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Delights of the Week

6 Apr

Drink: Freshly-squeezed orange juice.
Food: Tiramisu.
Film: The Exorcist.
TV-Series: Sherlock.
Dandy: Benedict Cumberbatch.
Holiday destination: Madeira.
Book: Anne of Green Gables.
Sound: Phone logging out at work.
Song: Dancing on my own – Robyn.
Motto: This too shall pass.

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>Book Review: Anne of Green Gables

19 Feb

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Anne of Green Gables is one of those classics that millions of children grew up with. I, however, grew up with the famous Megan Follows adaptation that first aired in the 80’s. My aunt instilled in me a love for all things Anne and Gilbert and we watched the series on old tapes, despite the fact that bits and pieces were missing.
Imagine our joy when it was released on DVD a few years ago. We’ve watched it many times since and a while ago, I got it into my head that I should read the books that first gave birth to the colourful world of Avonlea. I always likened myself to Anne; I have the same wild imagination and thirst for knowledge and books. No, I’m not Canadian and my hair isn’t red. But I’m sure that if Anne and I were to meet, she’d find me a kindred spirit.
The first book opens with a description of Anne’s childhood and at first, her endless ramblings left me breathless. She is instantly loveable but I found myself wondering how anyone could speak quite so much. But I was much delighted with the idea of giving places names such as “Lover’s Lane” and “The Lake of Shining Waters”. Perhaps we should all invent names more suitable for the places we adore. Mrs. Lynde, next-door neighbour to the Cuthberts, is entertaining from the start, that’s what. Meddlesome people who always pride on speaking their minds can become good friends too.
Although the book greatly differed from the adaptation in some points (some things were completely left out of the series, such as Anne visiting Sunday school and their story writing club), I never found myself annoyed at the differences or skipping pages. It did strike me as strange that Gilbert Blythe rarely appeared throughout the book save for mentions to their rivalry and the occasional brief interaction. It was evident from the first that he harboured romantic feelings for Anne, who must’ve seemed to him so much more worldly than her peers in her reflections and ambitions. 
Montgomery’s purple prose has been much talked of and at times, I tired of her descriptions and passed over them very quickly but it very much suited Anne’s personality so I do not mind it. No one I know would dedicate so many speeches to the trees and flowers of this world, but that is one character trait that is unique to Anne Shirley. Despite her many virtues, she is a very flawed girl; vain, temperamental and resentful (towards Gilbert, who she stubbornly refuses to forgive for calling her ”Carrots” as they first meet). But it is her flaws that make her appealing and she always strives to improve herself and never makes the same mistakes twice.
Dashing Gilbert Blythe 
Marilla perfectly counters Anne her dreaminess with her practical ways and Matthew, a quiet but kind fellow rarely strings more than two sentences together; however, his actions and thoughts are described in detail when he has not the courage to share this information verbally. Without a doubt, Montgomery is a very gifted storyteller. When we read the book, we are transported to Prince Edward Island and the characters that inhabit it seem incredibly lifelike. We can visualise the flowers and taste the liniment cake that Anne bakes. I did notice an overuse of adjectives in speech tags early on but this seemed to improve as the book went on. 
Anne of Green Gable is a very agreeable experience that takes us through a vital stage in a girl’s life. We first meet Anne when she is but eleven and at the end of the book, she is a young woman of sixteen. We cheer her on when she struggles to fit in and snicker at the many scrapes she gets herself in. It is a very realistic portrait of a young girl and I eagerly await her next adventures.

5/5 stars

>Reading List 2011

18 Jan

>Enough already.

I’m sick of buying new books only to display them on my shelf. I’m sick of starting to read a book and then abandoning it with equal enthusiasm.

What is the point of having a bookshelf full of books if they’re only there for decorative purposes?

I’ve made myself a promise this year: I will not buy any new books before I have read every book on the shelf.

