book review: life of pi

Image courtesy of Goodreads.

Life of Pi is the best piece of fiction I have read in a very, very long time; I could not put it down!

This is a story about love. Love of oneself, of others, of life, and of faith; determination, willpower, strength of character, purposefulness. Call it what you wish, but 16 year old Pi Patel completely, and utterly, and beautifully embodies the will to succeed as a castaway in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with his only companions: a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a 450 pound Bengal tiger.

I would do anything to meet Yann Martel. To hear his scrupulous utterances would be music to my ears. He is what I would classify as a true writer, with the most compelling and convincing narrative. If I could, I would fill my entire library with his words.

This is, by far, one of the most highly regarded books I have ever laid my eyes on, and one that I will no doubt visit very often in my life time.

Image courtesy of Views Buzz.


book review: the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

I read this novella in one day and it was an interesting exploration of the mind of an autistic boy. Ever since I watched Temple Grandin, I've been very fascinated by autism so I enjoyed this very much. It's a quick read, but I do really recommend it!


book review: furious love

Richard Burton (10 November 1925 – 5 August 1984) & Elizabeth Taylor (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011)

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Where else can I begin, other than to say that this is a wondrous presentation of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and their Marriage of the Century.

I've always known that Elizabeth Taylor was an icon, but to gain access to such personal moments of her life, during her tumultuous love affair with Richard Burton, is beyond words. It was truly a furious love that stood the test of time. Despite living in the public eye, a mutual battle with alcoholism, gruesome critique's of their work, two marriages, and two divorces, their passionate love for each other lived on. In fact, three days before Burton's death (he was living with his widow, Sally Hay Burton), he sent his last love letter to Elizabeth Taylor's home in Los Angeles, which she received in her mailbox when she returned from his memorial service in London.

Though many of Richard's love letters to Elizabeth were published in this book, she refused to share with anyone, those last poetic words of Richard Burton, except for what he ultimately wanted and confessed: "Home was where Elizabeth was, and he wanted to come home." She kept this letter beside her bed for 27 years, and upon her death on March 23, 2011, Elizabeth's wish was granted when she was buried with it.

On her approval of writing this publication, Elizabeth was quoted as saying to her biographer's: "I don't care what you write about me, God knows, I've heard it all, just as long as you honor Richard."

I cried (more like sobbed) while reading the epilogue. This is a love affair that will forever be in my heart, between two magnificent people that I will never forget.

Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger have victoriously honoured both Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in this unforgettable chronicle.

"This secretly photographed image of Elizabeth and Richard was the shot seen 'round the world, announcing their love to a scandal-hungry public." [Kashner/Schoenberger/Marcello Gepetti/Globe Photos Inc.]
"'. . . from those first moments in Rome we were always madly and powerfully in love,' Elizabeth later wrote about their relationship." [Kashner/Schoenberger/Bert Stern]
"The Sandpiper capitalized on Richard and Elizabeth's notoriety as the world's most famous lovers." [Kashner/Schoenberger]

"At the preiere of Lawrence of Arabia, starring Richard's friend and Becket co-star, Peter O'Toole, at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, June 1963. Their school for scandal did not faze the French, who were quick to celebrate the famous couple." [Kashner/Schoenberger/A.P. Images]
"On location in Mexico for Night of the Iguana. They bought Casa Kimberly in Puerto Vallarta, where Elizabeth 'bloomed in hot climates,' Richard noted. October 1963." [Kashner/Schoenberger/Gjon Mili/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images]
"One of Elizabeth's favourite wedding photographs. She's wearing the emerald-and-diamond brooch from Bulgari, RIchard's engagement present to her." [Kashner/Schoenberger/William Lovelace/Evening Standard/Getty Images]
"A scene from Graham Greene's The Comedians, again playing illicit lovers. For the first time, Richard was paid more than Elizabeth to appear in a film." [Kashner/Schoenberger/Collection Pele/Stills/Gamma-Rapho]
"Elizabeth and Richard in Botswana, where they remarried on October 10, 1975. Their second marriage lasted less than ten months, ending on July 29, 1976." [Kashner/Schoenberger/Argus/A.P. Images]


every girl needs two wedding gowns

Not one, but TWO Alexander McQueen gowns adorned Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge on her wedding day. 

On her way to the reception at Buckingham Palace, the lovely bride was pictured wearing another stunning creation by Sarah Burton; a strapless, white gown with diamante embellishment at the waist, worn with a luxurious angora cropped cardigan--ADORE!

fit for a princess: fashion details of kate middleton's big day

We are so, so delighted that The House of Alexander McQueen was the chosen designer for the Royal wedding gown! What a beautiful and honorable way to pay homage to this extraordinary man, and Sarah Burton deserves a standing ovation. Replications have already begun production, but this creation is insurmountable.

