Oh, I just adore this painting. Just adore it. From the moment I saw it hanging in the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, I adored it, and so I brought a print and hung it my office, and I look at it all the time.
To begin with, it’s gorgeous. I want that outfit. That bright coral-pink against white and leaf green is one of my favorite color combinations, and I love a plunging neckline. The fabric textures are rendered in such lush detail, and that green ribbon around her neck is sweetness itself. Le Sigh.
Then we have all her writing implements on the table. The airy, delicate quill. The rather stodgier inkwell furtively ducking behind the chair–not wanting to be implicated, perhaps. The sealing wax is ready and waiting, bright as a lipstick. (You know this letter is going to be sealed fast and well, so as to protect its sensitive contents.) Lastly, I adore that there are at least three or four sheets of paper. Because everyone knows, no Young Girl can write a proper Love Letter with less than three or four sheets of paper.
But mostly, I adore this painting for Young Girl herself. The look on her face… Dreamy, mischievous, conspiratorial, sweet, coy, hopeful all at once. She makes me remember exactly what it felt like to be In Love as a young girl myself–the heady, all-consuming rush of infatuation. When I was a teenager, I kept a diary – but I only ever wrote in it when I had a mad crush on a boy. I should have known then I’d end up writing romance novels!
Perhaps in the comments, we can try our hand at transcribing the contents of the Young Girl’s letter. What exactly is she writing, and to whom? Probably it’s just my Little Women fixation talking, but I’m convinced her lover’s name is Rodrigo.
Or if creative writing isn’t your thing on Saturdays, we can discuss memorable love letters in our lives, or in novels. Or do you have any favorite novels that are written entirely in letters?
One of my own favorites is Sorcery and Cecila, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. It’s one part YA fantasy, one part Regency romance, entirely written in letters, and it is in all ways delightful. In fact, I enjoy it so much, I’d like to give away one copy to a lucky commenter (print or digital, your choice).
Enter by midnight Pacific, and I’ll announce a winner on Sunday!