Sunday, 16 February 2014

A Year In Books (And A Lace Maker)

Dear readers,
I am delighted to share with you my February choice for A Year In Books organised by Laura at Circle Of Pine Trees.
Caramel tea is my favourite this month .  You may find it here
The year is 1683 and Robert Merivel, the main actor of Rose Tremain's Restoration (shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1989), appears again, as melancholic and self-doubting as before.  The Puritan Revolution and Civil War have given way to the extravagance, gaity and desire for display which have revisted England with the return of Charles II from exile.  This is also a time of flux and uncertainty in every sphere; the perfect backdrop for Merivel's existence.  The son of a mere glovemaker, turned physician and natural scientist, and, more importantly, a close friend to King Charles II, who bestowed the imposing country estate of Bidnold in Norfolk upon him several years before.

Somewhat down in the dumps in the opening pages and surrounded by old, cranky and incompetent servants, Merivel is stung by Margaret, his beautiful daughter's, gentle reproach that he has become idle and that his life seems to lack purpose.  And so, in an attempt to seek glory, he decides to travel to London to his good friend Charles II with the aim of procuring from him a written introduction to The Sun King, Louis XIV, in Versailles.  Merivel's trip to France does not go as he had hoped but we, the readers, are treated to a  fabulous description of a palace under construction, the corridors of which are overspilling with malicious and desperate courtiers (many of which suffer the humiliation of sharing a "pisspot" and having little or no food) clutching at the hope of a moment's attention from a sneering and aloof king. 

A French château and a Swiss one, typhus, cancer, a duel, one miserable bear, lust, a father's love for his daughter, a profound friendship between a king and his physician, plenty of hot chocolate, and a smattering of gardens and, the most fabulous ingredient of all in my opinion; Merivel's touching self-deprecation which makes his excessive mood swings quite forgivable.  Rose Tremain's novel is as rich in material detail and it is in emotion.  I was quite simply enthralled and would strongly recommend it to you all.

I have gathered a lot of inspiration from reading Merivel and researching a little further the fashion of Charles II's court.  According to Aileen Ribeiro in her detailed book, Fashion And Fiction: Dress In Art And Literature In Stuart England, the king's preference was for 'subtle colours in his private costume, although the fabrics were rich and the linings often brightly coloured and pinked.'  In the painting below the king wears a plain coat and petticoat breeches of dark brown which brought to my mind the frequent cups of hot chocolate consumed by Merivel.
Hendrick Danckerts (attributed), Chalres II Presented with a Pineapple by the Royal Gardener John Rose, circa 1677.
Isaack Luttichys, Portrait Of Young Woman With Ostrich Feather In Her Hand, 1656
I wanted this latest hare of mine to wear the colours of the book - hot chocolate, starched laundry, arable earth and the browns of King Charles II's clothes .   She has also been greatly inspired by my friends who are passionate about lace making, both as collectors and creators.  I hope I've given her a timeless style.  Her pantaloons are stitched from my favourite 1900s hand embroidered polka dot tulle and trimmed with 1920s ivory lace.  The hem of her caramel-coloured dress is ornamented with a Breton friend's handmade lace.  As you can see she has a lace bobbin embroidered on one paw and on the other a lace thread spool.
I have named her Rosie Pierpoint after Merivel's favourite lover who runs a laundry by the Thames in London.  I must also confess that she is possible my favourite creation to date because of what she represents.  I love the art of lace making and I am very fond of the chocolate and caramel colours of her clothes too.  If you think you might like to give her a home you may find her here.
I leave you with a picture of our beloved eleventh-century parish church door where Rose Pierpoint was photographed today during a brief sunny spell.

May your week be filled with plenty of sunny spells too.

A bientôt,



  1. Hello Stephanie. I so look forward to seeing your wonderful creations and again I am not disappointed. She is beautiful.

  2. She's absolutely perfect. She feels more grown-up than the bunnies I've seen from you before and she has quite a mysterious air about her. I love the fabric of her dress and the style you chose for it. This is possible one of my favorite colours as it reminds me of my beloved September and its warm gold-brown hues. Have a lovely Sunday! Monika

  3. I loved reading your description of the book Stephanie and the inspiration behind Rose Pierpoint. She is a beauty, I love those colours, they are among my favourites and the lace is so very pretty.
    Happy Sunday my friend,
    V xxx

  4. She is stunning, and like you explained, her colours and cross stitch detail only add to her personality and beauty. She is very special indeed, and whoever gives her a home should have this blog post printed and presented as an accompanying scroll to fully appreciate her story! Chrissie x

  5. Sunday mornings could not be spent better (except a good sermon!). Being here at 7:15am while my husband is still asleep, and to read your world is as delicious as a special Sunday breakfast.

