the subject of women, which include ridiculous assumptions on women’s intellectual, moral and physical inferiority. Except that it is not funny, because for unforgivably long it was considered to be true. Women had to conform to those opinions and stick to their domestic duties, or risk being laughed at and shunned if they tried – say – writing poetry.

Woolf argued that the understandable frustration of such immense talents as Charlotte Bronte made its way into their work and clouded it emotionally. She urged to let go of such emotions, however unfair things may seem, to avoid conformity and to create art – not as recognised and praised by established patriarchal directives – but as only women can feel and want. She felt it  was time to hear what the other half of humanity thought.

I hope we are past the point where calling someone a feminist could possibly raise negative connotations. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said, we should all be feminists, without exception. A beautiful example of such collaboration and support would be Kim Jones’s work at Fendi this Spring, inspired by Virginia Woolf’s writing and the Bloomsbury Set she belonged to. 

That’s all lovely, I hear you say, but what about food?! Well, I have a suggestion. Let’s skip main course and go straight to dessert. Let’s celebrate the fact that we don’t have to dine on prunes, ‘an uncharitable vegetable (fruit they ate not), stringy as a miser’s heart and exuding a fluid such as might run in misers’ veins who have denied themselves wine and warmth for eighty years and yet not given to the poor’ (what a way to hate prunes). 

Why not order the most indulgent of desserts we fancy at the moment, for ‘one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well’. Wash it down with a glass of white, in a room of your own.

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‘Dinner with a Book’ is a new Londnr feature created & written by book blogger, Yelena from Foliovore.

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