mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 This looks like another "young outcast discovers his powers" book.  Wow, is it not.   Trust me. In the very first scene, Kellen needs to fight a magecaster's duel.  

There are three requirements to earning a mage's name among the JanTep.  The first is the strength to defend your family.  The second is the ability to wield the high magics that protect our people.  The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen.  I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn't be doing any of those things.

And we're off, into the duel.  Kellen's problem is that he doesn't have magic.   This is not a survivable problem.   But Kellep does have a very, very clever mind.  In a lesser book, Kellep would discover his magic and wipe the floor with his opponent, winning the acclaim of the crowd. 

This is not a lesser book.  Spellslinger is actually about a young outcast discovering and creating his own moral fiber.  Kellep's struggle, although he doesn't realize it early in the book, is to become a decent human being in an indecent society.  This is a far more interesting coming-of-age story than you usually get.   When the Mysterious Stranger shows up, she's not a kindly wizard mentor.  She's (possibly) not a wizard at all. She doesn't teach Kellep: she gives him opportunities to teach himself.  Kellep acquires some new resources, but they are challenges as much as gifts.

Oh, the Mysterious Stranger kicks ass.  I can't say more, because it would be a spoiler.  She is compelling and ambiguous and funny and tough.

The characters are engrossing.  The worldbuilding is unusual and clever. It's partly based around an original variant of a Tarot deck, but is in no way woo-woo; the cards do not predict your future, but (sometimes) illuminate your choices. The cards are playing cards, but are also a weapon.   The cards have nothing to do -- as far as we know -- with the magic of the JanTep.

The book itself is gorgeous, in a way that made me extremely nostalgic.  The red-and-black cover has two line drawings of the main characters, presented as a face card. (Don't look too closely at Kellep; it's a spoiler.)  Red is used as a spot color, very effectively.  There are interior illustrations of relevant Tarot cards at the beginning of each section.  And the page edges (forget the technical term) are red!  Taken as a whole, the book looks a bit like a deck of cards, which is, I'm sure intentional.

Here's the catch.  There (as of time of writing) no U.S. or Canadian distributor of Spellslinger or its sequel, Shadowblack.  If you're in North America and want to read them, you'll have to order from the, in my experience, reliable, fast, and cheap www.bookdepository.com or an equivalent.

Note: de Castell's Greatcoat books are also awesome.  If you like the Musketeers books, you should love them.  The nice thing is that they preserve the essential "three duelists against the world" spirit without either copying the plots or being pastiche-y.  The second nice thing is that the author is a stage fight choreographer and is able to communicate fights clearly to the non-fighter (me).
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Many good social histories are centered around a single person and use that person to throw light on their times and customs. These generally fall into one of the following categories:
  • Person A, though little-remembered today, was an important influence on their community and friends.
  • Person A, though forgotten today, left private papers that vividly illustrated aspects of everyday life.
  • Person A, though well-remembered today, was at the center of events and (ideally) I have new research to bring on the subject.

I've read books I've enjoyed in all three categories. Then there's D.J. Taylor's Bright Young People: The Rise and Fall of a Generation. His central character is Elizabeth Ponsonby. She was not a writer, or an artist, or a wit, or somebody whose early promise was never filled. She was at the center of the Bright Young Things because her party concepts were ingenious and infamous. Elizabeth he was one of the co-devisors of the Bath and Bottle Party, held at St George's Swimming Baths, whose invitation instructed "Please wear a Bathing Suit and bring a Bath towel and a Bottle." Even if she didn't organize it, Elizabeth was always the life of any party. None of the other survivors of the period quote anything memorable she had to say, which, given the prolific memoirs available, suggests she didn't.

So. Why is this book centered on the life of Elizabeth Ponsonby? Her father was a comfortable but not wealthy Labour minister, and his and his wife's diaries and papers were made available to the author. That's it. Not only are we focused on a minor person in the period, but we're seeing her through the eyes of her parents, who were certainly not in the Bright Young Thing circle and in fact despised it. They thought Elizabeth was selfish, expensive, and dissolute, and despaired of her as she proceeded through wild parties, some sort of flamboyant sexual misbehavior (probably adultery), alcoholism, and a bad marriage to an embezzler. Few of Elizabeth's letters survive and she didn't keep a diary. Why are we looking at the period through her eyes? Because that's where the lamp-post is.

There is a secondary viewpoint character, the failed writer and successful alcoholic Brian Howard, who envisioned wonderful books but never actually got around to writing them. He did write diaries of his own, which are quoted, but I didn't find them engaging or enlightening. His own biography, which is supposed to be good, is called Portrait of a Failure, which pretty much sums it up.

When discussing other prominent characters in the period, the author draws on newspaper clippings from the social columns, or on the more famous participants' memoirs, letters, and novels. If you want to know what Beverley Nichols or Evelyn Waugh or Cecil Beaton, or the Mitfords, all of whom were everywhere and knew everybody, were up to, you might as well read their own witty writings, because everything in this book is quoted directly from them.

Note to self:  Why haven't you ever read Vile Bodies?
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
I went to see a double-feature of this and "Applause" (also 1929) with [personal profile] movingfinger last night. It was a lovely evening; I always enjoy her company, and we found an Indian place with spectacularly fresh food and fun nouveau cocktails. Mine was kaffir-lime vodka and a ginger-jaggery syrup, to give you the general idea, and perfect for what now appears to be a very early summer.

Anyway, The Love Parade is a Lubitsch movie, and a Maurice Chevalier movie, and a Paramount movie from the period when that meant opulence. All these elements are absoutely perfect. So is the first (roughly) half of the movie. The erotic jokes are light and funny; Chevalier is witty and risque and exquisitely tailored. I was particularly struck by his carriage. His spine is perfectly straight -- even when, as he often does, he leans into the camera -- and his shoulders are far back. It's not a stance you see often in the modern world, and it's very attractive without at all impairing the appearance of flexibility. The magnificent Lupino Lane plays his comic valet, and is a miracle of acrobatic comedy, both as a dancer and as a pratfaller. His straight woman and physical support is ably performed by the uncredited Yola d'Avril.

So, what goes wrong in the second half of the movie? The movie is about a charming man in a Ruritanian republic who marries the Queen and therefore becomes Prince Consort. This offends his male desire to run things and romantic conflict ensues. The premise per se isn't terribly offputting for me, because it's a period piece and otherwise charming. The problem is that Chevalier spends the post-marriage half of the movie sulking.

