Welcome to Love von Beauty von Love!

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In the beginning there was … Love & Beauty & Life & Light & Spark  & Prosperity & Style & Soul & Bliss & Happiness & Wonder & Joy & Courage & Vision & Solidarity & Childhood & Freedom & Dream & Faith.

And then their step-brothers and step-sisters – hatred, lust, death, darkness, poverty, plague, immorality, scandal, despair, expectation, sorrow, envy, blindness, ego, greed,  cynicism, grievance, hunger, terror, fear, bullies –  made room and started messing things up … all for a reason, a very basic reason: to make our life more worth treasuring, every single day, every single moment.

I started this blog from a purely egocentric need: a need to remind myself of beauty and love.

In the beginning there was … Love & Beauty & …whatever we wish for!

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“Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles

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“The Gentlemen in Moscow” was such a perfect match to my reading needs, so I bought “Rules of Civility” by the same author.

It is yet another exquisite novel by Amor Towles. It is his first, published in 2011.

The novel is the story of Katey Kontent, a descendant of Russian immigrants, who establishes herself in the New York of late 30s. She transforms and lets the city transform her from a typist to the editor of a famous magasine. The character is quite my type of freedom-breathing girl:

“- Come on, sweet stuff, said a conductor.

– Sweet your own stuff, I replied.”

I enjoyed the book so much that I wanted to read it again once I turned its last page.

Bookmark – by Sofia, my daughter.

Thank you Brussels

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for staying true to your majesty-grey reputation

for having infiltrated chocolate into your hospitality – thanks NH Hotel for the sweet surprise

for the that great feeling of having talked to my mentor just to realise how much our discussions mean to my growth

for a new discovery – Pierre Marcolini and his chocolate. La Maison Pierre Marcolini is a pioneer of the “bean to bar” approach in chocolate making. My loved ones loved the truffles and financiers.

and for the sunny home city upon my return.

“The Royal Treatment ~ a crown jewels romantic comedy ~” by Melanie Summers

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The book filled a need for a light, unsoliciting reading. So, if you are looking for a long weekend leisurely stuff, this might be it. The novel is a romantic comedy from Crown Jewels Romantic Comedy Series by Melanie Summers.

It tells the story of a young journalist-turned blogger – Tessa Sharpe – who met a prince charming of modern times. Tessa’s keeps The Royal Watchdog blog, to monitor the lifestyle of royals and to make a living out of testing new sports related gadgets. How she manages both will bring a few moments to laugh out loud, so reading it on a train or plane is fine. Anyway, everyone has their headphones on :).

“Never let me go” by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Ishiguro is an acclaimed author and a Nobel Prize winner. Both the title of the book and his reputation determined my choice on an autumn evening’s trip to the book store.

The novel is a dystopian science fiction. It is a sad story. My suggestion is not to read it when you feel low.

The story is narrated by Kathy – the main character – who grows in a sort of boarding school. She introduces other characters, colleagues and friends, with whom she shares the daily life. It was only towards the second part of the book that the author let’s the reader understand that the group of youngsters are actually clones, created for humans heeling and transplants.

“Because somewhere underneath, a part of us stayed like that: fearful of the world around us, and no matter how much we despised ourselves for it – unable quite to let each other go” is so human, when you think of it.

“A gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles

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I bought the book in the airport in Bucharest. The title of the book sounded just right.

And so it proved. The story line, the author’ style and soft humour, the intertwining of history and human destinies made it an exquisite evenings’ companion.

The main character of the novel is a Russian aristocrat – Count Alexander Rostov – condemned by a soviet tribunal to house arrest in Metropol hotel in early 1920s. As amazing as it sounds, he managed to live his life to the fullest without setting a foot outside the building for over thirty years. That was with one exception, when he took his injured daughter to a hospital. The walls of the hotel became his allies. He put to use his intelligence, manners, character, skills and knowledge to help with grace all of staff and hotel guests on every appropriate occasion. He became a languages and West history tutor to an apparatchik. He worked as a waiter and became a headwaiter in the hotel’ s restaurant.