I’m writing this at work so the list below may in incomplete. First draft:

THE LIST OF DOOM:

READ:

Pride and Prejudice
Northanger Abbey
Persuasion
The Painted Veil
Masterclass in writing fiction
The art and craft of storytelling
Bridget Jones’s Diary

STARTED READING:

Wuthering Heights
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Emma

UNREAD:

Mansfield Park
Sense and Sensibility – part of my Reading Challenge
Victorian Life
A Journal Of the Plague Year
Ulysses
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Middlemarch
Anne of Green Gables (not yet received)

I’m happy about one thing: that most of my books are still back home so I can’t possibly read those (excuses, excuses…).

After that I should move on to my e-reader. That’s still chock-full of partially-read books. But that’ll come later. Let’s start reading! Once I finish one of them, I will write a review.

>Creating your Own Vintage Wardrobe

13 Jan

>I’m sure I’m not the only one who admired the wardrobe of Downton Abbey. I’ve always had a thing for historical clothing – they’re classy, sophisticated and unique. Back in the day, the rich had tailors and fashion was still an art. Ladies put in the effort to be stylish and sleek. Sometimes, their style became a part of their reputation and attracted men. That has become a rarity.

In today’s world, we all dress alike. Not many still design their own clothes or peruse vintage stores for that one jewel. Sadly, classy isn’t en vogue anymore. Quite the contrary. Tacky is. Ironically, Dita von Teese is an exception. Although I don’t condone her lifestyle or profession, I greatly admire her fashion sense. Vintage can be beautiful and it makes us stand out.

                                                          Edwardian fashion in Downton Abbey

Nowadays, pencil skirts and fishnet tights have become the norm. Sure, the secretary look can be sexy, even pretty. But not nearly everyone has the figure to pull it off. Many women suffer from chunky ankles and flabby thighs. Modern clothing does us few favours. So, how can we get our hands on vintage designs with their long, flowing gowns and puff sleeves? Every now and then, Victorian influences creep into today’s fashion. But most of the blouses are transparent. What do you wear with that? Other tops have an unusual cut that doesn’t flatter us. I’ve given up on high street stores (well, with some exceptions as listed below). So I’ve turned my attention to other resources instead.

Class, accessories and style are united in this striped number

As I like to say: Google is your friend. Many websites are dedicated to vintage reproductions to fulfill our every need. If it is an antique’re looking for, Ebay might be the answer. I spent a large portion of this morning searching for Victorian and Edwardian items and stumbled upon over a dozen original outfits – some dating back as far as the 1880’s. And of good quality, too! So, I put in a bid or two and fingers crossed, I will soon be the owner of an antique Victorian jacket. Naturally, they cost rather more than a reproduction but they’re certainly worth it.

Another alternative is Etsy – more suitable for those who, like most of us, live on a budget. You’d be surprised at the amount of vintage inspired clothes and accessories people have made and put up for sale. It is relatively cheap, innovative and you’ll be hard-pressed to run into someone wearing the same outfit.

                                                          Ruffles galore in Anne of Green Gables


Fashion tip:
Notice how in Anne of Green Gables a simple blouse and waistcoat combination instantly gives you a classy, vintage look. I’m sure everyone has a white blouse somewhere hidden in the corners of their wardrobe. Waistcoats are easy to come by in regular stores. Try different styles for different results. Experimentation is key so start mixing and matching! Couple it with a long skirt in neutral tones and you could end up with a Victorian/Steampunk looking fashion hit on your hands. Notice how in the picture below Anne has a small watch on her waistcoat; you can also try a small brooch or pin. Adding that little accessory will liven up your wardrobe and keep things fresh.

                                                          The classical blouse/waistcoat/straw hat combination

Accessories:

Try adding a choker to your dress for a little extra sparkle. See how Mary spruced up her dress by accessorizing. Otherwise, a subtle string of pearls might do the trick. Pay close attention to period drama to see just how effective a well-placed necklace or headdress can be. Gloves are also a real eye-catcher. Nothing says elegance like the evening gown – elbow-length gloves combination. For outside strolls and picnics, you should give a straw hat a try. They come in many different styles, with all sorts of ribbon, feathers and even fruit. 

                                           Mary’s choker might be recycled but it’s a stunner.

                                               The very definition of puff sleeves.