Saturday, 14 June 2014

Eglantine And The Year in Books (And Giveaway Winners)

Dear readers,
Eglantine; soft pink petals, falling loosely when plucked, against small, bright green leaves.  Its other name, sweet-briar, comes from its faint apple scent wafting on a warm, summer wind.  Conjure up in your mind these simple, wild roses together with the summer solstice and you have yourself an idyllic landscape.  Titania's bower in A Midsummer Night's Dream was 'over-canopied with luscious woodbine, / With sweet musk roses, and with eglantine'.  This flower is also armed with stout thorns - its name, according to Katherine Swift, means 'prickly' from the Latin aculeus,  'a litle needle', by way of the Provençal aiglentina.* - and is surely the briar through which the prince fought his way to Sleeping Beauty's turret room.
Eglantine; a rag doll whose vintage cotton sheet body has been dyed with caramel tea leaves - the kitchen smelled wonderful - with braided hair in 'Treacle Toffee' alpaca and silk yarn (I'm unashamedly addicted to this), kissable cheeks, a rose-sprigged Liberty print and a golden-winged embroidered fairy faintly reminiscent of the twelve good fairies who bestowed gifts at Sleeping Beauty's christening.  Oh, and I mustn't forget her knitted shoes!  I must have made at least three pairs in different coloured yarns before settling for her plumy rose ones.  The talented doll-maker, Little Jenny Wren's pattern, which is free, may be found  here.  I love Jenny Marshall's dolls so very much and you too can fall for their undeniable charms on her Little Jenny Wren's Dolls Page on Pinterest.
And my reading material for this rose-filled month of June is Elizabeth Jane Howard's The Light Years.
"Sybil got up from bed and went to the open window; the air smelled warmly of honeysuckle and roses, there was the metallic sounds of blackbirds settling down for the night and the sky was turning apricot streaked with little molten feathery clouds. 'Look thy last on all things lovely, every hour,' came into her mind.  She leaned further out of the window and pulled a rose towards her to smell it. [...]  She was thirty-eight, and the thought that it might be a very hard labour and that she might die recurred now.  The petals of the rose began to drop; and when she let go of it, it swung back with only the stamens left."

Elizabeth Jane Howard, The Light Years (Pan Books: London, 2013) p. 127.

What a fascinating life Howard led, according to this obituary.  A very good thing, perhaps, for I could not help but notice how many details in this, the first of four volumes of The Cazalet Chronicles, are of an autobiographical nature; smuggling into the pages the author's own version of Eden.  Focusing on the pre-war years of 1937-38 Howard appeals to the childhood of many readers.  There is so much more, of course.  For those who are interested in the social context of the time the varying constrictions in the lives of middle-class women are sharply brought to modern light together with the reluctant obligations placed heavily on the shoulders of middle-class young men around whom everything seemed to revolve.  Sweet nostalgia tempered with virulent depictions of inequality and suffering.  I haven't finished reading The Light Years yet but I am grateful for the dose of English life, both in London and in the Sussex countryside, it has afforded me.


Before I finally cut to the chase and announce the two giveaway winners, please wish Héloïse well for this coming week's Baccalauréat exams.  She's had a few already but this week is going to be intense!  Secondly, as I proudly announced over here last week, Tristan came top of all forty-five guitarists for his end of year exams.  I had goosebumps when he played and the parents and children broke into applause right there in that exam room.  He was, despite his stress, so very poised for a ten-year old.  A joyful moment indeed for both mother and son.


Truly, the best thing for me about these two giveaways has been the delight of reading kind-hearted comments left by readers I had not had the pleasure of 'meeting' before.  Thank you to all of you for taking the time to write to me and for expressing your enthusiasm.  I wish, somehow, I could make each one of you a winner.

So, the winner of the Salley Mavor two art posters (offered and signed by the artist herself) and the book (a gift from  me) is Jessica Stride.

The winner of my Maytime Hare is Ali Thomson up in fair Scotland.

Congratulations dear ladies! I look forward to receiving from each of you your full postal address via Facebook or email when you have a moment.

I'll be back within the week as I have many exciting things to share with you.  Now, if you don't mind, I have a Banoffee Cheesecake to bake for Father's Day tomorrow.

With very warm wishes,


I'm joining in with Laura's June version of The Year In Books.

*Katherine Swift, The Morville Hours, p. 186. 


  1. Eglantine is an absolute delight, as is her namesake! I love the embroidered shaped pocket.
    I wish Heloise all the luck in the world for her exams, and am delighted that Tristan did so well. The glow of maternal pride is a very special feeling.
    I have just reread The Paris Wife, the story of Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemmingway's marriage. It was my choice for our book club. This is the second time I've read it and found it fascinating. I always find one book leads me to another and I suspect this one will lead me down a long path. X

  2. Best of luck to Heloise, she will shine no doubt, as has the top musician Tristan! Huge congrats to him! Your lovely Eglantine is a delight to behold - from her beautiful thick hair to her sweet little knitted shoes. The details of all of your dolls get me every time, the care and fabric selection and sweet expressions...oh! So wonderful! Chrissie x PS I'm adding this book to my reading list, it sounds engaging...

