Dec 29, 2011

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: a book review

Today I finished Susanna Clarke's debut novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I can say with no hesitation that I thought it was a masterpiece! Written in exquisite Regency-style prose, the novel spins an alternate history of England in the first decades of the 19th century, crippled by war with Napoleon. Magic is regarded as all but extinct, and even the study and belief in England's magical history wanes under the influence of the Age of Reason. Amid these currents emerge two practicing magicians, Mr. Norrell and Mr. Strange, built on restoring English magic to the the country's formative glory. Within the pages of the novel, Clarke weaves impeccable historical detail with traditional and invented fairy-lore to create a truly believable and enchanting alternative history.

Clarke's attention to detail and vivid portrayal of period accuracies is what really stole my heart in this book. Her writing style, despite being that of a contemporary author, fits seamlessly along side writers such as Emily Bronte and Jane Austin. Her descriptions of magic, both ritually and it's results, are convincing enough to make readers almost believe they could do the same (provided they could have a peak at some of Mr. Norrell's books!). The way she paints the realms and inhabitants of Faerie is refreshing and deliciously horrific, her version of the creatures falling somewhere between quaint traditional folklore and something out of a Del Toro film. Moody scenes atop Yorkshire moors and among the naked grey branches of winter English woods leave the book with a distinct flavor of the Romantic Gothic novel, finely tuned for a modern audience.

Being aimed at modern readers with similar persuasions, I think readers of this blog will delight in this book as much as I did! I highly recommend it!

Did I mention it has awesome illustrations?

Dec 26, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a good holiday! My family celebrates Christmas. Every year, everyone gathers in Florida at my grandparents' home on the ocean. Thus, I always associate Christmas with the sea, Spanish moss, and citrus fruit. Does your family have any holiday traditions you love?

Dec 9, 2011

Style Idol: Helena Bonham Carter

Hail to the Queen! 
The first in Carnivale Salt's style idol series is the illustrious Helena Bonham Carter. There are few public figures with personal styles as exciting as this 45-year-old actress. A little bit grunge, a little bit gothy, a large dose of Victorian opulence, peppered with an unmatched sense of humor.

Photos by Gustavo Papaleo

I am fascinated by Helena's look: she's not conventionally beautiful, and has never tried to fit into an ideal for the media. On the contrary, she is well known for appearing as-is in public, flaunting her physical imperfections and her eccentricities of style. She refuses to use a stylist for red carpet events and  Her rejection of convention only serves to make her more beautiful and inspiring!

Campaign for Marc Jacobs s/s 2011
(As an aside, I'm really obsessed with these hats)

Mostly for Marc Jacobs 2011 (and more of those wacky hats)

Photographer Unknown

Photographer Unknown (if you know, please tell me!)

I love this photo shoot especially because it simultaneously captures a romantic, kind of delicate Victorian beauty, while still being just a little bit grungy. I love her messy hair and her chunky docs underneath tons of ruffles and embroidery. So cheeky! 

Photographer Unknown

She appears a lot in high-fashion editorials and is well known for publicly supporting the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Marc Jacobs among others. Off-camera, her easy going street style is thought of my many as pretty crazy, but I really like it. Somehow she manages to make looking like you just got out of bed pretty awesome. 

Helena likes pedicabs! Woo!

How does she manage to look classy even when 
looking a bit like a homeless woman? 

Random Paparazzi photoz from FYEAHHBC on Tumblr

On the silver screen, Helena rocks costuming so hard. The vacation scene in Sweeney Todd is one of my favorite bits of costuming/on-screen fashion of any movie. Obviously, HBC isn't responsible for these looks, but here are a few anyway for eye candy. 

As Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (2007)

As Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter

And what will undoubtedly be my new favorite costume moment.... 

As Miss Havisham in the upcoming adaptation of Great Expectations (2012)

What do you think of Helena Bonham Carter's style? Do you love it? Hate it? Comments are always welcome.
See you next time!