Page 51. " a lacy parasol to shade my golden curls, and keep the sun from my fair, unwrinkled complexion. "

Lace parasol
Creative Commons AttributionLace parasol - Credit: Deborah Austin
Catherine yearns to be like an upper-class lady of the Victorian period. These women would hold luxurious parasols made of lace, and often intricately designed, to shield the sun from browning their perfectly white complexion because tans were much too suggestive of the peasantry. Such was the notion for high Victorian society. One must not expose one's countenance to the sun, for one would let slip an inch of one's handsomeness should one allow such an atrocity to occur. And of course, lace parasols just looked really cool to hold.

There is a sad irony in the fact that Catherine speaks of concealing herself from the outside sun when, realistically, the children can hardly step outside their room letalone outside the house and then - what's more - take the shining sun for granted.

Page 52. " she wore a faint, enigmatic smile which reminded me of Mona Lisa "

 

Mona Lisa
Public DomainMona Lisa - Credit: Leonardo da Vinci

The Mona Lisa is said to be a subject of pure and captivating beauty. Leonardo da Vinci's 16th century,distinguished portait painting  - and namely her ambiguous smile - continues to excite speculation and theories. Some understand her to be the most enchantingly beautiful woman whilst others consider her too masculine and downright ugly. Each to his own.

 

A smile says it all?

Page 52. " See the wasp waist, the ballooning hips, the swelling bosom? "

The features Chris is describing are the result of a corset worn by the lady. This garment was primarily worn in the 18th century. Its shape forces the waist to be excessively cinched, thus accentuating the female's hips and bosom. The waist-cinching trend came under much controversy in the 19th century due to the health risks it caused for women and its mere purpose of seeking adulation from men.