Georgina Campbell's Book Reviews

It’s The Little Things - Francis Brennan’s Guide to Life (Gill & Macmillan hardback (Gill & Macmillan hardback 231pp, €14.99). It’s The Little Things - Francis Brennan’s Guide to Life (Gill & Macmillan hardback (Gill & Macmillan hardback 231pp, €14.99).

Francis Brennan has become something of a national treasure since he and his brother John launched themselves into RTE’s ‘At Your Service’ some seven or eight seasons ago, and his warm and courteous personality beams out of every page of his best selling book, It’s The Little Things.

It’s a real feel-good read, and great to keep somewhere where you can enjoy a bit any time you have a few minutes to spare - pop it into your beach bag, or keep it beside the bed to end the day with a little dose of Francis’s sensible and good humoured advice on just about everything - how good manners at home make a pleasanter life for everyone, all about dinner parties, being a good neighbour, in flight behaviour, job interviews, dining out, even social media - you name it and Francis has the answer to doing it nicely.

It all boils down to courtesy and consideration really, and, as he says in his finishing lines ‘Be mindful, be kind, be happy!’ Seasoned with anecdotes from his travels, his beloved Park Hotel and wisdom learnt from his mother (there’s even an occasional recipe thrown in), this is a little gem. If you thought books on etiquette were old hat these days, just spend a bit of time with The Little Things.


The Hooker in the Lobby by Paul Treyvaud (Varsity Press, paperback 220pp, €15)The Hooker in the Lobby by Paul Treyvaud (Varsity Press, paperback 220pp, €15; buy online or from Treyvaud’s Restaurant)

By contrast to ‘It’s The Little Things’, Paul Trevaud’s first book is a warts and all account of life in the hospitality industry - the title is a fair indication of what to expect and, as he says in the first line. ‘If you are in any way offended by bad language, put this book down now!’

If that’s not a problem you should find it a great read - if you’re in the industry, you’ll find plenty to empathise with and, if you’re just a punter who wonders what goes on behind the scenes, you’ll find an authentic personal account here.

And, for those who don’t already know him through the highly regarded Treyvaud's Restaurant in Killarney that he runs with his brother Mark, or through his TV work, Paul is the real McCoy. A graduate in Hotel Management & Business Studies at Cathal Brugha Street (and, even more importantly, ‘classically trained throughout his life by Ireland’s original Masterchef, his father Michel Treyvaud’), he’s an industry professional through and through.

And, surprising as it may seem, the fundamentals expressed echo much that Francis has to say - the importance of family, for example, and the key role that an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong work ethic play in achieving success in hospitality. And, if you’ve always wanted to run a restaurant, go straight to the final chapter where you’ll find some very level headed advice.


A Taste Of Love by Theodora FitzGibbon (Gill & Macmillan, Paperback, 304 pp, €16.99)A Taste Of Love by Theodora FitzGibbon (Gill & Macmillan, Paperback, 304 pp, €16.99)

And so to Theoodora and A Taste of Love. Originally an autobiography in two volumes, With Love (1938-1946) and Love Lies A Loss (1946-1959), it’s a romping good read and full of surprises.

The first of which, for many readers, may be that she was not called Theodora at all but ‘settled on it’ after considering a number of options - something which may hold the key to the way she dealt with an extraordinary life.

This book covers her early years and, especially for those of us who knew her mainly as a cookery writer and colleague (she was the founding President of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild), the times she lived in and the people she knew are endlessly fascinating - Paris in the 1930s, London in the Blitz, and famous names including Dylan and Caitlin Thomas, Augustus John, Francis Bacon, Dali, Picasso and even the Soviet spy Donald Maclean who were in her social circle.

Even her early food experiences were exotic in the extreme - imagine being given cookery lessons by the former Queen Natalie of Serbia…After a famously turbulent marriage to Irish-American writer Constantine FitzGibbon, Theodora married the film maker and archivist, George Morrison (of Mise Eire fame), and they lived in Dalkey, where she wrote the Irish Times cookery columns for two decades, along with many cookery books including her most famous, A Taste of Ireland - this was my own introduction to Irish cooking and I always admired her staunch defence of good Irish food at a time when it was fashionable to run it down. She was her own woman - anyone who admires an adventurous spirit will love this book.

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