In recent months I’ve found very little time for reading, by nature I’m an avid bookworm so it’s always a real treat when I manage to fit a little reading into a busy day. I read a wide range of books, I love light-hearted chick lit as well as history books and books on vintage fashion. My biggest love is books written in and based on the 1920s and 30s. It’s such a glamorous era of history. I love authors like Nancy Mitford and Agatha Christie and have read most of their books.

Book People Carola Dunn Collection

I thought I’d write a little list of some of my favourite books and authors from the era to offer a little inspiration to your reading lists…

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald:

I have to say I absolutely loved the recent film of this book. I know it received mixed reviews but I’m a huge fan of Baz Lurhman’s films and I adored the opulence of this stylised interpretation of the book. If period authenticity is what you expected then I can understand the disappointment, but the film was everything I wanted it to be. The book itself is a stunning use of language and every word is perfectly placed. If you are one of the few who hasn’t read this yet I would highly recommend it. It was written in 1925 and set in 1922.

Every book by Agatha Christie (especially Poirot):

I had already seen most of Miss Marple and Poirot on TV before I ever picked up an actual Agatha Christie novel. I love her style of writing and her mysteries are so fun to read, I never guess the actual culprit so it’s always a great surprise when they are revealed at the end. Poirot is the my favourite deceptive of all time and his idiosyncrasies are even more amusing in the books than on TV. There’s a reason Christie has inspired so many imitators over the years, as she is simply the queen of cosy crime.

Gentleman Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos:

The book is very different to the famous Marilyn Monroe film from 1953. For a start it was written in 1925. It’s of the same era as Gatsby and is one of many of the time that represents the jazz age. It’s a fab and very fun book and is perfect for would be flappers!

Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons:

I read this a few years back and it’s one of my favourites. The book was written in 1935 and tells the story of a young widow forced to live in the country with her late husbands family. There are many plot similarities to Downton Abbey and I’m sure the script writers must have read this book first!

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson:

This book is just magical, I’ve not seen the popular film based on it and personally I don’t want to as I love the book so much. Miss Pettigrew is a penniless governess and through a series of misunderstandings, ends up befriending Delysia LaFosse a young socialite. Miss Pettigrew ends up getting glammed up and enjoying the perfect day with Miss LeFosse and the ensuing fun is absolutely adorable. Read this book if you want something to make you smile. The book was first published in 1938.

20s and 30s novels

Nancy Mitford:

Mitford is one of my very favourite authors. Her books are full of upper class English wit, and are often inspired by her and her sister’s very unusual lives. I’d recommend reading about her and her family as well, as their story reads like a novel in itself. They were at the very heart of the 1920s London party scene and as well as being aristocratic debutantes, they were also Bright Young Things.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith:

This wonderful children’s book from the author of 101 Dalmatians, is about a girl living an impoverished life in her families castle. The fate of many wealthy and aristocratic families in the early 20th century was the struggle to maintain great houses once the money had dried up. The book is written in the form of a journal and it’s an absolutely lovely read.

Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell:

Lisa Jewell is one of my very favourite modern authors. Her books go beyond chick lit and are complex and dark as well as being beautifully written. The book has two stories running parallel in both 1990s and 1920s London. The book is about Arlette who lives in London at the hight of the roaring 20s, but after tragedy strikes she leaves the city and never returns. Moving forward to 1995 her granddaughter has newly arrived in Soho and is looking to discover her Grandmother’s story. The book is very sad at times but id a fantastic read which would make a brilliant film.

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh:

This one took a while to get into for me. But as Waugh is such an iconic reader and also a good friend of Nancy Mitford, I just had to read one of his books. This book was written in 1930 and is a satire of the Bright Young People of the 1920s.

Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries by Carola Dunn:

Having recently made a vow to read more, I took to one of my favourite websites. The Book People are great for picking up bargain books and I really love their bundles of books which are so cheap I have to stop myself buying more books than I could ever actually read!

Having read the first few Daisy Dalrymple books on my Kindle I was really pleased to see a bundle of 12 books from later in the series none of which I had read for just £6!!! I cannot wait to get through these and I’m sure the hours will slip by very quickly reading all of them.

Daisy Dalrymple Books

While looking through the book collections I spotted a couple from authors I’ve not yet read I got a set of 5 books by Molly Keane. Keane was an Irish author who wrote her first few books under the name M.J Farrell had a writing career spanning from the 1920s to 80s and is known for her wickedly black humour. I can’t wait to give these 5 novels a try.

Molly Keane Book

I also got 3 books by Barbara Comyns whose books were published in the 40s to 80s. Her books are set in the early 20th century and she is also completely new to me. I’ll report back as soon as I’ve managed to read them and let you know what I thought. Although these are set in the Edwardian era I thought I’d give them a mention anyway.

Barbara Comyns Books

What are your favourite books from the 20s and 30s? I’d love some recommendations as I know there are so many great authors I’m yet to discover, my list of books to read is increasing at an alarming rate at the moment.

