Queen Jane Approximately
A publishing mover and shaker puts good books in the hands of readers.
I was walking on the Lawrence Ave. beach in Chicago a few summers ago (I was either in town to speak with Eduardo Galeano or to attend my high school reunionthese things get fuzzy after awhile), when my mobile phone interrupted my Lake Michigan idyll. It was Jane Beirn inquiring about my interest in speaking with Adam Nicolson. Not having any familiarity with Nicolson, I expressed my ambivalence. The next thing I remember is reading Nicolson’s Seamanship and chatting with him upon my return to Bostonboth pleasurable experiences. When I say Adam is quintessentially English, I am referring to his choice of subjects, his lineage (son of Nigel Nicolson and the grandson of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West), and the fact that he lives with his family in a castle. I ask you, can you get more English then that?
I was talking with Jane Beirn recently on another matter and she mentioned Quarrel With the King. The book was published last fall to indifferent attentionwhich I can understand, as the book seems to have little to attract the attention of the currently embattled American public, or even that fractional part considered literate. Jane sent me a copy and, given Nicholson’s fine prose and the fact that he focused on a crucial century (1520-1650 or so of England’s history, including its bloody civil war), I discovered that there was much more to this subject than I had apprehended at first glance. And more than that, I concluded that it is a book any publisher wouldand shouldbe proud to publish. Thanks, Jane.