Week 10: Timeless Essentials. Top Books for a Modern Lady.

I have been preparing a new Theme for the blog and travelling to Park City, UT this week. But I have not forgotten about the list of books I promised to write for you. 

Here is my list of favourite books I believe every lady should read before she turns 25 (if you are over 25 and haven’t read these yet, grab your copies now!) These books are great influential reads for teenagers, but even if you are reading them for the first time as an adult, you will still enjoy them immensely and learn a few things about life.

Timeless Books for the Modern Lady:

Gone with The Wind Book Covers

1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

How beautiful is Vivien Leigh?

How beautiful is Vivien Leigh?

The book follows the beautiful Scarlett O’Hara, the strong-willed daughter of a plantation owner in Georgia. This epic novel is set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. It takes us through Scarlett’s journey beginning as a young, spoiled, rich beauty, desperately in love with the already married, honourable Ashley Wilkes, into a strong-willed woman who not only survives the War, but rebuilds her life.

Gone with the Wind   (1939) starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.

Gone with the Wind (1939) starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.

The book is written from a Southern slaveholder's perspective; however today it is a reference point for writings about the South and is one of the most beloved stories in American history.

You will enjoy it if: you loved the 1939 epic film adaptation starring Vivienne Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and if you are fascinated by stories about strong women.

It will teach you: what undying willpower is and it will also educate you a little bit about the Civil War in America. 




2. Vanity Fair by William Thackeray

Books for a modern lady. Vanity Fair.

This witty page-turning novel focuses on two women: penniless, cunning, but likeable Becky Sharp and her friend Amelia Sedley, a kind, plain and wealthy young girl, who cares only about marrying her betrothed, the vain Captain George Osborne. Vanity Fair brilliantly satirises the societies of Britain in the early 19th century. It is one of my favourite novels of all time.

You will enjoy it if: you like BBC period dramas and classic English literature.

It will teach you: about British society life during the Napoleonic Wars and cunning ways for a poor woman of unknown pedigree to acquire wealth and a title in the 19th century.

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Best The Great Gatsby Book covers.

The book that hardly needs an introduction, partially because of its well-known film adaptations, namely the 1974 version starring Robert Redford and the 2013 film featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby.

Great Gatsby gif

The Great Gatsby is a short novel about a mysterious young millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and his quixotic love and obsession for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan during the exciting Jazz Age in America.

You will enjoy it if: you are intrigued by the lives of rich and fabulous in the Roaring Twenties.

It will teach you: that money cannot buy you true friends and that optimism and hope can both take you far in life, and blind you (and subsequently kill you) as well. 

4. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

One of the most internationally praised and beloved female writers, Jane Austen, has written much more than just Pride and Prejudice, which I recommend you read as well (in case you haven’t already!). 

Sense and Sensibility book cover

Sense and Sensibility may be my favourite Austen novel and it follows the fates and love lives of the two Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, who are near polar opposites of one another. Elinor Dashwood is the older sensible sister, who is quick-minded, responsible and who doesn’t give in to strong emotions, which leads others to think she is cold hearted and incapable of romantic feelings. On the other hand, Marianne is an emotional, expressive, beautiful younger sister, who is passionate and easily influenced by romantic illusions that sometimes puts the reputation of her and her family into danger. 

You will enjoy it if: you like Jane Austen’s other writings or at least enjoyed film adaptations of her novels. I recommend you watch the brilliant 1995’ adaptation of Sense and Sensibility starring an incredible British cast, including Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant.

From   Sense and Sensibility   (1995) starring Kate Winslet

From Sense and Sensibility (1995) starring Kate Winslet

It will teach you: that a perfect balance of realism and romanticism is the way to happiness and peace and how to deal with an umm… scoundrel (is there a nicer way to say it?) when he does not meet your romantic expectations.

Bonus: Check out this costume guide to the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility here




5. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough


I read The Thorn Birds when I was 17, and I have shed enough tears over it to fill the Caspian Sea. Despite the fact that I despise how weak and desperate Meggie Cleary is as a character (as opposed to my favourite literary character, strong Scarlett O’Hara), I still feel Meggie's pain and sympathise with her and her heartbreaking love story with Ralph de Bricassart. Bricassart is a local catholic priest in Australia who rises to a position in the Vatican, while keeping Meggie in his heart, even though his life is dedicated to God. Meggie in return makes Ralph the centre of her life.