Heart Biscuits

After making my pink pinwheel biscuits last week, I’ve been wanting to try more girly biscuit recipes. So this week I used the same recipe to create something a little different but just as pretty. These pretty two colour heart biscuits are really easy to make and look absolutely adorable. They’re perfect for giving as a gift or taking for a tea drinking session and gossip with friends (my favourite thing to do with my besties)

Heart Cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup of butter

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 beaten egg (large)

1 tbsp milk

1/4 tsp Gel food colouring (I used Wilton in Rose and Violet, which you can buy from Hobbycraft, you will need a professional colouring to get the strong shade I achieved. The supermarket ones don’t come out this dark)

Heart Cookie Cutters

Heart Sugar Cookies

How to Make:

Preheat oven to 160 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and place to one side.

Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy.

Add the egg and milk to the mix and stir until combined.

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until they form a stiff dough.

Divide the mixture into three and add food colouring to two of the sections, mix the dough until the colour is fully combined.

Place the dough in the fridge for half an hour.

Roll out the plain dough and use a large cutter to cut out your biscuits. Use a smaller cutter to make a heart shaped hole in the middle of each biscuit.

Roll out your coloured dough and cut out some hearts using the smaller cutter.

Place the coloured hearts in the middle of the larger cookie and gently press the pieces together.

Bake in the oven for 8 minutes. Do not over cook, even if the biscuit feel soft they will harden as they cool. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Heart Biscuit Recipe

Let me know if you give these a try!

I have a real love affair with the city of Bath, from it’s beautiful Georgian buildings to it’s pretty parks and lovely little vintage shops I seem to keep going back. This weekend will see my third visit this month. I went for a mini break with my mum at the beginning of the month (more on that soon), I also went for the day to visit The American Museum and I’ll be returning this Sunday to attend Vintage Day at the Bath in Fashion Festival.

BATH IN FASHION 2015 IMAGE

Bath in Fashion see’s a week of events and talks from the 21st March to the 29th. The line-up of speakers and shows is fantastic and makes the perfect trip for fashion enthusiasts. You can see the full line up of events here.

The 29th is known as Vintage Day. First up will be a trip to the BathVA Vintage Fashion fair at Green Park Station. The event will feature over 50 specialist vintage clothing, accessories, textiles, homewares and furniture sellers, plus some great entertainment. I’m really looking forward to hunting out some lovely vintage pieces to wear this summer.

Vintage Fashion Complete 1

At 2pm I’ll be attending a talk at the Bath Function Rooms with Nicky Albrechsten. She is the author of Vintage Fashion Complete, one of the best books on vintage fashion that I’ve ever read. I have a review of the book coming up on the blog very soon, it’s such a thorough history of 20th century fashion that its taken me a long time to read, but if you love vintage it’s an absolute must read. I can’t wait to hear Nicky speak on Sunday. You can buy tickets for the talk here.

25 Dresses 1

I am also hugely looking forward to attending a talk from William Banks-Blaney of William Vintage. Known as ‘The King of Vintage’ William sells the creme de la creme of vintage couture in his Marylebone boutique and on the William Vintage website. If you see a celebrity wearing vintage on the red carpet it has in all likelihood been provided by him. He will be talking through the history of 20th century couture, the story of the designers behind them and the women who wore them. I can’t wait, I think this one will be absolutely fascinating. You can buy tickets for the talk here.

While I’m Bath I’ll also try to make a visit to The Fashion Museum as it’s one of my favourite museums and has the most amazing collection of historic clothing.

If you’re attending any of the events please come and say hi, I love meeting fellow vintage fashion lovers!

To find out more visit the Bath in Fashion website. 

We don’t wear brooches enough these days! I personally think a little brooch on a coat or cardigan can finish off an outfit nicely and I have quite a few that I’ve collected over the years, some are family pieces from my grandma and others I’ve picked up at vintage fairs and charity shops. Recently I’ve come to love looking through the #NoveltyBroochFriday hashtag on Instagram. Some of them gorgeous and some more eccentric offerings, they are a delight to behold!

Eternal Cat Brooch

Until now I’ve not really owned any thing worthy of the Novelty title, all my brooches are pretty tasteful, pretty crystals, painted designs and embroidered pieces have thus far been the staples of my collection. I also don’t actually wear any of mine as often as maybe I should. When I was recently asked to review something from the Eternal Collection website, I was delighted to see how many fun novelty brooches they had on offer and also that so many of them reminded my of real vintage pieces that I’ve admired from afar. I was also tempted by their selection of clip on earrings, but in the end I just had to have this adorable jewelled cat brooch.

Vintage Cat Brooch

I may have two cats lodging in my home, but I’m far from being a crazy cat lady UNTIL NOW! I’m sure this brooch has upped my cat loving status and I’ve been wearing in on my leopard print coat with pride ever since it arrived. I really really love it. It’s a little bigger that I expected so it’s not particularly subtle, but I think that’s a good thing, after all novelty items are there to be seen.

