One of the few cities that I can still vividly recall from my travels as a young girl is New Orleans. The memories aren’t of the distinct architecture associated with New Orleans, yes, I can close my eyes and recall images of the bustling and energy-filled French Quarter, but rather with the mysterious beauty and spirit that embodies all that is New Orleans. It’s no one single thing that makes New Orleans a magical city that enchants and casts a heady love-spell on those who visit; it’s a combination of her people, diverse cultures and religions, history, location, design, arts and music, fusion of worldly cuisines, the dichotomy between the old and the new, and her strong ties to charming southern-infused entertaining and protocol. Author Debra Shriver, captures that multi-faceted enchantment of New Orleans in her new book, Stealing Magnolias: Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard, which she affectionately calls “part love letter, part scrap book”
In “Stealing Magnolias”, Debra takes us on a post-Katrina tour of New Orleans, in a fashion that can only be recounted by one who deeply loves the city. She shares her love story with the city, from the initial courtship which entailed short trips to New Orleans from her home in New York City to the moment when she and her husband committed to New Orleans with the contract signing for their dream home in the French District, just weeks before hurricane Katrina. Post-Katrina many were fleeing New Orleans, but Debra and her husband made the decision to stick it out, and they continued with the home purchase.
Photo of Debra’s renovated and beautifully decorated French District home.
Her guided, very personal tour of New Orleans takes shape as she embarks on the journey to renovate and decorate her French District home to its original state of elegance, glamour and joy-filled beauty. She journals her many experiences with setting up house and living in New Orleans, and along the way she shares, in a very intimate fashion – as if she’s one of your closest, dearest friends and is giving you a private tour of the magical city (and her home and gardens): all of her favorite places to shop; exciting and exotic things to do (yes, there is even a captivating story where she whispers the details of her foray into voodoo); recipes passed on from generation to generation of New Orleanians; fragrant glimpses into her courtyard garden; decorating adventures, the best restaurants to feast upon tasty epicurean delights; crazy, and colorful street parades; and entertaining fetes where formal gowns and white tie attire are de rigueur.
Stealing Magnolias, is more than an inspiring decorating book filled with beautiful photos of Parisian and New Orleans influenced design, and lush gardens. Nor is it a city tour guide you stick in your tote bag as you walk the jazz-filled streets of the city, but rather, it’s more akin to the southern tradition of being invited to a private home tour followed by tea or lemonade on the porch where the gracious hostess shares fabulous local gossip, and her favorite destinations and haunts of her beloved city with her visiting guests. It’s an enchanting book for an enchanting city.