Book Review and Giveaway: Stealing Magnolias

Stealing Magnolias pg68

When Glitterati Inc. first contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing their latest book, Stealing Magnolias by Debra Shriver, I was thrilled to learn that it was essentially a love letter to the magical city of New Orleans. You see, I’ve had New Orleans on my mind since visiting back in June. New Orleans is the type of city that penetrates your psyche and whether you realize it or not, you always take a little piece of it back home with you. Intrigued, I agreed to review the book and read it from cover to cover in about an hour. The images are stunning! You may remember the home of Debra Shriver from a spread in House Beautiful. However, as gorgeous as the images are, Shriver’s prose, the way in which she describes having New Orleans cast its spell over her and finding her forever home in the Crescent City is enthralling.


The book explores how Shriver and her husband were captivated by the allure of New Orleans on their frequent visits. Eventually, they decided to purchase a home in the Vieux Carré two months after Hurricane Katrina. Shriver describes the home’s storied past and it’s transformation into a gorgeous home filled with macaron-inspired colors worthy of a memorable spread in House Beautiful.

Stealing Magnolias pg7

Shriver also delves into some of New Orleans most iconic topics: Creole and Cajun food, Mardi Gras, southern entertaining, voodoo and the dark side of the city, the history of monograms in New Orleans Culture, The French influence in New Orleans, and of course, a little lagniappe.

This is quite possibly my favorite quote from the book and the best way to sum up the mystique of this beautiful, old city: “I am always dreaming of New Orleans, both in my sleeping ‘travels’ and in my waking hours. Yet, with all my preoccupation with this three-hundred year old city, it is nearly impossible to isolate her, to try to break her ‘mojo’. The old city is at once exotic and familiar, cool and hot, scrappy and elegant, friendly and even dangerous. Her contradictions draw you in, and then, one by one, dominate your senses. Sight, sound, scent, and taste collude and conspire to captivate.”

{A Few More Images of Shriver’s Home via House Beautiful}

{The Garconniere}

{The kitchen with it’s iconic banana leaf wallpaper opens onto a courtyard.}

{The home pays homage to the history of New Orleans along with many local jazz musicians. Shriver’s dogs are even named Louis and Ella.}

giveaway details

The generous people at Glitterati Inc have agreed to give away a copy of this beautiful book to one lucky La Dolce Vita reader!

1. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this blog post telling me what you love most about New Orleans.

2. Leave ONE comment on this post between today, Thursday, December 23, 2010 and Thursday, December 30, 2010. A winner will be announced on Friday, December 31, 2010.

For  Extra Entries:

3. Follow La Dolce Vita on Facebook.

4. Post about this giveaway on Twitter with a link to this blog post for another entry (follow La Dolce Vita on twitter in order to show me your tweet). It is up to you to return to this post to enter your additional entry after tweeting about the giveaway.

5. Anonymous entries will be ignored, so please include your e-mail in your comment. Your e-mail address will never be used for anything other than to notify you if you are the winner.

Good luck, everyone!

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Tell Me What You Think! leave a comment...

  1. I’m not sure if this counts because I’ve never had the opportunity to go to New Orleans. It’s definitely on my list of hot spots to visit not only for the beautiful architecture but for the ambiance, food and so much more!

  2. I love New Orleans for many reasons: the hospitality, the beignets, the ambience. I love New Orleans the most because the first time I visited, I went to visit a man. While there, I met a friend of the man. Over time, the man betrayed me. However, the friend of the man became one of my closest friend and abandoned the man’s friendship for mine. That’s what I love most about the city–it gave me my friend.

  3. Everytime I visit New Orleans I can never get enough of the amazing architecture. It’s so unique. I could walk through the French Quarter and St. Charles Avenue for hours picture taking and admiring the creole cottages, grand victorian mansions, and townhomes. Cafe Du Monde is definitely a favorite as well. The beignets are to die for.

  4. I have long loved New Orleans. My first trip there was on a whim in college when two friends and I decided to drive there from Kansas—at midnight! My last trip there was a magical time two months before Katrina. I’m so sad to not have been back since.

  5. I moved to New Orleans to teach in 2004 and promptly fell in love with the city. It’s hard to put into words, but New Orleans has a soul that I haven’t found in many other places. I ended up meeting my husband there and though we had relocated for his job, we returned to NOLA to get married at Audubon Zoo. I miss New Orleans and can’t wait to go back and visit.

