Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with Pixie Lott

Pixie-Lott-Breakfast-at-Tiffanys
Image credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Something very exciting happened! One of my all time favourite films, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is now also a play, and I got to go and see it at The Lowry last Tuesday.

The play is actually adapted from the Truman Capote novella, rather than the 1961 Audrey Hepburn classic. And so Holly Golightly (Pixie Lott) is played as a grittier, less saccharine character than we’re used to, resonating more with Capote’s original country-turned-New-York-party-girl. Tim Auld of The Telegraph described Lott’s performance as “less slinky cat, more frisky kitten”.

The curtain lifted to reveal Holly standing in front of Tiffany’s window – an adaptation of the iconic Hepburn image – singing a teaser of Moon River in a thunder storm. The staging continued in this simple, pacy and effective way, with settings and props emerging almost effortlessly from both sides of the stage and from above.

Naturally, there were many costume changes, all classic 1940s and as elegant as we’ve come to expect from the vivacious Holly Golightly. Set and costume designer Matthew Wright did a fantastic job encapsulating the mood and style of the era.

‘Fred’ (Matt Barber) lives in the apartment above Holly in a typical New York Brownstone, and they quickly become friends after her insistent ringing of his bell at one, two and three in the morning. Barber also narrates the story, taking the audience along with him as his fascination with Holly intensifies.

Holiday ‘Holly’ Golightly leads an “American geisha” lifestyle, surrounded by the wealthiest men she can find, whilst hiding a mysterious and sad backstory, and she refuses to let ‘Fred’ tame her. “Never love a wild thing”, she shouts. “You can’t give your heart to a wild thing.”

Described as a play with songs, Pixie Lott sings three beautiful numbers, Moon River, of course, being one of them. Her raspy and captivating voice lends itself to the hidden country girl inside of her and strengthens the emotion of her performance.

The entire production is intense, surprising and touching, and Pixie Lott plays a passionate, highly memorably Holly Golightly, a character we all know and love: reinvented.

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Book Club: Mysteries

Book Club 2

Since leaving uni and having actual free time which is no longer dominated by reading list anxiety, I’ve been able to expand my horizons in terms of genre. I have since found myself developing a serious affinity with mystery novels, especially psychological and crime thrillers. On these cold evenings, there’s nothing quite like curling up on the sofa, or in bed, lighting a candle and digging into a mystery novel.

Here are a few that I’ve been making my way through over the past few months.

Debbie Howells, The Bones of You:: This book started off really well for me, the characters were interesting, the plot was intriguing, the prose was emotive – I found myself with goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes after the first few pages. However, I ended up hating the characters after a while; the women especially seemed weak, too similar and very dislikeable. That being said, the plot itself was very suspenseful, with lots of well integrated twists, keeping me completely engrossed. The ending was more of a slow realisation than your typical plot twist, but I think I liked that, since the realism wasn’t at all sacrificed for cheap shock value. ★★★★☆

Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train:: I cannot recommend this book enough! The fact that I started and finished reading this book on a train (two separate journeys over a weekend, I’m not that good!) make this all the more special for me. The writing style and structure make the whole reading experience ridiculously tense, in the best possible way. And the plot. THE PLOT. Enough twists to make you dizzy. Go read this right now. ★★★★★

Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:: I haven’t actually finished reading this one yet (I’m about 60 pages from the end), but I have quite a lot to say about it already so I’m throwing it in. Although the central plot is very interesting, and the characters are unique, especially Lisbeth (the girl with the dragon tattoo), reading it is hard. I don’t know if it’s maybe been lost in the English translation, but the prose feels laborious and makes for very monotonous reading, a lot of the time. There is too much listing, a lot of financial and journalistic jargon, and random uninteresting and unnecessary descriptions scattered throughout. I am determined to finish it at this point, but whether or not I read the other two in the Millennium trilogy depends on the ending of this one. ★★☆☆☆ (for now…)

Maggie O’Farrell, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox:: I read this book on holiday in Menorca, finished it in about a day and half, and couldn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the week. Unlike a lot of mysteries I’ve been reading, this one does not centralise around a murder, but it was under no circumstances any less interesting. It is a haunting story which explores the wrongful institutionalisation of Esme Lennox, and her blurry family history. With enough twists to keep your bum perched permanently on the edge of your seat. Intense and very intellectual prose made this a very exciting and really lovely read. ★★★★★

Next on my list::

Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects:: I’ve read both of Flynn’s other novels (Gone Girl and Dark Places) and absolutely loved both of them, so I am more than excited to get my nose into this one.

Irvine Welsh, Filth:: Although not exactly in the same genre as the psychological thrillers above, Filth does revolve around a murder investigation. I tried reading Trainspotting by Welsh, but couldn’t get into it no matter how hard I tried. The blurb on this one made me laugh out loud in the middle of the charity shop though, so I’m looking forward to giving it a go.

What are you reading right now? Any recommendations to add to my ever-growing list?

25 Things to Blog About

25 things to blog about

Let me start with an apology, to myself as much as anyone, for not keeping up with my own aims for this blog. It seems I haven’t posted in four whole months! But what a hectic four months these have been.

