We’re always on the lookout for books that strike a chord with our readers. In our New & Notable series you’ll find picks that appeal to our editors and that we can’t help but share. This week we’re captivated by the artful assemblages of Rose Cumming, interior designer extraordinaire; engaged with Danzy Senna’s short stories on women finding little bits of freedom in their everyday lives; and unnerved by The Chemistry Between Us, in which a neuroscientist takes on the questions of love, sexual attraction, and jealousy (among others) that befuddle us.

 

House & Home | Decorating

Rose C umming, by Jeffrey Simpson, is the first book on Cumming, the most flamboyant of the so-called Great Lady Decorators who invented the field of professional decorating and interior design in the early 20th century. Flavored by surrealism and suffused with drama, her interiors were sumptuous, mixing bold colors and patterns. Her own library had emerald-green walls, a peacock-blue satin sofa, and scarlet japanned chairs. The book is a richly illustrated volume on a great American artist, whose influence is manifest in the ongoing production of Cumming-designed fabrics and wallpapers. Rose Cumming will inspire the interior designer and home decorator, both professional and amateur alike. (Excerpted from Rizzoli, Publisher.)

Review

“This book is magnificent and is filled with stunning images of Rose’s work, including her early work and well-known rooms, letters, images of her original hand block prints, sample boards, sketches, and my favourite—a look book of sorts in the center of the book, filled with pictures of Rose’s rooms, [the kind of portfolio that] would have been given to clients way back in the 1920s & 30s.” ~marleyandlockyer.com

 

Women | Fiction

Each of these eight remarkable stories in You Are Free, by Danzy Senna, tightrope-walks tantalizingly, sometimes frighteningly, between defined states: life with and without mates and children, and the familiar if constraining reference points provided by race, class, and gender. Tensions arise between a biracial couple when their son is admitted to the private school where they’d applied on a lark. A new mother hosts an old friend, still single, and discovers how each of them pities—and envies—the other. A young woman responds to an adoptee in search of her birth mother, knowing it is not she. (Excerpted from Riverhead Trade, Publisher.)

Review

“Skillfully exposes the cracks in her characters’ domestic lives . . . . Though Senna’s stories address race, class, and gender, they never devolve into simple case studies. Rather, her collection offers nuanced portraits of characters confronting anxieties and prejudices leaving them not as free as they would like to be.”  —The New York Times Book Review

 

Psychology | Love | Sex | Sexual Attraction

How much control do we have over love? Much less than we like to think. All that mystery, all that poetry, all those complex behaviors sur­rounding human bonding leading to the most life-changing decisions we’ll ever make, are unconsciously driven by a few molecules in our brains. Physical attraction, jealousy, infidelity, mother-infant bonding—all the behaviors that so often leave us befuddled—are now being teased out of the fog of mystery in The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction. Neuroscientist Larry Young, one of the world’s leading experts in the field, and journalist Brian Alexander explain how those findings apply to you. (Excerpted from Current, Publisher.)

 

Review

“Combine a first-class neuroscientist like Young, director of Emory University’s Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, and an award-winning science journalist like Alexander, and the result is likely to be an engaging book about cutting edge science. They do a wonderful job of mixing and matching human studies with those of other animals to explain how chemicals influence and, at times, control behavior associated with sex, love, and longing.”Publishers Weekly

 

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