Not too long ago I mentioned that there is an exhibit of costumes used in a number of historical films at a local museum. Yesterday morning, it being bright and sunny albeit a little on the brisk side, I decided it was time to go check it out. If you are a fan of elegant couture, or if you just enjoy movies and like to see costumes close up, this is the place to be. I love textiles and needlework and the dresses (and gent's clothing, too) that were on display were absolutely swoon-worthy. I'm only disappointed that there was no exhibit guide to go with the show. I would have snapped it up however much the price.
I should have taken notes, but who wants to walk around with a pen and paper in hand while visiting a museum. So let me try and recall the films that were represented--Pirates of the Caribbean, The Duchess, Sense & Sensibility (the 1995 version), Jane Eyre (I think it was the 2007 version), The Phantom of the Opera, Casanova, The New World, The Golden Bowl, Finding Neverland, Mrs. Dalloway, Gosford Park, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, In Love and War, Goya's Ghosts and a few others that escape me at the moment. In some cases there was only one costume from a movie, but in others there were several.
A few things I noted. The embroidery on most of the dresses was absolutely exquisite and elicited not a few oohs and aahs from me. It would be hard to create just the right designs for these films and get all the period details right. In some cases more than one version of the costume had to be made--for example Heath Ledger's costume in Casanova since he was jumping through windows and running from husbands (or from priests in the case of a nunnery, ahem), as there is so much wear and tear on them. The hoops and corsets and other "underpinnings" that women had to wear look heavy and stifling and generally uncomfortable--especially the hoops that looked like cages (how did women sit with those one?)! And actresses like Keira Knightly, Kate Winslet and especially Natalie Portman are tiny, waif-like creatures. I already knew that, but seeing their costumes up close and personal brought home just how petite they are. I'm hoping to go back and see it again before the exhibit ends.
My morning out included a stop at the public library where I returned a very large and very heavy pile of books. They kept looking at me accusingly, and they were stressing me out, so now I have a much more manageable pile. The only downside is that I had just started reading one of them, Erin Kelly's The Dark Rose, which seemed so promising. Unfortunately it is due in just a few days and I knew I couldn't finish in time, so I am back in line for it. Now I need to decide on another library book to read. Such a dilemma. Maybe one of the new books I just picked up? The Quiet Twin by Dan Vyleta or The Darlings by Cristina Alger? Or one that I bought home not too long ago, Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi. I finished Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star, which I will be writing about very soon. Sometimes I know exactly which book I am going to choose next and can't wait to start reading, but I'm not really sure what sort of book (library book that is) that I'm in the mood for right now.
There's been a little shuffling in my reading pile otherwise, too. I've started reading the second Lydmouth mystery, The Mortal Sickness by Andrew Taylor. His Inspector Thornhill series is set in post-WWII Yorkshire. I liked his first book very much and think I have finally settled into a good mystery novel. I'm thoroughly enjoying Dumas's The Three Musketeers. I am just trying to read a chapter a day but I find myself wanting to keep going. It's such a fun adventure story and very easy going. Although D'Artagnan would be too young for me, I think I've found another fictional crush to add to my list.
I'm also enjoying Sebastian Barry's A Long Long Way. Initially I was reading very slowly (which means I won't be finished before Caroline's discussion), but now I am making quick progress (strangely I read less on weekends than during the work week. Go figure.). It is set in WWI Flanders and includes battle scenes and a sympathetic character placed in one of those excruciating positions where he is faced with a moral dilemma. I love Barry's prose, though, and the story is very good, but I am always a little trepidatious with books like this. War stories rarely end happily. I want to read them, of course, but then I do and almost 'can't look', if you get my meaning. I'm dipping into other books here and there (like good old, Q) and hoping to start Elizabeth Taylor's Palladian very soon (really liked At Mrs. Lippincote's--another book I need to write about).
As you can see I have lots of good books on the go. I shouldn't even think of picking up another book, library book or not. But I can't ignore those accusing looks. So I'm off to read and decide.