    First of all, that caramel tea sounds perfect for us right about now. I will purchase some; thank you for the link!

    Ensuite, the history you have researched to create your newest hare is as rich as the colors. Her little sweater is divine, and the colors are suitable for not only the cold days of winter or fall, but there is a brightness to your combinations that make this hare ready to SPRING into action! The lace! BRILLIANT! And I believe it was you my friend, who mentioned the art of tatting once....was it you? My mother had a tatting shuttle but unfortunately, never taught me how to use it. The laces of old are the most precious of webs woven, and to add them to your collection, c'est un coup de génie!

    Wishing you, my brilliant friend, a HAPPY SUNDAY of LOVE! Anita

  6. Rosie Pierpoint is beautiful and the inspiration behind her creation fascinating plus I LOVE the old stonework carving above the church door. What stories that door could tell!

  7. I love the way you seek and find inspiration in the books you read, paintings you see, and the colours which surround you - all beautifully encompassed in Rosie Pierpoint.

  8. Bringing details of the book to life... So sweet and inspiring. Visiting your blog is always a joy!

  9. Stephanie...this entire post is just too much...Rosie is lovely and the door she was photographed beside has left me smiling and very satisfied! I am about to order the book as soon as I leave you...precisely my type of read...you never fail to enlighten, inspire and educate me....love to you, N.xo

  10. Such a sweet lacemaker ... your creations just get better and better m'dear :)

  11. gosh, you are a great reviewer! Its made me want to read this book......... and the detail in those paintings, the pineapple, so rare and I am serving one this afternoon in lieu of cake with tea.
    Now I feel absolutely regal!
    Wonderful details on your rabbit....xx julie

  12. Stephanie...hello!
    I read Restoration years ago and have admired Rose Tremain ever since, I was unaware of this novel.
    so thank you for highlighting it.
    Rosie P is perfection a true work of art, I so wish I could have the patience to stitch those wonderful little motifs like you...?
    best wishes to you this weekend
    daisy j x

  13. C'est incrediblement elegant et raffine tout ce que vous faites chere Stephanie! Mes yeux restent a contempler tous les moindres details de ce travail a main! Et la maniere dont est venue cette inspiration,,, ce livre fascinant, ces peintures majestueuses...Merci de nous offrir des publications d'une qualite pareille!
    Happy new week and thank you for all your sweet words which give me such joy!

  14. Rose Tremain's books are great, I have read Restoration and Music and Silence which I loved. This year of books is making my reading list so very long, which of course is a good thing Stephanie ;o)
    Your new Rosie is another delight of detail and fin beauty, I am biased to the name Rosie as it's Alice's middle name because she looked like a pink rose bud when she was born x Have a wonderful week with the hope of sunshine x

  15. I love your Rosie Pierpoint. I finished reading "Restoration" yesterday and I cannot decide whether I love or loathe Merivel but your thoughtful post has made me think again. I certainly loved the historical aspects of the book and the wonderful story telling. I think I may have to read this sequel.

    1. Good evening Gina,

      I must confess that I enjoyed the sequel, "Merivel" to "Restoration". I find Tremain's antihero more bearable and even touching a few years on. Have you read "Music And Silence"? An amazing book, really.


  16. What a lovely rabbit, she is enchanting. And I do love frequent cups of hot chocolate too. There is a little magic about them I think.

  17. She is gorgeous. I love that you've used handmade lace. I remember seeing on a BBC series how one villager handmade lace and usually sold it to the boutique in town. And I loved how special it was compared to the coming of the industrial revolution machinery lace.

  18. She is possibly the loveliest of them all ... chocolate and caramel are such delicious words and colours! That book sounds very interesting - I like historical novels that have lots of "material detail".

    That painting of Charles II is rather fascinating - for some reason it makes me think of Dali's work. (The colouring perhaps?) I keep looking at it, expecting to see something surreal in the garden, but not finding it. And what an enigmatic expression on Charles's face. Is he bored? Self-conscious? Or slightly smug? And yet there's a kind of twinkle in his eye as if he were sharing a joke with the viewer. How fun to speculate about his coat - though it be chocolate-coloured without, it may be gloriously orange and beflowered within. Perhaps that's why he's smiling. :)

  19. Rosie is very pretty and will be very popular and well loved I am sure, how nice that she was inspired by your latest read! xx

  20. Rosie is beautiful and she has the same name is my Mam.

  21. The little tiny embroidery designs on Rose Pierpoint's feet are beautiful and what wonderful inspiration for her. Lace making is a precious art and a lovely blog post, Susannah x

  22. Just love love your Rabbit and the dress looks wonderful..like the colour.
    Amanda xx

  23. Each of your creations has such a fascinating backstory, Stephanie. They evoke thoughts of lives lived in various historical periods and carry with them an appreciation for handcrafted beauty.