You will enjoy it if: you secretly love to cry over books and films.

It will teach you: about rural Australia at the beginning of 20th-century, the life of its immigrants and the consequences of pursuing a forbidden love.


I also want to give you a list of new modern-day classics, which I highly recommend you read. I will try to write reviews for them one day, but feel free to ask me any questions or request more book recommendations on the blog's Facebook page, where I like chatting with you and discussing different topics.

New Modern-Day Classics:

Book covers. Modern classics
From the   Outlander   TV series based on  Diane Gabaldon ’s books. It’s one of my favourite books and TV shows!

From the Outlander TV series based on Diane Gabaldon’s books. It’s one of my favourite books and TV shows!

1. The Outlander series by Diane Gabaldon

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Week 6. Marie Antoinette. Best Books about the French Queen.


Marie Antoinette's life was so extravagant and tragic that her story inevitably attracts and inspires creative minds to this day. Today I am featuring some of the best books that gives us an intimate and fascinating portrait of the famous French Queen. Later I will share with you the most memorable representations of Marie Antoinette in art and popular culture.

I LOVE reading historical fiction, but to my own surprise, I have yet to read anything about Marie Antoinette, except for bits and pieces from French history books and encyclopaedias.  I asked a few friends (and GoodReads!) to help me to create a list of the most interesting fiction and non-fiction publications about Marie Antoinette.

Click the cover to read more about the book or to buy it.


Top 5 books about Marie Antoinette

1. One of the most well-known and appraised biographies of Marie Antoinette is Antonia' Fraser's Marie Antoinette: The Journey. This is the number one book recommended by users on Goodreads and Amazon about the Queen of France, and I am certainly going to read it as soon as I can! ( I just need to finish the Outlander books first :))

"Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait of Marie Antoinette, one of the most recognizable women in European history, excites compassion and regard for all aspects of her subject, immersing the reader not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, but also in the unraveling of an era".



2.  Despite some historical inaccuracies, Juliet Grey's Marie Antoinette trilogy is an enjoyable read and full of fun details.

"This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette".



3. Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund  is another highly rated novel that gives us an unexpected fresh new look at Marie Antoinette as a vulnerable young woman and a human with a very extraordinary destiny.

"Like everyone, I am born naked."
With this opening line of Naslund's compelling new novel, a very human Marie Antoinette invites readers to live her story as she herself experiences it. 





4. A Day with Marie Antoinette by Hélène Delalex is one of the prettiest books I have ever seen! I noticed it at the Rizolli bookstore in NYC, and could not put it down! It is not a novel and neither is it a dry biography. Rather it is a lovingly designed book full of rare illustrations, interesting facts and photographs from Versailles and Marie Antoinette’s life.

"Featuring personal correspondence, lavish illustrations, and a wealth of unpublished material, this handsome slipcased volume reveals an intimate portrait of Marie Antoinette, her personal collections, and Versailles".


5. Even one of the most famous writers in history, Stefan Zweig, also couldn't stay indifferent to the story of the ill-fated Queen. He wrote one of the most detailed biographies of Marie Antoinette - Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman. 


“... the biography to end all biographies on Marie Antoinette ... [Zweig's book] possesses all the qualities of the excellent biography — directness, frankness, full exposition, picturesqueness, characterization, color and delectable readableness.” — The New York Times


Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend other fascinating reads about M. Antoinette? Let me know in the comments below or on our FACEBOOK page (LIKE please!)

Week 3: Cleopatra. Books

Books about Cleopatra. Книги о Клеопатре

You already know my love for literature, and that every week I post relevant to the chosen theme books. Today I wanted to give you a list of the best publications about Cleopatra, both fictional and history books. Let's start with the classics!

The Classics

1. 'Antony and Cleopatra' is a beautiful tragedy written by W. Shakespeare. It follows the romantic relationships between Cleopatra and Mark Antony up until their tragic deaths. The Shakespeare's play is an origin of belief that Cleopatra was bitten on her bare breast by an asp, even though classic sources say that the poison spread to her body from the bite on the arm. Regardless of the historical fact, the Shakespeare's vision of Cleopatra's death was quickly popularised by the artists and filmmakers.