In his early days in the hotel he met Nina, a 8-year-old girl, who spent her days in the hotel, as his father was newly appointed to a party position in Moscow. Years later, Nina entrusted her 6-year-old daughter Sofia to Rostov, when she followed her husband to a remote camp in Siberia. Sofia grew to consider Rostov as her father… . And in mid 50s he arranged her escape to the US embassy when she was with an orchestra in Paris.

I finished the book with a sense of regret. I could have kept reading it. It is one of those books in which you read a line and close the eyes to savour the words.

My favourite lines: “…life does not proceed by leaps and bounds. It unfolds. At any given moment, it is the manifestation of a thousand transitions. Our faculties wax and wane, our experiences accumulate, and our opinions evolve – if not glacially, then at least gradually. Such that the events of an average day are as likely to transform who we are as a pinch of pepper is to transform a stew.”

Thank you 2018

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for teaching me to unlearn,

for the joys and tears of happiness,

for a myriad of new relationships which helped me grow,

for a chance to make a change or two,

for love and kindness, humility and pride,

for new books and new lines,

for amazing skylines and the reminder that the Sun always shines, even when it is not visible to the eye

Hunters for love

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Matilda approached her long chair on the beach. A man stood by, checking his mobile. Or, rather, pretending to.

– Hm, that’s my seat, he said.

– No, she replied.

– Oh, I thought you are attracted to me and chose this chaise long, he put on a smile.

“Here we go”, she thought, “a pick up line”.

Matilda laid down on her chaise longue, a 200 page report in her hands.

He sat down on a chair nearby and launched into his scenario.

– What’s your name?

– Matilda. Yours?

– Liham. Where are you from?

– The poorest country on this continent, she said.

– Oh, I know Cristina Smth. She exports luxury goods to your country.

As if she was supposed to know all Cristinas in exports.

– There are beautiful girls there, he sticks to his lines. I traveled to O. with a friend last year. He wanted a beautiful girl.

– And not too smart, preferably. Matilda just could not help it.

– And smart too, he had to adapt his lines. But I was not looking for girls. I was in love at that time. Broke apart though recently.

“Aren’t’ we all in love!?”, Matilda thought to herself, with sarcasm.

– I live in France now, she said, to see what else he has in his arsenal of lines. I am married.

– So what?, he exclaimed and kept it faithfully to his lines: I am French. But I travelled a lot. I am open-minded. I could be your lover.

He was really in love with his learned lines, so he continued:

– I am attracted to you. Your body. I like petites. I like to dominate in bed.

– It is an illusion you have, she spoiled his lines. Again.

Confusion on his face.

– You think “petites” is by definition “obedient”. Obéissantes. It is an illusion, she repeats.

– You have brain, he looked her up and down.

“Probably my brain is all over my body”, she thought.

– A No is a “No”, she said.

Five seconds pause. His plan B had to come to rescue.

– Do you believe in God? he asked.

– You ask because of this? Matilda touched her small cross pendant with a diamond. It is a gift from my husband.

– You are smart and fast. You do in life what you like. You are married and in love…. He stood up and handed over his business card to her. Call me. In ten years, maybe.

He marched to the sea and jumped into cool water.

“Who has business cards on the beach, in beach attire only”? Matilda was amused.

Couple of minutes later, Liham met his friends on the beach and mentioned to them that he leaves for Paris in the evening. Just loud enough so that Matilda can overhear.

Next morning, there was a sign on the door: “pardon us”. It was on the door next to Matilda’s hotel room.

Before the trip, her husband playfully warned her “careful with the guys there!” : “Darling, men come there accompanied by girls twice younger. Or, if they come alone, an army of skilled huntresses is after them. I cannot compete with either.”

After her encounter on the beach she thought: “oh, there is a third breed – beach hunters for love”.