03 April 2012

Vive Le Livre - March

"I was born twice.  First in a wooden room that jutted out over the black water of the Thames, and then again eight years later in the Highway, when the tiger took me in his mouth and everything truly began."

These are the opening lines from "Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch.
Discovering the book at my local library I was instantly captivated by the cover which featured the following recommendation: 'One of the best stories I've ever read.' - A.S. Byatt

Not surprisingly, I quickly whipped it under the borrowing scanner and was devouring its pages within the hour.
The novel was short listed last year for the Man Booker prize and is listed as historical fiction as it features real life characters such as naturalist Charles Jarmrach.

Historical fiction is one of my favourite reading genres and I have to concur with Dame Duffy [Aka A.S Byatt] as this was indeed a rolicking good read.....until I got to the midpoint.
That was where I had to skim through vast tracts of text as the content became too challenging for this delicate flower to manage. I won't spoil the plot for you but I have to say the realism was just that - real!
I got the general gist of the story by seeking out key words before returning  to solid reading for the finale.
Don't let this put you off, not everyone's as a big a 'sook' as me, as already mentioned it's a terrific story....really.

My second book couldn't be more different.

 "Beauty Rules" is written by renowned makeup artist and cosmetics maven Bobbi Brown
I'm sure  many of you probably use her luscious products but did you know the philosophy and techniques behind her healthy beauty line?
I love that she says that "beauty isn't about looking perfect. It's celebrating your individuality."

At a time when the teens in my home are grappling with finding their own way whilst being socially acceptable, I can use every snippet of help to encourage them to celebrate their uniqueness and not cave to the pressure of media bombardment to look tan, thin....like they're a 20 year old hooker!

There is a lot of pressure from their friends and the media encouraging them to wear buckets of makeup, try to tan their porcelain skin [we live at the beach so this is a constant worry] and dress like they're much older than they are - yikes!  

I borrowed this book to read with them and already we've had some illuminating and positive discussions about sunscreen and makeup use - yay!

I find it endlessly interesting how a 'prophet outside their own land' will have their message received so readily when others [ie: Me] who may have been banging on, nagging, sharing the same concept for aeons will be ignored - bless you Bobbi Brown!

This book is directed at teens and young women but I found myself appreciating her solid, no-nonsense approach to beauty including her 'Basic Life Rules'. I even made a little pocket chart for the girls which I thought you might like to have too....

Speaking of beauty, the final book in this month's series is one that sits beside the reading chair in my bedroom and which I dip into regularly.  Don't go looking for it in a regular bookstore though as it was published in 2004 by the National Gallery Of Victoria to accompany their exhibition "The Impressionists - Masterpieces From the Musee D'Orsay".

At the time, I flew to Melbourne with my friend Annie specifically to see this most wonderful gathering of my favourite artists and have been savoring my memento book ever since.

Unfortunately seeing them in a book or on a screen will never be as fabulous as popping your peepers on them in person, but we who are humble take our pleasures where we can right?
The bonus for me is that I can sip a cup of tea whilst poring over a Manet or Pissaro, something I definitely could not do in a gallery.

Well that's it for me this month. I haven't managed to tick anything from my list but as we had a lot going on I'm pleased that I managed to have anything to share with you at all.

I hope that you fared better and will be writing your own 'Vive Le Livre' post to share.
If you write a book review post, pop it into the mix,  grab a button to let your readers where they can find other enthusiastic page turners, say "G'day!" to one or two others and you're away! 


  1. Bobbi Brown sounds like I might need to read that one Felicity my S is starting to appear more frequently with her make up she is quiet good on the application ("just a little" I have always said) I need to train her for the cleansing it off properly now.
    I still havent finished the Paris Wife I got side tract with another I had been reading, will be finishing that one very soon so I can pick up were I left off once back home.

    1. It's wonderful to hear that you've been page turning Lainey and I look forward to learning what you think of 'The Paris Wife'.

      Happy holidays!

  2. Hi felicity, I've been a lazy reader throughout March, I only read one book called The Handmade Marketplace. I'm reading these books to aid in motivating me with my art. I've also dipped into a book on fabric design but really need to get stuck into a real novel. Oh, just remembered, I finished Secret Lives of Dresses. Not bad, bit mindless and fluffy :)

    1. Reading to the end I think you've actually 'Vive Le Livre'd quite a bit.
      Thanks for stopping by I hope that April see you getting cosy in a sunny spot and indulging in plenty of page turning.
      x F

  3. My last read was The Hunger Games,
    at the behest of my eldest, who read
    it two years ago but insisted the rest
    of the family had to read it before seeing
    the movie over spring break! An easy
    read and glad that I did delve into it as
    it made following the movie that much
    easier. I have been a fan of Bobbi Brown
    for years and love her philosophies. My
    girl is more conservative than I am in the
    make up and fashion department {and old
    soul}; I'm the one who is prodding HER to
    try new fashion or make up! Funny how
    that happens : ) Hugs and Happy Monday
    to you, Felicity!

    xx Suzanne

    1. Ah Suzanne perhaps I should succumb to reading The Hunger Games so that when the time comes that we watch the movie as a family, I'll be getting the gist of it more firmly....maybe.

      Happy hugs back to you Lovely,
      x F

  4. I am reading the "River Cottage Family Cookbook" and it is just a dreamy, lovely thing to do. x

    1. This rang a bell as I've read Em from the Beetleshack waxing lyrical about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall [corker of a name!] so had to google it and am popping it on my 'must find' list.
      As the cooler months start to settle, I can see myself enjoying more time in the kitchen and this just might be my magic carpet to take us on a fabulous culinary ride.