2. 'Caesar and Cleopatra' is a play written by another famous playwright, George Bernard Shaw (you probably know him for the 'Pygmalion' play that was made into the film 'My Fair Lady'). However, this play is nowhere romantic and Shaw wrote it to prove that Cleopatra was not in love with Julius Caesar, but used him for political purposes. In his work the Roman occupation of ancient Egypt is a some sort of a symbol of the British occupation during his time.

Other Fiction Novels You Will Love

TOP PICK: Lets start with 'The Memoirs of Cleopatra' by Margaret George.

Best fiction about Cleopatra

Best fiction about Cleopatra

It is extremely fascinating read and I enjoyed reading it very much, imagining it was indeed Cleopatra's diary. The richly detailed saga tells us the story of the Egyptian queen in her own voice. I was highly immersed into Cleopatra's world, and even though the Margaret George's work is indeed very long (my edition came in two thick books), at the end I felt I had undergone an exciting journey with the Egyptian Queen, from her younger years till the last breath. The research Margaret did for the book is phenomenal, and I can guarantee that it is one of the best fictional novels about Cleopatra written to these days.

2. 'Antony and Cleopatra' by Colleen McCullough. 
I absolutely love how Colleen McCullough writes. Her knowledge of Roman history is very detailed and extensive, and all characters come alive when you read it. Antony and Cleopatra is a timeless tale of passion, politics and power.

3. 'When We Were Gods: A Novel of Cleopatra' by Colin Falconer.

Just For Fun: 

There are also bunch of very emm.. peculiar books about Cleopatra, where she... gets kicked out from Hell by Satan to our modern world, fights or make love with Egyptian Gods(!), vampires(!!), werewolves(!!!) and, of course, there is a bunch of soapy erotic stories featuring our favourite Egyptian Queen. 

The 'Cleopatra's Return' by Eve Langlais seems to be one of the brightest examples of such books as it contains almost all the above mentioned elements.

History and Coffee Table Books


Week 2: War & Peace. The Book and Film Adaptations


I read War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy when I was about 14 - a year or two before it would be a part of our mandatory Literature program at school. Then I re-read it again and again. For many years, War & Peace was my favourite book and I grew to love Natasha Rostova (I used to strongly relate to her, even though I did not like her much per se),  sympathise with Andrei Bolkonsky, and even feel sorry for the beautiful, but devious, Helen Kuragina.

There have been many film adaptations of Tolstoy's epic masterpiece, and I was actually very impressed with the latest effort: 2016’s 'War & Peace' BBC series starring Lilly James (love her!). The series was definitely a huge success and piqued people’s interest in the story of the Rostovs and the Bolkonskys. 

The ad for   War & Peace   (2016) series I spotted on the  Times Square, NYC

The ad for War & Peace (2016) series I spotted on the Times Square, NYC

So as you have already guessed, I want to dedicate this Theme of the Week to 'War & Peace’ and specifically to its main female protagonist: Natasha Rostova!

Let's have a look at the film adaptations of War & Peace, the actors and actresses who played major roles in them and compare them to the characters depicted in the book by Leo Tolstoy.

All actresses as Natasha Rostova in War and Peace.

First movie adaptation was a silent 1915 Russian version starring a ballerina Vera Karalli as Natasha Rostova. Tolstoy described Natasha as “black-eyed, wide-mouthed girl, not pretty but full of life...”, and Vera Karalli does fit the description. However, my favourite Natasha is Audrey Hepburn. She is gorgeous, yet has a very unique look.

Actors who played Andrei Bolkonsky in War & Peace.  Актеры сыгравшие Андрея Болконского и Ростову в фильме Война и Мир

Helen Kuragina is the only character in the War & Peace that is described as exceptionally physically beautiful, although she is an ultimate female antagonist. Making a negative character so easy on the eyes was unlikely in the Russian literature of that times. Here is the little quote about Helen from the book:

Napoleon himself had noticed her [Helen] in the theater and said of her: "C'est un superbe animal." Her success as a beautiful and elegant woman did not surprise Pierre, for she had become even handsomer than before".

All actresses who played the role of Helen Kuragina in War and Peace. Все актрисы сыгравшие роль Эллен Курагиной в романе Льва Толстого Война и Мир

It is interesting to note that with every passing adaptation, Helen Kuragina looks thinner and thinner! From curvaceous Anita Ekberg to skinny and fair Middleton, Kuragina's character has been depicted according to beauty standards of the times films have been created.

