Friday, July 23, 2010
So I finished three books at the beach, though I was pretty far into one of them before I got there. That one was Middlemarch by George Eliot -- one of the "classic" books I've been challenging myself to read more of. (Might as well use that liberal arts degree, huh?)
I'm not going to lie -- this one was a tough read, and not just because it was almost 800 pages long! George Eliot doesn't write in light, satirical prose like Jane Austen or in rich, emotional language like the Bronte sisters. She tries hard for realism in her books, which makes some parts of the book really dry and technical, especially the sections on religious and medical disputes. And don't look for happily ever afters or romantic relationships here -- she shows us what can really happen after people get married and discover what their spouses are really like.
But there were some really great characters in the book, too, especially some of the more minor characters. My favorite, I think, was one of the vicars, Mr. Farebrother. He's criticized by his parishioners because he likes to gamble a wee bit too much, but he ends up being one of the more morally sound and kind characters in the whole novel. And the tension-filled relationship between Dorothea and Will was also fascinating -- I really liked that I couldn't tell right away what their motives or intentions were.
The book I actually bought to take with me on vacation was Elin Hilderbrand's A Summer Affair -- the cover just makes it look like a good beach read, doesn't it? Plus, it's set in Nantucket, and I really love the Nantucket/Martha's Vineyard/Cape Cod area.
The novel itself was just okay as far as romances go -- I have to admit that I wasn't really very invested in the "affair" of the book's title. I was more interested in some of the side details, like Claire's glassblowing efforts and the snippy back-biting that went on between the members of a committee trying to put on a big charity event. So, if you're looking for a quick read that's not too absorbing, this one might fit the bill.
Book number three was The Women of Windsor by Catherine Whitney. As you might have guessed from the cover, this one was about some of the female members of the British royal family: the Queen Mum, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, and Princess Anne. Interestingly enough, it was also written by an American -- unusual as most books about the royals, appropriately enough, seem to be written by Brits.
I learned some new things about the royal ladies in this book, especially Princess Anne and the Queen Mum. I wish there had been more focus on them, though, and less on Princess Diana and the Camilla/Charles/Diana mess. Word of caution: if you really like Princess Di, this probably isn't the book for you -- the author really is not a fan. Mostly, this just made me want another royal wedding ASAP! (Get on it, Wills and Kate!)
So that's the update on the prose I've devoured recently. Now I'm working on another classic book: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. I love a good mystery!
(P.S.: I've added a widget for my GoodReads account, where I keep track of what I've read and what I'm currently reading. If you have a GoodReads account, feel free to add me as a friend!)
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Kim is the on-and-off girlfriend of Andy Murray, the great Scottish hope of British tennis. She's always in the stands watching her man, and she's got great style. Here are some of Kim's courtside essentials that I love:
Loooooving her aviators -- these are probably Kim's signature piece. I've got a pair, and they are definitely my favorite sunglasses for the summer. During the winter, I rock a big pair of over-sized Hollywood shades, but these are just so cool for the hot weather.
Kim wears stripes a lot, and so do I -- nothing is preppier or more classic than a navy shirt with white stripes. So nautical and so summery!
She also pairs her stripes quite frequently with good, old-fashioned cardigans. I'm one of those annoying people who is cold all the time, so I always wear layers, and cardis are a regular part of my wardrobe, too!
Love this dressier floral frock as a fancier alternative for a match -- paired once again with a cute cardigan! The pleats are too cute.
I'm seeing these big statement necklaces everywhere lately -- love the orange-and-purple combo in this one. I probably wouldn't wear one of these with jean shorts, but I think one would be super cute with one of my solid-colored dresses for work!
I'm a big fan of jackets with T-shirts and jeans for a more dressed-up casual look -- so much more pulled together than a hoodie! (But I don't wear a ton of T-shirts with designs or slogans in public -- I like solid colors. Boring? Classic? Whatever it is, that's me!) :)
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
2. Applebee's Perfect Margarita
3. Bath & Body Works "Deep Aqua" Lotion
My local Bath & Body Works was having a big discount sale this week, so I picked up a new lotion scent to try, and I absolutely love it. It really smells like summertime!
4. The Wizard of Oz
Love Dorothy and her ruby reds -- Turner Classic Movies is showing the film tonight!
Goooo, Andy Murray! (He's playing Nadal right now.) Most of the time, I cheer for the American players (or Federer, because he's just so hunky), but I'd love to see Murray overcome the curse and finally have a Brit win Wimbledon!
Thursday, July 1, 2010
This week, I read an awesome book by historian Eleanor Herman called Sex with Kings. If the title wasn't provocative enough, here's the cover of the paperback version:
Scandalous! :) The book, as you've probably figured out, is about royal mistresses throughout history -- the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
I read a lot about royalty -- I love the British royal family, especially the Queen and Prince William (and his girlfriend, Kate, too -- if they would just get married already, LOL!). But this was a side of royalty I didn't know much about. We always joked in history class in college about the number of illegitimate children some monarchs produced -- Charles II had 12 or 13, I think! -- but I had never really thought much about the women behind the word "mistress."
I was shocked at how complicated the world of the royal mistress was. The title is a little ironic, because sex was only really a minor part of the role a mistress played. She had to be beautiful, witty, interesting, loyal, smart, and, most of all, power hungry. Royal mistresses ran wars and sat in on political meetings; they also dictated fashions and accrued fortunes and titles.
But it definitely wasn't an easy role to play -- Herman writes about how the mistress always had to be on guard to watch for other women who wanted to take her place. And when a royal mistress fell out of favor, she could lose everything!
I was initially not sure I was going to love this book, but the second I cracked it open, I was completely fascinated. If you, like me, are interested in history that isn't just about wars fought by men, I think you'll like this one, too!
If you're interested in purchasing the book, here's a link to Amazon:
(If you buy the book through that link, I get a little percentage of the profits for referring you! Pretty cool, no?)
Next up: Middlemarch by George Eliot -- it's been a slog so far, but I'm hoping things improve soon!