  3. Your blog is a magical place, how wonderful Eglantine is. Every little detail is perfection.

  4. Congratulations to the winners.

  5. Such a pretty rose despite it's thorns!
    Eglantine is so beautiful, a perfect little work of art. :)
    I'm sending Héloïse my very best wishes but like her brother I'm sure she will shine!
    Congratulations to both Jess and Ali, two very lucky ladies.
    V x

  6. Congratulations, Jess and Ali! x

  7. Little Miss Eglantine is a delight ..... her little cheeks just floored me ..... so sweet.
    Good luck to your brave Héloïse x and very very well done to Tristan, that is astounding, I bet you wanted to burst?!
    Congratulations to the VERY lucky winners. I shall be adding the book to my wish list sounds just up my street, thank you x
    Love Jooles x x x

  8. Miss Eglantine is so wonderful. I especially love her little shoes. Very best wishes to Heloise and huge congrats to Tristan. You must feel very proud ... and of course, congratulations to two very lucky winners :)

  9. I am finally here, after having seen that a new post came up, only yesterday! Stephanie, I loved reading today on a quiet and non-rushed morning as today. I simply adore your references to literature as you escort us into your garden of flowers and dolls and other fascinating artistry! This little doll's starry cheeks are PRECIOUS!

    Enjoy your Father's Day my friend. Always thinking of you, Anita

  10. Dear Stephanie,

    What an enchanting lady miss Eglantine is. Her name and complexion are as pretty as the beautiful rose she was named after!

    Just read the obituary of Elizabeth Jane Howard. I heard about her, but never actually read one of her books. Are they worthwhile? I like the quote you published above. I haven't been able to read for a long time, but lately I read some pages :-). In a month's time I will be in the UK, so perhaps I will come across one of Jane's books when there.

    Wishing good luck to Héloise on her exam! Congratulations to Tristan!

    Happy week!

    Madelief x

  11. *Squeal of delight* ! I had to read this twice to convince myself it was really me who is one of the giveaway winner! Thankyou so much Stephanie I'm so excited! I'll send you a FB message with my details. :)
    Again, your post is filled with such beauty in words and pictures. I lOVe the fabric of the doll's dress, so fresh and summery.
    Jess xx

  12. Eglatine is delightful, my fingers are crossed for Heloise, WELL DONE Tristan, congratulations to the winners and hope you banoffee pie turned out well!

  13. So many things to say after reading this. Of course, first is 'best of luck' to your Heloise and congratulations to your violinist!
    Lucky winners - they must be thrilled - congrats to them as well.
    Now, Eglantine - we have several bushes here and they are in full bloom. They are such a surprise,near an old apple tree. We didn't see blossoms for years, as the deer ate every one. Now that we've fenced, we enjoy the simple, pretty blossoms. Your Eglantine is well-named in her rosy little pinafore.
    Elizabeth Jane Howard. Wasn't she a beautiful woman and a wonderful story-teller? I have read the entire Cazlalet saga and look forward to reading All Change. When I read the Cazalet stories I escaped for hours on end - loved them all.
    Now, a question. What is Banoffee Cheesecake? I have been very, very lazy and bought a strawberry layer cake for Fathers' Day dessert.

  14. What a beautiful doll. She is prefect from head to toe. Congratulations to your wonderful, beautiful, and hardworking children.

  15. Stephanie, congratulations to the winners of your drawing. Congratulations to talented beyond his years Tristan. And all my best wishes to very talented Heloise...Heloise, you will do very well. Just know it!

    And now back to your accomplishments, Stephanie. Obviously, your children are treasures. Your embroidery and sewing translations of floral France continue to be so, so very lovely. Eglantine, or sweet briar, is a rather special doll. Her hair, her fabulous shoes, her facial expression, her marvelous clothing...well, Stephanie, you really do have unique way to combine many sources of inspiration into the creation of a beautiful little doll.

    Moving on to literary topics. I've yet to read any of Elizabeth Jane Howard's books, even after hearing about them for many, many years. Perhaps your reviewing of The Light Years will get me over to the library.

    What joy it is to visit here! xo

  16. Good luck to Heloise for her BAC exams! She must be so nervous about them! And congratulations to Tristan! It's amazing how talented he is and yet so young! My son is 9 and is starting guitar lesson this summer. I don't know how he will progress but I will tell him about your son to encourage him! Eglantine is truly beautiful. I love everything about her! And what a sweet story about the flower.

