I spend way too much time with either my face in an 18th-century novel or scanning Amazon for what I’m going to read next. And I’m a sucker for pretty things and immaculate detail work. One of the consequences of this is my latest obsession with the Oxford World’s Classics paperbacks. They’ve eliminated a lot of the excess border space from the covers, thereby making the images bigger, bolder, and more seductive.  And there’s nothing like a good seduction novel.

Take tiny, tiny breaths

Continue reading ‘Judge by the Cover’


1878 Middlemarch, Crescent City Connection on Etsy, $75

There comes a point in every woman’s life when she must confront the question, “Seriously, am I ever going to f-ing finish Middlemarch?” As much as I love Rosamund’s vacuousness and Mary’s wry prudence and Celia’s well-intended criticisms, I’m relatively certain that George Eliot is going to kill me before she kills Casaubon. While I push through these last couple hundred pages of free indirect snark, I’ve found myself getting caught up with some of the gorgeous, brief descriptive phrases Eliot inserts to make the scenes vibrant amid some of the longer, more essayistic chapters.

And since I’ve been living in Middlemarch for these several hundred pages, I’ve worked out a few of the passages as they’ve played out in my modern imagination.

Woman in White Dress, Modcloth, $63.99

Let those who know, tell us exactly what stuff it was that Dorothea wore in those days of mild autumn–that thin white woollen stuff soft to the touch and soft to the eye. It always seemed to have been lately washed, and to smell of sweet hedges–was always in the shape of a pelisse with sleeves hanging all out in the fashion. Continue reading ‘Living in the Book: Middlemarch’