THIS MUST BE THE PLACE (BOOK REVIEW AND AN EARLY SPRING OUTFIT)
The arrival of spring has been bittersweet. On one hand, it is always beautiful to watch the rebirth of nature, but on the other there is so much anxiety, fear and suffering in the world right now. Perhaps the outfit I'm wearing today is a good metaphor for that. An all black look with some colourful accents. Sometimes I look around me and marvel at all the beauty and yet at the same time I'm aware that dark times might well be ahead of us. Darkness and Light. I suppose that's life.
Dolazak proljeća je bio gorko sladak. S jedne strane uvijek je prekrasno vidjeti ponovo rađanje prirode, s druge strane ima puno nesigurnosti, straha i patnje u svijetu sada. Možda je odjevna kombinacija koju nosim danas dobra metafora za to. Crna kombinacija s nekim dodacima u boji. Ponekad gledam oko sebe i divim se ljepoti a opet u isto vrijeme dobro znam kako nam se vjerojatno spremaju teška vremena. Tama i svijetlo. Takav je život.
“What redemption there is in being loved: we are always our best selves when loved by another. Nothing can replace this.” This Must Be the Place, Maggie O' Farrell.
MY LIFE LATELY
I already explained in this post why I went off the radar. Nothing dramatic, I've just been working longer hours due to the fact that I'm employed in the education sector. For me personally, this situation meant less free time, not more. I could always rely on my posts drafts to keep up with blogging, but somehow that didn't seem appropriate. I actually have many posts scheduled and many pre-corona outfits captured, but I didn't feel like posting any of it. I did manage to put together a few posts such as 20 fun fashion things to do in corona lockdown and 30 plus ways to wear a pair of jeans. However, writing those posts took away time when I was so short on it, so I decided to just blog less frequently for the time being. Besides, I don't like posting if I know that I won't have time to read other blogs. For me blogging was never a solitary activity, it was more of a social thing. It might be because I'm not that active on other social media. Blogging always felt like a more genuine way to connect with people. Plus, I'm really a writer at heart so blogging is a better fit for me. I've been blogging for 8 years and I have no regrets. However, somehow I'm not sure how to go about blogging in these times. Pretend that nothing is happening doesn't make sense. However, I also don't think it is healthy to become completely obsessed with what is going on right now. There is only as much as we can do and control. Stay inside, practice social distancing and keep our eyes open. Don't believe everything you hear in the news. Anyhow, with the Easter weekend approaching, I decided to finally publish a post. After some thinking, I decided to post a book review plus an outfit post today.
THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, A NOVEL BY MAGGIE O'FARRELL 5/5
Today I'll share a book review. This Must Be the Place is a complex novel about life, marriage and loss, written by an English author Maggie O'Farrell. I read this book a month or so ago, but only now found the time to blog about it. As you can see above, I decided to score this novel quite highly. When I finished This Must be the Place, I thought to myself: 'I'm going to give this novel five stars because it absolutely enchanted me. It held my interest completely while I was reading it.' Indeed, a novel that can keep one's interest in this day and time must be something special, right? How to describe this novel? It tells a story of Daniel, an American who lives in Ireland with a recluse ex-movie super star, but it is not a linear sort of story. Well, I watched a YouTube interview with Maggie O'Farrell in which the author herself described it as a novel that explores many themes but is perhaps mainly about 'marriage and the forces that keep it together and tear it apart.' Would I agree with that? I just might, especially towards the end, when their marriage really gets tested.
What is the novel like? What's the writing style like?
A part of the novel is written in almost an experimental way, with time switches and digressions. Generally speaking, I found the writing in this to be rather on the brilliant side, really. So in that sense I liked the novel from the start. As for the experimental bits I found them interesting. I felt they add a bit of freshness to the story. I read the afterword and the author said she wanted to experiment with a novel and break some rules. I'd say she didn't get carried away, she kept the right balance.
What is so wonderful about this novel?
This was actually my first novel by Maggie O'Farrell but I'm sure it won't be the last. This novel is wonderful in that it deals with some difficult topics such as loss and grief in a respectful and a realistic way. Moreover, I enjoyed the way family relationships were portrayed in this one. The challenges of parenthood and marriage, the special link between siblings and family members, now these subjects were described so well I'm sure they will always stay with me. Maggie O'Farrell knows how to write about the subtle parts of human relationships, about things that sometimes go unnoticed. I was really impressed with her writing style, the way she crafted characters and drew me into the story. I loved every single minute of reading this book.
