The turning of the year feels like an excellent time to think about style, elegant living, and the best elements of bygone days.
Let's Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By
By Lesley M.M. Blume
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Considering that I am known among my friends for drinking GIMLETS, writing with a FOUNTAIN PEN, and carrying a PARASOL on sunny summer days, it's not surprising that I enjoyed Lesley M. M. Blume's Let's Bring Back. Based on her popular Huffington Post column, it's an eclectic compendium of items, foods, phrases, and even qualities (ELEGANCE) that she'd like to see more of in the modern world.
Many of Blume's Let's Bring Back choices would be both easy and fun to revive (PENNY LOAFERS, ROCKING CHAIRS); a few are included for sheer outlandishness ("CHARIOTS: the ultimate status vehicle, especially when drawn by lions or elephants"); some have vanished from the earth and will never be seen again (THE FOX THEATER in San Francisco... sob!). Some of the entries feature historical trivia and straightforward arguments for why we should bring these things back; others are wryly amusing one-liners ("BUTLERS: they provide the household with an air of refinement, so you don't have to").
The nostalgia on display here mostly centers around Victorian quaintness (THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS) and early-20th-century glamour (SATIN PAJAMAS). Bold and stylish women like BANKHEAD, TALLULAH and VREELAND, DIANA get plenty of shout-outs. While Blume frequently bemoans how casual and sloppy modern life can be, it's also clear that she's grateful to be a 21st-century woman who can drink cocktails, wear trousers (preferably WIDE-LEGGED ones), and indulge her VICES ("I'd rather be Scarlett O'Hara than Melanie Wilkes any day of the week"). It's about bringing some sophistication and thoughtfulness into your everyday life, not about turning the clock back wholesale.
Organized alphabetically, Let's Bring Back is the kind of book that it's easy to dip into and out of -- ideal for keeping on your bedside table and reading a bit of every night before you go to sleep. (Perhaps it will bring you glamorous dreams.) And because it's all about nostalgia and things that stand the test of time, it won't go out of style any time soon.
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