Not, I hasten to add, in a cheesy cheap merchandise kind of way, but in a altogether richer, more creative and satisfying way.
“We don’t just read a great book, we inhabit it.” So begins Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired By Literature, by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti. She identifies six sorts of literary decor:
cottage cosy (Austen, Dickens, Alcott…),
classic elegance (Thackeray, Waugh, Wharton…),
earthy & natural (Brontë, L. M. Montgomery, Thoreau…),
modern glamour (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Maugham…),
bohemian chaos (Durrells, Mansfield, Woolf…)
and fantasticated (Colette, Proust, Wilde…).
But what if your style doesn’t fall neatly into one of those mentioned – or any of them at all? Fear not: there is a way.
Not a question one often finds oneself asking. But when it first popped into my mind, I decided there was a case to answer, and promptly borrowed the book from the library to further investigate. The results were not as reassuring as I might have wished.
Cruella wears fur. So do I. [Disclaimer: I don’t buy ‘new’ furs unless they’re from a humanely culled pest species; and I would never knowingly buy or wear the fur of an endangered animal.]
I like ink, too, though I prefer to write with mine, not drink it.
Cruella is married – so am I.
She has no children – neither do I.
Her husband changed his name when they married – so did mine!
Cruella owns a cat. So do I (two, in fact).
Cruella feels the cold. So do I.
In fact, I am feeling distinctly chilly as I look at this list. It’s not looking good!
On the other hand, I didn’t marry a furrier – though back in my high school days a personality test suggested I was suited to being a graphologist or fur designer. (I didn’t know what the former meant, and the latter seemed a bit redundant: they just grow.)
Speaking of school days, while I have been a student at a fair number of schools in my time, I have never once been expelled – as far as I can remember, anyway. Nor do I dominate my husband and force him to eat oddly coloured food smothered in pepper.
I don’t customarily wear slinky satin dresses with ropes of jewels – probably because, unlike Cruella, I am not a fabulously rich society heiress from a notorious family. Well, I’m not a fabulously rich society heiress, anyway (cough). Nor do I own a flashy chauffeured car which “looks like a moving Zebra Crossing” – in fact, I don’t own a car at all; I never have.
My hair isn’t black and white either; it is a very dark brown with occasional silver hairs if I hunt carefully. Nor have I chosen to decorate my home in red and green marble (how revolting). Possibly the marbled interior of her home, when considered in the dim and rainy light of the English climate, goes a long way towards explaining why Cruella feels the cold so much…
Cruella’s cat is Persian, kept only because it’s valuable – she drowns all its kittens. My cats (“the Cat” and “the Kitten”), aren’t worth anything. Unless perhaps they get hit by a car and found by Claire Third (warning, cat lovers may find article/images distressing). Of the four kittens the Cat produced in her youth, three were re-homed and we kept the fourth. Most days the Cat seems to think drowning him would have been preferable, but that’s another story.
And for the record, I don’t want to make a coat out of Dalmatian puppies, not even “for spring wear, over a black suit.” I like puppy skins best when containing puppies.
So what do you think? Am I Cruella de Vil, or amn’t I?