A Year in High Heels: The Girl’s Guide to Everything from Jane Austen to the A-list by Camilla Morton

A Year in High Heels: The Girl’s Guide to Everything from Jane Austen to the A-list by Camilla Morton

I will admit from the outset two things: 1) I was tempted to buy this book because of the pretty shoes on the cover (Austen’s name pushed me over the reasonable edge of temptation), and 2) It took me several months to finish it (while I read other, more linear works), but that was a result of its length, versus its quality.

Organized on a month by month basis, the text offers information about a whole host of topics, only remotely linked by some date in the month in which something happened historically; goals, superstitions; book recommendations; shoe history; an expert postcard; a city focus; and some great websites.

Lest I ruin all the surprises for you, allow me to take you through January as a model for what you will experience with each glorious month. In January, we are advised to keep a diary or a blog (which is where the idea for this enterprise came from!). We are presented with various diet strategies. Some famous people’s birthdays are mentioned, as are tips for how we should honor the people. Since Pride and Prejudice was first published on January 2, 1813 (according to Morton), we are now instructed to start writing letters (and to use “good punctuation” in them). Pages 17-22 are devoted to Austen, the “muse of the month,” and readers are even given tips for how successfully to explore Austen and Austen-related material in a book club. Our city is London; our shoe, the pump.

The reading experience left me a bit overwhelmed in January since, by January 5 (p. 28), we have undertaken several major books, lost weight, started blogging, cooked, and corresponded with several girlfriends. Even without a full-time job, I’d be unable to accomplish all of this in so little time. (I’m also not sure how they calculate that Sacramento is “a thousand miles” from the original setting of P&P . . .).

Once I realized how easy this format of loosely connected topics makes it to add new information to the stuff already in my head, however, I felt excited. How cool to learn that the British Museum opened to the day 200 years after Elizabeth I was crowned! In Cantonese, the words “pants” and “shoes” come from the words “bitter” and “rough,” so both are to be avoided on new year’s day.  And now if I wanted to make a hot toddy . . .

If you want to learn a lot and have it not feel like any kind of learning you’ve likely done before, this is the book for you. It’s an absolute prerequisite for any Jeopardy! try-out, and it’s the only material I’ve ever seen that addresses the origin of April Fools’ Day.

Published in: on July 15, 2009 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

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