I personally enjoy watching Anita Ekberg's and Fiona Gaunt's acting as Helen Kuragina, however find Irina Skobtceva in Sergei Bondarchuk's Oscar winning adaptation absolutely inappropriate. Irina was almost 40 when she played the role of the young and stunning Kuragina. How such miscast could happen? Well, did you know that Irina Skobtceva was film director Sergei Bondarchuk's wife at the time? That explains a lot, doesn't it? :)


Do you enjoy posts like this one? Let me know in the comments section below or via email:

P.S. Don't forget to come back to the blog as I will pastiche fashion looks of Natasha Rostova this week!

Week 1: NYC. TOP 5 'New York' books

I have promised that every ‘Themed Week’ I will provide you with my list of top, relevant to a theme books. Thus, here are my five favourite works of literature where New York City is a fascinating and magnificent backdrop hero!


1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

he Age of Innocence Book covers

A wonderful, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about New York’s late 19th-century upper-class society. The beautifully written story follows distinguished lawyer, Newland Archer, who is content with his engagement to shy, proper, sweet May (daughter of a very wealthy family of Manhattan), up until he meets May’s cousin: Countess Ellen Olenska. Archer madly and desperately falls in love with the scandalous and beautiful Countess who is surrounded by rumours about separation from her husband, infidelity and nonconformist behaviour. The book perfectly, but very subtly, reflects the savage, gossipy nature of New York's elite society of the early Gilded Age.

You will like it if you enjoy: period dramas, The Forsyte Saga, stories about forbidden love

2. The Bonfire of the Vanities

Covers of the Bonfire of the vanities book.

Tom Wolfe’s modern, American satire about ambition, racism, social class differences, politics and greed in New York City during the 80s. The Bonfire of the Varieties follows the story of Sherman McCoy - a Wall Street trader who has it all: a Park Avenue apartment, money, power, a beautiful wife and a foxy mistress: Maria Ruskin. Wolfe masterfully captures the essence of New York City and the excess of Wall Street in the 1980s.

You will like it if you enjoy: The Wolf of Wall Street, intriguing plots, crime stories of the rich and powerful

3. Sister Carrie

Book covers of Sister Carrie by Dreiser

A novel by one of my favourite American writers: Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie is about a young girl named Carrie from rural Wisconsin who has big dreams of becoming an actress and striving for living a lavish, glamorous lifestyle. On the way to her 'American Dream', Carrie moves to Chicago, then to New York City and is not above becoming a mistress to older, powerful men and later becomes a famous actress in New York City. It is noteworthy that Sister Carrie is one of the first works of literature where the main heroine acts against moral codes and, moreover, does not face any consequences for it. Carrie is, without a doubt, a prototype of the modern ‘gold-digger’ type of woman and is one of the most controversial female characters in American literature at the beginning of the 20th century.

You will like it if you enjoy: novels about maverick women, writings by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

4. American Psycho

Book cover designs of American Psycho.

I bet you have heard about this novel and at least watched the movie by the same name. Bret Easton Ellis’s controversial work of fiction is another story set on Wall Street. Patrick Bateman, the main character, is a good-looking, well-educated and almost obscenely rich yuppie who narrates his everyday activities. His daily life consists of working on Wall Street where he earns a fortune, cocaine infused Friday nights with colleagues, thoughts about proper fashion and etiquette of his fellow elite class members. While at night he casually murders people. Bateman is a monster created by consumer culture, and sees everything, even people, as a commodity.

You will like it if you enjoy: reading Chuck Palahniuk, watching psychological trillers, stories about serial killers.

BONUS: American Psycho the musical is coming to New York on March 24! 

5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Breakfast at Tiffany's book covers. Amazing book designs

Another book that has been immortalized and got even more popular with its film adaptation. Truman Capote created one of the most memorable fictional characters in America: charming, beautiful and naive 'American geisha' living in Manhattan, Holly Golightly. This witty novella and the female protagonist who has been portrayed by the stunning Audrey Hepburn, has captured millions of hearts all over the world. 

By the way, one of the future ‘Themed Weeks’ on might sing an ode to the Breakfast at Tiffany’s (hint hint)!

You will like it if you enjoy: observing people with a glamorous lifestyle, staring at impeccably stylish women, everything about Audrey Hepburn


What are your favourite 'NYC based' books? Comment below!