The male character expresses his resentment of his lack of a constitutional role by throwing temper tantrum after temper tantrum. He shouts, he refuses to eat his breakfast, he sulks at the Queen when she drops by for a kiss. I find sulking just as unattractive on Maurice Chevalier as on a toddler. The writing isn't deft enough to pull it off, and even the irresistible Chevalier can't be consistently charming while whining.

The movie, or at least the print we saw, has 1929-quality sound editing, which is to say that the art of mixing, and especially of mixing songs, wasn't there yet. Jeannette McDonald's soprano keeps threatening to burst the tweeters, the orchestra drowns out the ensemble pieces, and almost nobody's lyrics are easy to understand. The songs are forgettable sub-operetta: the title number is Chevalier assuring Macdonald that she has all the best (mimed) features of all the other women he's loved. Then, for no apparent reason other than operetta, she duets the list back at him.

I sound cranky; I'm not. This was a 1929 Lubitsch-Chevalier-Paramount --I'm neither for nor against Jeanette Macdonald-- and therefore a joy to behold. I just came away humming the flaws rather than the many successes.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
This is the best knitting book of all time. Seriously.

You'd think Knit Your Own Kama Sutra would be a one-joke wonder: naked dolls boinking. Ha ha, how droll, let's go read Oh Joy Sex Toy for some real laughs. Hypothetical straw-person you would be wrong. This is a fabulous knitting book about making 11 1/2 stockinette dolls, with the best accessories ever. The author has contemplated knitted dolls and the tropes of pornography, then created appropriate sets and costumes for each scenario. There's the farmer's daughter (dress, overalls, cowboy hat, milk pail, and chicken). There's the rustic lodge (winter coats, bearskin rugs, moose head). There's the office (pinstripe suit, skirt outfit, briefcase, and photocopier).

This is a knitted doll book that has a knitted photocopier. An awesomely detailed photocopier.

As far as the Kama Sutra goes, each scenario starts with two knitted dolls in a position from the Kama Sutra, with a page-long description of the position and how to achieve it. The bulk of the scenario, however, is knitting instructions.

As far as diversity goes, all couples are heterosexual, but there's multi-racial representation (signified by different-colored yarn). All body shapes are the same, because there are only two patterns, male and female. (If you want varying body shapes, I suggest Knit Your Own Royal Wedding, which has the short, stocky Queen.) The naked dolls are more-or-less people shaped, but lack pubic hair, nipples, and genitalia for the woman. These deficiencies, if you consider them such, are easily rectified with embroidery and a little ingenuity.

If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you like. It's a poor joke gift for a non-knitter, but the right sort of knitter will be very grateful.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
My God, that was bad. A potpourri of bad, with each element stinking up the place, independently, so as you move around the room you are constantly catching new pockets of distinct stink. We're talking Last of the Time Lords bad.

spoilers )

In summary: What a great season, but I don't understand why it contained only two episodes ("Mummy on the Orient Express" and "Flatline", if you're curious.)

mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Jennifer Kloester, Georgette Heyer.

 
Never read biographies of your favorite writers. Jennifer Kloester builds on the research Jane Aiken Hodge did for her Heyer biography; Kloester has the great advantage of full cooperation from the Heyer family, and complete access to Heyer's letters. The book is well-written and enlightening. Kloester has done substantial original research, including scanning British periodicals page-by-page to track down forgotten Heyer short stories. Kloester tends to gloss over, or at least excuse, Heyer's prejudices and crankiness, but she scrupulously presents the evidence before drawing her own conclusions.
 
 
Converts are often the most zealous enforcers of the formal strictures of a religion; similarly, the most ardent enforcers of a hierarchy are often those in the middle, the ones who see any progress by those below them as a threat to their own hard-won positions. Georgette Heyer was one of these. Heyer was the granddaughter, on one side, of a Russian emigrant -- almost certainly a Jew, although there are no records of this and the family never spoke of it-- who worked his way up from being a warehouseman to a businessman; on the other side, of a family whose money came from a successful tugboat company. Heyer came, in short, from Trade, and from families that had fought their way up to Trade from the working classes. Heyer's novels, on the other hand, laud the inherent superiority of the nobility.
 
For instance, In These Old Shades, a noble girl and a peasant boy are switched at birth -- it's a Heyer novel, there's usually cross-dressing -- and each child demonstrates his or her inherent class throughout rearing. At the climax, the peasant-raised-noble is greatly relieved to lose the position of heirdom to a great French title and to retire to a farm, while the noble-raised-peasant gets to marry a fellow noble who recognized her probable parentage at sight. That's standard Heyer, and TOS is one of my favorites of her books.. When I read Heyer's letters, I am reminded that this wasn't just Heyer's id-fantasy: it was how she really thought the world did and should should work.  A tobacconist's assistant and fan once wrote Heyer complaining about a speech in a modern novel that included the line "It's always been my dread that he might marry something [sic] out of a tobacconist's shop so you can imagine what a relief to me it is to know that he's had the sense to choose a really nice girl. Not that I'm a snob, but there are limits, and young men are such fools." Heyer commented on this letter to a friend: "I can see not the slightest reason for encouraging her. I don't write for that kind of person, after all, & if she chooses in future to ban me from her library list it's all the same to me. What is more, there is nothing to be said. I should regard it as a major tragedy if my son were to marry a tobacconist's assistant." Kloester comments:
 
Although [Heyer] held to the idea of a natural social hierarchy, she also recognized the capacity for vulgarity in any individual regardless of class [ha!] and frequently depicted dishonorable aristocrats alongside principled lower-class characters [Note: vulgarity is different from honor. ] Ever class-conscious, in Horsham society she felt herself to be on the same social plane as those who moved in "county" circles, despite the fact that she did not own an estate, hunt, or even farm her own land. [And also despite the fact that she moved household every few years.'] ... Georgette's particular kind of snobbery was rarely overt -- she was much too private for that -- [huh?] but it is implicit in most of her public and private writing.
 

Kloester, a thorough researcher, cites one of Heyer's childhood favorites, The Red Deer.
 
But the Hind looked grave. "We are never unkind to the Trout, she said, for they belong to the peat stream but you must never become familiar with them. Fallow Deer, I believe, treat them as equals," and here she looked very proud, "but we do not. They are a lazy lot of fellows whose forefathers would not take the trouble to go down to the sea, whereby they might have grown into noble fish with a coat as bright as the moon on the water. But they would not, and so they have remained small and ugly, and they never lose their spots. You must never be rude to them, for that would be unworthy of a Red Deer, but you must never make great friends with them ."
 

In short, the tobacconist's family should have swum ... I don't know, into somebody else's oviduct?

