What Alice Forgot | The BBRBF Book Club + Outfit

What Alice Forgot | www.eccentricowl.comWhat Alice Forgot | www.eccentricowl.com Well, this book review is SUPER late in the day because it’s been a long crazy week and we have a million things to do this weekend and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. But Sara and Noelle and I are reviewing What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty this month, so on I go! As always, don’t forget to check Sara’s blog and Noelle’s blog for their reviews and outfits! We all had different covers this time, which makes it super interesting.

Side note, I will be making a BBRBF Book Club book review newsletter if you want to sign up for it, so keep your eye out for that! It will have news about future books, links to our past reviews, and who knows what else.

As always, here’s the summary via the back of the book:

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine her surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (She hates the gym!) and is whisked off to the hospital to find out the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually thirty-nine years old. Now Alice must reconstruct a lost decade — and try to reconstruct her life at the same time. Ultimately, she must discover if forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and if it’s possible to start over…

What Alice Forgot | www.eccentricowl.com

Somehow this novel was not quite what I expected, but not in a bad way. Most of the book is Alice trying to remember her life. She has a bad fall at the gym, and the concussion whisks away her memory of the last ten years, years in which her children were born, her life began to change, she and her husband separated, and events took place which seemed to drive a rift between her and the love of her life forever. And everything revolves around the mysterious Gina.

I wasn’t expecting to spend half the book in Alice’s head just trying to place people and waiting to meet Nick, her husband, who was once the center of her life and now despises her. As she speaks to more and more people in her life — her mother, her sister, her friends — she realizes that she somehow has changed from a young, sweet, slightly pudgy, unassuming girl into an in-charge, bossy, skinny, and sometimes hated woman. But she doesn’t know how. She is shocked to find that many people fear or hate her, that her once lovely husband can barely stand the sight of her, that her sister — with whom she had an amazing close relationship — barely shares anything of her life any more, and that all of the friends she has are women she can barely stand. And she has become one of them. What Alice Forgot | www.eccentricowl.comWhat Alice Forgot | www.eccentricowl.com As the book goes on and Alice works to remember what happened, what drove Nick away or her away, who her children are, how she and her sister drifted apart, and why she’s changed from her former silly and lovable self into a hard, cold person, the tragedy of it all really struck me. I loved how the author drew her ever nearer and nearer to understanding why she had become the person she had become; at first, it seems improbable that Alice of 1998 would ever become the Alice of 2008. She was too happy, too frivolous, too full of life and love and wonder for the world. The Alice of 2008 is bitter and harsh, angry, obsessive, and sometimes hateful. But as she remembers, it begins to make sense. I admired the reality that Moriarty injected into the story, how each thing that changed Alice was not some huge ridiculous event, but the little things. Her husband becoming too involved with work. Making a friend who changed her interests. Becoming obsessed with thinness. Falling in love with the feeling of control over her once chaotic — but lovely — life.

What Alice Forgot | www.eccentricowl.comWhat Alice Forgot | www.eccentricowl.com I enjoyed reading What Alice Forgot, but I also enjoyed that it was over quickly. The way it’s written is very intense, and also very akin to several other stories I’ve read in the voice the author uses. It feels very familiar, which was something I didn’t like, but it also reads very well. By the end, I felt emotionally drained — though I don’t know if that was the book, or this week — and satisfied by a good story. What Alice Forgot | www.eccentricowl.com

Entire outfit, thrifted or vintage

I don’t think What Alice Forgot is necessarily my type of story. It’s a great story, and it’s interesting and well written, but it was a little too real for me. I enjoy the fairytale types more; I want to escape life rather than feel like this could be my life one day (not in the literal sense, but you know what I mean.) I would recommend it if you enjoy reality type stories; you will be riveted. But if you’re like me, you might get a little too emotional over all of the “what if’s” presented. What if your life goes this way?

Yeah. I don’t like that feeling, and it’s a credit to the author that I’m glad the story is over — it was too real and raw for me!

I’m sorry if this month’s review sounds a bit rushed; obviously I am posting super late, and this week has been insane, and I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. I’m hoping this weekend — weddings and camping — will help a bit!

