Thursday, 16 February 2012

GUEST POST - PICTURE ESSAY: THINGS I'D MISS IF I DIDN'T WRITE HISTORICAL - BY MICHELLE LOVRIC...

Michelle Lovric

Finally, after shameful years of huffing, puffing, posing and pretending, I have taught myself (with much kind help) how to put more than one picture into a blog. This coincided with a bout of housekeeping in my archives of Victorian ephemera – I collect chromolithographs, trade cards and etchings, which were highly useful in my former life as a packager of illustrated anthologies and which continue to be useful as visual reference for my novels, including the latest, Talina in The Tower, a historical fantasy for children set in Victorian Venice.


As I was sorting and filing the material, there were certain pictures that I was unwilling to inter in the appropriate folders and sleeves. As I put them aside, I realized that the little heap constituted a lexicon of things I enjoy describing, precisely because I miss dealing with them in modern so-called life.

Here they are, in order of discovery rather than importance.


Petticoats – foaming white petticoats, crisply laundered, ribbon-threaded or embroidered. Jeans? Pah! 



Big hair and the big hats to put over it. I don’t mean Jackie Collins hair. I mean Marie Antoinette hair (with hygiene and without the rats: both kinds of rats, that is, the artificial hairpieces and the rodents).



Chivalry. Political correctness be damned. I’d like a man to lay down his cloak in front of me some time. Of course I would. If he’d also carry the shopping and leave the toilet seat down, even better. 



Letters. Yes, I like email. But I got a huge pleasure from a stamped addressed letter in my pigeonhole at the Courtauld the other day. It was a thank-you card from a student, and more than just a polite message. And now I realize that I don’t even have a place to put real letters. I file everything in my computer, even images like this. 



Femme-Fataling. Another victim of political correctness. It’s OK that we’ve lost the manipulation and the cruelty of this practice, but what about the pleasurable and decorative sides of it? 




Breasts. Why are these now so much out of polite fashion that it is hard to find clothes to accommodate a traditional pair decently? And with the demise of breasts have also gone heaving bosoms, which were a delightful way to express emotion.



Cupid’s bow lips. Am I the only person who sees unsubtle obscenity and ugliness in the artificially exaggerated lips of some film stars and models? Bring back the tiny Cupid’s bow! 



Top hats. Especially the collapsible type, in Italian called a ‘cilindro’ and worn by the Venetian ladies, known as bigolanti, who used to carry fresh water in buckets on yokes on their shoulders. A bigolante features in my next novel for children. Eleanor Updale has written interestingly about the usual accompaniment to a top hat – gloves, so I don’t need to do that here.



Sailor suits. Tight white trousers, natty little neck-bows, straw hats. What’s not to like?

Of course, when writing for children one cannot indulge in all one’s proclivities. So yes, there are petticoats and chivalry aplenty in Talina in the Tower, but not a breast to speak of. And I’m saving those top hats for the next book.



Michelle Lovric’s website
Talina in the Tower was published on February 2nd, 2012, by Orion Children’s Books
Michelle Lovric blogs on the History Girls website and An Awfully Big Blog Adventure website



The VV has long admired and enjoyed Michelle Lovric's exceptional novels - those for Young Adults, and those most decidedly for the more mature. If you haven't read The Book of Human Skin, The Remedy, Carnevale, or The Floating Book  then you are in for an adult treat - and for more on Michelle's magical children's tales (which have kept the VV entirely entralled, please see this previous post: THE UNDROWNED CHILD, AND THE MOURNING EMPORIUM 

3 comments:

  1. I LOVED this post. In fact so much that I'm about to write Michelle a handwritten letter to tell her so - I may even put on a hat to do so. Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love them all but the Regency/Empire begowned lady with the impressive, but not vulgar, embonpoint is regal :)

    ReplyDelete