Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Bookish Sort of Dame

I love to read. A rather bold and boring statement but nonetheless, I do. Ever since I was a little girl I have always loved trips to the bookstore and library....the stacks of books, the smell of the paper, the thrill of walking out with a pile of new worlds to explore and lose yourself in....sigh. I can drop a load of cash in a bookstore just as easily as I could drop a load of cash in a clothing/shoe store.
When I gather books to read I always have at least 4 books on deck so that I can easily go from one to the other without stopping. Sometimes my night stand looks like the Tower of Babel made entirely of books precariously perched one on top of the other, piling up in cue for months. So here is what I am reading these days....

(beware, I am a sucker for historical books. I love a good biography , especially ones about the Tudors and 17th Century France. I have also read every single book ever written about Marie Antoinette and that is no lie...I'm sort of obsessed)

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

Marie Tussaud, she of the wax museum, lived a long and colorful life, but the focus here is on 1788-94, when she was a young woman in Paris. Under the tutelage of a Swiss doctor whom she calls her uncle, she has become an accomplished artist as well as an astute businesswoman, helping to run the family firm, the Salon de Cire, with its changing array of exhibits of historical and contemporary figures in wax. Hired as a wax tutor by the kings sister, Madame Elisabeth, she gains an entrance into Versailles. Her uncles home, meanwhile, serves as a regular meeting place for Robespierre and other revolutionaries. First and foremost a survivor, during the Revolution Marie makes models of its heroes and its victims alike. Moran takes liberties with the facts, as any historical novelist has a right to do; but some of her inventions tend to clutter up a story that is already fascinating on its own. Still, readers will be intrigued by Madame Tussaud, and by witnessing a tumultuous era through her eyes. --Mary Ellen Quinn

I couldn't resist this book when I saw it. It was filled with all the things I love. A few years ago I actually had a job working at Madame Tussauds in NYC as a tour guide. I loved that job even though it wasn't the greatest. Part of the training for said job was to learn all about the history of the woman and the company that bears her name so reading this book was sort of like having a delightfully personal fleshed out version of all those facts. I was sad to finish it.

American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee

As soon as this book was released it was mine. I have always been a long time fan of both Burlesque and of the one and only Gypsy Rose Lee. The first time I ever saw the movie musical "Gypsy" was when I was around 6 or 7. I remember loving the glitz and the songs...and makig my Grandmother very nervous when I would sing "Let me Entertain You" whilst stripping off my clothing in the middle of the living room.

I am only a few chapters in but so far it has not let me down. I have a rather soft spot for outrageous scandalous broads through history.

Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford

When Madame de Pompadour became the mistress of Louis XV, no one expected her to retain his affections for long. A member of the bourgeoisie rather than an aristocrat, she was physically too cold for the carnal Bourbon king, and had so many enemies that she could not travel publicly without risking a pelting of mud and stones. History has loved her little better.Nancy Mitford's delightfully candid biography re-creates the spirit of eighteenth-century Versailles with its love of pleasure and treachery. We learn that the Queen was a "bore," the Dauphin a "prig," and see France increasingly overcome with class conflict. With a fiction writer's felicity, Mitford restores the royal mistress and celebrates her as a survivor, unsurpassed in "the art of living," who reigned as the most powerful woman in France for nearly twenty years.

This book is up next. I'm very excited to start it because once again it about one of my favorite time periods in history.

Madame du Barry: The Wages of Beauty

Du Barry was the last in a long series of royal favorites doted on by the sexually voracious Louis XV. Her humble origins--she was the illegitimate child of a seamstress from Lorraine--made her unusual. Contemporaries often dismissed her as a mere whore, and most historians have treated her little better, calling her naive, frivolous, and vain. Haslip, author of previous biographies of Catherine the Great and Marie Antoinette, concludes that, except for her rare beauty, du Barry was a quite ordinary person who happened to be thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Despite occasional minor slips, the author's grasp of the Old Regime is generally reliable. Her book provides no surprises for specialists, but offers the general reader a clear, sure guide to life at the royal court of 18th-century France.
- T.J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., N.Y.

I felt it only necessary and appropriate to follow one book about one of Louis XV's mistresses with another....and in the order in which they....::ahem:: came.

The following book was bought purely for fun, and I'm glad I went ahead and bought it.

Retro Makeup: Techniques for Applying the Vintage Look

Retro Makeup: Techniques for applying the Vintage Look is a history and application guide for vintage cosmetic styles. It is a companion book to Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques. It starts with a brief history on the acceptance of makeup at the beginning of the 20th century and continues to explain in detail the styles, colors and techniques for applying makeup to look like the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Included in each decade are step-by-step directions on full makeup styles inspired by famous women such as Josephine Baker in the 1920s, Jean Harlow in the 1930s, Rita Hayworth in the 1940s, Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s, and Twiggy in the 1960s. The book also includes factual information about what defined the makeup looks of the decades based on popular culture of the time.

I love this book. Now being a make up artist myself, I really don't need a book to put on make up BUT it sure is a swell read. It's chock full of fun facts and gorgeous gals...perfect for both the professional and the novice. I love the author, Lauren Rennells, as well as her awesome blog and her other book. I highly reccomend both books for anyone who wants to learn more about achieving the vintage look or really for anyone who just adores vintage as much as I do.

I sure hope you all liked the peek at whats on my nightstand (well plus about 30 different fashion magazines from all over the world,lol). I will do an update when new books line up in the cue, till then........