Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Blog’s Fourth Birthday




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best fancy-dress costume of the year – see below
 
It’s the blog’s 4th birthday today – on 24th January 2012 we opened for business with a lavish two books, including one by Dorothy L Sayers, and some dressing as a vamp. And now we are more than 1400 posts on, though not quite that many books have featured. 

So  it is time for self-congratulatory reflection a careful look at some topics of interest since the last such summing-up. (Lists of best crime and other books of the year are in earlier posts.)

1) I like to do theme posts from time to time – subjects this year included Tudors, Wolf Hall, wolves, women called Linnet and some great double-blog shared lists with Chrissie Poulson. But I would defy anyone to guess what the most popular theme list (and one of the most popular blogposts of all) was this year. It was a small-scale list of….



… a subject I truly thought would be of interest only to me. I collected some nice examples, from the Odyssey via Ulysses to Seamus Heaney and Christianna Brand, and some absolutely lovely pictures of washing on lines, and set it free on the world. Well, the post was viewed, and shared and Tweeted and RT-ed, and many many people came to talk about washing, and their favourite scenes and poems. It was a magical experience - perhaps the idea caught the mood of breezy April.

 
Washing_thumb[7]


2) The post that provoked the second most lively discussion had an equally unlikely trigger point. I blogged on Agatha Christie’s Murder in the Vicarage, and posed a question: could Miss Marple really tell whether or not Anne Protheroe had a gun concealed about her person? Miss M says:
"My dear Colonel Melchett, you know what young women are nowadays. Not ashamed to show exactly how the creator made them. She hadn't so much as a handkerchief in the top of her stocking.''
I had my doubts, and said so. The subsequent debate can be followed in the comments – paying particular attention to Shay’s contributions: a blogfriend with bias-cut flimsy dresses and a gun of her own is to be taken seriously.

3) Which brings me, naturally, to the question of Miss Silver’s knickers. Awesome blogfriend Vicki/Skiouruphile first alerted me to the business of the ladylike sleuth’s underwear: I can only suggest that you got and read the relevant blogpost. Knitting and strip searches is all I’m saying.

 
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4) At the time of the Eurovision song contest zConchita 1_thumb[1]I was able to reveal the key part that Clothes in Books played in the cause of musical trans-nationalism. The unstoppable Conchita had published her autobiography, to mark a year since winning the contest, and CiB had stepped in to help with the translation – fishtail hems and glitter speckled fabrics need an expert view. Read all about it.

 
 
5) The blog is always a sucker for a fancy-dress event, and this year’s reading threw up an alltime classic in Babbacombe’s, a book by Noel Streatfeild published in 1941 under the name Susan Scarlett.
Dulcie schemed a dress on the same lines, a dress made of bits of coloured chiffon which would fall in to a little short ragged skirt when she stood still, but which any man who was a man would discover could be lifted by the flick of a finger to show almost invisible shell-pink trunks.
This is not the Fossil sisters – what would Nana say?

6) Another very popular entry was featured on St Patrick’s Day: Donal Og, a traditional Gaelic poem translated into English by Lady Gregory. It is one of the great love poems of all time, and is heart-wrenching, and plenty of happy readers were duly wrenched.

7) I very much enjoy Angela Thirkell in small regular doses (great clothes), and this year’s crop provided the fascinating story of her rivalry with another author in Pomfret Towers, and The Brandons, with its obsession with underwear and the question of the set of – presumably innocent and accidental – double entendres of epic proportions concerning Lydia and a large farmyard bird on a merry-go-round. [OK, just one: ‘Once Lydia is on her cock nothing will get her off.’] there was some disagreement in the comments as to just how innocent these remarks were.

Other moments from the year 2015:

· I hated Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life so much I had to write a special un-clothes-related diatribe about it.

· I thought I would spot consumption deaths during the year, as Vicki/Skiourophile does, but after a promising start with Laurie R King’s Locked Rooms – a real person, Dashiell Hammett, coughing away – things tailed off during a disappointingly healthy year.

· I continued to have a soft spot for books with corsets, suffragettes and the WW2 homefront in them (or all three).

· I finally found a book to match this photo:

 
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-- as I explain in the blogpost, ‘I love this photograph so much, I once MADE UP a book extract to go with it.’

Equally glad to find a book to match this one:


zForgotten LIes_thumb[2]
 


My favourite blogposts of the year were 

Hanging out the Washing, above, 

and the one for The Clue in the Castle by Joyce Bevins Webb 

(featured more fully in another roundup post) – in part, because they were so popular with readers. Because of course as all bloggers know, it is the delights of interaction that make the business so enjoyable. I love my knowledgeable readers, always ready to make a suggestion, correct a mistake, add expertise in the comments, laugh at my jokes and make better jokes of their own. So thank you to all of you.

