Nothing Serious – Justine Lévy

I am steadily making my way through the bedside pile at the rate of one book per week.  I would usually get through at least two a week but I am now writing my second novel so reading time has had to be considerably trimmed.  Yesterday I finished a book called Nothing Serious by Justine Lévy.  The book, published originally in 2004 in France as “Rien de Grave” and published in English in 2005 as Nothing Serious, is autobiographical and caused a scandal in France upon publication.

It tells the story of Louise, a young woman who is a writer and who is suffering greatly after the breakup of her marriage.  The novel deals with loss in all its forms; Louise loses her marriage, her grandmother dies, she loses her health to an addiction to amphetamines, she loses a baby, and she almost loses her sanity as she tries to cope with everything that life has thrown at her.

Her husband, an immature and exceedingly vain man called Adrien, has left Louise for Paula, a woman Louise calls The Terminator.  Paula was originally having an affair with Adrien’s father and then moved onto Adrien, who then left Louise and had a baby with Paula.  When you realise that this is all based upon a real situation and Paula is Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the current first lady of France, you can understand why the novel caused such a sensation when it was first published.

While allegedly having an affair with Jean-Paul Enthoven, Bruni fell in love and started an affair with his son, philosophy professor Raphaël Enthoven who was at the time married to Justine Lévy, daughter of world reknowned philosopher and French celebrity Bernard-Henri Lévy.

The portrait painted of Paula is certainly not a flattering one.  Louise describes her plastic surgery in detail, calls her “a leech of a woman with a Terminator smile”.  Louise’s eventual hope is that Paula ends up like the Marquise de Merteuil, outcast from society, her beauty ruined. 

The writing in Nothing Serious is remarkable.  The almost total lack of proper punctuation and sentence structure gives it a dreamlike hypnotic quality which underscores Louise’s obsessive state of mind.  After almost unrelenting misery, the novel ends on a note of optimism courtesy of Louise’s new partner Pablo who shows Louise a new way to love and helps her regain her sense of self.

Although I was initially attracted to the book for its sensationalist reputation, I found that Lévy’s writing stands alone and is very accomplished.  Lévy’s last novel, Une Mauvaise Fille, was published in France last year and I hope an English translation is in the pipeline.


Mr Good Enough

Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough is published next week and to me smacks of a woman projecting her own regrets onto a book buying public.  The author, Lori Gottlieb, is a forty year old single mother who freely admits that she wishes she had settled for any of the dull “uninspiring” men she had previously rejected in her romantic history.

She says, “every woman I know—no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure—feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried”.  Well Ms. Gottlieb, I respectfully suggest you widen your circle of friends to include less needy Bridget Jones types.   I am staring 34 in the face and have no sense of desperation, tinged with panic or otherwise, at the fact that I am single and nor do many of my friends in the same situation. Of course she has already thought of this.  As she says “if you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying”. There is also a third possibility Ms. Gottlieb; you’re wrong.

She needs to stop looking at marriage with such jaded eyes.  Here is a woman who posits “marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane and often boring non-profit business…and I mean this in a good way.”  There is a way to leech the positivity and happiness out of most situations if you try hard enough and it would seem that Ms. Gottlieb has surely achieved this.  She believes that women should reappraise marriage and have “a more realistic understanding of its cold, hard benefits”.  Perhaps if you’re going to look at it this way, committing oneself to a nunnery might be the more logical solution?

Of course the author blames feminism for this problem.  Rather a facile argument and not one I’m inclined to believe.  Surely one of the best things about feminism was the fact that it enabled women to not have to endure awful relationships in order to exist in society.  Women do not now need to get married for money, social status, to have children or their own property, therefore the only logical reason to get married is for love.  Because your life will be better with this person in it.  Because you can’t imagine your future without them.  Not because you are desperate and unable to enjoy your own company.

I obviously won’t be buying this book and I sincerely hope that Ms. Gottlieb spends her book royalties on a good therapist rather than inflicting any more of this condescending nonsense on an unsuspecting public.

Pink Paris

Paris is my favourite city in the world.  I have been there several times and I try to visit every couple of years.  Given that my last visit was in 2007, I am very overdue for a trip and think it’ll have to go on my agenda for 2010.

I discovered these beautiful hand cut maps of Paris online at Famille Summerbelle, a store which sells designs and accessories for children’s bedrooms.

Famille Summerbelle also produce hand cut maps of London and New York, however I think the Paris map is the one I will frame and hang on my bedroom wall.  Check out their online shop here – it’s filled with gorgeous prints and wallpapers which adults will love as much as children.