  24. I haven't read Restoration or Merivel (but absolutely loved Music and Silence - so maybe I should!)
    I love little Rose Pierpoint's frock - I would love a dress in that fabric, it's such a delicious colour.
    And that doorway is so elegant.
    C xx

  25. Oh Stephanie, she is gorgeous, the stitching, the sweater, the lovely fabric and darling ears. You have outdone yourself.

  26. I'll certainly look for this book. Like you, I find myself 'living' in a book that I love.
    Your hare is lovely! So interesting to learn all about the inspiration behind her creation.

  27. Dear Stephanie,

    Books can be so inspiring!!! Both books are new to me, although I heard about 'Restoration'. They sounds interesting. Lady Rose Pierpoint looks enchanting. A very elegant lady. She would not have looked out of place at Charles II court! :-)

    Happy evening!

    Madelief x

  28. Stephanie!

    This post is filled with such interesting and beautiful matter, I have savored it three times, thus far. I appreciate it's reflection of an historic period so foreign to my modern experience. I appreciate meeting your Rosie Pierpoint who is uniquely lovable, and exquisitely fashioned. And I appreciate all of your photos, especially the photo of the door where you had Rosie's photographic shoot.

    I used a tiny to me crochet hook to crochet a bib for my infant granddaughter, Rose, and posted a photo a couple of days ago. While it is not lacework, it helps me have a greater appreciation for lacework and the beautiful lace you used for your Rosie's attire.

    Thanks for posting :) xx

  29. Such a beauty Rosie Pierpoint is ..... your work is just exquisite Stephanie and such a beautiful story behind her too.
    love Jooles x x x

  30. Good evening dear Stephanie...I think the truly exquisite Rosie Pierpoint is one of my all time favourites too..she is such a treasure and even more so after reading the inspiration behind her...I'm also imagining all the people who have passed through the beautiful door of your parish church...so many and so many stories too!
    Happy Weekend to you and yours,
    Susan x

  31. Dear Stephanie,
    A usual, your post is a jewel. It's the third time I come here and enjoy your voyage through litterature, history, sewing. From the fascinating lace of the Portrait Of Young Woman ... to the stone lace of the church door... Enchanting! Like you, I think Rosie Pierpoint is one of my favourite Mademoiselle (with Mademoiselle Mistletoe of course!). Enjoy your week end with your beautiful family.

  32. what a lovely post, Stephanie! how could i not put that book on my to-read list??? and Rosie's little knit bolero sweater...just the cutest!!!

  33. How I love the detail of your creations here both in photos and in your work, dearest Stephanie! And as I read your recent comment about how you are knitting in a Bloomsbury Blue then saw my header, I rejoiced. I have "Periwinkle Blue" on my mind these days! Though I love the white landscape and the grays and natural tones, a splash of blue, any blue, is welcomed.

    We are the messengers of good will, good works, and even "miracles" - those timely moments when someone needs a hand, anything....and it gives me chills.

    YOUR kind words are felt through the computer screen, they really are. Thank you for always being there. Now, I am hoping you share that new Bloomsbury Blue sweater when it is done!

    Bisous, Anita

  34. Rose Tremain is one of my favourite writers and I have not yet read this book so you have whetted my appetite. Have you also read Music and Silence? Brilliant. I too am supposed to be taking part in a year in books. I had better move fast if I am to be included for February. Love the fabric and colours too.

  35. Dear Stephanie, another spellbindingly delightful post! Rosie Pierpoint is indeed a most wonderful heroine, I love the rich caramel colours of her outfit. I'm most tempted ....

    I loved Rose Tremain's Restoration and so Merivel: A Man of his Time is now firmly my next read. I've always loved the flamboyance of Charles II's reign .. the clothes ...the theatre ... the art of beauty - sigh. Thank you for a wonderful review!

  36. I'm so glad that you are joining in, Stephanie! The hare is exquisite, how lovely to take your inspiration from the book! x

  37. Effectively! Good text, very informative and explicit! Thank you for sharing your advice.


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