Girl in Dior: A Fashionista’s Graphic Novel

Girl In Dior

 

Everything I know about fashion, and it’s not much, I learned from Heather and Jessica at Go Fug Yourself. I know that Kate Middleton loves Jenny Packham (as do I), Stella McCartney’s designs are kooky, and Jennifer Lawrence is the latest Girl in Dior.

Dior is a name I recognize, even if I don’t know much about it. When Girl in Dior popped up as recommended for me in Scribd, I thought I might at least learn a couple of things.

Girl in Dior mixes fact and fiction with beautiful illustrations to create the story of Clara and a history of the House of Dior. In 1947, unknown designer Christian Dior created a scandal when he unveiled his collection. The dresses were luxurious, long hemlines and miles of fabric in a time of austerity. People were still rationing after the war. Hemlines were above the knee. An American group named The Little Below the Knee Club held a protest over the length of the dresses- they were too long!

Clara watches the hubbub from her assigned press set. The daughter of a seamstress, she knows what she’s seeing is going to rock the fashion world. She never imagines that she’ll soon be wearing Dior herself.

Girl in Dior is a Cinderella story: working girl becomes royalty. There isn’t much conflict for Clara. Except for her losing her job for a moment, she doesn’t have a lot to overcome. People are unbelievably nice to her. I didn’t realize at the time that Clara wasn’t a real person. It made sense at the end, it was too good to be true. Clara is a stand in for the reader. Through her we observe the models, seamstresses, buyers, and even Dior himself. Clara’s story isn’t important, it’s just a vehicle for the story of Dior.

Let’s move onto the art. It’s beautiful! The colors and backgrounds are subdued. The drawings very realistic. The women are handsome. The gowns are fantastic.

girl in dior

 

Annie Goetzinger is a well known comic artist in France, but Girl in Dior is her first English graphic novel. Here is an interesting interview with her by Comic Book Resources. I am excited to read that her next project is based on the life of Colette! I hope that will be available in Canada.

If you want to look at beautiful dresses and art, or are interested in post-World War II fashion, you’ll enjoy Girl in Dior.

H Is For Hawk: Bird Is the Word

h is for hawk

 

I kept seeing H Is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald on Important Lists, since I first noticed it on Netgalley last year. I wondered if it was a children’s book (it’s not). I learned that it was about a woman who trains a hawk after the death of her father. What is the big deal about a woman and her bird? I thought. Finally, after seeing it praised everywhere, I gave in and read it. I’m not sure if it was all that I expected or not.

Helen has been obsessed with birds of prey and training them to hunt since she was a girl. She trained falcons in the past, but never a goshawk. Goshawks have a reputation as difficult birds, too wild for most people. After the sudden death of her father, Helen can’t stop thinking about goshawks. She remembered a book she read as a girl, The Goshawk by T.H. White, a harrowing tale (for the bird) of White’s attempt to train a goshawk.

Helen drops most of her relationships to train a young goshawk she names Mabel. She spends all of her time in her house alone with Mabel for months on end. I can only imagine the smell. When Helen and Mabel finally leave the house to continue training outdoors, Helen’s reclusiveness has made her nearly a little bit mad, and she shuns most people she encounters.

Helen describes the depths of her grief vividly throughout her memoir. She uses Mabel to avoid her normal life. Her teaching position ends and she doesn’t look for new work, she loses her house. It’s all Mabel, all the time. She spends so much time with the goshawk that she begins to believe she and the bird are the same. Sometimes her thoughts take bizarre turns.

Mirroring her own experiences with Mabel are White’s with his bird Gos. I really didn’t like these interludes. White was terrible to that bird, and MacDonald’s attempts to psychoanalyze him just irritated me.  She feels a kinship to him because they are broken people, but I didn’t see them as all that similar.

For me, the most enjoyable parts of the book are the times Helen spends with Mabel training and hunting. Mabel’s personality shines through. The changes from companion to killer are beautifully written. Birds of prey are amazing to me. I once saw, or rather heard, a hawk take a blue jay from the air. All that was left was a cloud of blue feathers where the bird had been a second before. How people control that power is unfathomable. Have you read about the 13 year old Mongolian girl who trained an eagle? An eagle! They go after small dogs around here.

 

hawk

 

The written is lyrical, even though at times I didn’t know where she was going with it.  There were passages about nature and animals that were my favorites. I keep thinking about H Is For Hawk even days after I finished.

H Is For Hawk is something really different. I’m not in love with that title though. It doesn’t say much about the book, other than there is a hawk in it. Stay tuned for my memoir C Is For Cat, a woman attempts to get her cat to stop hiding in the bathtub because he’s afraid of wind.

Recommended.

Lazy Sunday Thoughts Have Brownies

HELLO MOSS

It’s been a little over a month since I stopped working and while I have a lot of projects to do here at home, I’m finding my mood is blah. I’m not sure if this is the lack of human interaction during the day or the lack of a daily routine. There go my dreams of becoming a happy recluse.

