Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Shopping 2012: Let's Do This Thing

Here you go.
This year's list of book pairings to hopefully make gift-giving a little easier. 
All picked with you and the people on your holiday list in mind.
And all still deliverable by Christmas if you act promptly.



(Fowl play, BDSM style. $11.82. HERE.)


(Super easy to kick off. Grey Jack Purcell slip-ons, $75.00. HERE.)


(Incredible style, endless inspiration. $18.98. HERE.)


(I own it and I love it. Paul Smith Hipstagram handkerchief, $39.07. HERE.)


(According to the Washington Post,  "it's the sort of goodie favored by brainy 
kids who love wordplay, puzzles and plots that zing." $8.87. HERE.)


(I want this in my husband's size. Boys Zara sweater, $45.90. HERE.)


(I want this in my size. Girls Zara jacket, $59.90. HERE.)

(He rocks it old school, in his own words. $15.00. HERE.)


(How fun would it be to crank up "Heart of Gold" on this? 
Crosley AV Room Portable USB Turntable, $160.00 HERE.)


(Because we've been entranced by her ever since "The September Issue." $19.02. HERE.)


(Because it's tough and pretty, just like Grace. Belstaff Kent handbag, $2,650.00. HERE.)


(Clare Vivier Tropézienne tote, $386. HERE.)


(I want to make the roast sweet potatoes with fresh figs asap. $19.85. HERE.)


(Save over 500 plastic bottles a year -- isn't that reason enough?
 Sodastream carbonated water maker, HERE.)


(Her photos are a quasi-transcendental experience. $30.88. HERE.)


(Made from the kind of leather that looks even better scratched up. 
Cross-body Roberu leather camera strap, $108.00. HERE.)


(It's supposed to be even better than "Atonement." $15.00. HERE.)


(Someone gave me these for Christmas last year and I've spend the last 364 days thinking about them. Squirrel brand creme brulée almonds, $42.99. HERE. Other sizes available.)


(Find out what's going to happen before it happens. $16.35. HERE.)


(A wooden block speaker for "the-first-one-on-the-block" types. $32.00. HERE.)

(Turn your workspace into one you can't bear to leave. $31.48. HERE.)


(Chic-ify your office with python trays. $40 and up. HERE.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Countdown: T(hanksgiving) minus 24

It's 24 hours until Thanksgiving.

Deep breath.

  (Moving picture by LBG. Created using Cinemagram app.)

If you're opening up your home tomorrow to friends and family, the biggest gift you can give to others is to go easy on yourself.

It's okay if the glasses and plates and napkins don't match.

It's okay if you run out of cranberry sauce.

It's okay if the pumpkin pie crust doesn't turn that perfect shade of tawny gold that you wanted it to.  

It's okay if  you put on a DVD for the kids so the adults can have a conversation.

It's okay if that certain someone you see once a year can't ever be un-annoying.

It's okay if someone spills onto your best tablecloth (that's what dry cleaners are for).

It's even okay if the turkey burns (that's what take-out is for).

(Photo by LBG, 2012.)

And if you're going to be a guest at someone else's house tomorrow, you're not off the hook either. 

Leave all issues and land mines at the front door.

Be gracious.

Be appreciative.

The art of conversation is super simple. It's just like tennis. If someone lobs a ball over to you, hit it back (with more than just a "Yes" or "No", please).

You can get along with anyone for one meal. Be kind.

Don't forget to praise the food and the effort it took to get it on the table.

Here's to all of us.

(Moving picture by LBG. Created using Cinemagram app.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

From Paper to Film: "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding"

One of the first Persephone books I ever read was "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" by Julia Strachey. 
(Available HERE.)

So when I found out that there was a movie was coming out...
(All film photos by Mark Tilley with permission of Universal Pictures.)

... and that my friend Nicola Beauman (the founder of Persephone Books)...
(Photo by Martin Godwin.)

...knew the screenwriter, Mary Henely Magill, well, I pulled all my strings to get an interview with her. 
(Screenwriter Mary Henely Macgill on set with "production 
assistant extraordinaire" Harry Eagle. Photo by Wezley Joao Ferreira.)

Mary, I'm absolutely thrilled to have you on A Bloomsbury Life. I want to know everything about you, so start as far back as you can!

I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, went to the University of Chicago, and then came to England to do a masters degree in English at Oxford. A hundred years later, I still live here, and am married to an English neuroscientist -- we met as grad students. I've got a three-year-old son named Johnny. I worked briefly as a production manager on short films while I tried to find the right project to write myself. I always wanted to work in the movie business -- always wanted to be Anita Loos or Ruth Gordon but never got my act together to actually finish a script until "Cheerful Weather" came along. 

A friend of mine had given me the book as a present in 2003. I loved the writing and the humour and how odd the book is when you really examine it. It also feels really modern and fresh, but it has all the appeal of period drama. 

Nine years from conception to creation, that's quite the writer's journey.

I called Nicola at Persephone Books to find out about the rights and my producer, Teun Hilte, eventually optioned the book. I share writing credit with Donald Rice in the film; without him, the script would never have been written at all.

Did you know Nicola previous to this? She is such an amazing person and I feel so lucky to know her.

No, but I was a big fan of Persephone Books and loved getting the chance to meet her and hang out at the shop. At one point -- Nicola would think I was crazy -- I almost asked her if I could work there!

I would work there too! It's the most enchanting bookshop in the world. 
(Lambs Conduit Street shop, March 2009. Photo by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti.)

