The Fashion Magpie Lamour Shoes

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 76: The One on the Unreliable Female Narrator.

My Latest Snag: L’Amour Toddler Shoes.

I just discovered the children’s shoe label L’Amour and immediately fell in love with their traditional styling.  I ordered a pair of Ruthie t-straps in navy for mini’s fall wardrobe (with this or this and a big white bow?!  COME ON!!!). I absolutely love the tear-shaped perforated design on them; they remind me of something I wore as a child.  I’m also eyeing the Ollies in understated brown and the Joys in soft pink.  Separately — I wish they made these Yosi Samra sneakers in mini’s size!  They’re like tiny Golden Goose sneakers!!!  So saucy and chic!

The Fashion Magpie Lamour Traditional Shoes 2 The Fashion Magpie Lamour Traditional Shoes 1 The Fashion Magpie Lamour Traditional Shoes 3

You’re Sooooo Popular: The Woven Clutch.

The most popular items on Le Blog this week:

+A heavily discounted, super chic clutch.  I have it on good authority from one of you Magpies that this clutch in particular gets a lot of heavy use once in a closet!

+The nightstand of my dreams.

+A thoughtful gift for a new mother.  Or your mother.  Or your wife.  Or your sister.

+Sun of a BEACH!  (This stuff is supposed to be magical.  Like grown-up sun-in.)

+One of my favorite konmari secrets.  (These are pretty much in every single drawer of our home.)

+Mini’s new eating utensils.  I don’t know why but she absolutely loves them.  I think it’s been nice for her to graduate from dull plastic tines to metal ones that can legitimately spear food.

+VERY excited about this hair band currently en route to me thanks to many rave reviews from you all!

+One of my favorite new everyday dresses.

#Turbothot: The Problem of the Unreliable Female Narrator in Pop Lit. 

For the past few years, I’ve been devouring the stream of pop lit thriller novels that started with Gone Girl and have included home runs by Ruth Ware, Shari LaPena, Paula Hawkins, and the like.  I just flew through Catherine Steadman’s Something in the Water (full review pending, but I could not put it down once I got through the slow-moving first third, if that’s indication enough for you to snap it up — and p.s. are you reading along?!) and have Sharp Objects next on my list owing to its imminent release as an HBO series.  As I was reflecting on this female-centric thriller genre, much of which centers upon infidelities, lies, and deceptions between lovers and spouses, it dawned on me that many of these novels place an unreliable, unstable woman at their core.  Yes, the men are more often than not duplicitous scoundrels, prone to violence and greed.  But the women, while they tend to emerge triumphant within the context of this genre’s plot structures, are deeply problematic to me.  They are often plagued with deep anxieties, substance abuse issues, breakdowns, and personal traumas.  They tend to be overly nervous, prone to passing out, dyspeptic, neurotic, and occasionally insomniac.

Unfortunately, these mental health issues are not conjured with the level of sensitivity they deserve: instead, they become “othering” factors within the mechanics of the book, a means to instill a sense of doubt in the reader.  “But did she really see that?” I wonder.  And, “But is she lying to me right now?”  This was especially true in the Steadman book, where the narrator’s cringe-worthy actions left me scratching my head, questioning the protagonist’s motives and character, and doubting her version of the narrative.  There are points in the Steadman book where the narrator speaks directly to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, and her tone is often playfully self-implicating, along the lines of: “But why would I do that, right?!”  And I sit there, staring back at her, eyes narrowed in suspicious scrutiny.

There’s something unsettling about the prevalence of this persona in modern pop lit.  It’s as if we’ve revived (or maybe we never let die) the trope of the hysterical woman from days of yore — that woman whose powerful emotions and various physical and emotional distresses rendered her dismissible, insane, pathological.  (The word hysteria comes from the Greek word for uterus, and so there was a linking of the female body to a psychological disorder whose symptoms included anxiety, shortness of breath, fainting, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, and sexually forward behavior.  Sound familiar?!?!  Cf. all of the books referenced above.)  Interestingly, there’s a lot of overpathologizing going on in other female-centric media right now, including, most notably, Goop, whose predominant message seems to be: you are riddled with toxins!  you are besieged with anxieties!  you are “less than,” impure, dried up, and need to cleanse your life!   Basically, we are all one doctor’s visit away from some kind of jaw-dropping diagnosis.  (See this turbothot.  I loved all of your comments on this, BTW!)