  17. I have ooh-ed at Eglantine, ahh-ed at Tristan's success, and now have my fingers crossed for Héloïse.

    My mother has just been reading The Light Years, I must give it a go!

  18. I just kept going back and forth between the photos of Eglantine. She is so lovely; she makes my heart happy. Good luck wishes are heading to Heloise and a big congrats to Tristan. "The Light Years" sounds very interesting. I will have to give it a try. Things are slowly coming to an end here. Mom is slowly slipping away from us but she is peaceful and in very little pain. I spend each day with her and I am so thankful for that opportunity. Thank you so much, kind friend, for your comments on my blog.


  19. Oooh, Elegantine is just beautiful -- as are all your cute little creations. Congratulations to Tristan -- and you! -- it sounds like it was wonderful. And Good Luck to Heloise -- she has a supportive Mummy, so I'm sure she'll do well! Oh, and Congratulations to your lucky winners (darn it LOL!)

  20. Congratulations to the lucky ladies!

    I often wondered just what "sweetbriar" was - Angela Thirkell mentions it repeatedly in her Barchester novels. I always pictured it as more of a juniper-y type bush; how lovely to think that it's more like a wild rose.

    Tremendous congratulations to Tristan - how proud you must be! - and I hope that Héloïse is doing well and staying calm in the midst of the examination storm.

    Miss Eglantine is as lovely as her flowery namesake. :)

  21. I just discovered your blog and I think that it is the loveliest I have seen. :)

  22. Dear Stéphanie,
    I am very found of Eglantine ! The doll of course (with such a lovely outfit. As always I marvel at every detail), and also the flower. We have one in the garden, wonderfull looking in the evening light of June, its last flowers fading away.
    Congratulation to the talented musician! I hope, some day, Elsa and I will have the chance to listen to his music.
    And there is now another book I must order. The Light Years will be my companion for the holidays.
    I realise that I did not answer to you last comment on Elsa's clothing. As a matter of fact, it's been a long while since I last entered a clothing shop. Some are indeed homemade, and some come from two nice friends designers : Fei An who created Naive Days (which is now only available in China -except for lucky friends!), and Alexandra with whom I worked last year (La Princesse au Petit Pois).
    Happy first summer days !

  23. What a goergeous dolly....you are so masterful, dear Stephanie!
    And Eglantine....how I love wild roses....
    Although I am always reminded of "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" when I hear that name! ;)
    Congratulations to your dear son...Bravo! How proud you must be!
    And the best of luck to Heloise.... :)

    Yay Jessie! Congrats to the lucky winners!
    A beautiful summer to you, dear Stephanie....
    - Irina

  24. Dear Stephanie,

    The dolly is so very sweet from her sweet shoes, to her pretty locks and outfit.
    Congratulations to Tristan and know how proud you must be of him, also wishing Heloise the best of luck with her exams. Congratulations to the lucky winners of your giveaway.
    Happy week

  25. Dear Stephanie, what a proud mama you must be of your gifted guitarist Tristan and no doubt Heloise has reaped the rewards for her effort in her exams........
    Eglantine is just beautiful, I so love her little knitted shoes....the perfect colour after all the deliberation.
    Congratulations to your giveaway winners, I'm sure they will enjoy their prizes and your book sounds very interesting. I must keep an eye out for it over here..........
    Hope all is well with you Stephanie and you are enjoying some beautiful weather.

    Love and hugs from Oz,

    Claire Xx

  26. Hi, I love your craft, is beauty, I love a colors, I follow your blog, hugs from Brazil.
    Visit my blog - Tita Carré - free patterns crochet

  27. Stephanie,oooh banoffee cheesecake.....yum! Lovely post, I just enjoy so much how you link everything together. Your doll with her little knitted plum shoes is delightful. Congratulations to the lucky winners, and also to your very gifted children.Wishing you and your family a very happy weekend, with love, Linda x

  28. Oh the shoes! she is so lovely. I could see her with flowers in her pocket and a little knitted basket! Heather X

  29. I have read the Katherine Swift books too and aim to visit Morville which is not too far away. I really like her combination of passion and the unashamedly intellectual approach to what she does. Very best wishes to Heloise. I am sure she is as clever as she is beautiful. And musicality too! We have many talents amongst my very lovely children but none of us can play, except my eldest daughter who could play piano until a wrist operation derailed her.

  30. I have been out of pocket way (WAY!) too much this season.....missing my blog friends and their wisdom. Once again---you offer up an informative essay, lovely photos, and----a book suggestion that I'm taking directly to amazon!!! Thanks!

  31. Congratulations to your winners, those fortunate souls!


  32. Eglantine, what a gorgeous name for a beautiful doll. Thanks for joining in x

  33. un très joli blog que je découvre grâce à Anita...
    Congratulations to your winners...Beautiful doll

  34. Thank you for this article very full again.


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