Two generations previously, Heyer's paternal ancestors had been peasants in Russia; her mother's family owned tugboats; and yet she considered herself infinitely above a tobacconist. She had a similar pull-the-rope-up attitude toward feminism. Although Heyer spent most of her life supporting her husband, her widowed mother, and her brothers, she was firmly convinced that women were less intelligent and less competent than men. She thoroughly disliked Dorothy Sutherland, the editor of Woman's Journal, for the very good reason that Sutherland rewrote and retitled Heyer's novels, without consulting the author, when she serialized. Whenever Heyer spoke of Sutherland in her letters, she referred to Sutherland as "that Sutherland Bitch" or "the S.B." So far, so normal; a bad or unsympathetic editor is a nightmare for any writer. When Heyer wrote to a friend after Sutherland refused to buy a novel Heyer had edited to Sutherland's request, she commented "Saving your presence, she is treating me to a startling example of the folly of Woman at the Helm."
 
 
Seen from the outside, Heyer's personal life is as unfair as most Victorian authoresses' [term deliberate]. Heyer's beloved father, collaborator, and friend dropped dead of a heart attack in 1925, when he was 56 and she was 23 . He didn't leave much money; Kloester doesn't address why there was no insurance. Heyer's mother made no attempt to support herself. Heyer's eldest brother, Boris, then 18, had both hemophilia and what was perceived as pure irresponsibility (but sounds, from a distance, like mild bipolar; he had mood swings). Both of them had to be supported -- in a separate household, because Heyer didn't get along with her mother -- for the remainder of their lives. (Heyer's youngest brother, Frank, was thirteen when his father died, and did grow up to be an independent adult.)  Furthermore, Heyer's husband, Ronald Rougier, had a great deal of trouble finding a career that would support his own family, far less his in-laws.  Rougier had been trained as a mining engineer, but he never made the big strike.  He then invested in two different businesses that didn't go much of anywhere. Unlike Boris, Rougier wasn't irresponsible; he was simply, like thousands of other returned veterans, struggling in the postwar economy. In 1936, when Rougier himself was 36, he decided to try for the career he had wanted as a young man and began reading for the Bar; this meant three years without any income at all, and with heavy additional expenses. (He eventually became a very successful barrister and was made a Queen's Counsel in 1959, so the studies for the bar were a wise investment.) Heyer spent more than a decade as the principal support for six people, all the while ardently supporting the idea that women were innately less competent than men. Not surprisingly, she had a nervous breakdown in 1935; in the three years since her only child's birth she had "moved house twice, written six books, endured periods without domestic support, suffered several episodes of severe financial strain, and committed herself to writing seven new novels."    She was carrying immense burdens, including trying to  pay the expenses of an upper-middle-class household on a middle-class income, while writing frothy comedies of manners.   
 
 My fundamental problem when reading Heyer's letters is that I just don't like her, and I'm quite confident that she wouldn't have liked me. 
 
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
God that was stupid. STUPID STUPID STUPID. STUPID AGAIN. And the Doctor went from simply rude to actually cruel.
Pfeh.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 To begin with, this is Not My Period;  I know nothing at all about 18th-century Scotland.   That means that most historical errors will whiz straight over my head, as will errors in dialect and setting.   These are the things that I did notice, and that annoyed me enough to annotate.  Entries are in  unpunctuated lower case, as I was pecking away tediously on the Kindle app.

"the runcible spoon had not been invented yet ..."
wtf does she think "runcible" means?

"he smashed the quivering trunk [of a cherry tree] several times more, causing a delirious shower of pale-pink petals to rain down upon his head"
a month ago they were picking cherries

"noticing details of my surroundings with a peculiar intensity: the small stained-glass inset over the bar, casting colored shadows over the ruffianly proprietor [innkeeper] and his wares,"
as if 

"a low-necked gown of heavy cream-colored satin, with a separate bodice that buttoned with dozens of tiny cloth-covered buttons, each embroidered with a gold fleur-de-lis.  The neckline and the belled sleeves were heavily ruched with lace, as was the embroidered overskirt of chocolate-brown velvet.   The innkeeper was half-buried in the petticoats he carried, his bristling whiskers barely visible over the foamy layers."
no nonon [Words failed me.]
 
"complete to white asters and yellow roses pinned in my hair"
not in 1745 [Note:  All yellow garden roses descend from rosa foetida and other Mideastern and Asian imports. Although rosa foetida was kept in botanical specimen gardens, 18th-century garden roses are -- duh -- rose-colored, in shades from pale pink to pink to cherry. I am also suspicious of asters blooming in midsummer, as they're a purple fall flower here, but it's a big ol' genus.]
 
[Claire and her Highlander are being married by a priest] "I take thee, Claire, to be my wife ..."  "... to love, honor and protect ..."
should be in Latin you moron

Tansy and eglantine had taken root in the cracks, and waved in precarious yellow flags against the stone
eglantine is a shrubby white rose 

bottles of ale that Jamie had thoughtfully lifted from the well in the inn yard as we left.
doubtful [surely at this period ale would be in casks in the cellar; no innkeeper would be bottling his own and leaving it unattended]

had already found the pile of starched handkerchiefs
?  [the one piece of body linen it's very uncomfortable to starch] 

slowly drew the knife in a semicircle under one breast.  The homespun came free and fell away with a flutter of white chemise, and my breast sprung out
stays [says it all, really]

[18th-century Scot]  "I don't run either, Sassenach," he said gruffly.  "Now, then.  What does 'fucking' mean?"
seriously?

There was one flower in the bouquet, a crushed primrose, whose thorny stem had pricked my thumb.
er, no.

[same Scot, of his older brother] "I thought he was God, or at least Christ."
heresy

argyle socks revealed.
I doubt it.   [socks weren't knitted in fancy patterns at this period, other than stripes and, for formal wear, clocks at the ankles.]

L'Grimoire d'le Comte St. Germain
de + le = du [Furthermore, you don't need to elide "le" in front of a hard consonant].

"Watercress,", he answered, voice slightly muffled by the leavers in his mouth.   He spat them out and applied them to my back. ... "How-how does it taste?" I asked, gulping back the sobs.  "Fair nasty," he replied laconically.
I quite like it myself.

[heroine is in the chapel of a French monastery] "I rose and got the Bible, bringing it back to the prie-dieu with me.   I was hardly the first person to have recourse to the sortes Virgilianae in time of confusion or trouble. ... "and he smote them with emerods, and they were very sore."  No doubt they were, I thought.   What in hell were emerods?  Try Psalms, instead.
English bible?  [WTF is the King James Bible, that emblem of Protestantism, doing in a French Catholic monastery chapel?]

