Thursday, January 22, 2015

More Taffeta, Darling

" French taffeta, thin but crisp, striped with a pencil-point black line on the pure evening-sky blue which Mrs. Siddons wore when Gainsborough painter her;  > > >
grey silk velvet, dove-coloured in shadow, silver in light; another grey, corded silk veiled with chiffon, sashed with lemon yellow; more chiffon, pink over pearl embroidery on the breasts; more pearls, a trellis of them as a belt: 
dresses for dancing in!"

--Diana Athill (b. 1917, now 97!) describing her evening-dresses when she was a girl, in her memoir Instead of a Letter (1962)

I'm enjoying this book a lot, partly because Athill is herself rather crisp (like dry apple cider) and she doesn't go in for a lot of  physical description, but when she does, it belongs there, it's not frippery.
I picked the book up because back when I was working in-house at the publisher's, I'd liked her memoir of her life as an editor, the wonderfully named Stet, an editorial term––Latin––for "let it stand". 

Here's Athill on "Why I Moved into an Old People's Home"


Lady Chardonnay said...

Ohmygosh. I read "Stet," ages ago! I'd completely forgotten that book.

Other than Betsy-Tacy and Emily, I believe this is the first book you and I have overlapped on. And believe me, I studied the photos of your bookshelves with passionate intensity!

Zhoen said...

Holds placed, article read. I like her style.

Fresca said...

LADY C: I bet we've overlapped on other books too----the ones on my bookshelf I keep because they're kind of unusual, they don't even include some of my all-time favorites, like Jane Eyre, that I can easily get anytime from the library.

ZHOEN: I think you might like Athill--she's got a refreshing no-nonsense lack of drama.