Heiresses, by Laura Thompson
More and more I am drawn to non-fiction or semi-fictional books about the lives of extraordinary women, a new favourite genre I have explored this year through The Paper Garden: Mrs Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, The Social Graces, Ladies of the Grand Tour and now Heiresses, by Laura Thompson (plus one I haven’t finished yet but will share in a future letter).
Released only a couple of months ago, I stumbled upon Heiresses last week and I downloaded the audiobook on the spot because it sounded right up my alley. A book about the lives of some of the richest women of the past, starting more than four hundred years ago and making its way into the twentieth century – yes, please!
Source – Consuelo Vanderbilt, the Duchess of Marlborough and her son
Setting aside the dramatic lives of most of the heiresses featured, very compelling and worthy of further exploration, I am adding layers of knowledge and understanding to my existing notions of British and American history, culture and society and how these were shaped by certain trends or realities of the past.
Add to this all the little quirks and fascinating details about some of these incredible women, and you know I absolutely loved this book and I fully recommend it. It’s simply irresistible to see to what displays extremes of exhibitionism having money pushes people, and I do wonder if their apparent lack of regard for social conventions, for example in terms of marriage or children, was fully powered by money and status or if these things were simply more common and accepted in the past than I would have thought.
A brilliant book, and now I am keen to explore some of Laura Thompson’s other works on the Mitford Sisters and Agatha Christy!
The Dean Martin Show
Last weekend, while listening randomly on Youtube to more old recordings from the 50s-70s, a Dean Martin compilation came up and I went for it. This is how I discovered The Frank Sinatra Spectacular, which I’ve now viewed at least three times, in a little over one month.
I got very lucky again, as this was not a compilation or a show, but a short documentary about The Dean Martin Show, a variety-comedy series he presented from 1965 to 1974, and Wikipedia says not to be confused with The Dean Martin Variety Show (1959–1960).
I didn’t even know this existed, and to find that there were almost three hundred episodes, some available on YouTube, truly is an exquisite find that will keep me good company during the long winter evenings ahead. Similarly to Ella Fitzgerald, featured in last week’s letter, I actually didn’t know much about Dean Martin’s life or career either, be it singing, performing, acting or whatnot. I’ve already started to correct that and I can just tell there are many hours of pure entertainment waiting for me in his Celebrity Roasts too, but I will likely start with this other documentary – Dean Martin – The One & Only, to first fill in some gaps.
Watch this and discover where most of the current successful entertainment formats have gotten their inspiration from. Enjoy!
Exquisite Clutter III
I have written about exquisite clutter before a couple of times and I will surely do it again. I love houses or spaces with a history, with layers of objects that belonged to different times and people, that make up lives, that speak about interests and passions. There’s a fine line between exquisite clutter and hoarding, not just in what objects one collects, although that indeed is very important, I suppose can also be very subjective. What does it for me is really in the way everything is being displayed, how it is used to decorate a space, rather than allowed to swallow it whole.
Via Messy Nessy I found an article about The One Bedroom Museum of teacher, artist and collector Thomas Lollar. His is clutter of a particularly exquisite kind through his passion for history and very distinctive interests, but even if one doesn’t share these, you can’t deny the thought and art that went into the way it is ‘exhibited’. It doesn’t look messy or busy, it doesn’t feel like a shop or a warehouse. It’s a home museum or a home collection, and even though I might just be coining the term here, it’s not a new concept, of course.
I can’t hope my clutter will ever be so cultured or look so sophisticated, but I can promise I will try!
The Floral Rug
I suppose I am very late to the party of the bright floral rugs from Anthropologie, but I saved the image above on Instagram a few weeks ago and I keep coming back to it. I’ve since browsed all their designs and I’ve made a selection below.
These are looking more like paintings than rugs, and I have seen some equally gorgeous options online for better prices too, from Wayfair, Woven and the like. I won’t even go down the Etsy rabbit hole, but if you are looking for a new rug and have a few hours to spare, it’s a must.
Source – Advanced Style, this is what healthy later years look like
I don’t know if it’s because of my interest in the topic or because of increased general interest, but in the past couple of weeks, I stumbled upon and read quite a few articles that all have to do with longevity, calculating how many years we have left, how to extend human life or more specifically, add healthy years to our lives.
Nutrition, lifestyle, physical activity, looking after the immune system and rejuvenating our cells, alongside having long-term loving relationships and being optimistic, are the top factors that can give us more time on Earth.
On top of all this, I have also just discovered the concept of time millionaires or billionaires, striving for leisure and time to be enjoyed as pleased, rather than wealth, and I think all these articles point to the same conclusion – we are keen to live better for longer, and I can only encourage anyone to be more mindful and intentional about this as early as possible.
I could use a simple daily checklist for longevity, it could literally save me years of my life! To be continued…
This exquisite find comes courtesy of… my dad! A couple of evenings ago he came into the kitchen and insisted I follow him out in the garden. Reluctantly, because it was very chilly, I went, so he could show me a cool app he was playing with – Sky Tonight.
I find stargazing awe-inspiring, as I have mentioned before, particularly during a meteor shower, like the Perseids and the Leonides, but I’ve never really learned much about astronomy. This app seems to offer me the best opportunity to do so, and I like that it is very clear about what it can do, which is answering three main questions: What is that bright dot in the sky? What astronomical events can I see tonight? and How can I find the object I’m interested in?
I find it very user friendly for a non-connoisseur and I think it can be a lovely way to relax in the evenings for a few minutes. As the Leonid meteor shower is in full swing and will peak around the 17th-18th of November, it’s perfect timing to have discovered this.
Mark your calendars!
Quote of the Week – Freddy Mercury
Speaking of exquisite clutter, I just had to share this quote by the one and only Freddy Mercury, who famously said I want to lead the Victorian life, surrounded by exquisite clutter!
You and me both, dear Queen Freddy, you and me both! It truly doesn’t need any further explanation.
If this letter has offered you a moment of inspiration, kindly forward it to others who might enjoy it too. And if you have been forwarded it, indulge in all previous Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds and subscribe to the weekly letter.