Eternal Collection Cat Brooch

I was really impressed with the quality of the brooch, which is absolutely smothered in clear and black Austrian crystals  on a gold-plated background. I love the cat’s cute little green eyes too. At £25 I think the brooch is pretty reasonably priced as well.

Vintage Style Cat Brooch

The brooch came in a pretty little blue box, carefully wrapped in tissue to ensure he arrived at his new home safely. I thought the lovely packaging would make him perfect as little gift for one of my cat loving friends of which there are many!

If cats aren’t really your thing there are a plethora of other designs available on the Eternal Collection website. From flowers to birds to pretty little fans there is definitely something for everyone. The brooches and earrings are perfect for vintage lovers and I’d definitely like to pick up a few more pieces from the website in the future.

Check out the full range on the Eternal Collection website.

Style Me Vintage Home CoverAs I’ve mentioned many times on the blog, I’m a huge fan of the Style Me Vintage book series. We’ve had quite a few offerings now, from clothes to make-up to tea parties, these guides are full of useful information and resources for both vintage newbies and seasoned collectors alike. I was so pleased when I heard that a home book was coming out and I am quite familiar with Keeley Harris the author having followed her on Twitter for a few years now.

Keeley Harris has been collecting and dealing vintage homewares since her teens as well as organising her own vintage home fairs. Her father was an antiques dealer, so like many successful vintage dealers she has a family background in buying and selling retro items. She is also experienced in writing about vintage interiors and her work is regularly featured in home magazines. So she’s definitely the perfect person to talk us through vintage and retro home decor.

Style Me Vintage Home Ceramics

I read the whole book in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed leafing through it’s pages, as well as admiring the gorgeous photos, I also learnt so much about vintage homewares and collectibles from various eras. The book covers the decades from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Style Me Vintage Home What is Vintage

I liked the way the book was divided into sections for each decade, with an introduction and loads of useful information at the start. The author explains what vintage actually is and goes on to to explore different types of furniture and collectibles. there is also a useful section on where to buy and source vintage home bits. This is a great starting point for people who are new to buying vintage and I found the section on buying at auction particularly helpful.

Style Me Vintage Home 1920s

The sections for each decade are also broken up into handy sections. She begins by giving an overview of each decade and the social reasons for particular style choices of each era. This is really interesting and helps the reader to appreciate the background and inspiration behind the fast changes interior trends of the 20th Century.

Style Me Vintage Home 20s Bedroom

She than goes on to look at details such as wall decoration, textiles designs and lighting as well as furniture, collectibles and artwork to complete the look. Useful asides with bullet points pick out the key items to hunt out for each era and would make a useful shopping list for anyone trying to create an era specific vintage interior.

Style Me Vintage Home 1950s Kitchen

Finally for each decade we look at the individual rooms of the house and what key items and decoration would go in each one. This is so easy to follow and all the real home pictures are actually really achievable with a little time and a rather impressive budget. I also really liked the little quotes from the owners of the featured houses. Keeley mentions in the introduction that the book isn’t about creating a ‘time warp’ home but rather using the best bits of the past to create a livable space. I also liked that the featured homes were everyday suburban houses like my own.

Style Me Vintage Home 1940s Details

I loved looking through all the different decades and picking my favourite features from each. I loved the floral and slightly shabby look of the 1940s as well as the bright and fun look of the 1950s. I am always really fascinated by 1930s interiors as my own house was built in 1935 and I like to imagine how it would have looked. One of the things I found most useful was the mentions of particular ceramics brands that are quite affordable and easy to come by. I had eBay open on my phone as I was looking through and already have spotted a few things I’d like to buy!

Style Me Vintage Home Vintage Home Styles and Fashions

At the end of the book we explore the different types of vintage styles and fashions that we see now. It is unusual to see modern homes only fitted out in interiors from one particular decade, and for many of mixing decades and creating a more modern look is far more common and achievable. The author discusses the main styles that we see today Shabby Chic, Mid-century Modern, Retro, Industrial and Eclectic and explains what defines these looks and how they can be created.

Style Me Vintage Home Home Sweet Home

I’ve always been a little obsessed with home decor even since I was small. In my year book from high school it says ‘Most likely to be a famous interior designer’! I may not be a famous interior designer, but my love of home decoration lives on as does my love of trawling antique shops, car boot sales and charity shops for thrifty vintage home bargains. This book has really helped me to work out exactly what I should be looking for and which brands to keep an eye out for. It really has been very helpful and it’s a reference I will use again and again.

Style Me Vintage Home

If you are new to vintage home collecting or want to build on your existing knowledge, or you’d just like to look at some really fab pictures of vintage inspired homes, then this book really is a must have!

Style Me Vintage Home is Written by Keeley Harris and Published by Pavilion.

Buy Style Me Vintage: Home on Amazon.