A few months ago I internet fell upon Susan Branch – a 74 year old author & illustrator who has been creating since the 1980s (when I was born) and has gathered the most beautifully connected, loyal group of readers she calls “Girlfriends”.
When I excitedly told Chris about her, my eldest kid heard me and said:
“So… you when you are older?”
I went onto order a few of her books, and have been working my way through her three illustrated memoirs. I’m now reading her last one – “A Fine Romance: Falling In Love With The English Countryside.” It’s one of those series and books that is just so wonderful that I want to both eat it whole, but then I am rationing it out… because there are no more books in this series (yet) and WHAT WILL I DO WITHOUT A SUSAN BRANCH ILLUSTRATED MEMOIR IN MY TO DO PILE?
I think Susan Branch gives me inspiration for a retirement plan. Make handwritten, hand illustrated books with photographs? Go on adventures & slow document them?
Her third book about England is also giving me major cravings to visit the Mother Country. My family has been in Australia for six generations, mostly in the one small town. my heritage is English & Danish, but most of all Small Town Inbred. Just so you know what we’re working with here. Ha!
When I was younger I craved experiencing vastly different cultures. I was an exchange student to Malaysia for a few months, Chris & I travelled around India for a month, and we spent a week in Singapore too. I reckon it’s a sign of middle age that I want to go visit where my ancestors came from.
I also want to acknowledge here that England is a problematic colonising nation. I think about Nora Krug’s illustrated memoir Belonging: A German Reckons With History & Home… where she works through her ancestral heritage during the Nazi era.
Anyways: Susan Branch. Wildly prolific. The handwriting. The details. The deliciousness. The inspiration. Also, babes, can you please write your next memoir already?
She’s kind of SARK meets Martha Stewart!
Anyone else know of any other illustrated memoirs/travelogues about England… or anywhere really? It seems like a super niche market! Tuttle Publishing has kind of cornered the market for illustrated memoirs for Asia, especially Japan. They have some phenomenal reads! This one was the most visually stunning I’ve ever read… I could just read Florent Chavouet books of him travelling around the world.
Maybe illustrated travelogues are my new niche book obsession! Watch this space!