[Muriel has dressed up as Madame de Pompadour]
But it was Muriel, the guest of honour, who rightly drew all eyes. Muriel’s dress was of blue and silver, the colours that the Sun King used above all others for the glory of Versailles. Myriad bows glittered on the satin bodice; the elaborately flounced overskirt was sewn with tiny bunches of gauze roses and forget-me-nots. Priceless lace edged the sleeves and the low décolleté, diamonds sparkled on the high, white wig and in the heels of her silver slippers – and round her throat, perfectly matching the blue of the dress and of her eyes, she wore the sapphires that were the bridegroom’s present to the bride. If Muriel looked pleased with herself she had every right to do so, for here was a Pompadour to silence all beholders.
‘My dear, what an unbelievable dress!’ said Minna, genuinely impressed.
observations: When I blogged on Madensky Square (my new favourite Ibbotson book) reader Sarah suggested this one too, and I am very grateful to her. After I’d read it I looked back at her comment (scroll down below the entry), and her comparison with Georgette Heyer is exactly right – that is what it’s like. It’s aimed at the ubiquitous Young Adults, and it is indeed rather romantic and frothy, despite dealing with the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the First World War. Ibbotson’s sense of humour and strong heroine stop it from tipping into sweetness: it is semi-predictable and a tiny bit precious, but just landing on the right side for entertainment - and every now and again it subverts expectations.
There is a slight moral problem, in that a criticism of the appearance of a ‘good’ character is seen as a sign of the worst viciousness, but the book makes much fun of the looks of the characters on the other side of the author’s love-list.