Did you read What Alice Forgot? What did you think?

Happy Thursday!

ksig

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Strawberries and Polka Dots | Mama+ Baby Style

I use some links in this post that earn me money if you purchase from them! But these products were 100% purchased with my own money and I love ’em. Thank you for supporting me and my blog!Strawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.comStrawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.com I have been wanting to introduce mother+daughter style posts for a while (I would try mother+son, but Asa refuses to be photographed these days!), but I always felt like we had to match. And the thing is, Evie and I don’t have many outfits that match. She primarily has pinks and purples, while those two colors are the ones that I own the least of.

So today, since I wasn’t quite feeling my own outfit pictures, I thought… heck, why not have Evie join me? So here’s to a new series, whenever Evie is wearing something I find particularly cute. Whether we match or not! And this strawberry dress is the perfect way for Evie to filter into my style posts!Strawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.comStrawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.comStrawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.com I have been dying to get my hands on this strawberry dress from Target for AGES. I’ve seen it everywhere online, and for obvious reasons (aka, strawberry prints are my jam! Pun obviously intended) I had to get it. But I also wanted to wait because it was almost $20 and she’s not gonna fit this thing forever. My patience won out when today, it was on the clearance rack for much cheaper, and in her current size! This chunk is already in 2T almost everything, except for her feet. Her feet are still in 3-6 month sizes. It’s the only petite thing about her. Strawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.comStrawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.com

As for myself, for once I decided to go colorless. It’s not my usual thing, but with this glorious gray-blue lipcolor from NYX, I felt like a classic black-and-white outfit was called for, with a little bit of sass thrown in with the double buns. I felt gloriously dark and mysterious, which is something I am generally not. In the world of mystery, I am your transparent rainbow.  Strawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.comStrawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.com

I’ve been a bit MIA recently and if you’re wondering why, well… life with kids, I’m not super inspired by summer, and we had three photoshoots in three weeks that I have been tackling. I didn’t realize how crazy last month was until I realized how overhwhelmed I was with all of the things I needed to get done!

Thankfully, I am finished with the wedding photos I’d been working hard on, and now I have a family shoot to complete and then… maybe I’ll post more than once a week over here. I miss the regularity of blogging and exerting my creativity with outfits! I suppose another bit of why I haven’t blogged much is that I only fit into half of my clothes. I’ve been working hard to stick to a healthy diet, and mostly succeeding, but it will be a while before I reach that waist size again.

Strawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.com

Body positivity is something I’ve been trying to maintain as well; appreciating my body for the things it has done rather than how it looks, for what it CAN do, and for how hard it works to provide nourishment for my lusciously healthy baby. It’s amazing how your view of yourself can change when you start to review how much you have done and can do, rather than hang on to the things that don’t fit or the things you can’t do! Someday I’ll be stronger and fitter, but right now this is where I’m at so I’m working to be okay with that!

Strawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.com Strawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.com

As I raise a daughter, I’ve been thinking about how I want to teach her to value what she has, and to be aware of her beauty but not obsess over it. To appreciate herself, but also realize that true beauty comes from within, as cliche as that sounds. True beauty is in the heart, in how you care for others and show yourself to be kind and faithful and loyal and true. I hope she learns that as she grows up watching me do all the physical things that make me happy, as a woman, to do. That makeup and clothes are fun, but first work on attitude.  Strawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.com

Evie’s dress and shoes, Target | headscarf, mine/thrifted

She is so beautiful sometimes it hurts and I hope she never has the insecurities and obsessions that I had growing up!

Strawberries and Polka Dots | www.eccentricowl.com

My shirt and shoes, thrifted | skirt, old | Lips, Nyx Liquid Suede in Stone Fox

I hope you all had a fantastic start to your week!

ksig

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Sweater Girls | Shaped by Style

 

Sweater Girls | www.eccentricowl.com

Happy Monday! After an unintentional two week break, in which I discovered that summer is just REALLY not my season, I’m over at Shaped By Style exploring a fashion trend of the 40’s and 50’s. It’s a trend that had their older generation going “what kind of mothers and wives will they be?!”

Hop over to Shaped by Style to see my post!