  6. I have never been to New Orleans. But my husband lived in Louisiana for two years. We eat Cajun all the time. (Jambalaya is my favorite dish!) So my favorite part is the cuisine! I also really enjoy the jazz and zydeco music! One day we’ll go back and then I can’t wait to explore the city and the architecture!

  7. My boyfriend and I took one of our first romantic getaways to New Orleans. I have such lovely memories strolling brick streets hand in hand, long and leisurely dinners at Emril’s various restaurants and drinks and jazz on humid summer nights.

  8. I love everything about New Orleans…the beautiful architecture, the amazing food, but my favorite thing is the spirit of the city…you can’t beat the people of New Orleans!

  9. There’s so much to love about New Orleans! It’s vibrancy and energy captivated me from the start and I cannot wait to get back. Of course the food helps, but it’s a mixture of the people, art, music, and overall spirit that is hard to put into words that make the city so special.

  10. I have not traveled to New Orleans yet but, my dear friend was raised there and constantly tells me I have to take a trip with her to see the fabulous buildings, antiques, and nightlife. It’s definitely on my list of places to visit!

    Great giveaway- I will make sure to spread the word on twitter!

    xoxo- Tiffany

  11. What Do I Love About New Orleans?

    -Sweating and dancing to the sounds of Rebirth Brass Band with wild abandon, in the tiny, tin-ceilinged Maple Leaf Bar, as they work the crowd into a frenzy

    -The centuries old canopy of arching oak trees, that gracefully line St. Charles Avenue

    -Watching the sunrise on a bench next to the Mississippi with a bag of hot beignets covered in powdered sugar, and a cafe au lait from Cafe du Monde

    -The perfumed smell of night blooming jasmine and magnolias, escaping from the secret, brick walled courtyards on warm evenings

    -The clinking of ice cubes in glasses, the whirl of a slow ceiling fan, the tinkle of polished silverware, the crispness of white tablecloths at classic French Quarter restaurants

    -The joy and wildness of dogs running and swimming without leashes in the Mississippi River at the Uptown dog beach

    -The formality of still using Mr. and Miss with your elders (no matter how old you are)

    -Listening to the piano in the darkest corner of Jeanne Lafitte’s (nearly falling down)Blacksmith Shop

    -The colors of Creole cottages, the tangerines and aquas, pinks and greens, on a blindingly bright sunny day

  12. I love New Orleans because of the family history it holds for me. My mother grew up there, but moved away after she married my father. She was not close to her relatives, so we only heard a few tales of life in New Orleans. After College, I moved myself over to Germany, and lo and behold I met an amazing man from New Orleans that later became my husband. Whenever we visit I love to sit and day dream of the life of my family before me!

  13. I think it’s the city’s dark underbelly, mixed with that perfect alchemy of old world French elegance that gets me every time I walk the cobbled streets. There’s something so perfect about New Orleans’ imperfections.
    Cheers, Alcira

  14. Sadly, I´ve never been to New Orleans, probably because I live in Finland, but I´d love to go there someday because I’m so crazy about its music. I love jazz and soul so much that I could just listen to it all the time!
    ps. the pictures of the book look amazing <3

  15. Old romantic charm mixed with kitchy-ness, great music, the best food in the world, and the most lovely people. My grandparents grew up there and met there and it holds a very special place in my heart.

  16. New Orleans…there are so many favorite things…Crawfish, Cajun food, Creole food, and just down home southern cooking, New Orleans artists, the architecture, the interesting people, Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras, and the history of this amazing city. After living there for 3 years, New Orleans is always on my mind!

  17. Would love this book!! I adore the French influence in the architecture–all the gorgeous curly iron railings–but despite the influence the city has its own magic!!


  19. I am from Holland. And never have not visited N.O yet. HOwever watching and reading about it, i think there is a lot of European culture mixed in. French probably the most evident. Would be fun to go see…

  20. Growing up one state over in Mississippi, New Orleans has and always will be a great “long weekend” destination for us! I love staying at the Hotel Monteleone and simply walking through the streets of the French Quarter and up and down Magazine — so much history! It’s fun to imagine what it was like years ago and the people who inhabited these gorgeous spaces. p.s. love your blog!

  21. My all time favorite place in the whole world. I have missed that city every day since I moved away 9 years ago. Fortunately, I managed to convince my then-fiance, now husband, to get married in New Orleans earlier this year. It was magical!

  22. While I’ve never been to New Orleans, I love the way people talk about it. I love that it sounds alive and mysterious, almost like it were a person instead of a city. I’d really love to experience the whole atmosphere in person someday!