I ought to be putting up new listings on my Etsy shop (there are a few dresses that I can’t wait to edit the photos for; big polka dots, more floral, Edwardian dress, and a Middle-Eastern style robe), but I’m a hopeless reader. We stopped by at the Temple Bar Book Market on Sunday, and got these books and more for a little money. These are mine:
[The House of Mirth (1905) by Edith Wharton, Penguin Classics Red edition (2010); Graphic Design, a Concise History by Richard Hollis (2001 edition); Picnic at the Hanging Rock (1967) by Joan Lindsay, Penguin Books (1986); Oscar Wilde (1987) by Richard Ellmann, Penguin Books (1988).]
I was absolutely deliriously delighted with these finds. I’ve always wanted to read more of Edith Wharton’s works since Summer, and the cover of this edition was good-humoured enough to entice me to buy the hard copy rather than go and read the text online (the usual covers of The House of Mirth seemed to have always turned me off at the last minute); Monsieur spotted the Hollis’s Graphic Design and I liked it instantly (who hasn’t?); and I never, never expected to see Ellmann’s definitive biography of Oscar Wilde there at the market, I’ve been holding the college library copy for needing to check it up constantly yet not quite being able to bring myself to buy a full-price hardcover new copy at the bookshop, now it’s going to be some good news for the library!
But it’s Picnic at Hanging Rock that I meant to talk about. I finished The House of Mirth yesterday afternoon so I started on Picnic at Hanging Rock this morning. I think I’ll like it but I’m still feeling a tentative going into it. I never thought I would read the book before seeing the film. Monsieur is a big fan of the 1975 film; I had only caught glimpses of it on Youtube a few years ago when I was watching Louis Malle’s Pretty Baby (Brooke Shields) and checking for its soundtrack on Youtube, I think, I’m not sure. If it was so it must have been because both of the film were set in Edwardian times (Pretty Baby is later in 1917 and Picnic at Hanging Rock is 1900).
That is, white muslin dresses.
The back of my book cover says: “On St Valentine’s Day in 1900 a party of schoolgirls [in Macedon Australia] went on a picnic to Hanging Rock. Some were never to return…”
(A friend of mine in Australia said last year, “How incomprehensible it is, that you guys know of an Australian cult film that I hadn’t heard of, and in Victoria too?”)
Nowadays for some reason whenever I think of Picnic at Hanging Rock I think of Liebemarlene saying that there are now great vintage inspired independent fashion labels in Australia (like Lover, Secret Squirrel?), which makes my head go all misty because it just opens up another picture of Australia for me and I sometimes feel as if I could be there, this misty Australia with a summer afternoon and a dry hot horizon, I could know that.
The first page in my book:
Joan Lindsay was born in Melbourne, where she went to school as a day-girl for a few years at Clyde Girls Grammar, then situated in East St Kilda. She knew and loved the Macedon district from early childhood.
In 1922 in London she married Sir Daryl Lindsay. The Lindsays travelled together in Europe and the U.S.A, Daryl with his paints and Joan with her typewriter. Sir Daryl died in 1976. Joan lived at their country home on the Mornington Peninsula, Mulberry Hill, Victoria, Australia. She died in December 1984.
I still define my feelings about the film by this tribute with the original soundtrack on Youtube that I was posting on Facebook last year, where in the end one of the girls quotes:
“Miranda used to say, that everything begins, and ends, exactly the right time and place.”
Miranda is the girl on the book cover, and, If you knew me from before, she used to be a namesake of mine.
Monsieur says, it’s a brilliant soundtrack.
But now back to more dress listings. If I have time to fix my 70s Edwardian style white tea gown, I think it would be appropriate for Picnic at Hanging Rock…
“Are we all present, Mademoiselle? Good. Well, young ladies, we are indeed fortunate in the weather for our picnic to Hanging Rock. I have instructed Mademoiselle that as the day is likely to be warm, you may remove your gloves after the drag has passed through Woodend. You will partake of luncheon at the Picnic Grounds near the Rock. Once again let me remind you that the Rock itself is extremely dangerous and you are therefore forbidden to engage in any tomboy foolishness in the matter of exploration, even on the lower slopes. It is, however, a geological marvel on which you will be required to write a brief essay on Monday morning. I also wish to remind you that the vicinity is renowned for its venomous snakes and poisonous ants of various species. I think that is all. Have a pleasant day and try to behave yourselves in a matter to bring credit to the College. I shall expect you back, Miss McCraw and Mademoiselle, at about eight o’clock for a light supper.”