Since the last time I posted, I have graduated! I completed all of my exams, (and didn’t even cry in any of them), I wrote a 10,000 word dissertation (and cried a lot in the duration) and I now have a lovely, shiny degree in English Literature and English Language.
I moved back home. I worked in a coffee shop. I camped for a week in Scotland. I started going to the gym! (- To those who have known me a long time, this really is the most shocking news). I’ve read approximately a thousand books. Next week, I’m holidaying with my best friend in Menorca. And then I’m moving again, to the North West, where I will hopefully find myself a job and start living a real adult life. An adult life that involves the diligent and most loving upkeep of my little blog, which, by the way, is celebrating its one year anniversary this month.

So, as a way back into it, here is a list of 25 things to blog about when you – and I – are feeling that looming blogger’s burnout:

1. Cook something, bake something, take a million pictures and write up your method.
2. Write a review of a film you’ve seen or a book you’ve read recently.
3. Share one of your favourite memories.
4. Use your blog as a productive outlet for what you’re feeling – write it all down to help yourself and to encourage others.
5. Write about what has been inspiring you lately.
6. Learn a new skill and talk about the process.
7. List the things that have made you happy this week /month.
8. Share an Instagram post catch up, write about it journal style.
9. Round up some of your favourite blogs or blog posts and share them with your followers.
10. If you try something new, share your experience.
11. If you’re good at something already, share some tips!
12. Go somewhere you’ve never been before, take a camera and post your favourite pictures.
13. Write about what you’re thankful for.
14. Make a list of your goals.
15. Write about something you’re passionate about.
16. Share some of your recent pins from Pinterest (tell us why they’re pinteresting).
17. Make a playlist of your favourite songs.
18. Do a monthly round up of things you’ve been loving.
19. Tell us about your favourite book.
20. Share photos from your weekend.
21. Talk about a particular quote which inspires you.
22. Write about some of your daily essentials.
23. Write a feature on a local cafe or a particular spot you love going to.
24. Give your readers some helpful tips on your blogging process (or any other productive process!)
25. Take any idea you have and just write until it becomes a coherent post! – Trust your ideas.

Book Club: What I’ve been reading

As an English Literature undergraduate for the past three years, it’s fair to say I go through a lot of books, at a very quick pace. Initially, my main intentions for this blog were to record what I’ve been reading and provide my thoughts in quick reviews. So, I thought I’d start this (semi-)regular ‘Book Club’ feature documenting my latest paperback perusals.

 

Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

 

 

 

“And yet it disturbs me to learn I have hurt someone unintentionally. I want all my hurts to be intentional.”
One of the literature modules I’ve been studying this year is ‘Margaret Atwood’ and, since my exam is coming up this term, I’ve been rereading some of her texts.
(Here I must credit some of my other favourites, which I am not reading for the exam: Blind Assassin, in which the exploration of narrative, the concept of writing, familial and gender relationships dominate the text and make for a truly remarkable, inevitably complex novel; and Oryx and Crake, in which modern ideologies concerning gender, science and technology are explored through to their logical yet terrifying conclusion. Next on my list, once I finish with my exams of course, are the two novels which follow Oryx and Crake: The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam.)
 
Cat’s Eye, however, has undoubtedly been my favourite to study: another frightening narrative, Atwood delves into the complex and horrifying realities of the power dynamics between young girls. Going far beyond the modern concept of ‘frenemies’, Atwood explores the hierarchies and power-plays within school-girls’ ‘friendship’ groups, and the subsequent and damaging effects. The idea of language as societal construct, power hierarchies and the concept of ‘self-hood’ are all de-constructed within this context of school-girl bullying.
Jessie Burton, The Miniaturist
 
“Growing older does not seem to make you more certain. It simply presents you with more reasons for doubt.”
I finished this book within a matter of days: I honestly could not put it down. Transported to seventeenth-century Holland, we follow the young protagonist through her new life as a married woman in Amsterdam. Although it can be said that the characters often find themselves in implausible situations, this novel is about the exploration of surprising dark magic, hope and ultimately disaster, and is certainly a troubling coming-of-age narrative. A fantasy story in which it seems anything can happen, I’d certainly recommend this as a book to take on holiday, or as something light to read in bed with a hot cup of tea.
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“We carry the ocean within us; … our veins mirror the tides. As a human woman, with ovaries where eggs lie like roe, entering the smooth undulating womb of the ocean from which our ancestors evolved millennia ago, I was so moved my eyes teared under water, and I mixed my saltiness with the ocean’s.”


With beautiful, emotional prose that flows as naturally as “the leaves to a tree”, for me, Ackerman’s non-fiction study of the human senses never fails to impress. The emotion the prose evokes catches me by surprise every time I pick it up, and encourages me to reconnect with my own consciousness and the right side of my brain, returning to the external world with a more sensual and optimistic approach than ever before. A physical, sensory overload more than welcomed when I’m feeling bogged down by essays and exams, I’d recommend this book anywhere and at any time.

