Malala Yousafzai is a young Pakistani activist who advocates for women’s rights in Pakistan, particularly their right to an education. Last October, at the tender age of fifteen, this activism led her to be targeted by the Taliban and shot while on the way to school with some classmates. She survived the attack, and in a fitting irony, the aggressors’ actions have only brought more attention and sympathy to her and her cause. Since this incident, she has spoken to the UN, met with leaders around the world, and been interviewed by several media outlets, all while recuperating from a life-threatening injury.
Malala could easily be considered wise beyond her years, but her story is in, many respects, that of an ordinary girl. It is the upheaval in her native country that has brought out the best in this young woman, and her experiences make for fascinating reading. An excellent and approachable book, and a great reminder of the value and importance of an education, a privilege which we Americans often take for granted. ...more
I really admire Tim Gunn, and he seems like he would be a great person to know. He's witty, intelligent, charming, and, of the utmost importance, he sI really admire Tim Gunn, and he seems like he would be a great person to know. He's witty, intelligent, charming, and, of the utmost importance, he seems like an all-around nice guy. (I have to qualify this statement with the word "seem," because apparently TV editing can do wonders at portraying an individual however the producers choose. For all I know, once the cameras are off, he runs around cursing like a sailor and slapping Project Runway Designers upside the head, but I sincerely doubt it.) I think I'd really enjoy having dinner with him sometime... which I'm sure he will invite me to... any day now.
Even so, I think he'd find my taste in fashion deplorable, and that was why I had to give this book three stars. While it was generally a good book, it left me with a sour taste in my mouth, and a neurosis about my own fashion shortcomings. I suppose I should have expected it, because one of Tim's specialties is providing fashion advice, but truthfully I dove into this book for its descriptive aspects, not its prescriptive. The evolution of culture over time is fascinating, and I was eager to see Tim's take on how fashion had changed over the years and the impetus behind those changes. If the focus stayed merely on that aspect, I would have been more comfortable with it.
As it is, the book is still good, but not what I would call great. (So sorry, Tim, I'm a picky sort.) There were a lot of illustrations, which proved helpful for the fashion-challenged like myself, but there were still moments I wished for more. I also think it would be more helpful for the illustrations to appear in a more coordinated fashion (pun!) with the text. More than a few times, I found myself painstakingly trying to visualize a style he was describing, only to turn the page and find a large depiction of it. If the illustration had been one page earlier, I could have saved myself the trouble.
I was also surprised that there was no chapter on jewelry. There were chapters on undergarments, belts, gloves, handbags, coats, and scarves. Why did jewelry get the short shrift? True, it's a mammoth topic to explore, but a brief overview of this important fashion accessory could have been fascinating. I wonder, for example, when the first evidence of jewelry appears in the archaeological record. Were those early pieces worn for religious or purely decorative reasons? Who first decided to stick a hole in someone's ear, so they could hang a bauble from it? How did men's jewelry differ from women's over time? And how were they similar? And if Tim wanted to move into the prescriptive aspects, he could have discussed what jewelry best complements certain clothing.
Admittedly, part of my problem with this book-the tendency for it to tell a reader what should or shouldn't be worn-traces back to my own shortcomings in the area of fashion. Still, I'm curious what Tim's work could have been if he'd laid off the advice a little bit, and spent more time on the history.
And Tim, while you're reading this, (As I know you inevitably will, because what author doesn't read every single review and commentary on his work? ;)) please keep in mind that my lukewarm review of this book does not reflect my overall opinion of you. You rock (or seem to), and I welcome your... forthcoming... very soon... invitation to dinner! :)...more
I've done a lot of reading on the Tudors, but I'm less familiar with the later monarchs. Victoria's great love for her consort, Prince Albert, has alwI've done a lot of reading on the Tudors, but I'm less familiar with the later monarchs. Victoria's great love for her consort, Prince Albert, has always been a source of fascination, and this book fleshes out their story.
In a traditional Victorian era household, the man was in charge, but Victoria and Albert's relationship was made unique by her status as Queen. Denied a kingly title by convention, Albert was actually a quite active participant in Great Britain's government, and his ideas had a profound influence on his smitten wife. When Albert died unexpectedly at the age of 42, the Queen was left adrift. As expected of a woman during the time, she responded to her loss with frailty and confusion, but she was less able to fulfill her people's expectations of their monarch. She retreated into her grief and sorrow, and much of the work that Albert had done to bolster the couple's public image fell into disrepair. While some grief was understandable, even admirable, her failure to meet her public obligations was met with frustration and discontent.
On the one side, I read this book with some anger towards Victoria. She was often stubborn and self deluding. She had lost a husband, but she still had much to live for, including several children and a country that needed her. Yet even as my anger built, I would sometimes stop and think how alone she must have felt. Because of her unique position in British society, there was no one who could speak to her as Albert had, and there was no one who could fully understand that predicament. It was obvious that Victoria faced some very real and debilitating depression, and reading her story made me exceedingly glad that I am not a member of any royal family.
This was an interesting depiction of Victoria's life with, and later without, Albert, but I still found myself wanting just a little bit more. Although decades passed before Victoria joined Albert in the afterlife, the latter half of the book skips from decade to decade with some rapidity, and it never really touches on the final years of her reign. In fact, chronologically speaking, the last events described happen in 1878, over twenty years before Victoria's death. Although I realize this is the story of Victoria and Albert, not just the story of Victoria, I doubt she stopped thinking of her beloved husband near the end of her life, and I suspect that her own impending death must have brought him to mind. I wish I'd known more about how she spent her last years. I was also curious about the legacy that this relationship had on Great Britain and the monarchy, and I don't feel the author really spent enough time exploring that aspect of the events. I guess I'll just have to find another biography to fill in the gaps... ...more