Notes from the Weekend

& this Week’s Links

Notes from the Weekend & this Week’s Links 13.05.24

AFTER FINALLY finishing Little Women, I now understand why the ending felt unsatisfactory. Louisa May Alcott wrote the novel primarily for financial reasons at the request of her publisher (who had conceived the idea), along with some nudging from Alcott’s father. Apparently, she did not enjoy the writing process. As an unmarried feminist, Alcott had wanted to keep the main character Jo unmarried as well. However, societal conventions of the time (1868-1869) made that impossible. Her one act of rebellion was to avoid marrying Jo to Laurie, against her reader’s wishes. In light of these facts about Alcott’s motivations and constraints, it’s easier to forgive any perceived shortcomings in the novel. The author’s intentions clashed with the expectations placed upon women’s fiction at that point in history, revealing the tensions between Alcott’s more progressive, feminist views and the prevailing expectations for women’s roles and narratives during that time. One particular passage made me pause and reflect though: at one point, Jo, still unmarried at the time and facing 30, ponders her life and thinks that if she’s lucky, she will have another 20 years left. That would make her lifespan about 50 years. Interestingly, in the United States in 1870, life expectancy at birth was only around 40 years, so Jo’s musing about living potentially to 50 was actually optimistic for the time. I guess the equivalent today would be being 60, if the average life span is 80. How lucky we are to have so many more years to live.

On Saturday night we watched Barefoot in the Park (1967), the American romantic comedy film directed by Gene Saks, starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda as newlyweds. My favourite moment was when Jane Fonda’s character hilariously begins their marriage with the words, “Paul, I think I’m gonna be a lousy wife. But don’t be angry with me. I love you very much and I’m very sexy!” Last week, I wrote a chic history of The Nineties for our Weekly Newsletter. You can read it here. (A warm welcome to all the new yearly paid subscribers who joined this week—we’re truly grateful for your support.)

This week’s links include the best hotels in Barcelona, and an historical mansion in Antwerp; shoes for city walks, long fitted dresses, and much, much more.


P.S. past weekend links

This Week's Links

Villa Clea : la nouvelle résidence d’artistes à connaître à Milan

• Summer sandals: One & Two

• The best hotels in Barcelona

• For May days: this Long Fitted Dress & these Twist Wedge Sandals

• An epic 38-mile hike to England’s northernmost point

• Classics: this Relaxed Cashmere-Wool Jumper & these Diamond Earrings

• An historic Antwerp mansion on one of the city’s most famous streets

• For city walks: Leather Loafers & Woven Ballet Flats

• How Bad Are Ultraprocessed Foods, Really?

• Accessorise: these Leather Pumps & these Butterfly Sunglasses