But how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?  It's actually very more-ish, and I keep trying to figure out why.   For me, it's the sensual detail -- even when I'm jarred by details, the sights, scents, and textures are vividly conveyed.   The heroine is sharp-tongued, and not in an adorably feisty way; when she's cross, the people around her know it.   It's fun, mostly, being in her head.   It is actually more fun being in her head during the plot than during the sex scenes, which is saying something.  She's an interesting narrator.

Do I recommend it?  Well...

really really triggery rape stuff, I'm not kidding )

If you can get past that, and past the historical errors, and if you in general like sprawling novels with the occasional sex scene,  you'll probably have fun.  It is much, much more competently written than such best-selling id novels as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.   If you can, check your critical brain at the door.

 
Edit: Comments include discussion of the triggery bit.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 I came to mock; I stayed to mock and have fun.   The best way to watch this is with a friend so that you can mock together.   That way you can wallow in the occasional good or at least libido-friendly bits while having a jolly MST3K and demonstrate your moral superiority.

High points:
  • The acting's pretty good.
  • The actors are pretty.
  • The countryside is pretty.
  • Even the orchestra is pretty.
Low points:  (or high, depending on how you look at it.)
  • The relative present (immediate post-WWII Scotland) is graded so that it's damn near black and white, with only the characters in color.
  • There's one hilarious scene where the heroine is about to interact with a Standing Stone (don't try this at home on vacation, kids).  This entire scene is graded black-and-white while one forget-me-not is a brilliant digital blue .... that wobbles.
  • The immediate past (the heroine's past as a child being raised by an archaeologist) is sepia.
  • The true past/present (The Hiiiiiighlands and the post-Jacobite retaliation) is in glorious -- not Technicolor, but Kodachrome.   Saturation, man.
  • The heroine runs around in a modern -and I don't mean 1940s- cream shiftdress.   When she first leaps into the past she's in the shiftdress, a practical plaid shawl, a leather belt, and shoes.   Within the first 5 minutes of running around being chased she's lost the shawl -- somewhat plausible -- and the belt, and I have no idea how she managed that.  Nobody ever comments on the lady running around a knee-length filthy shift, which would be underwear by 18th-century standards.    They call her a whore for swearing (something I find somewhat implausible in the 18th century), but apparently her dress is just one of those things.
  • Our heroine is not only a war nurse but has been studying up on herbal remedies as a hobby.   As one does, when one needs a profession should one be swept into the past at any moment.
  • Enya-in-a-blenda soundtrack.
My absolute favorite moment, though,   was when the heroine, demonstrating her leet healing skills, demanded that her grubby Scots captors surrender something to use as a sling for Soon To Be Love Interest's dislocated shoulder.   They didn't move, so she demanded a belt.   Much to my disappointment, the Scot who surrenders his belt did not end up with his entire great kilt  (more commonly known as a "belted plaid" for very good structural reasons)  in a tidy torus around his ankles.


mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Dr Clare Jackson of Cambridge University "argues that the Stuarts, more than any other, were Britain's defining royal family."  (That's the tagline of the show, on BBC Two's page.

[In the coming century, seven Stuarts will rule the three separate kingdoms of  over Scotland, England, and Ireland]  Through bloodshed and civil war, they will refashion them into the Great Britain that we know today.

Entirely by accident and in many cases against their will.

They are the first family of Great Britain.  They are ... the Stuarts.

I have no idea what that first sentence is supposed to mean.

“His distant cousin, the childless Queen Elizabeth”
 
HIS FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED.  Sigh, pause, open Google Docs window.
 
Today, we tend to take the modern kingdom of Great Britain for granted…
 
AHAHAHAHAHA referendum . (Note:  This series aired in January 2014.)
 
[at Berwick, James I and XI declares that Scots and English should become brothers] “That would require a leap of faith, and would require them to become more intimate with one another.”
 
Hey, I consider centuries of raiding, killing, and marrying each other pretty damn intimate.  Ask anybody on the Borders, or read the superb The Steel Bonnets by George Macdonald Fraser.
 
“but he was the first fully to confront confront the new religious tensions brought about by the Protestant Reformation”
 
That would be news to Mary, Queen of Scots, looking back on her long, mutually enjoyable relationship with John Knox.
 
“James was a wonderful wordsmith ... It must have been quite unnerving for the English MPs, after decades of taciturn Tudor rule, suddenly to have a Stewart king in their midst, engaged in a massive PR exercise.”
 
[insert Tilbury speech here]
 
“England’s Kings and Queens had a troubled past in Ireland.”
 
No shit, Sherlock.
 
“[Tyrone and Tyrconnell's] destination was  Spain, a Catholic superpower, but it was what  they left behind troubled James most: a power vacuum that stretched across the north of Ireland.
 
Because Spain had no history at all of supporting Catholic revolts.  no, no.  He just didn't want a power vacuum in Northern Ireland.
 
James set up a scheme to send loyal citizens from his other two realms to live in Ireland.  
 
Er… way to plaidwash.
 
They were given land, the land of the earls, and it was called plantation.  The land was also used by the native Irish population. who herded cattle and moved with the seasons.    [photos of an Irish cattle auction?!?!?]
 
!!!!!!  
 
...In the darkest, most impenetrable part of the Gaelic north, James knew he would need help.
 
...Ironically, during the early years of James’s reign, Ireland was more settled than it had been, or would be, for centuries.  James had done what previous English monarchs had failed to do: planted something stronger than army.  James had planted an idea.  The idea of loyalty.
 
I could quote much more of the narration about Ireland, but I’m losing the will to live.
 
“But why would someone give a suit of armor to a fourteen-year-old?”
Oh, I dunno, it's not as if kings had been doing it for centuries.

 
 
INTERRUPTION:  In my googling for examples, I was devastated to find out that the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Mass closed in 2013.   Aiiieee.
 
“[Prince Henry]  is a kingdom united, in flesh and blood, the first British prince.”
… I think his father might disagree with you.
 
“How would Charles convince?  How would he control?  If he was unable to speak properly?”
 
Like his father, you mean?  Whose not only had a speech impediment ("tongue too big for his mouth") but  whose habits  of spitting and drooling during speech you seem to have overlooked?
 
