Friday, 6 July 2012

The Parasol Protectorate

The Parasol Protectorate - Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless & Timeless

In my teenage years I devoured fiction... I would spend a whole day engrossed in a new book, often starting and finishing a book in a day! My favourite authors being David Eddings and Neil Gaimen. In my 20's I found myself reading very little outside my sociology, economics and psychology, and then nursing textbooks. In my thirties I've enjoyed reading children's fiction to my soon to be two year old, our favourite being Julia Donaldson and her now famous Gruffalo! But not until recently have I found my way back into reading for myself... and that is thanks to two very special people!!

Those people are my good friend Madeline and the author of the book she lent me one day - Gail Carriger. The books are known as 'The Parasol Protectorate', a series of 5 novels about out heroine Alexia Tarabotti, described as, "a woman with several critical problems: she is still searching for a husband, her late Italian father complicates her social standing in a rigid class system, and she has no soul", She reminds me of Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, strong willed and certainly able to take care of herself in a society that demands she finds a good husband to take care of her! In this alternative 'Steampunk' London everyday folk exist alongside a supernatural set which includes Vampires, Werewolves and Ghosts.

These novels are so delightfully written. They grab you from the early pages, tossing you into a world of drama and intrigue that envelops you completely, and keeps you gripped to the very end. I started the series with the copy Madeline gave me, and soon switched to my Kindle (my joint Anniversary and Mothers Day gift from Alan & Kaylee - it was our 1st wedding Anniversary this year and Alan found the idea of the Kindle as my gift appropriately perverse!!). That was in March of this year... by the middle of June I had competed the series. I have never wanted to read so much and so furiously as I have these past few months as I did when I was a teenager. And this new found love of reading hasn't stopped with Gail's novels... I'm currently reading The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.

These books have inspired me with my millinery so very much - the covers of each book picture Alexia dressed in beautiful Victorian finery with the obligatory hat, the descriptions of Ivy's (Alexia's best friend with a flair for the dramatic) 'interesting' choices in millinery and of course the amazing descriptions of Madame LeFoux's hat shop with its hats suspended from the ceilings on chains!! Here are just two of my hats that I think really capture the essence of the series!

Black & White Mini Top Hat by Off With Her Head Millinery
Photography by Pyramid Clicks

Brown & Cream Print Mini Tricorn by Off With Her Head Millinery
Photography by Ange Harper
These books seem to be an inspiration to so very many of Gail's many, many fans... all you have to do is take a look on DeviantArt at the amount of fan pics to see how popular Gail and her heroine have become! This is one of my favourites, and I must confess of my favourite character 'Biffy', by Natalie (Tilwen).

Biffy by Natalie (Tilwen)

Gail herself writes the most charming little blog on Livejournal ( and is very active with her fans: you can find her on Facebook and posting in the Facebook group for the series here:
She has just finished writing Ettiquete & Espionage (a new series of novels entitled 'Finishing School') due to be released in Feb 2013... but can be pre-ordered via Amazon here:
(my copy is already on order).

So I end this blog post by simply saying thank you ladies, thank you indeed!

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