Back in the day (i.e. about 5 years ago) I took some Women's Studies courses in college. One of the main things I learned that stuck with me was that the worse things are for society in general, the better they are for the relative status of women in that society. For example, during WWII men were overseas fighting and out of necessity, women took over many jobs that had previously been unavailable to them. This was a huge step in the history of women. Though after the war many women returned to the home and set about being wives and mothers, that experience wedged open a door that has since been flung open.

Madeleine Marsh is a historian, who specializes in antiques. She has an entire room that houses her vintage makeup collection - and she can tell you not only when each item was made and what it was used for, but how the cosmetics (or lack thereof) associated with each era reflected what society expected women to be during that time.

For me, it's a fascinating read. I have been intrigued by cosmetics since I was quite young - not as a vain thing, more because of the artistic expression it allows, and the way it can transform someone's appearance, and with it, who they are perceived to be.

The book itself is beautifully presented - it's printed on glossy paper, and there are old advertisements and pictures of vintage cosmetics every page or two throughout the whole book so that readers can see what is being described.

It's definitely a niche book that sits right on the intersection of history, Gender/Women's Studies and an interest in cosmetics, so I certainly don't think it's for everyone. But if at least one of those topics is of interest to you (or all of them!) you won't find a better read!

Bonus - here's a video by Lisa Eldridge, makeup artist to the stars, in which she discusses the book - and has a tour of Madeleine Marsh's collection! (It's part one of two, so if you like it, click over to YouTube or her blog and watch the rest!)


Book or Movie?

There's often a bit of debate about this question. I've heard many people have heated and lengthy discussions about the relative value of the book or movie version of a beloved story, and whichever side people are on, they rarely change their minds.

I must say that as a general rule, I do prefer the book - particularly if I read the book (and loved it) before watching the movie version. This was true for Lord of the Rings, Under the Tuscan Sun and I Capture the Castle.

Some books just don't translate to the screen (*ahem* Even Cowgirls Get the Blues *ahem*) and should never be made into movies.

Others I find that I like the movie nearly as much as the book - if not as much - but for different reasons. For example, I love the Harry Potter movies, and the first Hunger Games movie. I found that the HP movies were so well cast, the world created on screen was amazing, and it stuck to the books closely enough for the first few movies that I could really enjoy them. I was slightly disappointed in the final movie - but by that time I had read all the books (I read the first few after seeing the first two movies) and it's possible that had something to do with it.

Even Bridget Jones' Diary - though very different from how I imagined when reading the book - had its own magic that made it an enjoyable couple of hours. 

I'm looking forward to seeing if The Hobbit lives up to my expectations - I'm going to risk LOTR fans' wrath by saying it is probably my favourite Tolkien story!

What do you think? Can you think of any examples of a movie version that you enjoyed more than the book?

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