Thursday, 30 September 2010

Pride Goeth Before a Review

So I finally broke down and read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. After reading (read: sparknoting) Emma, I swore myself off of Jane Austen forEVER as dry and dull and pointless. Not quite George Eliot. But close. I was wrong. Very wrong.

Understand, I did by no means rush into P&P and love every line of it from beginning to end. In fact, I almost gave up several times, really just wondering why I was reading pages upon pages in which NOTHING HAPPENED. And there were so many more pages to go. (To be fair, I had an idea of what to expect, having seen the Bollywood take on it: Bride and Prejudice. Excellent and highly recommended!) But I trudged wearily onwards!

I do not remember where it happened - probably around the time Mr. Darcy started being awkwardly in love with Elizabeth - but I suddenly found that I could not wait to find out what happened. The thought of putting the book down was terrible! The last hundred pages positively flew by! Overall, I am extremely glad that I read the book! I might even move on to actually reading Charlotte Bronte next!

My favorite character was Mr. Bennett. He was so funny!

Anyway, for those who do not know, a brief plot synopsis:

Mrs. Bennett has five daughters, not the best household income, and high ambitions. She tries to set her eldest, Jane, up with the new rich boy in town. They happen to be of a mind, but his friend, the stuck up and snobbishly rich Mr. Darcy, who insults Jane's younger sister Elizabeth almost immediately, breaks up the match for various reasons. In the midst of all of this, Elizabeth is proposed to (she being the second sister and all believing that the first is being spoken for) by her cousin Mr. Collins, a parish priest and highly obnoxious. She declines, amidst his protests that she's really just being modest and coy. Her best friend finally ends up marrying him, and the two are happy together, unlike Jane and Elizabeth. Elizabeth, in the meantime, has met Mr. Wickham, a former companion of Mr. Darcy who we learn at his introduction has fallen beyond out of favor with Darcy. Several plot points later, Elizabeth declines Mr. Darcy's proposal, realizes she loves him, and Lydia, another sister, runs away with the dastardly wicked Wickham! What will the family do with this taint to their honor! Will Mr. Darcy save the day? (Obviously.)

I'm so happy I read this! Are her other novels as good?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Golden Age of Fashion

So Jilly beansTALK is both a fashion blogger and loves working with textiles at the museum. She specifically loves loves loves 1930s fashion. This is the blog post I've been promising her for over a month!

I decided to go with all Hollywood stars, rather than Real People, as the focus here is more High Fashion than what everyday people wore. You will notice that everything is sinking: the bobs of the 1920s reach their halfway point before hitting shoulders in the 1940s (which is basically the same hair as the 30s, just longer), and the dresses have become slightly less outlandish (though shinier...?) and much longer. Slits may go all the way up, but hem lines have gone all the way down. Fashionwise, it's almost like the rebellious teenagers grew up and realized that they had to put away the midriff baring tops and put on a business suit- the clothes are much more recognizably formal and plain (decoration comes from accessories), with an emphasis on the lines of the body.

And now, without further ado:

The Blond Bombshell, Jean Harlowe in 1937. Classic white (as far as I can tell) No frills. No fuss. Just a rich satin dress and a lot of curves. Sadly, she died at the age of 26. But let's not dwell on the tragic, shall we?

Adele Astaire (Yes, THAT Astaire) in 1933, rocking the knitted look and some serious shiny!

Alice Faye in her little black dress in 1935, mid-transformation from black swan to human!

Some serious jealousy and clinging fabric and ruffles starring Alice White and Myrna Loy in their 1931 film The Naughty Flirt! I love Myrna's sleeves, but that bow MUST go.

The sophisticated Anna Mae Wong (the first Chinese movie star) in 1937. While I'm not terribly fond of the disco-ball of a jacket, I really don't think I'd like the dress by itself. So I approve of her wardrobe decisions. ^_^

Claire Trevor wearing a dress in 1937 that could pass (I think) on any red carpet (or at least a wedding) today. And some really interesting hair. She also appears to have picked up a mysteriously shiny jacket... I suspect an invasion.

Fred Astaire (Brother to the above) with Claire Luce in The Gay Divorcee in 1933. Simple. Streamlined. Room for dancing without showing any leg. Oddly fluffy sleeves. She's very pretty though.

The stunning Ginger Rogers in (what is possibly the worst photograph I have of her, but it suited my purposes the best) Shall We Dance in 1937. A fine example of fashionable outerwear. Again, very plain fabrics and with little decor. But the fabrics themselves speak of money and glittering diamonds, and the accents (the bow, the belt, the little cap with the veil) all scream Fashion!

The Vamp, Gloria Swanson, in 1932. A prime example of a beautiful woman who can not only hold a strenuous day job of acting, but can also hunt and skin a tiger without getting a drop on her white dress. The locked chain around her waist is open to interpretation.

1931. The Dietrich. Also known as Marlene. Lovely, fashionable, famous. All made possible by her amazing Gold Arms. (She was related to the original Oscar statue - the resemblance is all in the bow). I really wish this photograph was clearer so that we could better establish what exactly is growing out of her left shoulder. Whatever it is, I don't recommend it try to take on those cheekbones.

Norma Shearer in 1935. I've always found the resemblance between her and Marlene Dietrich confusing. At least Norma knows that Large Obnoxious Poufs of Fur compliment one's puffy hair much more than skintight shiny gold. I love the way her skirt gathers. I'm a bit concerned about that head in the background though...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Tea of the Day!

Orange Spice and Lavender Tea (Wellcat): 4/5

A concoction created by Dave when I could not decide which tea to drink one day (a few months ago...)! I have always wanted to try mixing the different teas I have together to see what I could see and taste what I could taste. But then when the time comes for a cup I forget...
Anyway! This blend is delIcious! (You will have to imagine the high note in the middle of the word) It's difficult to balance the two so that the lavender is still evident whilst not being over powering.

The initial taste is quite strong in the lavender department, mixed nicely with the citrus, and is even a little sour, but then mellows out to what amounts to the same flavor as the Orange Spice tea with a Little Something Extra in it. The scent is intoxicatingly delicious. Especially as the weather cools. ^_^

Some may find a sweetener appropriate (I recommend sugar or its equivalent. I do not think honey would work well)

Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea.
~Henry Fielding, Love in Several Masques

Monday, 27 September 2010

Medieval Monday!

I solemnly swear to update every day this week! (and not always in Middle English...)