Were there any big challenges to overcome in adapting the material?

I think the toughest thing was retaining the tone of the book while, at the same time, trying to make the story as cinematic as possible. For me, the intimacy of the story is an advantage onscreen, but we did have to think very hard about how to dramatize Dolly's internal thoughts, and how to make the hints and suggestions about the past come to life in the movie. 

And we rewrote some of the flashbacks to suit the available locations, so a hotel dining room scene became a barn dance, for example. Anna Lavelle, the production designer, outdid herself. The paper lanterns were all painted by hand -- the details were incredible.

Author Julia Strachey must be beaming down on this project with great glee, don't you think?

I hope she would approve of the film, but by all accounts, she was a tricky character. At one point I desperately wanted to contact the owner of her portrait to see if we could create a copy to hang in Dolly's bedroom. This never happened, but I really wish we had done it. No one would know or notice, but it would have given me a huge amount of pleasure to see that detail in the background somewhere.
(Julia Strachey by Dora Carrington, 1928)

Where was the movie shot?

At three different locations in Wiltshire. I got to be on set for about half of the time which would have never happened if Donald hadn't been the director.
(The "Cheerful Weather" production office. Pick up your jaw.)

It was so exciting to see everybody in costume on the first day of filming and to see the house come to life as the Thatcham family home. It was a dream come true, really. To write something and live with it in your head for a long time is fun, but seeing it all made real with such fabulous actors was just unbelievable for me. I was pinching myself all the time.

Any good on-set anecdotes?

We had outrageous weather to contend with, a frozen loo, an accident with a cow and a location assistant, and hotel staff in Salisbury who were straight out of Faulty Towers. Oh, and the crew stayed at a place called Sandy Balls. Really.

The sets are beyond stunning. Were you involved in the style of the movie?

I had very strong ideas of what the house should look like. I love the colors on the walls, and I wanted to steal those drawing room curtains! 

The clothes are no slouch either. Just sayin'.

Camilla Benda did the costumes and she was terrific. Dolly's wedding gown was made for the film...

...but some of the clothes were vintage things from the era. 

The blue backless dress was a standout...

...but I also loved the shorts outfit Dolly wears in the boat scene. I wanted to steal that too.

I love that you were an extra in the movie but am so bummed that you aren't in the final cut. I think you look like cinematic gold!
(Screenwriter Mary Henely Magill dressed as an extra 
for the cricket scene. Photo by Wezley Joao Ferreira.)

I am very proud of the movie and I hope fans of the book will like it. We did change a few things and we had to compromise sometimes, but I think the relationship between Dolly and Joseph -- and the triangle they make with Mrs Thatcham -- remains true to Julia Strachey's characters and true to the way love can make us happy and unhappy at the same time. And all with gorgeous sets and clothes!

Mary, thank you so much for giving my readers and me such an exclusive insider's glimpse into the making of the film -- I can't wait to see it!

"Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" opens in the US on December 7th and in the UK on January 9th. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Through A Glass, Dimly

Editor's Note: 
I am so excited to tell you that this post is part of a collaboration with House Beautiful magazine and their very cool (and free) app called HB Connect
For the December/January issue of House Beautiful, Style Director Sabine Rothman invited a few design bloggers to write about a topic pulled from one of their pages. You can read a short excerpt from everyone's post in the magazine and then use your HB Connect app to link to the rest of the post on their respective blogs. 

I can't wait to get my copy and see who else is included!

* * * * *

Not all light is created equal.
(Photo by Thomas Fitzgerald. Here.)

What is it about filtered light that changes absolutely everything?

It gives a room atmosphere.
It alters the way you feel.
It speaks volumes, quietly.

T. F. Simon knew this. He was so taken by the filtered light from his curtains that he made it the subject of his painting.
(T. F. Simon, "Interior of My House in Paris", 1909.)

Stanhope Alexander Forbes knew it too. See how he uses the constricted light from the window to create a sense of being alone in the universe? In this room, the here and now is the only thing that matters.
(Stanhope Alexander Forbes, "The Health of the Bride", 1889)

I feel very partial to this little boudoir. It's so completely serene, isn't it? The indirect sunlight coming in from the window is made more dramatic by the depth of that window ledge. I never realized before that shadows literally take the edge off. You go on reading the rest of the post--I'm going to lie on that fur throw and do some spirited mental wandering.
(Photo by Ivan Terestchenko. Here.)

In this room, the light coming in from the right makes everything practically vibrate with warmth. A sheer muslin or organza curtain in a pale yellow or a dusky pink (depending on what direction your window faces) could help you achieve this same effect at home.
(Maison Malplaquet. Photo by Derry Moore.)

Here, a red-striped awning lends a rosy wash to the room as the sun makes its slow downward descent. Walls are stencilled with leafy silhouettes.
(T. F. Simon, "View from a Café in Fécamp", 1904.)

Filtered light can even make even inanimate objects appear invested with emotion. All I can think about when I look at this photo is the rampant libido of those pears--get a room, wouldja?
(Photo by Olga Roth.)

A brightly lit room sees every detail and every flaw. If you're not undergoing surgery, I don't see why this is necessary. Here, the antique thick-paned glass takes an ordinary room and turns it into a poem. 
(Photo by Ivan Terestchenko. Here.)

How do you prefer your light?
Straight up?
Or with one degree of separation?
(Painter unknown.)


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