I've heard folks say they hate Martha Stewart, and I'll never understand this.
No, I don't believe that she does all of that cooking, gardening and decorating herself. I think she has a staff of hundreds who do the work for her and she steps in as the spokesperson for her brand, just before the cameras roll.
But I do believe that she invented her brand and worked hard to turn it into the empire that it is today. I admire her first and foremost as a businesswoman. She has taken her knocks and recovered splendidly. Has she left a trail of bodies in her wake? Or should the question be has she left a trail any worse than any other successful business executive? Why do we admire cut-throat business tactics in men, and despise them in woman? Is Donald Trump any easier to work for? (And at least Martha doesn't have that wretched comb-over).
But I believe her show, her magazine and her brand, has infused America with a sense of style in our food, gardening, and homekeeping that we had not experienced in years before she came along.
And no, reading her magazine or her books doesn't make me feel inadequate, because I know that I don't have the same staff to do the work for me. I know that she is presenting me with the pinacle. There's nothing that says I have to achieve the same. My Thanksgiving table will not look as elegant as her's because mine will have some folding chairs tucked in around it. I don't have a table that seats 16 comfortably (or room to put one if I did).
But for me Martha is inspiration. Which is why I am gushing over her new book, Martha's Entertaining. It's a giant coffee table tome of photograph after photograph showing Martha's signature style in tablescape after tablescape.
I'm reading it the way I used to read the Sears Christmas catalog when I was a child, oooing and ahhing over every page, each more beautiful than the next. The shots of her peony garden make we want to find out where she lives and stalk her garden next May. It is beyond breathtaking.
Somewhere in its 400-plus pages, I will find an idea or two to steal for my own home. The rest is for wistful wishing, like that winning lottery ticket I keep hoping for.
Martha's Entertaining is a book to dream on.