      Thanks for stopping by Bron, x

  5. I do like your book review series and your lovely chart. If I weren't too set in my ways, I'd dash out and buy a book by anyone for whom being on time is a priority.

  6. One more book on my ever-growing reading wish-list! I haven't managed even one book this month, I'm still on Eat Pray Love and I think I'm on my second month already :lol:
    I'd love to go see some paintings, I have seen some already and it's a priceless experience. Gotta wait for my boy to grow up, then we can go do some museums scouting :)

    1. It sounds like you've had a very busy month Anna.
      Fingers crossed that you can finish 'Eating, Praying & Loving' by the end of April - I can't wait to read your review.

      Happy day!

  7. If you like historical fiction, let me recommend two books. Devil in the White City (about the World's Fair at the turn of the 19th century) and The Alienist (a riveting crime story set in early 19th century New York City). Both are fabulous! Right now I'm reading Quiet (all about the rise of the Extrovert as a personality type - while championing us dear introverts!) and have the Night Circus sitting at the bedside waiting for it's turn. And...in the mix, I have our bookclub book, Watching the English. Ever read any of these? Loved reading your book reviews and will have a look at those - once I make my way through my current pile! PS: Just visited the National Gallery last weekend (fabulous!) and loved my visit to the D'Orsay six years ago. Have to say, I love the space (of the D'Orsay) as much as the art. xoxo

    1. Wowee - what a list!
      I love your enthusiasm and will have to look out for 'Devil In The White City' as I particularly enjoyed reading 'Eiffel's Tower' last year.

      You're right about gallery spaces being as much of a pleasure as the art.
      There's a room in the NGV [National Gallery of Victoria] which has a stained glass ceiling which I love to visit. I've lain down on the carpet several times and watched the light play through the colours...people probably think I'm mad but it's really a case of being totally transfixed.

      Happy day and thank for playing along.

  8. I have so many thoughts after this wonderful post - try to reign them in (always a problem with me).
    The biggest is I LOVE YOUR LITTLE CHART THING - love everything about it. Might have to print that out and tack it to my cork wall here in the studio.
    I try so hard to preach the sunscreen thing to my daughter, who is 26 and should know better but she told me she feels she looks so much better with some color. Ugh, I have given up. Don't even think BBrown could sway her.
    Like Suzanne, I just read (okay listened to) Hunger Games at the urging of my daughter. Totally hooked. Didn't go see the movie though. Going to try and start the 2nd book today.
    Also, like Great Scott, I loved Devil in the White City. I was in a book club back when I read it and come the end of the year we all voted on our favorite book of that year and it won, hands down.
    I bet your laugh snort is cute :)

    1. OK that's it "Devil In the White City" is on the list now - thank you!

      I hadn't even thought about downloading 'The Hunger Games' as an audiobook but might have to do so as it would add a further richness to the girls' pleasure of this book as they've both devoured [pun intended] the books and were completely smitten with the movie....great thinking J!

      Giving you a little bonus snort as I type this as through the quiet of the morning a horse has just passed our home neighing - that's the kind of serendipity I hadn't expected.


  9. I just started the A Storm of Swords (The 3rd book in the Game of Thrones series). Usually, I read 3-4 books a month, but I have been busy and these books are long! It took me 2 months to read the 2nd book in the series. I hope to finish this one in a month. The Bobbi Brown book is great for young girls just starting out with make up. If it had been around when I started wearing makeup, I'm sure it would have saved me from blue mascara. :)


    1. Ha - bue mascara how well I remember thee!

      I relish a great book that you can really sink your teeth into and the Game Of Thrones series sounds like it really delivers. Not sure if I'm up to it just yet as my list is ever increasing but when I have a giant swathe of reading time at Christmas it may be a series I begin.

      Thanks for popping in and adding your selection to the mix.

  10. I totally agree with the list you made into a chart for the gifts. xx, Margie

    1. I feel like tattooing it under their eyelids some days - but I know that this too will pass. x

  11. Totally devoured the Hunger Games trilogy...whilst fighting my hubby off from reading them too...very thought provoking and thrilling

    1. Oh my, the more of you who say they are a terrific read, the more I'm being swayed that I too should take the plunge.
      It would definitely be a connecter with the eldest Gifts...perhaps I'll do a balance, read one, watch a movie and share one on audiobook - thoughts?

  12. I have just commenced "Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries" by Kerry Greenwood with my new kindle e-reader. I am loving the immersion into 1920s Melbourne with the ease of modern technology.

    The stories of Phrynie Fisher are a wonderful compliment to the ABC television series that Im watching and loving to bits. At least I have 18 books to get through Kerry is a prolific writer!

    1. I absolutely adore the tv series and should dip into some of Kerry's excellent writing.
      If you go for a scoot around the ABC website there are several videos of Kerry behind the scenes on the set.

  13. The Bobby Brown book is not one I would usually read-but I have heard really interesting comments about it-I'm going to look out for it!

    1. I've only just returned it to the library Robyn, I overheard lots of interesting comments between the two teens whilst they were reading it together.


Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.
Each new comment is a gift - unexpected and lovely.
Although I'd love to reply to each and every one, this isn't always possible, but know that I read and appreciate them all.

Felicity x