Art, Feminism, and the 1950s: A Mona Lisa Smile-Inspired Reading List

Mona Lisa Smile

Hello chums! Yesterday evening I finished watching Mona Lisa Smile (2003), which is a film I had never heard of before I stumbled across it on Netflix. Set in the 1950s, Mona Lisa Smile follows Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts), who is considered a rather bohemian and modern woman, as she accepts a position teaching art history at Wellesley College, an ultra-conservative, all-girls institution in Massachusetts. Most of the girls at Wellesley are just there to bide their time until they are married, an idea which Katherine Watson disagrees with completely. The plot of the movie focuses around how Katherine Watson teaches her students to not only to expand their horizons when it comes to thinking about art, but she also teaches them that they can aspire to be more than just wives and mothers.

I thought this movie was completely wonderful – the 1950s New England setting was gorgeous, the cast was incredible (including not only Julia Roberts but other well-known names such as Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Ginnifer Goodwin), the writing was clever, and the feminist undertones were, in my opinion, very well-done. This move encompassed so many of my own interests – art history, feminism, academia, and America during the 1950s – that I thought it might be fun to put together a reading list inspired by the film. You can still enjoy all of these books even if you haven’t seen the film, but I hope that if you have this list might serve as a place where you can continue to explore some of the themes of the movie. Without further ado, let’s get into the list. 🙂 Continue reading “Art, Feminism, and the 1950s: A Mona Lisa Smile-Inspired Reading List”

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Sunday Morning Book Chats Part 10 – Carole Ann from @booksnourish_caroleann!

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Sunday Morning Book Chats has finally reached the double digits!! Today is the tenth part of my Sunday Morning Book Chats series, where each weekend I sit down with a different bookstagrammer and chat about life and literature. This week’s guest is the incredibly lovely Carole Ann from @booksnourish_caroleann, who is one of the most kind and genuine people I have had the pleasure of talking with on bookstagram. Without further ado, let’s get to the questions!

carole ann

Continue reading “Sunday Morning Book Chats Part 10 – Carole Ann from @booksnourish_caroleann!”

Sex, Drugs, and Show Business: The 50th Anniversary of ‘Valley of the Dolls’

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Title: Valley of the Dolls

Author: Jacqueline Susann

Publisher: Virago Press

Pages: 417

Summary (from first page): Dolls -red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three beautiful women become best friends when they are young and in New York, struggling to make their names in the entertainment industry. Only when they reach the peak of their careers do they find there’s nowhere left to go but down – to the Valley of the Dolls.

Valley of the Dolls is one of those books that I’ve known about for a while but I’ve never felt motivated to pick up and read. Truth be told, until a few months ago I didn’t actually know what Valley of the Dolls was about. I knew it was supposed to be quite scandalous, that it had a pink cover, and that I was 95% sure it was made into movie. It wasn’t until I discovered that this year, 2016, is the 50th anniversary of Valley of the Dolls (it was originally published in 1966), however, that I finally took the plunge and decided to buy a copy for myself and check it out (it does help that it came in the gorgeous Virago Modern Classics edition you see above.) Continue reading “Sex, Drugs, and Show Business: The 50th Anniversary of ‘Valley of the Dolls’”

Author Jennifer S. Brown on Writing, Feminism, and the Importance of Having a Support Group

Jennifer S Brown interview

Released on April 5th, 2016, Jennifer S. Brown’s debut novel Modern Girls is a historical fiction piece set in 1930s New York City and follows the lives of Rose and Dottie, a mother and daughter who both become pregnant at the same time. Part social commentary, part family history, Modern Girls is an incredible story about growing up, second chances, and the power of new beginnings. If you’re interested in reading my full review of Modern Girls, click here. To hear more about Brown’s writing process, the books that inspire her, her time at The Debutante Ball, and if there is any possibility of a Modern Girls sequel, keep reading for my full interview with the lovely Jennifer S. Brown. 🙂

1. First thing’s first: congratulations on Modern Girls! Publishing a book is such a major achievement in any regard, but I know Modern Girls is your debut novel and to have it come out to such spectacular reviews must be a dream come true. How are you feeling now that Modern Girls has been out for a couple of months?

If anything, it feels crazier than it did than when it first came out! Because now people have read it. For so many years, Dottie and Rose existed only on my page. Now they exist on the page for anyone. It’s like my imaginary friends are now being shared with others. I’m completely excited, but a little freaked out. Continue reading “Author Jennifer S. Brown on Writing, Feminism, and the Importance of Having a Support Group”

Mid-Year Wrap Up: My Favorite Books of 2016 Thus Far

2016 Mid-Year Wrap UpI’m in denial that I’m writing this post, because that would mean I have to acknowledge that we’re actually over halfway through 2016 and that’s something I refuse to do. 🙂 But, deny it all I want, we are in July, so I thought that now would be the perfect time to write my mid-year reading wrap-up. Continue reading “Mid-Year Wrap Up: My Favorite Books of 2016 Thus Far”