What is going on here with the linking of the feminine body, vague somatizations, and unreliability?  I can’t quite put my finger on the narrative that’s being built, but these thrillers and media outposts like Goop have a disturbing edge to them in their casting of the psychosomatics of the modern woman.

At the same time, it must be observed that the female figures often “win” in these books — and that Goop’s ethos is more about agency and empowerment (“go out and change your life!  take herbs, exercise, think!  and above all, speak your truth!”) than it is about suppression and silence.  In the books, the female protagonists triumph over the pernicious men in their lives, exposing their infidelities and duplicities and often “one-upping” them.  And they often use their own cunning and physical grit to do so — that is, they rally their female bodies and female minds to counterbalance the threat of the evil male overlord.

So: what are we to make of this?  What say you?

#Shopaholic: The Gucci Princetown.

+The Gucci Princetowns are STILL in vogue.  I was worried when I bought them two years ago that they’d be a flash in the pan, but I’m still drawn to them, they remain chic and not-played-out, and they continue to be released in epic new colors and prints.  I’m in love with this blue and white floral situation (paired with jeans and a simple white blouse?!), and these raffia ones are pretty chic, too.  But mainly I want these fur trim ones in navy velvet.  My brother-in-law once saw them and said they looked like there was a dead squirrel dangling off the back of the shoe, but…the heart wants what it wants.

+Now this tiered dress is darling.  I saw it and I thought it would look so adorable as a maternity style!  (No, I’m not pregnant, but I still find myself occasionally thinking about things from that lens because I found it so darn hard to dress while pregnant!  I lived in David Lerner leggings (THE BEST — worth the splurge), Gap maternity tees, chunky knit cardigans, and my Princetowns (no bending over to buckle required! — see above).

+This toddler jacket is SO adorable.

+I was excited to see select pieces from designer Cecilie Bahnsen now carried by Nordstrom!  I love her dramatic shapes and sizes and mentioned my interest a couple months ago when I first found her. (<<Incidentally, I re-read that post and wanted to buy, like, all of the items in it.)

+Taking a final end-of-summer trip?  This is the time of season where I’m not interested in spending a ton of money on anything new as I know it will have a short lifespan.  This breezy cabana striped maxi is the perfect solution at only $20.  I’d wear on the beach, to cocktails, or while shopping.  It reminds me of Caroline Constas!

+The Tot is having an incredible sale on darling traditional clothing like this La Coqueta set (which mini owns!), this two-piece set (currently in my cart), and this stunning Amaia dress, which I believe to be the dress Princess Charlotte wore to her brother’s christening.  (More traditional clothing ideas along these lines under pick no. 4 here.)

+These acrylic lidded boxes would be a chic way to organize knick-knacks like hair ties or paper clips — or candy even! — in an office or on a bureau.  They look like Jonathan Adler!

+DYING over this stylish dress.  Very 1940s, reimagined through the lens of 2018.

+I’ve been talking about organizing our overflow of spices for ages.  We tend to buy our spices in bulk from a spicerie that sells them in plastic bags, which is space-saving but also next to impossible to keep organized.  I finally have all of the pieces I need in order to organize EVERYTHING.  A couple dozen of these, a label maker, and a stack of these (which people rave about for — everything.  Inexpensive!  Easy to clean!  Stackable!  And infinitely usable under sinks, in closets, above laundry machines, etc.)  My plan is to open a bottle of wine, blast some music, and transfer all of my bulk spices into these glasses, label them on the top, and then organize the bottles alphabetically in different bins (i.e., A-F, G-R, etc.)  I’ll keep all of the leftover bulk baggies in a separate bin higher up / harder to reach for periodic refills.  WOOOOOO KONMARI.  One of you lovely readers (hi, A!) recommended this nifty spice storage contraption and I seriously considered it but it just won’t work for us because our spice shelf is too high for me to reach, and I’d need to lift that entire caddy out each time I’d need a spice.  I think it’s easier to have the flimsy bins to slide out as needed.  BUT.  Read the reviews!!!  People love that thing!