My increased Twitter usage may also be contributing in my mood. Twitter is the Eeyore of the internet.

 

eeyore A glance through my Twitter feed

 

I should take more walks. Get some Vitamin D.

But, hey, I’m reading a lot and also blogging a bunch. I have some ideas for blog posts. I just have to organize them in my mind before I sit down to write them. I have some reviews written for next week: H Is For Hawk, and Girl in Dior. I listened to Bird Box by Josh Malerman. Holy Smokes, that is a creepy one! I think I need a light and happy book after that one. Wow. 

Did you know that Armchair BEA is next week? I didn’t know that it was happening this year. I’m not sure if I’m going to participate. If you are a book blogger, are you? I guess that means lots of people will be in NYC for Book Expo America this week too.

Totally unrelated to anything so far, but I want to share… I made Alton Brown’s Cocoa Brownies and they are the best brownie I ever made. I added some ice cream, crumbled Oreo cookie, whipped cream, and caramel sauce for a homemade version of Dairy Queen’s Brownie Earthquake. It’s so good!

 

brownie earthquake

I have lots to do today, so I’ll say goodbye. Have a great Sunday!

Lumberjanes: Campy Girl Fun

lumberjanes

 

How I wish my Girl Guide camp experience was more like the camp in Lumberjanes. Less bible study and more wrestling mythical beasts.

The five friends of Roanoke cabin, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley, find themselves confronting the strange creatures that lurk in the woods surrounding the Lumberjane Scout camp. The beasts leave behind clues that lead the girls into mysterious places where they find more beasts and more mysteries. This makes one of the characters exclaim, “What the junk?!” What the junk indeed.

Lucky for me, I was able to read Numbers 1 through 8 of the Lumberjane series on Scribd, and get to the exciting conclusion. I think I’d be frustrated if Scribd only went to #7.

 

lumberjanes

 

The girls are a diverse group with their own quirks, but with a love for adventure in common. They have a “no girl left behind” policy. If someone falls down a hole, they’re all following. They use their brains to get themselves out of trouble. Even though they are in constant peril, they approach every situation as an adventure. Their long suffering camp counsellor Jen seems to be the only one in a perpetual state of anxiety over their shenanigans. Poor Jen, I feel like I could relate to her more than the other girls. I guess that’s what happens when you become an adult with responsibilities, you can’t let it go entirely even when reading a kids’ adventure comic. Although, the only adult, camp director Rosie, isn’t too worried about the girls getting injured.

Lumberjanes was a lot of fun. Written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis and illustrated by Brooke Allen. The illustrations are fun and colourful without being twee. I would have preferred this series to the Archie comics I had when I was a girl.

Bonus: Lumberjanes #9. Chapter 9 is a collection of campfire stories told by the girls as they challenge each other to tell the scariest tale. Each story was created by a different illustrator: Aimee Fleck, Faith Erin Hicks, Becca Tobin, Carolyn Nowak , Felicia Choo, T. Zysk. It’s an anthology or a “Susan B Anth-ology” if you will. The tales are more funny than scary. This was my favorite of the series so far.

Non-Fiction Audio By Murakami, Atwood, and Bolick

audiobook review

 

I’ve listened to a run of non-fiction audiobooks the last few weeks. Let’s check them out.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

 

what I talk about running

 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a memoir of Murakami’s experiences as a runner. He doesn’t just jog a bit. He’s run a marathon every year since 1983, the same year he decided to become a full time writer. In fact, this memoir is as much about writing as it is about running.

When he gave up his life as a bar owner in Japan to write, he knew his unhealthy lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. He chose running to keep in shape. At first he ran 5K races, then half-marathons, soon he was traveling the world to participate in marathons and ultra-marathons.

I’ve never read anything by Murakami before. This is probably a shocking admission. I know he has many fans in the book blogging community. Not knowing anything about Murakami, I came away impressed by the man’s single-mindedness and determination. He approaches both with the same intensity. He has the same worry for both that as he ages he will lose his edge.

I wasn’t blown away by What I Talk About When I Talk About Running but I did like it and found it insightful. I would like to read Murakami’s fiction soon.

Narrated by Ray Porter. Translated by Philip Gabriel.

In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood

 

in other worlds

 

Margaret Atwood has been given a hard time by critics *coughUrsulaKLeGuincough* about her reluctance to categorize some of her work as science fiction. In Other Worlds attempts to explain her past reticence through her essays, talks, and criticism of other sci-fi novels.

It’s not that she doesn’t like and enjoy sci-fi. She is a voracious consumer of the genre since she was a kid. It’s that she doesn’t think what she writes fulfills her own definition. It’s like the argument I have with my daughter on whether the colour mint is blue or green. (It’s green.) We’re never going to agree because we have different ideas about what it is. (It’s green.) We have to let it go and agree to disagree. (It’s green, though.)

