Jul 17, 2015

'Her' by Harriet Lane. Fashion Dilemmas For the Nearly Forty.

On the one hand, I'm a bit disappointed with what I felt was a 'weak' ending to Harriet Lane's latest novel 'Her'.  But on the other, the briefly worded and seemingly imprecise final chapter was probably the perfect way to conclude an otherwise complex and richly detailed study of two women who meet through a constructed 'coincidence' and who then go on to develop a kind of co-dependent relationship that isn't quite a friendship but isn't quite animosity either.

Nina is an accomplished artist who lives in North London with her successful second husband and her teenage daughter from her first marriage.  Nina comes from money and is a member of the artistic aristocracy thanks to her father's achievements as a composer.  Nina's narrative hints at a less than happy childhood as her father's initially subtle womanizing became more and more visible and embarrassing to herself and humiliating for her mother.

Nina recalls being a teenager of less than average looks whose free time revolved around her art, trips to art galleries and hanging out with similarly artistic and earnest girlfriends.  The adult Nina, though, is elegant and poised.  If there is one thorn in her subtly luxurious life, it her daughter Sophie who she feels is growing further away from her.

Emma, on the other hand, has had nothing but sun shine over her life.  A striking teenager with glowing tan to her long limbs and the kiss of the sun to her blonde hair, she was everything in her youth that she currently is not.  A freelance television producer in a previous life (before the children), Emma's days are now spent on the rewarding but grimly relentless grind of being a stay at home mother of two young children in a home where the one income budget is worryingly stretched.  The highlights of her year now include painful weekends staying with her cashed up in-laws (during which she is irrationally grateful for her glass of sherry after dinner and also angry that her husband refuses to accept the financial assistance her brash father in law offers) and short trips out of the house with the little ones in the pram.

A 'chance' encounter at the grocer's sees Nina come into possession of  Emma's purse.  Which then leads to Nina visiting Emma to return said purse.  A kind of friendship develops between the two very different women.  Emma revels in the attention of her helpful and generous friend but, at first, it's hard to see what Nina 'gains' from the friendship except opportunities to be at very close range to Emma's house and her children.  Which, as it turns out, is what Nina wanted all along.

Harriet Lane writes an absorbing and chillingly suspenseful novel.  She creates the building sense of quiet menace behind Nina's good Samaritan actions so skilfully that you can feel the tension against your skin as her words tighten their grip on you.  The abrupt ending I alluded to at the beginning of this review serving to heighten the thrill of Nina's chase as Emma finally crystallises the fragmented scraps of memories she has of Nina from all those years ago.

Skinnies - J Brand, trainers - Nike.

From domestic noir to off duty high top noir.  I am loving these Sky Hi Dunks of mine.  Loving them sick.  They've given collection of skinny jeans and jeggings a new lease of life.  And they've also made me order some new jeggings from Next as well (more about them when they arrive next week).

Thanks to Cotton On, my new and improved (and vaguely on trend) off duty mum look can still have its trackies and wear them too.  I found these skinny legged track pants for $20 yesterday and they do not look as disastrous on my nearly forty self as they could have.

It's been a while since I've shopped at Cotton On for myself and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could still find things to suit (and fit)  me.  I love the simplicity and colours of  these two sweaters I found, not to mention they were both 30% off so ended up being under $30 each.

Scarf and ring - Hermes, cardigan - Target.

Ironically, as I edge closer and closer to turning forty (it's now less than a month away), it somehow seems harder for me to 'dress my age'.  And what does this even mean anymore in a world where female celebrities under the age of 50 all look like sisters?  In some ways Hollywood's concept of ageing has given us mere mortals more freedom and inspiration when it comes to our wardrobes.

Getting older has meant getting more comfortable in my skin.  It has meant having the confidence to pick and choose (rather than follow, follow, follow) from the rapid cycling of fashion put before me by the media.  But this is also tempered by the idea of whether or not I look vaguely ridiculous in things even though they fit me well.  It's a thought that's started to creep into my shopping decisions these last few months.  

Have I passed the age limit for wearing high topped, heeled trainers with jeggings?  

Should I be working on the theory that forty is the new thirty?

Can I justify everything I now love wearing as being 'timeless' and 'ageless'?

Why do I care?

It's the big questions on a miserable Friday afternoon....

Perhaps the answer to this question will be seeing what mum to be Michelle Bridges (and fellow member of the mum of a little one in her forties) wears later this year when her baby arrives.  I'd better keep my Who subscription going in order to find out.

It's not that I actually have that much time to be philosophising over my off duty wardrobe options.  Not when I've got a toddler to feed.  It's not often that I have a success story in that arena these days so when I do, I'm sorry, but the blog has to know about it.  Toddler SSG loves cheese jaffles. Butter, cheese and white bread with hidden fibre?  It ticks most of my boxes right there.

The Aldi jaffle machine has been a breeze to use and maintain.  I oiled it once prior to use and so far, it's wiped clean after each jaffle I've made on it.  Even the oozy, cheesy bits that seeped out from the edge of the crustless bread I used.

As for me?

I'm loving cabbage tossed in the wok with some garlic, chicken stock and a dash of soya sauce.  It's such a simple vegetable side dish to prepare but so very satisfying at this time of the year.


  1. Cheesy jaffles on white bread yummmmm!
    Its ridiculous how much you actually love the sky hi's when you finally succumb ... yay to a fun addition to the mum wardrobe in my case :)

  2. The ol' collateral buy.... (ie you buy one item and have to buy others to suit it)...am familiar.
    I worry about dressing too "old" for my age, though practicality gets in the way.
    All we must do is try and feel fab and not overthink it.
    Might have to read that book.

    Speaking of internet shopping, I always get emails from shops advertising great deals after I have bought from there - I wonder whether that is a deliberate thing to get you to buy the extra thing you were vacillating about.... what do you think?

  3. I love cabbage! Simple things best. How did your roast pork experiment go? -Angie

  4. I completely agree about HER. I thought the book was good but the ending was so weak it made me mad. You were much kinder about it than I was.

    I'm happy to report that yes, 40 is the new 30. In fact. as far as I'm concerned every age up to 60 is the new 30. I say that as I head towards 55. ;) You have such good taste you have nothing to worry about.

    1. You're too kind, Catherine but yes, totally agree about the age range for the new thirty.

      SSG xxx

  5. These days I struggle with the "dressing one's age" conundrum too. There are so many celebrities in their 40s and 50s whose style I love, it's hard to say if I'm dressing my age, older or younger... So I'm with cilosophy. As long as we feel great in what we wear then it's best to not over think it. :-)


  6. Age is just a number! I'm turning 35 next month and I'll still be carrying around my Domokun handbag and wearing Hello Kitty dresses haha. I will never dress my age!

  7. Hi SSG! Long time reader, first time commenter here...love catching up on your musings when I have a chance at work! I have been stuck with the same veggies on rotation lately and your wok-tossed cabbage sounds like an ideal change, especially with this Sydney weather.. Can you please tell me approximately how much of each ingredient to use? thanks! Rx

    1. Hello R!
      Thanks for your comment. Here's what I use - 1/4 finely sliced cabbage and a clove of garlic tossed in the wok. I put the lid on a few minutes to allow the cabbage to cook. When there's hissing, I add a 1/2 cup of chicken stock and simmer for a few more minutes. Then I season with soy. I'm bad with salt - I use full salt powdered chicken stock (1/2 tsp) and full salt soya sauce.

      Hope this helps.

      SSG xxx

    2. Thank you! this is going to be attempted tonight for dinner! R x


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