I thought you might find this interesting; I was going to try to recapitulate the details of Kate Middleton's (now known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge) Royal wedding attire, but they are so intricate it's next to impossible. Here are the specifics, via The Official Royal Wedding website... 

"The Wedding Dress
Miss Catherine Middleton’s Wedding Dress has been designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. 
Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing.  Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterises Alexander McQueen’s work.  Miss Middleton worked closely with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress.
The dress epitomises timeless British craftsmanship by drawing together talented and skilled workmanship from across the United Kingdom.  The dress design pays tribute to the Arts and Crafts tradition, which advocated truth to materials and traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often Romantic styles of decoration.  Ms Burton’s design draws on this heritage, additionally giving the cut and the intricate embellishment a distinctive, contemporary and feminine character.

The design
The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace.  The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s.  Individual flowers have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design, which incorporates the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock. 
Hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace has been used throughout the bodice and skirt, and has been used for the underskirt trim.  With laces coming from different sources, much care was taken to ensure that each flower was the same colour.  The whole process was overseen and put together by hand by Ms Burton and her team.
The dress is made with ivory and white satin gazar.  The skirt echoes an opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats.  The train measures two metres 70 centimetres.  The ivory satin bodice, which is narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips, draws on the Victorian tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen’s designs.  The back is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops.  The underskirt is made of silk tulle trimmed with Cluny lace. 

The Fabrics
French Chantilly lace was combined with English Cluny lace to be hand-worked in the Irish Carrickmacross needlework tradition.
All other fabrics used in the creation of the dress were sourced from and supplied by British companies.  The choice of fabrics followed extensive research by Sarah Burton and her team.

The Royal School of Needlework
The Royal School of Needlework (RSN), based at Hampton Court Palace, assisted the Alexander McQueen team in accurately cutting out the delicate motifs from the lace fabrics and positioning the lace motifs with precision into the new design.  The lace motifs were pinned, ‘framed up’ and applied with stab stitching every two to three millimetres around each lace motif.  The workers washed their hands every thirty minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, and the needles were renewed every three hours, to keep them sharp and clean.
The RSN workers included existing staff, former staff, tutors, graduates and students, with the youngest aged 19.
The RSN’s work was used primarily for the train and skirt of the Bride’s dress, the bodice and sleeves, the Bride’s shoes and the Bride’s veil.

Veil and Jewellery
The veil is made of layers of soft, ivory silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers, which was embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.  The veil is held in place by a Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, lent to Miss Middleton by The Queen.  The ‘halo’ tiara was made by Cartier in 1936 and was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King.  The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen) by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday. 
The Bride’s earrings, by Robinson Pelham, are diamond-set stylised oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond set drop and a pavé set diamond acorn suspended in the centre.  Inspiration for the design comes from the Middleton family's new coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak leaves.  The earrings were made to echo the tiara.  The earrings were a personal gift to the Bride from her parents for her Wedding Day.
Robinson Pelham have also designed and made a pair of diamond earrings for Miss Philippa Middleton.  These earrings are more floral in nature to compliment the headpiece worn by Miss Philippa Middleton during the Service.
A tourmaline and diamond pendant and matching earrings have been designed and made for Mrs. Carole Middleton.  Two gold stick pins, one with a single gold acorn at the head and the other with an oak leaf, are also worn respectively by the Father of the Bride, Mr. Michael Middleton, and the Bride's brother, Mr. James Middleton.

Wedding Shoes
The wedding shoes have been hand-made by the team at Alexander McQueen and are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.
Alexander McQueen (genuine Royal shoes not pictured).
The Bride’s Bouquet
The bouquet is a shield-shaped wired bouquet of myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, sweet William and hyacinth.  The bouquet was designed by Shane Connolly and draws on the traditions of flowers of significance for the Royal Family, the Middleton family and on the Language of Flowers.
The flowers’ meanings in the bouquet are:
Lily-of-the-valley – Return of happiness
Sweet William – Gallantry
Hyacinth – Constancy of love
Ivy: Fidelity; marriage; wedded love; friendship; affection
Myrtle: the emblem of marriage; love.
The bouquet contains stems from a myrtle planted at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, by Queen Victoria in 1845, and a sprig from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s wedding bouquet of 1947. 
The tradition of carrying myrtle begun after Queen Victoria was given a nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha in Germany.  In the same year, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House as a family retreat, and a sprig from the posy was planted against the terrace walls, where it continues to thrive today. 
The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, when she married in 1858, and was used to signify the traditional innocence of a bride."


the soulful adele

I have recently fallen into a deep obsession with Adele's second album 21. She lays bare a very personal collection of music that is incredibly soulful. I cannot get enough of her raw and powerful voice. Check out the song Someone Like You from her album 21