Close Up 2: The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London

Today, dear blog readers, London was actually crammed with people. Tourists, mostly. It was not so fun.

Nevertheless, self summoned the necessary mojo to go exploring, and she found herself in another leafy square, confronting the great splendor of Hertford House, in Manchester Square.

And here are three photographs she took in the museum housed within, The Wallace Collection. She considers them suitable for the theme this week — CLOSE UP — because she had to go closer than she normally would, and left out the frames.

All three subjects are rather risqué, if the museum guide is to be believed. Especially the first one: Fragonard’s “The Swing.”

Fragonard's

Fragonard’s “The Swing” Originally, the lady was to have been pushed by a bishop. But this was evidently too much. So, instead, we have an elderly gent sitting on a stone balustrade, in the shadows behind.

But the lady is swathed in layers of clothes! Where, self wonders, is the provocativeness?

Next, a marble bust (Bad Pun?) of Marie-Louise Thérese-Victoire, daughter of Louis XV and aunt of Louis XVI, who was, according to the museum materials, “noted for her piety and appetite.” Rather an odd combination of words. When you look at this marble bust, and think that this lady must have been middle-aged when it was executed, well holy smoke, just look at that shelf she has!

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Finally, a beautiful oil painting, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of Margaret, Countess of Blessington (of which self has much to say, for this painting has a prominent place in the novel she is currently reading — no, not Clockwork Prince, the other one: Howard Jacobson’s wonderful and satirical The Act of Love, which is about an antiquarian book dealer who haunts Great Russell Street and museums.)

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

More, later. Self is famished and needs to hunt up dinner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE: Demon’s Ball, Chiswick, Part 2

Ah, supernatural fiction. Ah, changelings and demons and faerie glens.

Self is still reading about the Demons Ball at the Lightwoods (interspersed with her other reading: Howard Jacobson’s The Act of Love, set on Great Russell Street of all places; The Guardian; and Lucifer Princeps, the book about angels and nephilim and the netherworld, which has NOT, despite all self’s anxieties, been keeping self up at night, thank goodness!)

Today, self is off in search of a really neat supernatural bookstore, one she found on the web, which is a long way from her usual haunts. So she’d better off. She plans to walk there. London yesterday was wet, wet, wet. But today is as beautiful as summer. So, walk. When her feet give out, she’ll duck into the nearest tube station.

SPOILER ALERT AS USUAL

Tessa, still masquerading as Jessamine, has managed to distract Nate enough so that she didn’t actually have to kiss her own brother. Which would have been YUUUUCK!!!

She finds herself conversing with a faerie:

“Did you know your mother had eyes just like yours, gray sometimes and blue at others?”

Tessa found her voice. “Who are you?”

“Oh, my kind doesn’t like to give our names, but you can call me whatever you like. You can invent a lovely name for me. Your mother used to call me Hyacinth.”

“The blue flower,” Tessa said faintly. “How did you know my mother? You don’t look any older than me — ”

“After our youth, my kind does not age or die. Nor will you. Lucky girl! I hope you appreciate the service done you.”

Tessa shook her head in bewilderment. “Service? What service? Are you speaking of Mortmain? Do you know what I am?”

“Do you know what I am?”

Tessa thought of the Codex. “A faerie?” she guessed.

“And do you know what a changeling is?”

Tessa shook her head.

“Sometimes,” Hyacinth confided, dropping her voice to a whisper, “when our faerie blood has grown weak and thin, we will find our way into a human home, and take the best, the prettiest, and the plumpest child –and quick as a wink, replace the babe with a sickly one of our own. While the human child grows tall and strong in our lands, the human family will find itself burdened with a dying creature fearful of cold iron.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books Self Is Interested After Perusing The Guardian’s Summer “Text on the Beach” Issue, 23 July 2015

Self used to do this. A LOT. Post about books she was interested in reading after picking up a copy of The New York Times Book Review (which she used to subscribe to. Until last year), The New York Review of Books (which she also used to subscribe to), The New Yorker (which she still subscribes to, but hasn’t read in six months) and The Economist (which she no longer subscribes to)

Anyhoo, after that very lengthy introduction, here is self with The Guardian’s Summer Reading issue, and after going through the whole thing, self has culled just three books. She must be in some kind of slump?

Here are her three:

  • Grey, by E. L. James — What what what? Self actually read the first two pages in Hodges Figgis in Dublin. And what do you know, she liked it! But The Guardian review is so silly. “Come again, if you insist . . . ” Self still wants to read it.
  • My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante — “The first part of the Neapolitan trilogy in which almost nothing happens.” (OK, these reviews are one-note and boring. Sorry, Jim Crace, Reviewer. Self will read in spite of)
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins — Let self dispense with the utterly dispensable: i.e., the review. And let’s just say, if this novel is indeed a riff on Gone, Girl, she likes. So “Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl On the Train” is a barrel of laughs.

Just for that, self is popping over to the London Review of Bookstore (Hey, last AWP Book Fair, in Minneapolis, she actually saw a table for the London Review of Books! She’s not sure if they’ve been coming every year, but this year was the first time she noticed them)

Side Note:  Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman is in every bookstore window, all over Dublin and London. So happy for her. Promise to read the book, at least five years from now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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