Book Review: We Have Always Lived In The Castle

pink shift dress brown sandals by 14 shades of grey

Full disclosure: this is more of a costume I put together for this book review rather than an outfit, because I couldn’t think of any everyday outfit to reflect this book. More on that later. First, the book.

“We Have Always Lived In The Castle” is a 1962 novel by Shirley Jackson. It tells the story of the Blackwood sisters, 18-year-old Mary Katherine, usually called Merricat, and her older sister Constance, who, along with their uncle Julian, are the only survivors after the entire family died of arsenic poisoning – the arsenic was mixed in with sugar and sprinkled onto their desert, but Merricat was sent to her room without dinner, Constance never takes sugar, and Uncle Julian barely survived. The three of them live a quietly happy life, despite being ostracized by the locals, but all that changes when a cousin, Charles, comes for a visit and threatens to turn their life upside down.

pink shift dress brown sandals by 14 shades of greypink shift dress cameo necklace by 14 shades of grey
In the second photo I was looking down to avoid the sun, and glanced up when the shutter clicked… it ended up way more Norman Bates than I thought, but given the tone of the book, it’s appropriate.

This book is kind of out of my comfort zone, but it’s beautifully written, a super quick read, and the story has the dark, sinister feel that I love, so I really enjoyed it. In a way, it’s like a more twisted version of I Capture the Castle, another of my favorite, and not just because they both have the word “castle” in their titles – two sister living in an unusual place; the story is told by the younger, bookish sister; a newcomer changing their life. Shirley Jackson does an amazing job of letting us inside Merricat’s head that we are entirely on her side before we start noticing that she is the least reliable of narrator. This is the first time I’ve read Jackson’s work, but I love this so much that I already have all of her other stuff waiting on my Kindle, and I’m looking forward to checking them out too.

pink shift dress cameo necklace by 14 shades of grey

As for the outfit, I really tried to come up with something that is inspired by the book in some way, and this is the best I could do. There’s a scene in the book where Constance makes dresses for Merricat out of tablecloths, so I picked my shift dress with a pattern that could pass for curtain or upholstery. It’s a 1960’s silhouette too. If I wanted to be even more literal I would go barefoot (because Merricat does), but my sandals will do. Actually I haven’t worn the dress in a while, but I think with different shoes, it’ll work for a spring/summer garden wedding or party. But of course the wedding season in Vietnam is during the coldest months, so… no dice.

pink shift dress by 14 shades of greypink shift dress brown sandals by 14 shades of grey

Dress: vintage, Necklace: Forever21, Sandals: thrifted

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Old Friends

When I first put together this outfit, it looked so familiar that I had to actually go through my archive to make sure that I didn’t wear it before. I didn’t. It’s just that I used a lot of my workhorses in this – the skirt, the cardigan, the boots, and the belt are all favorite pieces. I’m also wearing a dress as a top, which I did a lot during my 33×33 Remix but haven’t done in a while, so the ABC’s of Style challenge, “X for X2” – as in one item times two – gave me the perfect opportunity to revisit the idea.

Also an old favorite that I haven’t done in a while – a floating picture:

Dress worn as top: thrifted, Skirt: Banana Republic thrifted
Cardigan, Belt & Tights: Forever21
Boots: thrifted, Brooch: vintage
Post title: song by Simon & Garfunkel


Difficult Colors, Pink And Red

I think I would boycott Valentine’s Day if I were more of a hipster. The idea of just one day to celebrate love goes against the nature of the very thing it’s supposed to be celebrating (just like Mother’s Day – what, you don’t appreciate your mom the rest of the year?) But boycotting suggests some level of caring, and I really don’t give a damn. I only care about the chocolates that are on sale, and the EBEW challenge of wearing red and pink together. I even threw in a heart brooch for good measure 😛

Funny, I think the last time I wore this dress was for an EBEW challenge too…

Dress: thrifted, Sweater: Target
Leggings: Charlotte Russe, Boots: Journee
Brooch: my sister’s
Post title: stolen from Tom and Lorenzo’s post about the Grammy Red Carpet (scroll down to the last picture.) They’re quoting Gosford Park, so of course I had to steal it.

Pink + Red | Everybody, Everywear


Everybody, Everywear Challenge: Floral

Florals | Everybody, Everywear

The Everybody, Everywear challenge is that every month a certain item (usually something fairly basic) is chosen and you will wear/style it however you choose. It’s a great place to get inspirations. I’m excited to participate for the first time in this month’s challenge – floral prints!

Dress: thrifted (there’s no tag so I’m not sure if it’s true vintage or not, probably not.)
Cardigan: Forever21, remixed
Belt: Forever21
Boots: Bamboo thrifted
Brooch: vintage via Collectible Glitz

I thrifted this 60’s-inspired shift dress a while back as one of those “it’s too pretty I have to buy it” moment, because I had no idea where I could wear it – it looks too bridal shower (or worse, baby shower!) to me. But I’m determined to not have “closet orphans” (as they’re called by Sally of Already Pretty), so I decided to pull it out to EBEW. All in all, I think I did an OK job of dressing it down. The decision to pair this with boots may have been subconsciously inspired by this outfit of Tania from What Would A Nerd Wear. Or simply because I’m a wuss and afraid of getting my legs cold in 68 degree (~20 degrees Celsius) weather.

What is it with me and belting cardigans? I can’t do it. I try and I try, but I always end up feeling lumpy and frumpy. (OK, now I want to go write a book about a pair of twins called Lumpy and Frumpy :D)

P/S: I’ve updated my “Happy Mother’s Day” post with a few family photos, one of them is a rare baby picture of me, so check it out if you want to see me as a baby… or my sister as a serial killer 😛