As the festive season approaches, minds turn to the quandary of what to put on Christmas lists and what to gift that loved one who just never reveals what they want. At The Cambridge Satchel Co., we love the tried and tested solution: Vintage Minis. This wonderful range, by the world’s best loved publishing house, extracts passages from various works by each author and gathers them around a uniting theme. Here, we talk you through three of our favourites.
Friendship – Rose Tremain.
This collection is an ideal taster for anyone unfamiliar (and how could you be!) with Rose Tremain’s work. It’s a perfect present to pop in your satchel, take to a quiet café, and devour in an afternoon, as you discover Tremain’s world. She writes her own intriguing introduction to the collection, providing a perfect prism through which to understand her work. A great virtue of Tremain’s writing is its focus on the less prominent features and characters of traditional narratives. Here, this approach manifests itself, as she explains, in her “close attention to love’s quieter relation – friendship.” Our favourite novels and films give us the impression that romantic love is the central pillar of any person’s life, but Tremain forces us to consider whether friendship might be more formative, anchoring and essential to human existence. It’s a question that this collection ponders by drawing on two of her best works: Restoration and The Gustav Sonata.
Home – Salman Rushdie.
The Vintage Minis tagline is Great Minds. Big Ideas. Little Books, and for no writer is that more fitting than in the case of Rushdie. A man of intercontinental background, being born in India and with British and American nationalities, Rushdie matches that geographical breadth with the subject matter and stylistic ambition of his work. His writing explores the interaction between cultures through the genre of magical realism, which blends realistic settings with fantastical elements. Tension is the theme which underlies much of his writing, whether the tension between orthodoxy and heresy, East and West, fact and fiction, or even between his own senses of identity. That last tension is central to the collection in Home, which explores questions of belonging and memory. One of our favourite lines appears in an extract of his novel Shame: “We have performed the act of which all men anciently dream, the thing for which they envy the birds; that is to say, we have flown.”
Love – Jeanette Winterson.
If you’re after clichéd love stories where generic boy meets generic girl, Winterson is not the writer for you. If you’re after a book which takes you on a journey with the author as your guide, on a quest for what ‘love’ really means, then look no further. Rather than allowing conventional notions and representations of love to determine her work, Winterson challenges and goes beyond convention, revealing an interpretation of love untethered by the strictures of social constructs. Lovers of history will find much to enjoy in this collection, which includes works set in, for example, 17th-century England. That said, Winterson reminds us that “the past is always history, and the past is happening every minute.” This is the perfect collection to get stuck into while sitting on the sofa during that Boxing Day lull, but be prepared to confront some big questions. Winterson asks “Is the soul there at all? Yours? Mine?” This is a question which pervades all her work, to which this collection is an excellent introduction.
There really is a Vintage Mini for everyone, be it a deeper dive into a favourite author or a first dip of the toes into the works of someone new.
Have you read any Vintage Minis? Are you a fan of Jeanette Winterson, Salman Rushdie or Rose Tremain? What should we review next? We are always eager to hear your thoughts - tag #CSCVintage to join the conversation, and find out more about our collaboration with Vintage here.
You can find out more about Vintage Minis here.