+Scallops!  Stripes!  A voluminous sleeve!  What’s not to love?  (Did I mention it’s under $70?!)

P.S.  Some really good cosmetics picks here.

P.P.S.  Women of a certain age.

P.P.P.S.  I love my sister.

6 Comments

  1. I’ve been thinking about this a bit as well. I read Sharp Objects last month in anticipation of the mini series (it has already started! Episode 6 is tonight – it’s great so far and will be good to binge), and I have The Woman in the Window on my reading list next, mostly because it is being made into a movie starring Amy Adams and Julianne Moore (I die, they are my absolute faves) and the screenplay was written by Tracy Letts, I mean, what is this magical project that brings these three geniuses together?!?!

    I did get to thinking how interesting it is that Amy Adams is playing very similar roles in both projects. She even said something about this being her “dark period”, which is fine (she’s done plenty of wide-eyed innocent characters), but I wondered if it didn’t say something about what kinds of roles are written for women in their late 30s/early 40s. At a certain age, is the only way for a woman to cope with life to become a semi-functional alcoholic and stumble through life? Are the hot mess women the only ones who have interesting stories? Does society really just want to dismiss/ignore what grown women have to say and so this is an easy way to do that is destroy their credibility?

    As for how the whole Goop things comes into play…that’s a good question, I really hadn’t tied the two trends together before but I think you’re on to something. Did you see the GQ article about Goop and Trump and the death of truth? I think it’s a good take, especially for people who read the NYT Magazine piece thing and only saw the positive stuff (GP herself thought it validated her and her business?! Did she not catch that she looks like an insane cult leader in that cover photo?).

    Much to ponder….

    1. Alison – Yes, so much to ponder, especially these thoughts:

      “…I wondered if it didn’t say something about what kinds of roles are written for women in their late 30s/early 40s. At a certain age, is the only way for a woman to cope with life to become a semi-functional alcoholic and stumble through life? Are the hot mess women the only ones who have interesting stories? Does society really just want to dismiss/ignore what grown women have to say and so this is an easy way to do that is destroy their credibility?”

      I’ll be mulling this over for some time now. Incidentally, I watched the movie “Tully” over the weekend (Charlize Theron) and had similar thoughts…I haven’t quite put together in my mind what’s going on with this trend, but there’s certainly something worth diving deeper into…

      xo

    2. Oh, I’ve been wanting to see Tully – I really liked Young Adult, which was the previous Charlize /Jason Reitman collab. And yes, we have yet another drunk/hot mess female lead, but there was something about that story that felt a little bit fresh. The character was a charming but terrible person, not much to redeem her except for a pretty good streak of wicked humor. It was kind of refreshing to see a female character who was an extremely self-aware asshole and not terribly bothered by it. I don’t know that it’s progress exactly, but it felt like something…a counterpoint to the “dude has is a lovable jerk and his wife is a controlling nag” trope that appears a lot.

    3. I know what you mean — there was an alternity to the Tully story, too, that I liked. But still, to your earlier point: is the only interesting story about a middled-aged woman some version of a breakdown? xo

  2. This is not an exciting answer, but I think that unreliable narrators are easier to write than reliable ones. The author doesn’t have to come up with a plot-based reason for why the narrator didn’t notice her husband’s psychopathy in the first ten pages; she’s a drunk/manic/severely depressed, and ergo unreliable.
    What is interesting is our attraction to these books—though, as you said, I don’t know that the unreliability is a feature so much as a bug we accept in exchange for paciness and thrills.
    (A false equivalency of course!)
    Anyways, this is making me v excited for Rebecca! (Pray that my delicate humors don’t succumb to this excitement, hah!)

    1. Claire – You are absolutely right. I think that in a lot of these books the unreliable narrator is a matter of plot convenience or a tool for establishing a sense of unease and suspicion.

      xo

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