Rainy days are wonderful–perfect for naps, reading, and working in my studio creating all kinds of steampunk jewelry while watching a frightening amount of sci-fi movies & television. Suffice it to say–rainy days are something I look forward to.
I just finished reading the last book in Cassandra Clare‘s Mortal Instruments trilogy–Clockwork Princess. I rarely review the books that I read for fun on my blog (I save that for my academic life) but I will make an exception for this last book because I want to encourage you all to read it. I won’t spoil Clare’s carefully thought out and brilliantly executed plot–so do not fear reading this modest review any further. As an ardent bibliophile, the epigraphs to chapters & the poetry & fiction quoted fervently by the characters creates a story informed by a kind of meta-narrative. Though anyone can enjoy Clare’s exciting trilogy–it is the well-read person of Victorian literature that is rewarded (for it helps clue in the reader as to characters’ true feelings and establishes another layer of Clare’s already vivid world–a literary one in which she situates two of her main characters, Will and Tessa). Not only are Will and Tessa voracious readers–but literature becomes for them a language, or shorthand in communicating with one another. Literature is also a coping mechanism for both characters–when faced with moral ambiguity or great challenges both imagine themselves as other characters and then pose the same obstacles & questions to the characters they imagine so that Will and Tessa may arrive at answer/action.
Literature also offers comedic relief. Here is one of my favorite passages from a Clockwork Princess (which pokes fun at a very strange, and often overlooked, instance in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre):
“Mr. Rochester never courted Jane Eyre,” Tessa pointed out.
“No, he dressed up as a woman and terrified the poor girl out of her wits. Is that what you want?”
“You would make a very ugly woman.”
I laughed out loud when I read that. Not only did I enjoy the book’s humor and literary play but also its subtle feminism. Tessa is a sturdy, complex character who is not defined by the love triangle in which she finds herself (and also might I add–there is no obvious choice–as a reader I was rooting both for Jem & Will). Tessa does not stand idly by while others fight and indeed she rescues herself throughout the series. More importantly, on a more miniscule level Clare’s writing does not undermine the strength of her character–despite at times when Tessa falls into the role of damsel or love-interest because, in the words of her suitors, “She did not belong to Will–she was too much herself to belong to anyone, even Jem–but she belonged with them” instead. The novel vilifies the objectification of women (represented by the villain & his thoughts and actions toward Tessa) and champions gender equality & love based first and foremost on friendship and respect. Besides all that–it is one of those trilogies that will keep you up until the wee hours of the morning reading.
As a result of this fantastic story–and vivid steampunk world–I have been so inspired and been creating all kinds of new pieces. Here’s a little of what Clare’s book inspired & what I’ve been making this rainy Saturday.
And here’s a pair of gearrings–for that sweet bookish someone in your life! I’ve also been working on some new displays (will reveal more in my next blog post so stay tuned–until then here’s a sneak preview)!
What have you been reading? What do you do on your rainy days?