The Europeans, by Henry James
Last week, being in my home country on holiday, I found the TV in my parents’ kitchen switched on and I started flicking through the channels. It didn’t take me long to find an old movie and decide to let it run in the background. After a while I realized the story is familiar and it hadn’t started long before I stumbled upon it.
It turned out to be an adaptation of Henry James’ book The Europeans, which I have read a few years ago. As it often happens if I am going through a phase of reading similar books, I couldn’t remember the story line precisely, nor the title, initially thinking it was based on The Bostonians, also by Henry James, because the main characters, a Duchess married to a Prince in Europe and her brother, are visiting estranged relatives in Boston, America.
It was a lovely way to spend a late evening and also be reminded of a book I enjoyed a while ago. It is funny what details stay with us over the years. From this book, the one vivid mental picture I had was of the Duchess opening trunks upon trunks of decor treasures, like rugs, curtains, exquisite scarves and fabrics, to use to furnish her new temporary little house on her relatives’ property. The moment is captured in the movie adaption too, although not quite as opulent and lavish as it lived in my imagination. This was the one detail that helped me remember most of the story.
Overall, the movie (1979) was just slow enough to enjoy while I was also catching up on various bits on my laptop, but I will always recommend reading the book first, as no director can beat the way one’s imagination brings a scene and a story to life.
Recommend me a Book
Source: Lady with a Book in the Garden (1892) by Brunner František Dvořák (1862-1927). Oil on canvas.
I have found a novel way to find a new book to read. Recommend me a Book is a platform which allows you to read the first page of a book without revealing the title or author at first, so you can decide if you’d like to read more purely based on the impression the first page makes on you.
I love everything books related, so naturally, I find this clever and fun and have spent more time than I should have clicking Next Book, considering I am really not looking for a new book to read now, with my constant pile of barely begun, half-read, almost finished and to be read books…
But maybe you are, or maybe you’d also like to spend some blissful time browsing through anonymous books? It’s worth noting you can also submit books to the platform. Fun, fun, fun!
The Woman Who…
Does the name Lucy Christiana ring a bell? How about the fashion brand Lucile? For me, these didn’t, even though this lady is accredited with the invention of the ‘mannequin parade’, the pre-cursor to the modern catwalk fashion show. She was among the most popular fashion designers of her day, in the early 1900s, a completely self-made woman, a single mom who also managed to build an empire. Now, I hope you, like me, you would love to know more about her.
I got introduced to her through the podcast The Woman Who… a ten-episode series on remarkable women, among them also punk icon Vivenne Westwood and Lilian Bland, the first woman in the world to build a plane and fly it too!
You can also read more about the history of the catwalk show from the times before the story of Lucile until the post-pandemic world, in this insightful article in Harper’s Bazaar.
Cluttercore is a term defining the opposite of minimalism, it’s what I (and others before me, perhaps most notably… hmmm, Freddy Mercury!) have been calling exquisite clutter. This term has been gaining popularity in the past few months, both in media and in social media.
As an enthusiast and someone who really can’t understand the minimalist trend, I am pleased to see the idea of collecting objects that bring one joy being presented into a more positive light. For some, like me, these turn a house into a home and despite the arguments around consumerism or materialism, it’s really not about that.
I want to have my house filled with books, beautiful décor items, trinkets and souvenirs from everyday life and travels, and many more. I even display some of my accessories and I would gladly display certain items of clothing or outfits on rotation if I had space for a mannequin. I am constantly looking for ways to maximize wall space and I find beautifully dressed walls extremely inspiring.
If you are a kindred spirit, I recommend following Cocollected on Instagram. She takes exquisite clutter to a whole new level in her beautiful house.
Bonus exquisite find is the rare word bricabracomania, coined in the 1890s in relation to writer Joris-Karl Huysmans and also the title of a book I am now keen to add to my home library approaching 1000 titles. I am fairly sure I suffer from this condition, but luckily, it’s easily manageable with regular visits to fairs, carboot markets and the like.
Have you heard before of the idea of scented ceramics? I first saw something like this offered by Dyptique which have their perfumed ceramics range. I never got the chance to test these, but recently I came across and bought a Sanctuary Scented Ceramic Disc to try out the concept and see if it works. I am thinking of hanging this in my bedroom or in my closet.
If indeed this format gives off a lovely scent for at least a few days, I think it would be a beautiful alternative to some other room perfume options. And I have also seen other pretty interpretations online, like the pomegranate above in scented terracotta. There is even a company that creates bespoke ceramic items and shapes from a unique ceramic material they developed, focusing on olfactory restitution properties.
This would make such a lovely gift idea too!
This summer I bought a beautiful pair of flat sandals which feature two straps full of tiny rhinestones. They truly add a touch of sparkle to a simple outfit and look lovely with a fresh pedicure. The only problem is I have been afraid to wear them too much in the beginning for fear of losing some of the rhinestones, which would surely ruin the effect.
That is until I remembered a hack from my teenage years, which we used to protect our cheap accessories from the same issue – missing stones or beads. What you had to do is simply apply a coat of clear nail varnish over these and they were guaranteed to stay in place. I have now done the same with my new sandals and it has worked like a charm. You can also use it as a clear glue to re-attach a loose stone back in its place.
This might prove more helpful than you’d expect!
Rijksmuseum’s Shylight Flower Lamps
It’s sad I’ve been to Amsterdam a fair few times and never made my way to the Rijksmuseum, also known as the home of the Dutch masters like Rembrandt, Vermeer and many more. Travelling mainly for work can be an excuse, but hopefully, I get to visit the city again soon for pleasure and next time I will make sure to go and see with my eyes the beautiful blooming flower lamps above, by Studio Drift.
How mesmerizing are these? I could watch them all day. The idea, the location, that beautiful ceiling, the lightning… everything, just seems pure magic to me.
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