[in the context of Charles I's visit to Spain in the attempt to marry the Infanta] “This is Corpus Christi, … the body of Christ in the form of a communion wafer being paraded through the streets." [street shots of Corpus Christi in Spain] "In the 17th century,  it powerfully confirmed how central the Catholic religion was to Spanish identity.  And today, it seems as if little has changed.  It’s certainly like nothing I’VE ever witnessed before.”
... Don't get around much?
 
“Corpus Christi is a massive assault on the senses.”
...
 
“[Charles I]  controlled his church through bishops, and kept dissenting voices out.”
 
King James I and VI: If you aim at a Scottish presbytery, it agreeth as well with monarchy, as God and the devil. ... No bishop, no King!
 
"[the Kirk] had become a wellspring of Scottish identity since the departure of the Royal Court.  You might say it had become a law unto itself."
 
I’m assuming that the Royal Court whose departure you’re referring to was Mary, Queen of Scots heading off to France ?  
 
"[The National Covenant of Scotland]  To my mind, it was a traditional way of registering serious discontent.  A yellow card, if you like.  An invitation to Charles to reconsider his religious policy.  Charles, however, regarded it as an outrageous attack on his authority."

That would be the one that offered him conditional allegiance, as in ". And because we perceive that the quietness and stability of our religion and Kirk doth depend upon the safety and good behaviour of the King's Majesty, as upon a comfortable instrument of God's mercy granted to this country for the maintenance of His Kirk, and ministration of justice among us, we protest and promise with our hearts under the same oath, hand-writ, and pains, that we shall defend his person and authority with our goods, bodies, and lives..."
 
“The three kingdoms had been united under their first Stuart king.”
 
Er,  Ireland?  Seriously?
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)


(some parts of this were originally posted as comments over at James Nicoll’s.)


Do not buy this terrible, terrible book.  I spent $1.99 on it, and that money would  have been better used had it been sliced into a fine chiffonade and sprinkled over the cat dish.


Sword of the Lamb begins with an infodump. Not just any infodump, but five pages (all pages are denominated in Kindle screens, sorry) of Lord Elor Ussher Peladeen writing a letter stating the following:

  1. Whoa.  I’m about to be killed by the bad guys.
  2. I’m not going to run away and join your underground, because the aforementioned b.g. would follow me and destroy you.
  3. My wife and son are going to die with me, but she's nobly resigned.
  4. You can have my money.
  5. Somebody’s going to be wiping your underground outpost from the records.
  6. Man, I am so dead.  Soooo dead.

You’d think all this could be wrapped up in a manly and understated page, perhaps two if you wanted to let the upper lip tremble a trifle.  But, no, we have to hear about the Crest Ring of Peladeen that he took from his father’ dead hand, and how his wife wouldn’t go to her relatives instead of dying, but they probably wouldn't take her in anyway.   Then again, there’s his son, but his wife thinks he’d probably die anyway too.   Oh, and the soon-to-be-dead guy is on “the Helen estate on Castor.  That planet is less hospitable to human life, and invading armies, than Pollux.”  We never hear from this character again.    Five pages of text to establish that there’s a society of the Phoenix rebelling against the lords of the Concord.  But, hey, every book needs some setup.


The next chapter is extracts from the journal of Richard Lamb.  He, too, is about to die, an old man at age 19.  Once upon a time he saw a Bond (peasant) revolt, and it was awful.   Okay, I like Richard Lamb, he seems interesting, I’ll stay.


Next we're in the head of Theron Rovere.   He is a teacher who is being fired by the noble family he works for. Theron has bravely taken responsibility for a paper he did not write, but which would cause his protege, who did, to be punished.   As a result, Theron is  being handed over to the cops in his protege’s place.   After the conversation with the parents, Theron heads off to bid farewell to his students, the heirs to the house.  Before he tells his students that he must leave them forever, Theron makes with a pop history quiz.   The action -- such as it’s been to this point -- stops dead for thirty-nine (39) pages of world-building.   All of those thirty-nine pages are exchanges like

“What stars has the Concord explored?”

“Kruger 60 A and B, Van Maanen’s star, and Altair.”  

Alexand added, “The Concord also sent expeditions back to Sirius and Procyon.”  

“That’s right, Alex," Rovere said.  "When was the last Concord stellar expedition?”


Did I mention 39 pages?   The only events so far in this very long book (we’re 6% in) is that one character has written a letter saying he’s about to die, another character has remembered a peasant revolt, and a teacher has talked with his employers about why he’s being handed over to the police.  Then we get the pop quiz.  This is the sort of book where the author has worked very, very hard on the world-building, and she’s damned if you’re going to overlook it.  If she had to think it out, you have to read it.   

75% of the way in the hero has joined the Resistance mentioned in the opening infodump.     
He asks “Exactly where am I?  Geographically, that is.”


“You’re in the southern hemisphere of Pollux, latitude about twenty-five degrees, longitude thirty degrees west of the Leda meridian.  You’re on -- or rather, under -- the island of Fina, a name which also applies to our little community.  It’s one of a number of small islands at the southern tip of the West Pangaean continent.  We’re near the Comargian Straits between the Selamin Sea and the Polluxian Ocean.”


Right about here is where a normal person would be breaking eye contact and remembering that he’d left the hydro-fluid running in the closed-circuit electrostatic sanitizer.   Not our hero.  “That suggests more questions, such as how did I get from my touch-down point near the equator to twenty-five degrees south in the ten minutes in which I was drugged?”


Such a good question.  Maybe something is about to happen.  


“But I assume that’s one of the questions you can’t answer now, or I wouldn’t have been drugged.”  He smiled in response to her brief laugh, then, “At least I’m oriented spatially now. …”


And there, I fear, I must leave them; my tears are shorting out my Kindle.


But wait, there’s more!   Note the deft and sensitive handling of ethnicity in the future.


"James Neeth Cameroodo, Lord of Mars, tall, stringently lean, the hint of negroid structure in his dark face revealing his racial origins as the leopard of the House crest revealed its geographic origins in Terra's Sudafrika."


"...the man who entered was a marked contrast to Cameroodo. Sato Lao Shang's racial heritage was oriental; he was slight of body with wizened features and a balding head, yet he carried himself with profound dignity."


The love interest has "Shang heritage" and looks like  "a Selaneen doll; something so exquisitely fragile it should be encased in plasex as the finest Selaneens always were." She, and the hero's mother, are smart women who pay attention to the world; all the other upper-class ladies are stupid and talk about nothing except fashion and love affairs.


