Do you disapprove of people who fold down the corners of the pages in books? Well so do I, usually, though I’m making an exception for The Folded Book Company. I love their intricate creations. Book folders use patterns, which are adapted to the number of pages in each book, with a specially created ruler to fold down pages to create a 3D design. Unlike papercutting, the pages are only folded so the book remains an intact object; you could still read it if you wanted to. This is my slightly wonky attempt.
There’s a full range of patterns to buy on Etsy. I’m working up to the anatomically correct version of the above.
They’re a lovely gift for the book lover in your life. Christmas is coming…
What do you think of folded books? What design would you make?
My favourite genre at the moment is fictional re-imaginings of the lives of historical figures – the centre of the Venn diagram between truth and fabrication. Smyth’s novel suits my current mood beautifully. This is a fictionalisation of a few years in the life of Jo Hiffernan: artist and model. She modelled for Whistler’s The White Girl (left), Courbet’s La Belle Irlandaise, and, probably, his sensational L’Origine du Monde. Hold Still largely focuses on her time with James Whistler, spent between London and France in the 1860s; the fluctuations of their passionate relationship form the main drama of this novel. I felt sad for Jo at times, as her ambition is subsumed by her caring roles for her mother and then Whistler, but there are brighter scenes too and an uplifting conclusion. It is almost allegorical in its exposition of a woman defined by male gaze, yet striving for autonomy.
I adored the bohemian supporting cast and would have enjoyed more time in Rossetti’s back garden menagerie, where Jo ‘forms an attachment to a baby kangaroo’. Also, Whistler’s intolerable mother was a true highlight, ‘”Oh my dear, I do hope you have not been take in by that nincompoop Darwin.”‘
Smyth is a meticulous writer and clearly chose each word precisely. Her debut novel is replete with colour, texture, depth, sunsets and heartbreak (professional and personal). Smyth brings Jo Hiffernan to life in a sensitive and skilful portrait.
Thank you very much to Holland Park Press for the review copy.