Style Inspirations – Catherine Baba

Catherine Baba is an Australian stylist who lives in Paris, and I have recently spent large amounts of time drooling over her personal style on t’internet.  She seems to be influenced by the 1920s, the fashion of the Weimar Republic, and old Hollywood glamour, as can be seen from her make-up, long cigarette holders, and turbans.

I love Catherine’s commitment to her aesthetic and her flair for combining textures and colours.  I also admire the hell out of any woman who can cycle in 5 inch heels!

Catherine’s styling work is stunning and has been featured in Dazed and Confused, Paper Magazine and Above Magazine.  She has also styled advertising campaigns including one for a Moschino fragrance.

Catherine’s website still seems to be under construction and it appears that there isn’t that much information available on her online, apart from various fashion bloggers cooing over her (in much the same vein as this post!).  However I predict Ms. Baba will be a new style star in 2010.

(Photos via Jak and Jil, Facehunter)

Montgomery Clift

Am going through a bit of an old movie binge at the moment and Montgomery Clift is the focus.  Last Sunday I watched Suddenly Last Summer again and last night I watched A Place In The Sun, both movies starring Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. From the moment Clift turns to face the camera in A Place In The Sun, you are completely captivated by his astonishing face and remarkable naturalness on screen.

Montgomery Clift’s acting career started on Broadway at the age of 13 and he made his film debut ten years later in Red River, starring John Wayne.  He quickly rose to star status in Hollywood due to a rare combination of brooding good looks and incredible acting talent.  Nominated for an Academy Award four times, Clift never won but he is widely acknowledged as being one of the best screen actors of his generation.

Taylor and Clift were best friends and starred in three movies together.  In 1956 after leaving a party at Elizabeth Taylor’s, while they both were in the middle of filming Raintree County, he nodded off behind the wheel of his 1955 Buick, and drove head-on into a telephone pole by the side of the road near Taylor’s home in Beverly Hills. Taylor heard the crash and ran to help him.  She pulled him out from underneath the dashboard, and nursed his badly disfigured head until the ambulance arrived.

After that accident things took a downturn for Clift.  He was permanently scarred from the car crash, and that in turn impacted his career.  His drinking and dependence on prescription medication increased and he became known in the movie industry as an unreliable alcoholic.  While making The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe, her last movie before her death, she remarked that he was “the only person I know who is in worse shape than I am”.

Mongomery Clift died on July 23rd 1966 at just 45 years old.  The cause of death was reported as a heart attack brought on by coronary artery disease.

I would highly recommend any of the films mentioned above.  In addition, although he was severely alcoholic and unable to remember most of his lines, he still delivers an amazing performance in Judgment at Nuremburg, his second last film.

The sound of the drums

My friends know me so well.  I would like to thank Alan for bringing this fantastic piece of video to my attention.  It stars Josh Freese, who was the tour drummer with NIN from 2005-2008, and this is the shot from the “drummer cam” as he plays Wish.

Colour me baised but I think I’m in love.  I Googled the hell out of Mr. Freese (if you’re Irish and you remember these, you’d have to call him that at least once, wouldn’t you?) and found out that he has a very impressive CV.  He is a permanent member of A Perfect Circle, The Vandals and Devo and has also played with Sting, Guns and Roses, The Offspring, Ween, The Dixie Chicks and the Dwarves.

Josh released his solo album “Since 1972” last year with a brilliant marketing campaign, which was comprised of a list of tiered offers ranging from $7 to $75,000.  The latter package includes such elements as:

– Josh will join your band for a month … play shows, record, party with groupies, etc.

– If you don’t have a band he’ll be your personal assistant for a month (4-day work weeks, 10 am to 4 pm)

– Take a limo down to Tijuana and he’ll show you how it’s done (what that means exactly we can’t legally get into here)

If I only had €75,000, I’d buy it; it’s become a necessary purchase!

Winter dresses

Winter dresses can prove a bit problematic to find.  I don’t mean party dresses, cocktail dresses or evening gowns.  I don’t want anything with sequins on (am so overloaded on sequins this season), nothing with frothy bits of tulle, nothing one-shouldered or flimsy.  In short, I want the sort of dress a girl could wear out for dinner when she doesn’t want to get glammed up to the max.  The sort of dress you can simply pull on when you don’t want to have think about putting together an outfit.  The sort of dress you’d wear when it’s lashing rain outside, when it’s freezing cold and the idea of putting on anything short or see through is an anathema.

So imagine my delight when I found an Ann Sofie Back dress on sale on this website.  Dark purple, slashed for just the right amount of edge, and jersey for just the right amount of ease.  I received it last week and am delighted.