 

ksig

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Life After Life | BBRBF Book Club

Life After Life | www.eccentricowl.comLife After Life | www.eccentricowl.comLife After Life | www.eccentricowl.com

Welcome to the third edition of the BBRBF book club! This month, Sara, Noelle, and I are reviewing Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson. I struggled a bit with this book. But before I get into that, as always, here’s the synopsis via Goodreads:

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual.

For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history has plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.”

Life After Life | www.eccentricowl.com Much as the synopsis suggests, Life After Life begins with the death and birth of Ursula Todd. On the same night she dies, and she is  born. Throughout Ursula’s many different lives, she makes minute choices that affect the fate of her existence. She is married, abused, raped, becomes a mother, lives as a spinster, works in the war effort, lives in Germany, and many, many other intricately crafted lives that all differ because of a few little decisions made early in life.

In the beginning of the  book, Ursula dies so much that it is a guessing game to figure out what will be her next demise. I struggled a lot with the first third (or perhaps even the first half) of the story. It was slow and sometimes dragged on and on as Ursula was born — her birth told through the eyes of her mother, her father, the midwife, the doctor, the kitchen maid, the cook, and so on — and died (falling to her death, influenza, stillbirth, infection from a forced abortion, etc), and it felt like there would never be a plot. As Ursula slowly gets older, she becomes aware of the fact that her sense of things having already happened is not just an illusion. While she never firmly grasps the realization that she has lived life hundreds of times over until the end of the book, she begins to act upon “the imminence” of feeling as though she needs to do something differently when hazard presents itself.

Life After Life | www.eccentricowl.comLife After Life | www.eccentricowl.com Every time she acts, she is reborn to live a slightly different life and I, as the reader, am left to wonder what will bring her to an end again.

In all honesty, after struggling through the first part of the book, I left it to rest unread in my pile of to-read books until Monday, when I realized that I had to finish the book for this review. If it were on my list of books to read only for myself, I most likely never would have finished, and never would have mentioned it here. But since we’re all reviewing it for the BBRBF Book Club, I had to! And, I am so glad that I did. It’s a shame that the beginning of the book was (to me) so slow and sluggish, because the second half of the book picks up and I was riveted nearly to the end.

Life After Life | www.eccentricowl.comLife After Life | www.eccentricowl.com

Ursula, now a woman, finds herself injured on the pavement and assisted to her feet (with a broken nose) by a gentleman who she later marries. But through the months his facade of niceties fades away, and it is revealed that he is truly a villain. Out of all of the characters in the book, I hated Ursula’s first husband the most. He was truly vile, constantly wearing Ursula down, beating her, taking advantage of her in the night, and in the end — inevitably — killing her. But of course, she lives again, and small acts of defiance she implements on her sixteenth birthday change the course of this life, and that marriage never comes into play again.

Life After Life | www.eccentricowl.com

I found it quite fascinating how Atkinson continually kept Ursula’s general character the same while making changes to her life and her actions that molded and shaped who she became. Through the book, she changes from a meek and abused girl wondering if there’s something about her that attracts the wrong men to a confident and defiant woman who sets boundaries as to how she should be treated. Minute differences in her childhood and teenage years mean that her fortune changes from that of a rape victim to the unwilling wife of an abuser to the happily unmarried working woman to a brave soul actively working in the war effort. Her fortune in each life marginally improves as her gut tells her that doom is about to happen, and not only do her actions affect her own life, but also the lives (and deaths) of those around her.

Yet, through all of the different changes in her life and personality, Ursula’s core character stays the same, and that is a feat! Life After Life | www.eccentricowl.comLife After Life | www.eccentricowl.com As the book goes on, the plot very slowly becomes clear. There will be spoilers ahead as to what I think becomes Ursula’s purpose, so if you don’t want it spoiled… stop reading here.

