Celebrate dia dels enamorats or 'lovers' day' with Helen Oyeyemi’s latest story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours.
The collection's opening story 'books and roses', introduces us to Montse, an abandoned baby bearing a golden key, and Lucy, a beautiful thief who receives a key from her lover. Without giving anything away, the romantic climax of the story involves the bequest of an entire library and a meeting in a garden of roses.
In 'books and roses' Oyeyemi plays with the traditional Catalunian celebration of St George’s day, or rather Sant Jordi’s Day, on the 23rd of April – when people traditionally offer books and roses to their loved ones.
The Catalan tradition of gifting roses goes back to the 15th century, based on the legend of Saint George, who saved a princess by slaying a dragon. From the dragon's blood a rose-bush grew with the reddest roses that had ever been seen, which Saint George picked and gave to the princess.
It was only in 1923 that women started buying books for men, when the Valencian writer and book salesman Vicente Clavel, realising that Sant Jordi's deathday coincided with those of Cervantes and Shakespeare, decided to encourage people to give books as well as roses to their loved ones.
Today the tradition of giving books and roses is extended to family, colleagues and neighbours, so why not treat someone you love to a literary token of your affection today?
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