The Unfinished Palazzo, by Judith Mackrell
It’s been two months and a half since my last letter (gasp!) I can’t believe it either, yet I half knew this was going to happen and what I am choosing to focus on is the constant desire to get back at it, which I’ve had all this time, and my excitement to write this on the second anniversary of Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds (17th of July)!
I have only listened, rather than read any books recently for lack of precious time to just sit down or lounge with a book in my hand, but I have a line-up of gems to share with you over the next coming weeks. First up, The Unfinished Palazzo, which I picked up because it has as two of its three main characters two women I wanted to learn more about – Marchesa Luisa Casati and Peggy Guggenheim.
I find both fascinating for different reasons – Luisa for her eccentricity in excess and splendour and Peggy for her fine eye for art I don’t really understand and her skilful yet apparently unintentional way of becoming a connaisseuse and patron of said art and its artists.
For a taste of what the book has to offer, looking back two months since I read it, the first details that comes to mind are Luisa’s incense ring and how she would paint white doves in various colours and release them at her parties for what must have been an awe-inspiring experience.
I’d rather want to witness this myself, wouldn’t you?
Downton Abbey. A New Era
I am beyond fashionably late to this party, so I doubted my initial impulse to feature Downton Abbey. A New Era on the letter, for it not being new news (as if that mattered ever before here?!) And then I finally watched it just the other day and I realised this movie has a long life ahead of it. It is such a beautifully made continuation to the story, a gem for the fans and very likely to be re-watched many times over and discovered by many new enthusiasts.
This is very rare, but there wasn’t anything I disliked about the plot or plot twists. While some developments were predictable and easy to agree with, others weren’t, in a very good way, keeping things still very much interesting. Although I confess it would have sufficed for me to just watch them go about their everyday lives in peace and I would still have enjoyed it tremendously.
There are some overlaps with the reality of actually producing the movie in the real castle that actually hosts this – Highclere Castle – which I found particularly charming. And I am not going to say anything else apart from this – the Dowager Countess of Grantham continues to be the legendary character I consider her to be until the very last seconds of the movie, serving fresh new lines that never miss the mark.
If by any chance you have not watched this yet, do! And if you have, could it be already time for a re-watch?
Secret Doors to Secret Rooms
Of course I loved this article in the Financial Times about secret doors leading to secret rooms, because I don’t need one and I can’t have one, so I definitely want one. Like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter, I would love to have a secret space filled with my random petit plaisirs and personal treasures, my most beautiful books, trinkets and other paraphernalia, as well as a small atelier for unfinished DIY projects. Predictably, this would be hidden behind a floor to ceiling bookshelf in my home library, where else?
How about you? What would you hide behind a secret door and where?
Daily Paintings with Emil
Do you expect cultural enrichment, art and beauty from your Instagram feed? I do! And it delivers if you curate it.
Source – his feed is also a brilliant place to discover old and new artists alike.
Among my favourite accounts about art is Daily Pictures with Emil, who posts art quizzes in his stories and makes it easy, engaging and so fulfilling to learn more about art and artists on a platform normally known for wasting time while endlessly scrolling.
Source: After the daily quizzes he also shares facts about some of the painters and artworks and interesting stats.
He has been doing it for 7 years! What a commitment and what a beautiful mission. Follow him for the daily quizzes, weekly themes, and occasional museum tours.
Half outfits is a concept I stumbled upon in Anya Hindmarch’s book – If in doubt, wash your hair. I will confess, I chose the book because I loved the title and it sounded to me like something which will resemble Ephron’s I feel bad about my neck. It doesn’t come very close to the humour and witticisms of the latter, which made me laugh out loud at times, but I nonetheless enjoyed listening to this book and I was left with quite a few clever ideas and pieces of advice, on life, parenting and fashion.
Anya writes about something called the half outfits and she didn’t need to explain the idea too much, I immediately knew what she meant. I have a few of these, outfits that are missing the right basic top or the right shoes, outfits that are missing the right blazer or coat to be worn year-round, or a beautifully printed blouse that is missing a simple skirt to go with. I generally think I have plenty of clothes, but with this concept I realised you can still miss specific pieces, while you might have too many of the same thing or too many items that don’t go with many other things you own.
I am now embarked on the mission to pay more attention to the clothes I don’t wear and identify what I might be missing to complete some of these half outfits sitting in my wardrobe!
The Tulip Earrings
Zara have hit a sweet spot with their summer accessories collection and for more than a month I coveted the pair of tulip earrings on the left, after discovering them when they were already Out of Stock and then missing the chance to get them while they were briefly back in.
I wouldn’t wear the two together, but they would work as individual pieces.
In the end, I ordered the similar ones on the right, together with the chocker and only after I did this, I went to look on eBay for the original ones. Of course, they were there waiting for me and at a lower price compared to what they initially went for. I didn’t hesitate.
Now I have two pairs and I am trying to decide if they are different enough to keep both. I might turn one earring into a brooch and put the other in a vase, I find them simply exquisite.
Rare Word – Heirloom
Perhaps this word in itself is not quite rare, but it stands for something that is – a treasured item that has been passed down from generations in a family. I only recently properly recognised the existence and the meaning of this word and it stuck with me.
I have been trying to find the direct equivalent in Romanian, but I don’t think there is anything as specific as this, relating to objects in particular. In any case, it made me think I do have a few heirlooms from my family, among them a pocket watch from my grandfather, my mom’s over one thousand books library, and I want to make sure I leave a few special objects behind too for my son to pass on in his turn and transform these into heirlooms when the time comes. Although I think maybe the problem him and I will have is in dealing with too many things that would like to gain that status.
Oh well, a problem for another day, for sure.
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