For those of you who don’t care about spoilers, or who have already read the book, though, here are my thoughts on the plot development and Ursula’s eventual useage of her seemingly unending lives. Life After Life | www.eccentricowl.com Ursula has four siblings — Maurice, Pamela, Teddy, and (late in the book) Jimmy. Of the four, Teddy is her favorite and in the most intense bout of deaths in her childhood — and the most endless, it seemed — she and Teddy die again and again from influenza. Were it only herself, Ursula seemingly would have been fine with dying of influenza. But Teddy being her favorite, she attempts many different times to bring him away from the death and finally succeeds after about 10 deaths. (And so on, as the author says at the end of one death)

As well, in their childhood, Teddy has a sweet heart for a local girl, Nancy, who is killed a few times (and whose death is prevented a few times) by a tramp.

For a while, her love for Teddy doesn’t really come into play. She keeps tabs on him, but he lives through most of the book so she is preoccupied with keeping herself alive. Towards the last third of the book, however, he dies in the war. After a few different scenarios in which she dies, Maurice (her least favorite brother) tells her the unfortunate news, and I think this is when she begins to realize with more confidence that she can change things (whereas before, it’s just been a gut feeling and a sense of deja vu).

Life After Life | www.eccentricowl.com

So, in the very last few scenarios, she saves both Nancy in her childhood and Teddy in his adulthood, and the book comes to an (almost) end with Nancy and Teddy both alive after the war, reunited and seeming to imply that this is Ursula’s chosen purpose in life. To keep the pure, sweet love between her brother and his childhood sweetheart alive, and to keep them from dying in her various lives. This plot wasn’t really apparent through most of the book until the end when Teddy comes home from war, Nancy runs to meet him in a euphoria, and Ursula stands still, hoping beyond hope that this isn’t one of her “hallucinations” of seeing another one of her lives.   Life After Life | www.eccentricowl.comLife After Life | www.eccentricowl.com

I was not 100% happy with the ending or the overall plot; it would have been nice to have something a bit more solid about Ursula knowing she had lived several lives, instead of her only realizing at the very last her purpose in life, and I would have liked for her to have a purpose for her own life instead of her purpose being to keep her brother alive. However, overall it was a fascinating book and I really enjoyed seeing all of the differences that  Ursula made in order to further her life and keep everyone around her alive.

I will say, my favorite character was Ursula’s father, Hugh. There was something romantic and solid and lovable about him. Ursula was his favorite child, and that endeared him as a character; he was a man who was loyal to his family, who loved babies, who took people under his wing and who loved his wife even though she may not have loved him back. Sylvie, Ursula’s mother, was deeply flawed and as the book went on she devolved in a way from a sweet country housewife to a woman worn down by the cares of her life. I liked that about the book, that each character gained or lost something in some way every time Ursula lived again.

And stealing from a conversation I’m having with Noelle at this moment, there are hints that perhaps other characters — Sylvie included — have also lived and died before and are aware of this. Which, perhaps, is why Sylvie’s character so subtly changes from a woman in love with her life to a woman worn down and ready for things to settle. However, somewhere in the middle of the book it is revealed that Sylvie takes Ursula to a psychiatrist for her “hallucinations, dreams, and fancies” which makes me think that Sylvie doesn’t really know she’s living multiple lives, and perhaps her readiness in the very end is just another change of Ursula’s constant rebirth. Sylvie has, after all, already had two children.

Life After Life | www.eccentricowl.com

Everything thrifted

Overall, I give the book a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was a really interesting concept, and everything was very well written down to the smallest details… but it dragged on so long, and so many parts were too easy to skip over as you knew that Ursula would probably just die again at the end of it all. As well, the implication that Ursula could change the fate of civilization in the summary? Only ever touched on at one point, when she decides she’s going to try to kill Hitler. After that, so far as I can tell, nothing she does in her lives actually changes the fate of the war.

For the outfit, it’s obvious that I had to wear my rose skirt, even though I have worn it for another review. There was simply nothing else in my closet that could compliment this book cover so much as this skirt! With this off-the-shoulder top, the beehive, and the headscarf, I feel a bit like Sophia Lauren, and very much fit in the later eras of Ursula’s life.

If you want to join us next month, we will be reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and sharing our reviews on either the third or fourth Thursday of the month (given we can all obtain and read it in that time!). And if you read Life After Life, what did you think?

