Oriental dance, Arabic dance, raqs sharqi (Eastern dance), la danze serpiente. It’s a dance of many names, but one in particular is the most enduring: belly dance, translated from the French danse du ventre. Coined in 1864, this name haunts the present – like a nineteenth century ghost.Continue reading “Danse du Ventre: Belly Dance’s 19th Century Ghost”
Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz was on my reading list for a while. This would be an enlightening read at any time since the book’s publication in 1998, but seemed especially relevant now in 2020, a tumultuous period of national reckoning.
A compendium of weird medical history? Yes please! (Disclaimer: if you just ate or are about to eat, you might want to read this later…)
Here I am actually talking about ghosts! But make no mistake, Ghostland by Colin Dickey is more than a compendium of ghost stories. Rather, Colin Dickey treats each of these tales as a case study for examining different types of hauntings, their origins and development. Most of all, he is interested in what these stories say about America’s relationship to its past.
“And so the ghosts of the Broad Street outbreak were reassembled for one final portrait, reincarnated as black bars lining the streets of their devastated neighborhood. In dying, they had collectively made a pattern that itself pointed to a fundamental truth, though it took a trained hand to make that pattern visible.”
“We bought an 1888 house in Port Townsend (Washington’s Victorian seaport and long our favorite place) and proceeded to see how Victorian a life we could truly carve out for ourselves in the twenty-first century world.”
It’s all too easy to romanticize the past, and that is exactly what Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman make their life doing.
In Sex with Kings: Five Hundred Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge, Eleanor Herman pens quite a romp through some of history’s most scandalizing pages. Divided into twelve chapters, the book explores the history of royal mistresses and details the art of pleasing a king (er…beyond the bedchamber), rivalry, jealous husbands, royal bastards, and more.
I very much enjoyed reading Ruth Goodman’s How to be a Victorian and no, I definitely do not want to be one.
When Sarah Chrisman’s husband gave her a corset for her 29th birthday, little did she know how much it would change her life.