And then there's the pictures. After my first year’s blogging, I said this, and I couldn’t put it better now:
A huge thank you to all the institutions, groups and individuals who have made available an incredible range of photos on the web, allowing others to see and use the beautiful images, the memorable faces, the details of lives therein. I am surprised every single day by the extraordinary photos out there, and the generosity with which they are shared. Without them we would be totally stuck here at Clothes in Books Central.
I hope to find many more great pictures and books in 2016.
































28 comments:

  1. Congratulations and well done, Moira! Your blog is a real treasure trove of fine reviews, great 'photos, and clothes. And washing. And department stores. And....and...and.. I hope you'll keep blogging for a very, very long time to come.

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Margot, and for all your support from the early days till now.

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  2. Happy Blog-O-Versary! And thank you for this wonderful blog, so imaginative, unique, educational and upbeat.

    I remember the post on washing, which I liked and found a painting from New York's tenements to go with the theme.

    It's always fun to arrive here in the morning and see what the post is about. Then later to read everyone's interesting comments. An excellent way to start or end the day.

    On to many more years ot Clothes in Books!

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    1. What a lovely description of your visits Kathy, that made me very happy....

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    1. Thanks so much Janet, I have really appreciated your visits and comments.

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  4. Happy Birthday to your fabulous blog, Moira! It gives me so much pleasure. I loved the washing post, too.
    But I think I may have found a place where our literary tastes don't overlap. I have read one Angela Thirkell (with the title After Lunch, maybe?) and didn't like it.

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    1. Thanks so much Cbrissie - meeting you online has been one of the joys of having the blog.
      I would always slightly hesitate before recommending Thirkell - she is not to everyone's taste - and actually I recently read that one, didn't blog on it, and said in my notes 'routine collection of plotlines, not her best'....

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  5. Happy blog birthday Moira. I definitely look at my reading differently after becoming a follower of your blog...often I need a dictionary (or my pal Google) to look up some fashion term that you would surely know but at least I'm paying more attention :)

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    1. What a nice thing to hear Bernadette -and believe me, I have to look up plenty of fashion terms, there are always new ones to surprise me.

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  6. Well done. I hope your blog brings you as much pleasure as it does your readers

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    1. Thank you Kerrie, and yes it does, and I'm sure the same is true of your own blog.

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  7. Wow, four years. And 1400 posts. I am just getting close to 600 posts and that seems immense and overwhelming to me. I don't see how you do it. Forget the writing involved (which is excellent) but all the work you must put into finding and matching images. Very impressive. And enjoyable. Looking forward to many more.

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    1. Thanks so much Tracy. I do really enjoy looking for pictures - and on the whole it's much easier than when I began, because I often I have a good idea where I'll find the right image.

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  8. Moira: Happy Birthday or Blogversary or whatever the correct name is these days.

    As you know I notice clothes in books far more because of your blog. I would never have written any posts about clothes in books without your inspiration.

    Now on how to celebrate I think it is time you made a literary trip to Saskatchewan (I am afraid a physical trip seems unlikely) so you could feature some photos of women in real winter parkas!

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    1. Thanks Bill, and what a good idea! Perhaps with a commentary on whether their hats are properly positioned for keeping out the cold, if their gloves are suitable or too flimsy, whether those boots are up to the job... I'll have to hope I know someone who can help.

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  9. Happy blogaversary Moira. I too always look out for clothes in books these days.

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    1. Thanks Rich - it's nice to know I have had an effect in life!

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  10. Many congratulations. You come up with so many witty and intriguing posts, the blog is a must-read.

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  11. Moira, this blogging neophyte wishes you the heartiest congratulations! I am inspired by your use of clothing and imagery to support your fabulous words, and I look forward to many more years of enjoyment!

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    1. Thanks so much Brad - I'm enjoying our shared interest in GA fiction.

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  12. Thank you for the mentions! -- I love visiting your blog, and now I cannot read ANYTHING with thinking about the clothes. I also spend a lot of time thinking about hiding guns in one's underwear, and THIS has not helped: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/02/michigan-republican-official-fatally-shoots-self-in-eye-while-adjusting-gun-in-her-bra-holster/

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    1. Oh dear not funny at all, but somehow... If that was in a book no-one would believe it.

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  13. Yes, but what is the answer to what is the top drawing of, the story? And who is it in that story or myth? I'm using the gray matter, trying to remember what I'm seeing.

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    1. You are right to pull me up for not giving enough detail! Dulcie, the woman in the book Babbacombe's - item 5 in the list above - decides to go to the fancy dress ball as a Bacchante, and this is obviously just an excuse to wear something flimsy. The picture is a costume design by Bakst for a Bacchante in a ballet called Narcisse. Bakst did the most wonderful costume designs, which I love to use when I get the chance.

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  14. Congrats - funny enough your highlighted posts here don't feature too many books I'd be interested in reading. I'm sure someone somewhere wrote something gritty about a transgender male, wearing knitted drawers reciting poetry while hanging out his/her smalls on the line.

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    1. I know - though I did give Falling Angel a good shoutout in 2 other summary posts.
      That image of yours is too disturbing...

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