More quotations, because I don’t see why you shouldn’t suffer as I have. There are nuggets of characterization like


"Ben was silent, thinking of Rich, she knew, the sadness in his eyes out of character in that tough face that usually epitomized so fully the SSB major, even when he was out of uniform, as he was now."


and

“They were all uncomfortable, even Marien Dyce, Chief of Computer Systems, whose sturdy figure and matronly features always made her seem immune to uncertainty.”


In a tender moment, our hero is trying to obliterate himself in meaningless sex with Elianne, who is hot but stupid.  


"he looked into her eyes, cloudy green, and she smiled; a slow, sentient smile."  I assume this is a thinko for “sinuous” or possibly “simian”.


"He reached out for that consummatory limbo, past conscious reaction, past thought, in extremis, where the center of motivation dissipated into every cell of his body, and he no longer had to think--only feel and act and react and act and feel; a complex of instantaneous perception and response, his consciousness so narrowed there was no awareness of Elianne except as an inseverable adjunct of his own body."


It’s so hard to decide whether to act, react, or feel in any given situation.   Good thing he’s past conscious reaction. Elsewhere in the book, our hero is overcome by the emotional horrors of his situation


“He recoiled, quivering, assaulted with peals of sardonic laughter.  And what merciless god sent this clawing beast -- the black angel of grief?

"The ebony wings pounded the air, the talons locked in his flesh, and if he didn’t scream, it was only because his lungs couldn’t find air enough.   And if he didn’t weep, it was only because he hadn’t yet surrendered.   Tears would be the white flag of defeat.

"And death … or something like death.

"Something he couldn’t name.”


All of that was a metaphor, by the way.  I’d have been ecstatic if there’d been an actual clawing beast, and not just because our hero’s twisted limbs would now be carpeting the page like tortured driftwood.  Oh, damn, I think Wren‘s writing style may be catching.


In summary:  the writing is wretched, both at the sentence level and at the structural level.   The characters are uninteresting.   The worldbuilding is omnipresent and tedious beyond belief. This book is Book One of the Phoenix Legacy; if I were you, I'd take that as a threat.


mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Music: Is reminiscent of Game of Thrones theme, but somehow seafaring.
Second-rate Jack Sparrow imitation*: Shows up.


* You’d think Johnny Depp had that one covered, as of Pirates of the Caribbean III.



Meanwhile, back at the palace:
Milady: I want a vacation.
Richelieu. Assassins don’t get vacations. But you’ll note that we do provide excellent dental. (flashes 20th-century teeth.)
Milady: What about the retirement plan?
Richelieu: Don’t make me laugh; it displaces my mustache unattractively.
Milady: Damn.
Richelieu: Oh, go ahead, take a break, you’ve earned it. But remember that I yanked you from the gutters of Paris and made you my creature.
Milady: Why can’t you be the guttersnipe this time, and I’ll be the Naughty Aristocrat?
Richelieu: My roleplay, my rules.

Back to the tavern.
Musketeers: Sneak into tavern. Sneakily.
Bar fight: Starts.
Musketeers: Arrest Second-rate Jack Sparrow Imitation (henceforward SrJSI).
Lady: Shows up to attack SrJSI.
Me: Oh, my GOD, that’s a Western schoolmarm outfit, kill me now, I can’t live on this planet any more.
Me: Reminds self that she promised not to mention the costumes again even though if one more corset shows up as outerwear I may hit somebody with my copy of Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d.

Lady: is SrJSI’s wife.
SrJSI: Allow me one last conjugal visit with my hottie.
D’Artagnan: How stupid do you think we are?
Me: Such a good question.
Musketeers: Allow one last conjugal visit with his hottie.
SrJSI and wife: Feign conjugal visit noises. At length.

Plot: Musketeers ingeniously outwit SrJSI and Wife and carry SrJSI off to Paris in a cart. Porthos exposits about his tragic slave-being childhood. They are ambushed by Merchant. Porthos is shot. Merchant exposits about SrJSI’s failure to honor business contracts.

Musketeer: “We’re being followed by two men wearing black leather.”
Husband: Unlike everyone else in this show????

Porthos: Moans.
Aramis: Wow, Porthos is wounded!
Athos: Righty-ho, off to Paris.
Aramis: But Porthos --
Athos: Paris.
Aramis: Porthos will dieeeee! We can’t go!
Athos: We will go to Paris. Put him in the cart!
Aramis: But the cart will kill him!
Athos: Oh, all right. We’ll put him in the cart for a few miles to this place I know.
Porthos: A FEW MILES? Okay, I’ll just partly die then, shall I?
Aramis: You couldn’t mention that place a few sentences back?
Athos: …

Location: is the little country place of Athos, Comte de la Fère.
Musketeers: Who’s the Comte de la Fère?
Athos: Me.


B Plot: Athos flashes back to his marriage to Milady, during which he hangs her. As one does. In the present, Milady spares his life, as one does. Even though this is all canon, the execution is painfully bad. You need to know that there were forget-me-nots. Otherwise let us never mention this again. If only the show would follow suit.


Returning to the A plot…
Everybody: Is hanging around the dining room of Chez Fère.
SrJSI: Has Sekret Plan to make money through shipping. Shipping stuff. To the Antilles. Hmm. He’s eeevil, so...

Yes, because this is the episode from McObviousVille, he’s eeevil and a slaver. Porthos, being the thickest brick in the fortification, doesn’t notice SrJSI’s references to hanging out on the porch of his plantation sipping a julep and watching the work get done. What does he need, a diagram?

Porthos: sees a diagram.


That diagram? Every American schoolkid sees it at some point. It’s from the British slave trade and dates to 1788.


Lady: rescues SRJSI, covering four Musketeers with a single pistol. Fires a shot into the ground, rides away.
Me: (real-time) THAT’S A SINGLE-SHOT WEAPON, YOU MORONS! GRAB A GUN!
Musketeers, on ground: Draw swords.
Me: Headdesk. To be precise, headbed.
Lady with SrJSI on horse: gets shot. By somebody else, who rides off.
SrJSI: is sad.
SrJSI: is made to dig grave in the middle of a field. In unconsecrated ground. Because it isn’t as if every man jack of them is a Catholic or anything. Aramis mutters something that, whatever else it might be, is definitely not a Catholic prayer. I think he also crosses himself wrong, but somebody else will have to Catholic-pick.

Musketeers: ride sullenly off to Paris.
Porthos: Man is born free!
And everywhere he is in chains. Hellooo to Rousseau, 1762. Or, in general, to the French Enlightenment, which kicks into gear about 50 years after the Musketeers.

Musketeers: Reach Paris, hand off SrJSI to Richelieu.
Richelieu: You have totally foutu my plans and betrayed the King.
SrJSI: But I have a Plan!
Richelieu: Demonstrate this as if your life depended on it. Because it does.