I enjoyed hearing her thoughts on sci-fi, and her reviews of books like She, Brave New World, and 1984. She’s made me have new thoughts about them. I’ve also added a few books to my TBR pile. I thought it was interesting to read about her earlier interest in the genre, and the origin of her novel A Handmaid’s Tale. The final section of In Other Worlds is a collection of 4 of her own stories that fall into the category of sci-fi, involving alien life and cryogenics.

Narrated by Margaret Atwood and Susan Denaker. Atwood narrates the first couple more personal sections, as she says her voice isn’t strong enough to narrate all of it. Her voice does fade at times throughout.

Spinster by Kate Bolick

 

spinster

 

I’m going to admit upfront that I DNFed Spinster. I couldn’t get into it. I liked the idea behind it, but it was such a personal approach to the topic that I soon got bored. I put it aside for a few days and forgot all about it. I think I would have stuck it out if it wasn’t an audiobook. Sometimes the format makes the book.

Here’s a bit of the blurb from Goodreads:

Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why­ she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remains unmarried.

The reviews on the Goodreads site are mixed. Give it a try and see what you think.

Narrated by the author. Thanks to Random House Audio for the review copy.

Lazy Sunday Thoughts Are Spring Cleaning

chickadee

 

Happy Weekend! It’s a long weekend here in Canada. Lots of beer and BBQ. It’s still a bit cool outside but we are an optimistic people. Last week, I saw someone in the traditional spring costume of our nation: shorts and a winter jacket. (This never makes any sense to me!)

Anyway, with spring’s arrival I make new plans for my house. I painted several walls this week. I started my garden with radishes and lettuce. The garage is being cleaned and I’m planning on some major landscaping in the back yard. I have BIG plans, I just have to DO those things.

Because of the painting all week, most of my reading has been audio. I finished What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami and In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood. I’m almost done with H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald.  At some point, I’ll sit down and write a post about them.

In the mail this week, I received a couple of British mysteries I requested. I guess I have my summer reading plans worked out!

 

mysteries

 

For now, I better go out and enjoy the nice spring weather while it lasts! See ya!

A Bollywood Affair: Ready For My Close Up, Mr Rathod

A Bollywood Affair

 

Despite the title, A Bollywood Affair, this book has little to do with Bollywood itself. The title is catchy though, so I’ll accept it. The Millionaire Director’s Secret Sister-In-Law would be a little unwieldy anyway.

Our heroine Mili is married to Virat Rathod, a boy she last seen on her wedding day at age four. Mili uses her wedded status to her own advantage. She convinces her grandmother that her husband would want an educated wife and gets herself a scholarship to an American University. Everything is coming up roses, except she lives in a gross apartment and barely has enough to eat.

Virat has a new wife and baby on the way. When he finds out Mili still claims him as her husband, he worries about his family’s future. His younger brother Samir, a Bollywood director, comes to the rescue and heads to the US to make Mili sign annulment papers. Of course when he gets there, he meets the most beautiful woman in a T-shirt he’s ever seen. Fixing his brother’s marital situation is going to take longer than he thought.

I wasn’t too sure about A Bollywood Affair at first. I liked Mili a lot. She’s so optimistic she should start every morning by singing about dreams coming true with a tiny blue bird. She thinks the best of everyone and is so sweet it hurts. Usually, I hate this, but she’s also so brave and full of determination that I liked her despite myself.

Samir was my issue. He’s a real Alpha male. I had enough of these in the 90s. He knows the effect he has on women and uses it to his advantage. I didn’t like how he talked or thought about women. (Don’t refer to a woman as “horsewoman,” FYI.) Boo, for misogyny. He could be a real dick. Speaking of… He referred to that member as “Little Sam.” Ugh. No.

Eventually Samir grew on me. For one thing, Mili is like a tiny bulldozer. Watching him being totally flummoxed by her is entertaining. As is usually the case in romance, at least one of the love interests grows as a person and becomes worthy of the other. Samir does come to realize that his actions have consequences and he can’t charm his way out of bad behaviour. Maybe he is not totally worthy of her, but he could be.

The premise of the novel is interesting and unique. I liked the cultural aspects, and the food sounds fantastic! I loved Mili to pieces and only wanted the best for her. I did think at times that the tone was off- I couldn’t decide whether it was playing silly or serious. The wedding that happens in the middle of the book is farcical and felt like it belonged to another book. That family is bonkers. There is a scene with Mili and another girl that is odd and frustrated me to no end.

There was also often awkward shifting of points-of view that were clunky. I didn’t know who was doing the speaking or thinking. My preference is for whole chapters to be from the POV of one character. A couple of paragraphs here and there always confuses me, but that might just be me.

I did have some issues with A Bollywood Affair, for sure, but overall it was charming and a bit of a tear jerker. It was a good debut and hope to read more from Sonali Dev.

PS- I love the cover.