Coffee table books are already charming. What about a coffee table book that is about a charming concept and place—does that make it even more charming? Photojournalist Eamonn McCabe ups the ante by basing his first book, About a Village, on a historic country estate—described by anyone who’s ever heard of it as the quintessentially English village.
Best known for creating fashion images for Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire, McCabe steps off his beaten path onto cute little lanes, over unassuming hills, and through the woods of South Downs National Park in East Sussex, taking you on a Small World-like journey past the end of the road and into the township of Firle. About a Village is a photo-essay that stays true to title, pulling aside some sort of olde worlde (gotta have the extra “e”s) drapery (probably flower print) to reveal a place most of us only imagine exists in fairytales and daydreams.
For the ardent anglophile, this book leaves no cobblestone unturned. I know what you’re thinking, why hasn’t he used the word quaint yet? Just did. Tea cozies, hand-painted signs, freckle-faced youngsters greedily devouring their ice cream cones, a pub, an inn, blue skies and rolling hills, grazing sheep and shepherd’s pie… Quaint. Dig a little deeper and find a converted cow shed housing a hand full of artists-in-residence. I know, right?! I'm already on zappo.com looking for some of those sweet galoshes everyone’s wearing.
About a Village succeeds in transporting even the most jaded urbanite to a far off place, frozen in time not because its inhabitants are unaware of the world around them, but because they prefer it that way. McCabe introduces his subjects to you like old friends, arms outreached, welcoming you in for (you guessed it) a hot cup of tea.
About a Village is available now from Francis Lincoln Publishers.
Written by Julius Friedman