Nice line, but… as you will recall, he’s eeeeeevil.

Place: Hall outside Cardinal’s Den of Plotting.
Musketeers: Interrogate SrJSI about recent events. The speed of their uptake makes Porthos look like Spinoza by comparison.

Yup. Richelieu funds slave expedition. Armand Jean du Plessis, cardinal-duc de Richelieu et de Fronsac, noted collector of books and great works of art, the guy who built the Palais-Cardinal and then left it to the King, is so hurting for cash that he’d invest in a speculative (all sea ventures were speculative in this era) venture with a SrJSI who was known for betraying his investors. Richelieu would totally prioritize ducats over the interests of the King, because it’s not as if he’s the guy who in the previous two episodes has emphasized that nothing matters to him but the welfare of France.

Irrelevant, because eeeeevil.

Constance Bonacieux: Is wearing corset as outerwear.
Milady: Shows up at Constance Bonacieux’s house. Makes vague threats. Leaves in a sinister fashion.
Constance: Gosh, I hope she doesn’t come back.
d’Artagnan: pulls shirt on. Slowly.
Dialogue: Happens.
Me: I’m sorry, did you two say something?

The Musketeers are all depressed, then they go down to the harbor and rescue SrJSI from his angry investors because it’s their duty to the King and that’s just how they roll, and -- surprise twist! -- deliver him to a Spanish ship to languish in durance vile forever.

Because they’re eeeee Oh, wait, they’re the heroes, it’s perfectly okay.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
The actor who plays Athos is a dead ringer for Henri de Talleyrand-Périgord, comte de Chalais, a friend of Louis XIII. Although, admittedly, with 100% more leather.

Have nearly finished Mack Holt's The French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629. It is an excellent, excellent book, dispassionate (sometimes too much so, as when treating both sides' habits of torturing pregnant women), and appropriately IMHO dismissive of finding a single cause for any action during this period. For instance, Holt says frankly that everybody who wrote about the St. Bartholomew Massacre had an axe to grind, whether religious propaganda or the simple desire to escape the blame. Then he examines the events preceding the murder of Coligny, analyzing what everyone involved had to gain and lose. In particular, Catherine de Medici and the King believed the rumors that the Protestants were about to rise up and start killing them; under the circumstances, preemptive assassinations were necessary. The Ducs du Guise thought (probably incorrectly) that Coligny had guilt in the assassination their father. Philip of Spain's agent, the Duke of Alba, thought Coligny's generalship was thwarting Philip's reconquest of the Netherlands. And in the wholesale massacres that followed, Parisian Catholics thought they had explicit permission from the King to wipe out the Protestants.

In short, Holt realizes and illustrates that the players in the Wars of Religion, both in the mass and as individuals, were motivated by sentiments of religion, power, xenophobia, political theory, personal revenge, and (very much not least) the desire to be alive and in possession of one's property when the dust settled. Talking about what the Huguenots wanted, or the Catholic League wanted, is impossible; the best you can do is talk about what individuals wanted, how those wants led to coalitions, and about how events developed in a particular city.

It's an ugly mess. The period reminds me very much of the current mess in the Middle East, and in general of the reasons why many modern states require, at least in theory, the toleration of multiple religious beliefs.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
You should know that I am an embarrassing swashbuckler fangirl. I will watch anything with Musketeers in it, with the exception of the recent steampunk thing, which was a breach too far. I have the 1954 TV series with Roger Delgado as Athos, and it is damn good. Take the rest of this review in that light.

THE MUSKETEERS is on a KNIGHT's TALE level of period faithfulness* **, which, okay, take it on its own terms. Much worse, it's on an ON STRANGER TIDES*** level of source-material faithfulness. Instead of the magnificent three-way duel that sets the action rolling in Dumas, MUSKETEERS has d'Artagnan's father murdered while on his way to tell the King that the new taxes are unfair to the peasants. D'Artagnan vows to avenge his father's death and heads on to Paris.

Some random highlights (spoilers):
spoilers )
I'll let Opus in a 1980s BLOOM COUNTY speak for me. "George Phblat's new film, 'Benji Saves the Universe,' has brought the word 'BAD' to new levels of badness. Bad acting. Bad effects. Bad everything. This film just oozed rottenness from every bad scene...Simply bad beyond all infinite dimensions of possible badness." Then Opus pauses and adds, "Well maybe not that bad, but Lord, it wasn't good."

Yeah. Lord, it wasn't good. I will be watching every single episode, because swords. It's a cast-iron kink. also Capaldi looks quite nice in black leather

* I adore A KNIGHT'S TALE, and here is my gage to prove it.
** I'm not mentioning the costumes. There's a reason for that.
*** Fabulous book by Tim Powers. Read it.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
To begin with, this is a ripping yarn told in the first person, and great fun to read. Monsieur de Berault (I think we never learn his first name), Chevalier de Berault, is a Parisian rascal who lives by gambling. When we open, Berault has been accused of marking cards; he replies that it isn't his fault if his opponent plays with a mirror behind him. He then challenges his young opponent to a duel, wins by piercing the latter through the chest, and is arrested by the Cardinal's Guard for violating the edict against dueling.

N.b. the young opponent is English, and demonstrates his English strength of character by sparing de Berault when he slips and falls during the duel.

de Berault is summoned by Cardinal de Richelieu, who is, of course, a badass.

His cold glance, that, roving over me, regarded me not as a man but an item, the steely glitter of his southern eyes, chilled me to the bone. The room was bare, the floor without carpet or covering. Some of the woodwork lay about, unfinished and in pieces. But the man—this man, needed no surroundings. His keen pale face, his brilliant eyes, even his presence—though he was of no great height, and began already to stoop at the shoulders—were enough to awe the boldest. I recalled, as I looked at him, a hundred tales of his iron will, his cold heart, his unerring craft.

Richelieu orders de Berault off to retrieve a Huguenot who is currently across the Spanish border, but is known to be sneaking back to see his own wife. Hijinks ensue. The big romance/moral conflict is between a Huguenot lady and de Berault. The lady has absolutist morals, and considers a spy the worst person in the world because he *gasp* lies to people and betrays their trust. The spy's moral lodestone is that ... um ...it's him against the world. Later in the book it turns out that the one rule he will never bend is that once somebody's paid him, he does the job he was paid for.
In such a position some men might have given up the attempt in despair, and saved themselves across the border. But I have always valued myself on my fidelity, and I did not shrink. If not to-day, to-morrow; if not this time, next time. The dice do not always turn up aces.

