VINA BOOK CLUB: GREY GARDENS

For the latest installment of the VINA book club, we’re actually watching a movie! HBO’s rendition of the lives of the infamous mother/daughter duo, the Edith Bouvier Beales. In addition to sharing a name, they practically shared their entire lives. Referred to as Big Edie and Little Edie, they were the aunt and cousin of the beloved Bouvier, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and were definitely the most eccentric women in the Hamptons.

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Beales and Maysles via IMDb

The two lived together at the great family estate, Grey Gardens. Little Edie did not want to get married because she didn’t want a man to make her give up her singing career like her father did her mother (and then he left her). However, Little Edie’s mother kept her away from the spotlight anyways. Big Edie was mentally-unstable and an emotional manipulator; therefore, Little Edie was forever by her mother’s side. They grew old together, in isolation, both continuing to dream of their future lives and alternate realities, as their current ones were going to waste. When the Maysles asked to film a movie about the Beale women, Little Edie loved the idea of the chance to “relaunch her career.” The filming of that documentary could have easily been the most exciting experience of their collective lives.

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Little Edie via Vogue

Their interesting lives makes for a great biopic because they had so much to offer. Their deep mother/daughter connection was sometimes endearing, but mostly strange. Their story is one of those sad ones that we romanticize because of its tragic beauty, as the reality is that the Grey Gardens estate was brimming with garbage, newspapers older than you and me, and a pet raccoon. The Edies were the ultimate shut-ins, hoarders, and unintentional misanthropes. Somehow, life passed them by without their consent.

In 1975, the Maysles brothers made the trek out to Grey Gardens in order to film a documentary about the Bouvier Beales. Grey Gardens became the first of many Edie-themed creative endeavors of artists of all media. This documentary is in part what prompted writer Lois Wright to share her time at the gardens in her book, My Life at Grey Gardens. In 2006, yet another documentary was released: The Beales of Grey Gardens. And finally, in 2009, HBO made their own movie, which was focused around the making of the original Maysles brothers’ documentary.

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Lange and Barrymore via InStyle

The fashion in HBO’s film is to die for. Costume designer Catherine Marie Thomas did an excellent job of representing everything from the Edie’s 40s style to the old-lady aesthetic they acquired over the years. Little Edie looks fabulous adorned with luxurious scarves covering her bald head (due to alopecia totalis), and takes great pride in the versatility of her wardrobe.

The first time I saw the HBO version, starring Jessica Lange (before we all became obsessed with her on American Horror Story) and Drew Barrymore, my imagination ran wild. I had this overwhelming vision of my mother and sister becoming the next Beales. This image is not too far out-there, for not only were my mother and sister conjoined at the hip, my mother was totally obsessed with the beautiful, sad mess that was the Grey Gardens estate. I could see in her eyes, she was imagining the same future (only she wasn’t afraid of it). I doubt this will really happen, but only time will tell.

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Little Edie via GIPHY

Watch the movie(s), or read the book, or do it all! Post about it using the #VINAbookclub. Download the Hey! VINA app and tell all your new friends to join our book/movie club.

(Feature image via InStyle)

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WOMEN FROM HISTORY WE’D SWIPE RIGHT ON (PART 2!)

Now more than ever, we need to look to our historical sisters for comfort and encouragement. Below are some of my favorite vinas from history (my dream BFF list, if you will). If any of these ladies faces could appear on my matches I would swipe right on them- twice for good measure! Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of this series here.

FOR VINAS WHO NEED A SYMPATHETIC EAR: SYLVIA PLATH

Sylvia, or Syl as she used to sign herself in her letters, is that emotional friend every vina needs. This author from the 1960s penned classics like “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus” along with the must read novel “The Bell Jar.”

She struggled with a public and messy marriage, but she was always in touch with what she thought and felt. On those rough weeks when you just need a pal to commiserate with over a drink, or you need a friend to put things in perspective, Sylvia would be the vina of choice. For those of us that are work at home moms, she would also be a must need connection –  we could maybe swap child care for a day, get some advice on some writing, or borrow a good book from her. I’d swipe right on my girl Sylvia any day of the week.

FOR VINAS WHO KNOW HOW TO RULE THE ROOST: ABIGAIL ADAMS

If you want to talk about an ambitious, intelligent, and unmatched behind these scenes operator, then Abigail Adams is your woman. In so many cases, she literally brought home the bacon (running the family farm, of course) and fried it up to feed the family’s five children.

And then, you know, in her free time, she advised her husband, second President John Adams, in some of the most amazing letters in history on all things political. Pick up a copy of her letters to her husband and you’ll be in awe, seriously. During the Continental Congress John Adams would ask her advice on everything from political bargaining to the plight of soldiers on the home front. She ran in the most influential circles overseas, and was such an active First Lady that she was often called Mrs. President.

You need a vina to help you get your life together, advise you on that promotion, or give you pointers on your next speech before the town council? You need to swipe right on Abigail.

FOR VINAS WHO WANT TO GET OUT AND EXPLORE: SACAJAWEA

This vital and impressive member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Sacajawe, a is a woman like few others. Having been captured, traded, and enslaved she became a valued and crucial member of the expedition that traveled across the American West.

I’m stoked when all my laundry gets put away while my toddler naps – she traveled the county on foot. With her knowledge and experience in the wilderness, along with a keen sense for trade and diplomacy, she helped keep the expedition alive and on track. And she did all of this with a newborn on her back. Yeah.

Her accomplishments were so impressive that she was taken on as a symbol for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, had her portrait put on coins, and probably has more statues in her honor than any other American woman.

FOR VINAS WHO WANT TO GRAB SOMETHING TO EAT: JULIA CHILD

Julia was a woman who knew how to cook, eat, and love. On an afternoon out with her you might find yourself in the kitchen, eating the best tasting cheese in town, or wrapped up in her L’école des trois gourmandes with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.

These three did what few others had done: make French cooking accessible to American women. Then Julia pioneered cooking on TV, something so many of us and our vinas are addicted to right now. Oh, and she traveled the world working for the government (her kitchen is on display at the Smithsonian!). Basically, Julia is a B.A. and I would drop everything to hang out with her if she swiped right on me in return.

Now get swiping! Who knows, maybe you’ll connect with the next Sylvia Plath…

(Feature image via @alpha.whiskey_)