[Berthe’s nephew Etienne is getting married to Camille]
Finally… Berthe appeared, to display herself for [mother of the bride] Madame Amelie de Jong’s edification and chagrin, attired in cinnamon face-cloth, so elaborately braided with writing gold that the foundation hardly appeared, except where it escaped from the overskirt and flowed around her feet. The magnificence of the style suite the magnificence of her proportions; she could carry off any amount of gold. Upon her head, but a long way removed from it, she wore a huge plumed hat, round her neck a cinnamon feather boa to match, ruffled arrogantly, and recalled to order by its heavy gold tassels hanging down her back.
commentary: I have been hugely enjoyed this book (third of the Rakonitz Chronicles) but had quite given up on the idea of being able to illustrate this particular ensemble, much as I wanted to.
But then I watched the documentary First Monday in May, which featured the singer Rihanna’s dramatic arrival at the Met Gala Ball in New York in 2015. Rihanna and Berthe might be a long way separated, but I feel Berthe would have understand what many people called the omelette dress.
Though Rihanna really could have learned a thing or two – no giant plumed hat? No feather boa with tassels? Tut.
I said in an entry on an earlier book that readers shouldn’t worry too much about how everyone is related to everyone else, and I am proved right with this one. Stern did at one point provide a family tree, and she then had to change some details to make the relationships in this particular book work…
Yellow dresses do seem to be a feature for Stern – Toni wears a yellow dress when she meets her husband-to-be. And they feature on the blog too – click on the tag to see some splendid ones. This is a favourite:
Rihanna has featured on the blog before - this picture was much better than the book it illustrated, and an entry on JK Galbraith's The Casual Vacancy ended with this:
And who’d have thought a book could leave you unable to hear Rihanna’s Umbrella without thinking of Krystal forevermore.
And I am, always, endlessly grateful to Hilary McKay (someone else who writes so well about families) for telling me about the books. There are multiple earlier entries on the first two books, The Matriarch and A Deputy was King – and now on Mosaic.