Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge - Lindy Woodhead

Title: Shopping, Seduction, & Mr. Selfridge
Author: Lindy Woodhead
Pages: 352
Published: 2013 (first published 2007)
Challenges: I Love Libraries, Non-Fiction
Genre: Biography, Non-fiction
Edition: Movie Tie-In Paperback
Source: Library

Description: Harry Gordon Selfridge was a charismatic American who, in twenty-five years working at Marshall Field’s in Chicago, rose from lowly stockboy to a partner in the business which his visionary skills had helped to create. At the turn of the twentieth century he brought his own American dream to London’s Oxford Street where, in 1909, with a massive burst of publicity, Harry opened Selfridge’s, England’s first truly modern built-for-purpose department store. Designed to promote shopping as a sensual and pleasurable experience, six acres of floor space offered what he called “everything that enters into the affairs of daily life,” as well as thrilling new luxuries—from ice-cream soda to signature perfumes. This magical emporium also featured Otis elevators, a bank, a rooftop garden with an ice-skating rink, and a restaurant complete with orchestra—all catering to customers from Anna Pavlova to Noel Coward. The store was “a theatre, with the curtain going up at nine o’clock.” Yet the real drama happened off the shop floor, where Mr. Selfridge navigated an extravagant world of mistresses, opulent mansions, racehorses, and an insatiable addiction to gambling. While his gloriously  iconic store still stands, the man himself would ultimately come crashing down. (via Goodreads.com)

Thoughts: If I wasn't for the TV series airing on PBS, I probably wouldn't have picked up the book, as I hadn't heard of the book prior to the series.  While the book is an interesting look at the life of Henry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridges, the author seems to get bogged down in the sort of details that most people wouldn't be interested in, including myself, especially those about the financials, which made me bored to tears.  As you can probably tell, I was more interested in his personal life, but I guess since that his personal life was intertwined with that of the store, one couldn't exactly ignore the business side of his life.

Bottom life: While the book has lots of information, the way that the author presented the information became dry due to her descriptions that became wordy, even though the author does do a wonderful job in telling who Henry Selfridge was, both good and bad.  Recommended, but with some reservations.

Ratings: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 5442
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