January has been a busy month for me and although I've been blogging a fair bit — mainly my attempts to watch and review most of the big Oscar-nominated films before the Academy Awards — there were a few other things that I enjoyed this month and that didn't quite make it onto the blog.
I was fairly skeptical about the show that denied The Good Wife and Julianna Margulies their Golden Globes awards, especially when The Affair sounded a lot like a Jodi Picoult novel. In fact, it is a lot like a Jodi Picoult novel. It tells the story of Noah, a supposedly happily married Brooklyn schoolteacher with four kids, who meets and falls in love with Alison, a Montauk waitress, while holidaying in the Hamptons. What elevates The Affair, though, is the performances: particularly Dominic West and Ruth Wilson as Noah and Alison, but also Maura Tierney who plays Noah's wife. Oh, and did I mention that Pacey is in The Affair? Well, technically Joshua Jackson who played Pacey in Dawson's Creek, but his character — the fourth member of the love quadrangle — is a lot like an older version of Pacey. And he's still really hot.
Also, if you are a fan of unreliable narrators, you will love The Affair. The show has a really interesting narrative device where we see the events each week from the point of view of one of the two lead characters and then the same, or overlapping, events from the perspective of the other lead. Compelling viewing. I can't wait for season two.
Hemiplegia by HAERTS
Last summer, I was in COS and heard a song that I really liked. I didn't yet have Shazam but I tried to write down as many lyrics as I could remember once I'd found a pen and paper, but despite endless Google searches, I couldn't find the song. Imagine my delight, then, when I found out that it was featured in the trailer for the new Jennifer Aniston film, Cake. HAERTS are a Brooklyn-based indie pop band with some serious '80s vibes. Hemiplegia is the title track from their 2013 EP and it's a sweet, ethereal song that reminded me, at times, of This Mortal Coil.
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Jenny Offill's beautiful novel tells the sad but enjoyable tale of a writer who lives in New York with her husband and daughter. It's a story of love and marriage, motherhood and self-knowledge, trust and intimacy. The novel takes place over the course of several years and offers brief, snapshot-like glimpses into the life of the characters. It is both moving and compelling and well worth a read.
Neom Reed Diffuser in Tranquility
I burn a lot of scented candles at home, but last month, I also got into reed diffusers. I picked up one of Neom's diffusers (£38) in the Tranquility fragrance — a wonderfully calming blend of lavender, sweet basil and jasmine — in Selfridges' post-Christmas 20%-off sale. I have the diffuser in my bedroom and now I always feel more relaxed on entering the room. Neom's diffusers are a little pricey but their scents are wonderful and it's a great luxury to have in the bedroom.
Ultra Light Down Jacket from Uniqlo
At Christmas, I was the only member of my family without a down jacket and the others did such a good job of selling the concept to me that on returning to the UK, I headed straight to Uniqlo and bought their Ultra Light Down Jacket in black (they are usually £59.90 but are currently on sale for £49.90, so if you've been wavering, now is the time to purchase). I had avoided down jackets in the past because I thought they were too bulky and unflattering, but I've been really happy with the Uniqlo jacket: it is surprisingly sleek and extremely warm, although it hasn't been too cold a winter in London this year. The jacket also packs down into a tiny bag for storage and travel, which means you can slip it into your suitcase if the weather is looking a bit iffy and you want an extra layer.
Yes, that is my selfie stick. I was slightly embarrassed to receive it for Christmas, but it is actually very useful and is another January favourite of mine!