Over the course of the novel de Berault remembers that he was raised better than that, and the lady realizes that even though he's a spy, de Berault is awesome. (This is gross oversimplifying; there's genuine doubt and mellowing on both sides.)

Here's de Berault deliberately provoking a fight in order to pass as a Huguenot:
Having me at this disadvantage—for at first I made no resistance --the landlord began to belabour me with the first thing he snatched up, and when I tried to defend myself, cursed me with each blow for a treacherous rogue and a vagrant. Meanwhile the three merchants, delighted with the turn things had taken, skipped round us laughing, and now hounded him on, now bantered me with 'how is that for the Duke of Orleans?' and 'How now, traitor?'

When I thought that this had lasted long enough—or, to speak more plainly, when I could stand the innkeeper's drubbing no longer—I threw him off, and struggled to my feet; but still, though the blood was trickling down my face, I refrained from drawing my sword. I caught up instead a leg of the stool which lay handy, and, watching my opportunity, dealt the landlord a shrewd blow under the ear, which laid him out in a moment on the wreck of his own table.

'Now,' I cried, brandishing my new weapon, which fitted the hand to a nicety, 'come on! Come on! if you dare to strike a blow, you peddling, truckling, huckstering knaves! A fig for you and your shaveling Cardinal!'


The novel has an absolutist moral attitude that's very of its public-school culture and late-Victorian period. The authorial viewpoint agrees with the lady: the worst possible thing you can do is lie to people, and thus spying is the worst of all sins. This is, to put it mildly, not a 17th-century viewpoint. Neither is the blanket condemnation of duelling, especially when one party knows he's the superior swordsman. (Contrast Dumas's mid-century French take on the same issue.)

But how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln? It's a vividly-written --the descriptions of the Pyrenees are gorgeous-- late-century adventure novel, easily as good as Anthony Hope Hawkins and far more engaging IMHO than P. C. Wren. The protagonist is a fun head to be in. I'll be seeking out more Weyman. Wiki says he was a best-seller in his day, admired by Stevenson and Wilde, but is now forgotten. I wonder if the problem is the lack of Weyman-based movies?
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Amazon thought I would like this and offered it to me cheap; I accepted. Worst $.99 of my life.
discussions of suicide, sexual assault )
Don't buy it. Don't pirate it. Don't admit it exists.

I think I'll go watch the Lussekatter dough rise now.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 I read both of these in one day.  This was a mistake, because they are the same book.

Old successful artist looks back on his life from childhood onward.   He reflects on the downfall of a great man, framing his memories of the man through commentary on his own art form.   In the process, the narrator demonstrates that his own morals are much superior to those of the great man he has admired.   Rocks fall, everyone (else) dies.

Any book can be distorted by a four-sentence summary.  Nonetheless, these are the same book, in the same way that any two middle-tier Georgette Heyers are the same book.   In my opinion, The Mask of Apollo is the better of the two, because the stakes are more central and higher -- Dion is much more vivid and present than the Pisistratid tyrants.

Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?  Very much indeed.  Mary Renault's Greece is as vivid and sharply-realized as Heyer's Regency.   I frame my response thus because I don't know how much classical Greek scholarship has changed since the 1950s, and how representative Renault's Greece is of what is now known about the societies she chronicles.   Anyway, the culture is beautifully presented from the great customs to the small, every game of kottabos or naked Olympian immediate and real.  The central political drama of The Mask of Apollo will break your heart.

A catch for a modern reader (well, this one, at least) is that women aren't present.  Renault would argue that in classical Greece women's roles were both limited and invisible  -- most women were hidden away in the household.   This is true, but when Renault does bring a woman onstage, she is present only as her role: The Hetaira, The Servant, The Sister.   The rare female characters don't have the 360-degree faults-and-virtues treatment that the male narrators give to all the male characters.  *  The reader can reasonably take this as inherent to the protagonists' viewpoints; it grated on me.

I highly, highly recommend Renault's Greek novels.   Just don't read too many of them in succession.

* Edit:  The Mask of Apollo has an individual and memorable woman who's an exception to this rule: she's a lesbian cross-dresser who refers to herself as having been born the wrong sex.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Here's a Fashionista interview with the costume designer. tl;dr: They ARE prom dresses.

Which current labels are your go-tos for working into the costuming?
I knew from the beginning that I’d have an easy time weaving in contemporary accessories. It’s funny how tiaras and hair pieces are everywhere right now, and it’s incredibly helpful. We’ve also used quite a bit of Free People for the girls’ everyday looks. They have such a strong and cohesive story with their bohemian romantic look, it’s really worked in our favor. On the pilot we used an incredible Basil Soda gown and we’ve continued using a couple gowns of theirs on Mary. I’ve rented a couple McQueen gowns as well. We shop quite a bit of vintage here in Toronto, but I’m also constantly scouring the web. Net-a-Porter, The Outnet, and BHLDN are my go-tos.

...  how did you update looks from the Elizabethan era for a teen drama?
From the beginning the creators, the director, and the studio said they wanted to incorporate a contemporary feel in the costumes. The vision was there even before I signed on; I just helped execute it. But knowing the network and the show’s demographic I felt it made complete sense. I also wanted each look to have a nod to the proper period costume, whether it was achieved through a similar shape or detailed embroidery. The girls almost always wear a corset unless there’s just no need. They love how it helps with their posture. [it. mine]

Wait, corsets—did you use authentic ones?...
...We usually decide for every new look they wear if we need the corset or not. We’ve also been making embroidered and jeweled corsets to be worn on camera as day looks and formal looks for the girls.

From here forward I won't be snarking the female leads' clothes because there is absolutely no point.  Modern, meant to be modern, nothing to see here, moving along.

edit:  From p. 3 of the interview.
I think it will be quite obvious to our viewers that we’re not out to replicate historical costumes. We’ve created our own distinct look and I think viewers will respond to it positively. I’m hoping it’s an inspiration for our female viewers to creatively add to their wardrobe. It’s such a do-it-yourself kind of look. We’re constantly taking vintage pieces and dying them, altering them, beading them—all to make them our own. That’s what it’s about. It’s not for everyone though. If you’re hoping for hip rolls and men in tights it’s not your show.
Fair enough.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Anything in quotation marks is actual dialogue. I rewound this, er, tripe so this recap would be accurate for you and you and you.

I am not Cleolinda, nor was meant to be )

Summary: I'll probably be there, but I'll be ashamed of myself the whole time.

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