“He thinks of his grief over his sister as an entity that is horribly and painfully attached to him, the way a jellyfish might adhere to your skin or a goitre or an abscess. He pictures it as viscid, amorphous, spiked, hideous to behold. He finds it unbelievable that no one else can see it. Don’t mind that, he would say, it’s just my grief. Please ignore it and carry on with what you were saying.”
Was there anything I didn't like about this novel?
Once I had finished reading This Must Be the Place and thought about it for a while, I could think of a few things that I didn't like- but only if I really thought about it- if you know what I mean. Honestly, I don't see the point in splitting hairs when you really enjoyed reading a certain novel, but if I had to point out something I didn't like it would be inconsistency in Daniel's character (and in connection with that the ending).
Daniel is basically a protagonist of this novel so any inconsistencies in his characters are bound to show up. To be honest, some things were not so much a fault of his characters but just illogical actions on his side employed for plot purposes. For example, there is this whole drama situation that could have been avoided with one phone call. That was a weakness in a plot that reflected on Daniel's characters as well. That being said, I liked how this novel didn't put all the blame on the guy protagonist, as some modern novels do.
Daniel is showed to be a complex character. He can really be a jerk sometimes (especially when some things start to show from his past and one really starts to wonder at them) but there are many layers to him. He seems to genuinely care about his kids and people in his life. However, I still felt Daniel's behaviour was a bit inconsistent. That he would be willing to change so drastically for the sake of Claudette, it both makes and doesn't make sense.
What are the characters in this novel like?
Daniel and Claudette are at the center of this novel. Sometimes that is a good thing because you really get to know them, sometimes it isn't because the other minor characters seem just as interesting. Generally speaking, Claudette was my favourite characters perhaps just because she was so strong willed and stubborn. I felt that there was something very honest about her and even though some of her life choices were quite questionable, I still liked her. As I mentioned, I would have enjoyed the chance to learn about the other characters, at times the novel felt too focused on Daniel and Claudette. I know they're the protagonists of it, but I would have personally enjoyed learning more about their kids. Their kids had such distinct and interesting personalities. Not that I'm complaining too much, this was a lovely read.
What are my final thoughts about this novel?
This is a fascinating and a well written novel. It managed to fully keep my mind off work that was unbelievably stressful lately (I'm sure you all can relate with me- teaching and working in the time of an epidemic virus is quite a feat). To conclude, I loved this novel even if it might contained me minor flaws. I would recommend it to everyone!
“Claudette looks down at the thing in her hand. She turns it one way and the other. It is a packet of Italian coffee, half used, left behind. Innocuous enough in itself but in Claudette’s hands, this particular morning, it is as dangerous as cyanide.
She isn’t going to sniff it, no, she isn’t. She wouldn’t be stupid enough to attempt such a thing. Just a whiff of those smoky, dark, aromatic granules – heated up they always were, at length, lovingly, every morning in this kitchen, for all the years he lived here, the way he would stand waiting for them to brew, looking out of that window, that robe of his loose over his pyjamas, a child, usually, on his shoulder or his arm – would be enough to tip her over the edge. She isn’t going to do it.
Then she does, of course. She removes the clip, she places it on the counter, she parts the top of the silver-and-red packet and she brings it to her face and she inhales, she inhales, she inhales.”
THE STORY OF AN OUTFIT- LILAC SOCKS AND BLOCK HEELS
Now, a few words about this outfit. As I said, it's an all black styling with some colored touches. I had an idea of going with the ugly statement shoes and opted for a pair of block heels. To emphasize them even more, I wore a pair of lilac socks with them. How do you feel about the ugly heel trend?
The pink, beige and white tartan scarf- My husband bought me this scarf a few months ago. You can see how I styled it previously here and here.
The black coat- I actually devoted a special post to this black coat where I showed you plus 30 ways to wear it. Since then I also wore it here. I'll probably hit 100 documented wears with this one.
The black flare jeans.- I bought this pair in a Mango outlet a few years ago. You can see how I styled them previously here, here and here .
The block heels.- These heels are second hand in the sense they were sent to me by someone who presumably didn't like them. I previously wore them only once or twice because they aren't comfy- for example see how I styled them here.
I'm currently in Jelsa, a small port village on island Hvar. I've lived here for the past six months or so for work reasons. I like it on island Hvar and I actually have roots here, but naturally I'm sad about not being able to visit my family. This is a beautiful island, though. I wouldn't be able to leave Jelsa even if I wanted to with the quarantine measures and everything. If you want to see more of Jelsa or/and island Hvar, feel free to visit my old post about it. You can find them bellow.
LINKS TO MY PREVIOUS POSTS ABOUT JELSA AND ISLAND HVAR
As always, thank you for reading, visiting and commenting. Stay safe!