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What Miss Plumcake is… | Manolo for the Big Girl

What Miss Plumcake is…

Reading: At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald Criminally under-appreciated, the Scottish fantasy author –arguably the first successful British fantasy author– influenced everyone from Mark Twain and J.R.R. Tolkein to C.S. Lewis, whose novel The Great Divorce features MacDonald as a character. Unfortunately, the man who served as Lewis Carroll’s mentor –fun fact: it was MacDonald who suggested Carroll submit his little book about a girl named Alice for publication– is virtually ignored. I’d read Lilith ages ago and grew up with Princess and the Goblin and Princess and the Curdie, but I’d missed At the Back of the North Wind until just recently. It’s Oliver Twist meets The Water-Babies, and heartbreakingly beautiful. Don’t miss it.

Watching: Casablanca I still don’t know if Elsa got on the plane, but I sure had a fun time watching it.

Hearing: Club Can’t Handle Me by Flo Rida feat. David Guetta What? Like fat white Episcopalian girls can’t like Flo Rida now? It’s a killer track! Also I would kill for his watch. ALSO also, I totally think he draws in his beard.

Smelling: Iris 39 from Le Labo I went on a little jaunt to Dallas on Saturday and Sunday to do a little shopping, see Andre and visit my brother who I’m beginning to suspect does not own any clothes without illustrated rhinocerosesses on them. The familial visit didn’t happen, the Andre visit was a train wreck, albeit a very poignant, elegant Alphonse Daudet/Guy de Maupassant-style train wreck, but the shopping, the shopping was good. Unlike Austin, Dallas has a proper Barney’s and proper Barney’s have proper fragrance counters, including Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle and Le Labo. I’m wearing Le Labo Iris 39 today and if you like your unflaggingly elegant iris with a little bit of filthy filthy sex, Iris 39 might be worth a go.

Loving: Hotel Adolphus, Dallas If one MUST do the Big D, the Adolphus is the way to go. Built in 1918, this beaux arts confection in downtown Dallas is (almost) everything you’d want from an upscale grand historic hotel, including delicious people watching.

Hating: Snow. I am a person of faith and not, strictly speaking, afraid to die. It’s a good thing too, seeing as attempting to navigate your way through Dallas while 1.3 million of your closest friends turn driving in the snow into a full contact sport-cum-snowpocalypse freakout. Un.Pleasant.

Wanting: Hermés Kelly Watch Saw this at Barney’s and made little whimpering sounds in my soul. I don’t/can’t wear a watch and if I did/could I probably wouldn’t spend $3,000 on one, but I’ll leave my chimney flue open in case any magnanimous benefactor wants to shimmy down my chimney with one of these.

Buying: Kreme de la Kremlin from OPI I cannot get enough of this nail color from OPI’s Russian Collection. It’s exactly what I want to be wearing right now. A minky, pinky caramel with just a bit of gold underneath. I’m fixated on blonde mink/soft gold/tobacco brown at the moment and this is ringing my bell in a big way.

11 Responses to “What Miss Plumcake is…”

  1. kristin January 11, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    Thanks for the George MacDonald recommendation! I love all three of those other books you mentioned but had never heard of At the Back of the North Wind. I have a two-volume collection of his shorts stories and fairy tales somewhere called The Gifts of the Child Christ that is excellent; I need to dig that out and revisit.

  2. Miss Plumcake January 11, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    @Kristin: It’s really worth reading. I’d say it’s more like Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies than anything else. BBC radio 7 (or 4, I can’t remember) had a two-hour adaptation on during Christmas week and it was so enchanting and heartbreaking. I’m a sucker for Victorian and Edwardian children’s literature, and this shocked me with its excellence.

  3. Jennifer P January 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Thank you for the author recommendation, I can’t believe I’ve never read anything by him.

    Have you read Wolf Hall, by any chance? Highly competent and cultured men are my literary catnip.

  4. Toby Wollin January 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    OMG – The Water Babies. I have not read that in years and for some crazy reason, I have this memory (either from the book or finding it out from some other source) that the reason the little boy ran away from being a chimney sweep was because of the cancer the kids who were put up the chimneys suffered. Am I right or just dreaming this?

  5. Miss Plumcake January 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    @Toby: That’s an interesting theory! As far as I know, Tom ran away because when he accidentally went down the wrong chimney and landed in Miss Ellie’s room, one of the maids started to scream “Thief! Murderer!” and started to chase him, and he knew Mr Grimes would beat him. I have an excellent recording from about 2001 of Paul Oakenfold doing a dance music “illustration” of The Water Babies with TILDA SWINTON narrating the story above the dance music. It’s legend!

  6. Lisa from SoCal January 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Lurrrrrved Wolf Hall.

    I have some disgusting flu so other than that, I got nothing intelligent to say.

  7. Rebecca January 11, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    I read On the Back of the North Wind a couple years ago and adored it. I’ve been wanting to look into his poetry as well.

  8. Toby Wollin January 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    Plummy – NOW I remember, it would have been the sort of thing that my father (the King of all ridiculously small bits of disease information since he trained in the 1930s, on the cusp of modern medicine and literally would have had teachers in Scotland who had trained in the 19th century), once he saw I was reading the book would have talked to me about. There was a disease that was actually called ‘Chimney Sweeps Cancer’ that was suffered by the children who were sent up and down the chimneys, many times being made to do it in the nude. http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/childrens_lives/health_&_work/health/index.html

  9. Colleen January 12, 2011 at 2:17 am #

    Oh, “At the Back of the North Wind”! So beautiful, and so sad. I read that one when I was about 12 (13?). I’ll have to re-read it one of these days.

    I highly recommend “The Blue Castle” by LMM. It’s different from her “Anne” and “Emily” books, more adult, and has been a favourite of mine since I was 12/13.

  10. MrsBug January 12, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    OMG, I am totally reading Phantastes right now by McDonald. I actually had to check it out of the university library here because our usually amazing city library system doesn’t have any of his stuff. CS Lewis is my favorite author of both non-fiction and fiction and I’ve wanted to read McDonald for the longest time.

  11. Katy January 12, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    If you can find it, read “The Portent,” by George MacDonald. Made the fine hairs on my neck stand up in places, but then, I am largely Celtic in heritage. MacDonald really was the undersung underpinning of Lewis and Tolkien, and less pedantic than either one.