Happy Thursday!

ksig

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Pastel Bettie Page | Outfit

Pastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.comPastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.com

A few months ago, Noelle wore a gorgeous vivid cobalt dress with these amazing pleats around the bottom. It fit her beautifully, the color was glorious, and all of the little details — the lace around the neck, the pleats, the flow — were perfection. I saw that dress on her and I had this little wish that I could have a dress that amazing.

Fast forward to last month. Hannah sent me a late birthday package… that included this dress. It is the lavender twin of Noelle’s dress, literally. The same thing, just a different color. How incredible is that?! When I pulled it out of the box — actually when Hannah posted and asked if I wanted it (UM YES) — I was giddy. The color is so, so beautiful, the pleats are just as awesome as I had imagined, and everything about it is just perfect.

Pastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.com Pastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.com

I had this outfit all put together with the exception of the shoes for quit some time, but kept putting off wearing it. I wasn’t sure what to do with my hair at the time — it being very long, and patchy in color, and not quite that dreamy hot pink I so loved at first — so I let the dress hang until I could figure out what I wanted to do with my head. As well, none of my shoes quite fit the bill to style with this delicate color.

And then in the same week, I chopped off my lengthly hair and dyed it black, and found these gorgeous maroon heels — unworn!!! — at Goodwill.

Pastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.comI didn’t make mention of why I made so drastic a change in my hair in my last post, and a few of you asked why I didn’t go back to pink. Simply, we had a wedding to shoot the next day and I didn’t want to risk anything going wrong with the color. As well, being a wedding photographer means being somewhat invisible, and hot pink hair is quite the opposite of that.

But in all reality, I love changing my hair color. While I had visions of long, dreamy hair, I just can’t keep up with that while raising babies, and the upkeep of pink hair is a bit too much right now. Someday, I’ll go back to pink. I have to. But right now I am quite enjoying this inky hair! It allows me to do so much more in terms of having retro hair, and I can now wear things like this gorgeous hat and it feels right. Pastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.comPastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.comPastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.com

And of course, every vintage girl has to try Bettie Page bangs once in her life, especially if her hair is this dark. It took me far, far too long to get these bangs to stay; one side of my hair always rolls looser than the other side, no matter what I do, so I end up with lopsided bangs. I finally gave up getting them perfect and just cheated with pins to make it look like they were behaving.  Pastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.com

Whenever I dress in completely vintage styles, I find that my posture has to change. I attempted a few relaxed poses that I would normally do in a more modern dress, but when I reviewed them in my camera viewfinder, I noticed that it just looked off. I find it so interesting that older garments seemed to be cut for posture. You feel so different wearing a vintage dress — so much straighter, so much more prone to keeping straight shoulders and a chin held high.

Perhaps it’s because there is not quite as much movement in an older bodice. The shape is cut to be more fitted, or to be worn with a stay and specific undergarments. Even though this dress is from the 1970’s, it has the feel of something from much earlier. And of course, the style looks very much 1940’s.

Pastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.comPastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.com

The more I posed and thought about how different expectations of a woman were in terms of dress and posture back then, the more I really wanted to find true vintage garments to wear with my vintage clothing. Give me all the stays, petticoats, slips, and bullet bras! And corsets, of course; I would gladly wear a corset daily. There’s something about wearing a garment that holds you accountable for a straight spine that just appeals to me.

I wore my grandmother’s earrings to complete the look, even though I rarely wear earrings any more. My vintage clip-on collection keeps growing and growing, and I desperately need to begin styling them all! But, these are my favorite. Whether it’s that they belonged to my grandma, or that they’re so pretty and delicate, I don’t know. But they seem to go with everything. Pastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.comPastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.com

Along with this dress, my vintage (or perhaps antique!) veil, this vintage pastoral purse, and the gorgeous antique grapes brooch I found last year, this entire outfit is probably one of my new favorites. Sadly, the camera malfunctioned towards the end of this shoot and I wasn’t able to get a better photo of my heels, or a good picture of this purse. Pastel Bettie Page | www.eccentricowl.com

Dress, vintage from Hannah | brooch, antique | hat, vintage | belt and heels, thrifted | earrings, grandma’s | purse, vintage/thrifted

I hope you are all having a good week!

ksig

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