Justice Hall by Laurie R King
published 2002 set in 1923
observations: This isn’t even a fancy-dress [US: costume] party, though a fancy-dress ball will feature at the end of the book. These are just some rather louche friends of the slightly villainous (or at least very much looked-down-on) Darling family, and they seem to have wandered in from an early Evelyn Waugh novel – more Vile Bodies than this week’s Handful of Dust - and don’t have a huge impact on the plot. Though they form quite a cheerful background, they sit strangely with the Darlings’ keenness to be gentry, and in other circs would surely be friends of heroine Mary and her bohemian friends, and not to be despised. And another unreasonable complaint: the possibilities offered by the Egyptian Ball at the end of the book are sadly wasted though Mary’s costume as a young Arab boy does sound lovely.
There are a perhaps surprising number of pictures of fancy-dress parties available on the web: it is most enjoyable, but also touching, to sift through them, looking at those amateurish efforts, the inspired home dress-making, the hats resembling lampshades. It is, apparently, an eternal human instinct to dress up in something daft and have fun.
Links up with: the book has featured on the blog before, explaining the Sherlock Holmes connection. The rules of fancy dress parties are given an outing here. These clothes sound like fancy dress but are definitely professional working gear. Jane Thynne’s Weighing of the Heart has another 1920s fancy dress party.
The photo is from the Jewish Historical Society of the MidWest, and can be found on Flickr. Isn’t that the UK’s new comedy heroine (and star of Call the Midwife) Miranda Hart in the back row, 50 years before she was born?