From the Shelves | “Snow” by Orhan Pamuk

Snow, a novel by contemporary Turkish author and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, is widely regarded as a great work of literature.  The story is told simultaneously from two angles: that of the protagonist, a poet named Ka, and the wider political context of the cultural change in Turkey following the rise of Ataturk. I suppose it must be noted here that I find this novel particularly fascinating because I also find Middle Eastern and Turkish history incredibly intriguing. However, you do not need to be a historian to read this book: ultimately, it is a work that focuses on the life of its protagonist and does not dwell on any sort of political or historical context. Anyone who loves a compelling and beautiful story will enjoy this novel — the setting of dramatic cultural change in Turkey is only a bonus for those of us who happen to be interested in it.

Of course, the history is central to the plot, but all is explained. In summary, the book takes place in a small city in Turkey called Kars. Ka, the poet-protagonist, visits the border city from his home in Germany, with the intention of doing journalistic work on the recent plight of the “head scarf girls” — a group of school girls who, rebelling against Ataturk’s westernizing policies, have continued the tradition of wearing head coverings. However, Ka also has another intention: to win the love of Ipek, the girl from his childhood whom he hopes to marry and take back to Germany with him. (Her younger sister, coincidentally, is the leader of the head scarf girls.) The majority of the novel takes place within a few days, as a blizzard descends on Kars and no one can get in or out. Violence escalates in the small city as the head scarf drama unfolds and multiple religious and secular groups clash. It is important to note here, I believe, that this by no measure reads like a thriller: instead, it is a poignant account of Ka’s few days in Kars, the poems that he writes there, his relationship with Ipek, and his reluctant role in the violence that begins to unfold.

Without giving anything away, it must be said that this is a tragic story. Ka’s character is not a perfect one: he is flawed, like any human being, which makes him so much more compelling. His time in Kars revolves around the poems he is able to write in the city, which flow from his pen more easily than they have in many years. These poems, he decides, represent different facets of his conscience (reason, imagination, memory), but ultimately they lead to little conclusion in terms of self-discovery. This is a complex novel, and one that can be confusing to read, but the language is beautiful and the plot is mesmerizing if you allow yourself to get into it. Snow is not a light and fun read, but it is a wonderful piece of literature (it almost reads like a meditation) that I would highly recommend to anyone.

As Margaret Atwood aptly writes in her introduction to the novel:

Pamuk gives us what all novelists give us at their best: the truth. Not the truth of statistics, but the truth of human experience at a particular place, in a particular time. And as with all great literature, you feel at moments not that you are examining him, but that he is examining you.

… Just some food for thought.

Have you read Snow, or any of Pamuk’s other works? What were your thoughts? If not, do you plan on reading any of them?

{Image: CoverSpy.}

Beauty Review | Guerlain Météorites

I had heard a lot about this product before finally deciding to buy it. These little météorites, as it turns out, are quite pricy, and sell for $57 per box. Essentially, they are an illuminating face powder, and the different colored pearls add an iridescent glow to any face in addition to smoothing skin tone. Sweep some of this on and you will see a difference immediately — I’m already totally hooked on this product and will be restocking when the time comes. Plus, it comes in a beautiful box and smells amazing!

Here’s how Sephora describes it:

Inspired by light and created by Guerlain, Météorites Pearls employ the technology of white light, which is used in photography and film to erase imperfections and soften features. A constellation of 6 multi-colored pearls blend together for a flawless, radiant complexion. These pearls-with-a-purpose have now been reinvented in 3 color harmonies that are adapted to each skintone.

The description, in this case, is surprisingly accurate, and the pearls are a lovely finishing touch for a radiant complexion. (I apply mine over Perfékt’s skin perfection gel in “Radiant”.) The Guerlain Météorites come in three colors: Teint Rosé 01, Teint Beige 02, and Teint Doré 03. I have a fairly pale complexion, and therefore purchased the Teint Rosé. However, this does give an even paler finish (although only slightly), so if you’re looking for a face powder that also gives you a bronzing glow, I would recommend the two other shades, depending on your skin tone. Next time, I’ll definitely be buying the Teint Beige.

In short: I highly recommend this product. It’s very pricy, but you get what you pay for — the quality is incredible, and the powder itself is light and illuminating. If you’re looking for a new loose powder (or just looking to spoil yourself), this will do the trick.

Shopping info: Guerlain Météorites, $57, sephora.com.