Hozier and The Sindercombe Social, Shepherd’s Bush

At the beginning of this month, my friend Liddy and I went to see Hozier, something we’d booked ages ago and had been looking forward to ever since. We made an evening of it and got dinner and drinks at The Sindercombe Social (literally about 100 yards from the venue) before heading to Shepherd’s Bush O2 Empire for the gig.
We both order the smoked bacon, avocado and blue cheese burger, which was delicious. The bacon was a bit undercooked for both of us – we like it crispy – but the rest of the burger, and especially the blue cheese sauce, was amazing. Served in a brioche bun with a side of fries, this was a satisfying and filling meal for both of us. I was just the right amount of full when we left.  

 

 

The crowd was already buzzing when we got there. It’s hard to believe that undeniably talented Hozier can still be so humble when faced with over one thousand adoring fans packed into an arena. During the show, kindness and gratitude emanated from every word he said in the short interludes between countless flawless numbers.
A few hummed bars of Angel of Small Death & The Codeine Scene opened the show and the crowd exploded. Hozier’s soulful entrance was well received as he faultlessly continued with the rest of the song. 
A light show accompanied many of the upbeat blues-vibe tracks, including the more well-known Take Me to Church and – my personal favourite – Jackie and Wilson. 
 

During one his most sombre songs, In a Week, the lights simply shone on Hozier and Karen Cowley (from supporting act Wyvern Lingo and a member of Hozier’s band), as they mesmerised the audience with this heart-wrenching track about two deceased lovers.

Once his set had finished and Hozier had thanked the arena, every member of his band and the crew, he left the stage only to return a minute later after relentless hopeful screaming to perform an encore. Alone on stage again, Hozier played Cherry Wine from his first album beautifully. He then welcomed back his band and played the less well known Run. Finally, introducing the next track as something they “don’t play very often but like to have fun with”, the band began to play a charming and unexpected blues rendition of Amerie’s 1 Thing much to the audience’s delight.
 
 
Hozier’s remarkable ability to capture an audience existed on stage just as well and infinitely more prominently than it does through our speakers. I cannot get enough of this truly overwhelming artist and since he announced that he’ll be back on tour in June, I don’t suppose I’ll have to.

Pavlov’s Dog, Reading

Mine and my flatmate’s favourite food-serving pub in Reading was refurbished at the beginning of this month, so we took advantage of the weekend and went to check it out. The food there has always been great quality and the prices are student friendly. Despite their good burgers, before the refurb, Pavlov’s Dog was dark and gloomy, the furniture seemed old and outdated, the bar was too high, and there was never enough sunlight. 
We were so surprised walking up to the pub today. The outside has been repainted in different shades of blue, so much more appealing than the old black, and the windows were full length and beautiful!

 

We were pleased to see that the interior had been entirely transformed, too. A gorgeous floor, brand new, comfortable furniture and light coloured walls covered in cool, framed art work made for a much more inviting environment. The bar sported neon signs, retaining some of the old darkness, but with a new, less gloomy, vibe. The place was packed, not surprising for a Saturday afternoon, but the energy was different. The crowd included a lot more young people than usual, and we actually struggled to find a table.
We found a small table for two in the small ‘upstairs’ room (it’s actually only about five steps higher than the rest of the pub), which was flooded with sunlight – exactly what we wanted.
We were disappointed to see that the old beer and burger deal had disappeared from the menu, but the prices were still cheap overall, and you could get a soft or alcoholic drink for cheaper than the usual price when you bought a burger.
The service was fast and the staff were very friendly. I ordered the classic hot dog which might actually be the best hot dog I’ve ever had. A frankfurter in a classic hot dog bun (I hate the sweet buns you sometimes get with hot dogs) and a smothered in a traditional combo of English mustard and ketchup. Neither Abi nor I had strong feelings about the battered onions, which weren’t crispy enough to be satisfactory – I ended up picking most of mine off. The chilli fries were nice, but not hot enough, but Abi proclaimed that the sweet potato fries (her favourite side order) were some of the best she had ever had.

 

All in all, Pavlov’s Dog is a much nicer place to grab lunch, dinner or a drink than it ever was. The food is as great as it always has been, and even though the new refurbishment will undoubtedly bring in a much larger crowd than before, it is still an affordable and friendly environment.

 

Pudding for Dinner – Pancake Day

Pancake Day is without a doubt one of my favourite food-related holidays. I love sweet things; it wouldn’t be a lie to say that the idea of eating pudding as a main meal crosses my mind at least once a day. But today, this is absolutely acceptable (and encouraged)!
I prefer fluffy American pancakes to English ones most of the time, but there’s something about Pancake Day that demands at least one batch of traditional lemon and sugar crepes. My mam ate savoury crepes every Pancake Day and, the sweet-obsessed child I was, I never understood – why would you have dinner when you could have pudding?
However, I scoured Pinterest and found three delicious looking recipes for pancakes that are a tad fancier than what I ate as a twelve-year-old, and I think I’ll be trying one or two of them (yes, mam, the savoury one – gasp) later today.

{Left} Mushroom crepes with poached eggs
{Top right} Orange buttermilk pancakes – with orange honey butter
{Bottom right} Vanilla crepes with peaches and cream

All recipes were found on Pinterest, but you can find the original posts by clicking on the {links} above.