Friday 19 July 2019

My cultural life: Nuala O'Connor

Nuala O'Connor
Nuala O'Connor
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
Moulin Rouge

Nuala O'Connor is a Dublin-born writer living in Galway with her husband, three children, two cats, a Staffie pup and a canary. Her new novel Becoming Belle is out now from Piatkus.

Film: Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge

A film I love is Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! (above) - for lots of reasons. It was the last film I went to see with my sister Nessa in the cinema, just before she died of cancer. We hooted with laughter (as usual the only loud gigglers) and really enjoyed the flamboyant costumes and sets. I love the film's mad energy, the OTT characterisations, the soundtrack - and best of all, Paris looking soft and swirly and fabulous.

Music: Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright is my all-time favourite musician, he's a poet prince, a brilliant writer, and gorgeously honest. The honesty is important to me because I don't like the veneer of celebrity, the glossy, pretence element. Rufus and his family keep it real with their lyrics and also in interview. I love Rufus's personal style: all velvet and sparkly brooches and bright colours. I've been to see him in New York, London, Toronto and all over Ireland; there's a special kind of magic to a Rufus gig.

Design: Cornishware by TG Green


I'm with William Morris who said: "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." I like things that are well designed but functional. I collect blue glass paperweights and vases, and also blue and white crockery. I have a nice collection of blue and white striped Cornishware by TG Green (example, above), and also collect Carrigaline Pottery, and we use that stuff every day.

TV: The Handmaid's Tale

TV is, mostly, an unwinding exercise for me so my tastes are often juvenile. I'm watching Good Girls at the moment on Netflix and it's a funny, women-taking-action romp. But the TV programme that I loved most lately is the adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale. It's visually stunning, terrifying, brilliantly well acted and oh so dark. The producers did a great job and it's fascinating to watch the story unspool beyond the last pages of the novel.

Author: Imogen Hermes Gowar

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

A novel I finished lately that was a tour de force debut was The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (above). It's set in late 18th century London and it's a bawdy, flouncy read about a merchant, his freak-show mermaid, and a successful courtesan. The writing is intricate and delicate and the whole thing is peppered with extraordinary period detail. It's a long book and it's such a pleasure to read it slowly and take it all in. I really loved its humour and darkness.


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