{Image source: nordstrom.com.}

Beauty Review | Bare Escentuals RareMinerals Blemish Therapy

I ordered the Bare Escentuals RareMinerals™ Blemish Therapy on Sephora because I was desperately in need of a spot treatment that would get rid of some acne, and this one was recommended and had great reviews, in addition to being natural without a lot of harmful ingredients. (It was also a Best of Sephora Winner 2008.) I’m so glad I purchased this, because it’s amazing! I love that the formula is a powder – it’s so light and easy to apply. It works as a decent concealer, but does not last very long, so I would recommend using another concealer on top of this. I saw results the next day, but you’ll need to apply it several times each day to keep your skin blemish-free. Other than that, it does work quite well!

My only complaint is that the scent isn’t very nice (something other Sephora.com reviewers complained about), but, hey — if you’ve got a product that works, stick with it. In my opinion, it is completely worth the cost for something gentle, natural, and totally effective. Definitely would recommend.

{Source: Image via sephora.com}

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Beauty Review | YSL’s Parisienne

I’m not usually a fan of floral fragrances like this one. I tend to go for more woody/woody-oriental scents, as I don’t really like the overpoweringly sweet or feminine stuff — there has to be a bit of musk in it somewhere. But this scent completely drew me in. It’s complex and beautiful, sweet but still slightly mysterious, and definitely captivating and feminine.

Parisienne has notes of blackberry, damask rose, and sandalwood. I think the blackberry definitely comes through in this fragrance, and it’s a great choice — it smells absolutely delicious, but not sickly sweet… it’s just right, and I can’t get over it! Of course, perfumes smell different on different people, but I would recommend checking this one out if it sounds like your style — it seems to be a crowd pleaser.

I love Kate Moss as the face of this fragrance… YSL did a great job choosing her. She looks stunning in the campaigns, and she embodies the scent perfectly — a little casual and carefree, but in a sexy way.

I think I may have a new signature scent.

{Source: Images via sephora.com and mimifroufrou.com.}

Spring 2011 Series | Runway Review, Part II

I started this series a while ago (in January, to be precise) to showcase looks from the Spring/Summer 2011 ready-to-wear shows. And spring is coming up fast now! The goal from these posts is to draw inspiration from these looks, not necessarily try to replicate them exactly. Ashley from 2 Eyes In The Mirror mentioned in a comment on the first runway post that Hermès was her favorite show “hands-down,” so I’ve made sure to include it here! I’ve paired it with Ralph Lauren and Emilio Pucci to keep up the Western theme for spring.

Ralph Lauren

The Ralph Lauren show made very good use of the color white. It was similar to that at Dolce & Gabbana but with a Western twist. Swap out the floaty blouses and shorts for more structured shirts and high-collared dresses and throw in some leather belts and you’re good to go.

I found a lot of the clothes at Ralph Lauren to be pretty wearable, or at least easy to translate into everyday wear. I really liked the light floral prints for dresses, classic button-downs, and wide belts, although, granted, a lot of the basic silhouettes were exaggerated on the runway (read: pouffy sleeves).

Emilio Pucci

I loved the really rich and vibrant colors on the Emilio Pucci runway, as well as the many gorgeous and flowing dress shapes. The hair and makeup was beautiful and perfect for spring, with hair a little messy and undone, but still shiny and healthy, and a natural, bronzed face. (More beauty shots can be found in the details here.)

My favorite look from the entire show was the orange dress on the left. I’m usually not a big fan of orange, but it looked fantastic with the leather boots turquoise bracelets. The soft pleats on the fabric were also a big plus! I can’t see myself ever wearing something like this in real life, but I do love the color combination of leather/warm brown and turquoise, as well as the slightly sheer fabric for blouses.

I thought the look above left most easily translated into everyday — the leather jacket over the floaty spring dress is a classic combination for transitioning into the hotter weather if toned down a bit from the runway version.

Hermès

This show was incredible and I can see why it was Ashley’s favorite. I loved the sharp tailoring, color scheme, leather details, and the entire runway set. While some of the looks are not something I could ever see myself wearing, the riding pants are Hermès were perfect. We’ve seen riding pants a lot this year in fashion, and it’s great to see that Hermès is continuing the trend in the spring.

I also thought that Hermès was able to pull off the monochromatic trend quite subtly in some of its looks. Top left, Abbey Lee Kershaw looks very ladylike in high-waisted paper bag trousers and a tucked in tee. The black-on-black ensembles that popped up every so often on the runway made great use of different textures (sheer, leather, silk…) to differentiate between individual pieces (we also see this concept bottom right with the light cream outfit worn by Jac).

What do you think of the Western-style ready-to-wear looks at Ralph Lauren, Emilio Pucci, and Hermès?

{Sources: Ralph Lauren and Emilio Pucci runway photos photographed by Monica Feudi/GoRunway.com, accessed via Style.com. Hermès runway photos by Yannis Vlamos/GoRunway.com, accessed via Style.com.}