5 Ways to Transition Into Fall

In Europe the transition from summer to fall feels more acute, because people still take their August holidays and many stores are shuttered with the forlorn “Nous Sommes en Vacances” placards in their windows. I love having the city to myself, serene, calm, dusty. But little by little, it comes to life, as people return to resume their businesses, to start school or work. Now that half of September has passed I still can’t come to terms with the end of summer. So, I have my small solutions to make la rentrée, the official start of the school year in Belgium–and the official end of my vacation–more bearable.

Autumnal Resolutions

Some people make New Year resolutions, while I keep mine for fall. Instead of the end of vacation, let this period feel like a start of something positive. None of my resolutions are of a punishing nature; rather, they’re about things I keep meaning to do but keep putting off. For instance, this fall I decided to test my great-grandmother’s cake recipes that she wrote down during the wartime food shortages in order not to forget them. My second resolution is to finish the full cycle of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. My final resolution is to explore more of Brussels. During my first years here, I used to set aside time each weekend to discover something new about the city, and as a result, it quickly became my own. But as travel and work obligations piled up, I haven’t been venturing out as much. This fall I will go back to my wandering ways.

An Anthology of Haiku

A good anthology of haiku poems is a never-ending reservoir of inspiration. A few words are all that’s needed to paint an image, a mood, a scene, and if you need to carve out a moment of quiet contemplation, few things work better than this style of poetry. Also, reading haiku makes you more attuned to your environment, no matter how familiar it is. Fall with its multitude of changes, from the color of leaves to the scents in the air, is a good time to pay attention to subtle things.

Yellow rose petals
thunder–
a waterfall (Basho, translated by Lucien Stryk)

Utter aloneness — fine! –
still another pleasure
of autumn twilight (Buson)

If you think that haikus are intimidatingly refined, here is a brilliant counter-example courtesy of Kobayashi Issa.

The man pulling radishes
pointed my way
with a radish (Issa, translated by Robert Hass)

The collection of haiku I have on my desk right now is On Love and Barley–Haiku by Basho (public library). The great 17th century Japanese poet called himself Basho in honor of a tree given to him by a disciple, and his poems are some of the most exquisite examples of haiku. “I wandered on, a cloud in the wind, wanting only to capture the beauty of flowers and birds,” he wrote about his life.

Orchid — breathing
incense into
butterfly’s wings

Being A Flâneuse

I love to walk. To wander aimlessly, strolling to take in the city with all its sights and sounds is even better. See my third resolution above. Fall in Brussels has unpredictable moods, and it’s often ready to break down into rain. Even so, with an umbrella in hand, I walk through the city parks, kicking chestnuts with the tip of my boots and watching voluptuous Belle Epoque statues of muses sulk under the heavy grey skies. If the day turns too cold, I duck into one of many cafes to drink a watery lait russe (a Belgian take on cafe latte) and read a book. Of course, reading haiku in an autumnal park is a pleasure that makes me anticipate this season.

Book Piles

I don’t mean tsundoku, books that are piled up without being read. My book piles consist of books I’ve read and books I’m in the process of reading. They’re like my old friends, and during a long day I often picture coming home to my pile of books and my favorite bean bag chair. Bliss! This fall I plan on reading Kushanava Choudhury’s The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta, David Wootton’s The Invention of Science, Dag Solstad’s Professor Andersen’s Night for a dose of Scandinavian noir fiction, and Barbara Pym’s Less Than Angels for beautiful writing, irony and sense of humor. And Marcel Proust, of course, to make good on my resolutions.

Perfume to Savor

Gratification sometimes needs to be delayed, and fall is a good time to turn to fragrances that develop slowly. They can be as dark as Guerlain Vol de Nuit or as bright as Hermès Jardin Sur le Nil. If you also enjoy taking long walks, selecting a fragrance as your companion can make the experience richer. Imagine that you leave the house with Chanel Cuir de Russie on your sleeve. As you close the door and step into the cool autumnal day, it shimmers with the champagne-like bubbles of aldehydes. You speed up your step to warm up, casting an iris inflected sillage behind you. By the time you have walked enough to feel a pleasant fatigue in your legs, Cuir de Russie has mellowed out as well. It’s now soft leather brushed with violet powder. You smell the walnut shell sweetness, but not until you look in the mirror do you realize that the scent doesn’t come from your perfume. It’s only a golden maple leaf entangled in your hair. Autumn has followed you home.

What are your autumnal pleasures? 

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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104 Comments

  • Evie: My autumn pleasure is walking in the gardens of one of the many temples in Kyoto, gazing at the fiery red Japanese maple trees changing colour, then going into a tea room to sip tea and eat Japanese sweets. September 18, 2017 at 8:00am Reply

    • Nora Szekely: Hi Evie,
      It sounds marvelous. September 18, 2017 at 8:09am Reply

    • Anna: This sounds delightful. I so want to visit Kyoto! September 18, 2017 at 9:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Please have warabi-mochi for me. 🙂 September 19, 2017 at 12:59pm Reply

    • Marilyn Stanonis: Hello, Evie — I want to go with you! The maple trees and the tearoom sound exquisite, both of them! I once saw a Japanese website with beautiful maple trees, and a quote, “The maple tree is excellent in September!” It endeared the writer, and Japan, to me forever! September 21, 2017 at 8:47pm Reply

  • Nora Szekely: Dear Victoria and perfume lovers,
    Me too felt it hard to let summer go. Summer seems to pass so quickly but all seasons have their own unique beauty.
    I have similar routines:
    I try to think of inspiring autumn things like grapes, trench coats, silk and wool scarfs, mulled wine, long walks in the city or in the countryside, drinking hot tea or hot chocolate, listening to smooth music, slowing down a little bit, just like nature. There’s also a sense of new beginning in September for me due to the school years. I love to buy new stationery pens and notebooks to do some handwriting.
    I just used my beloved Cuir de Russie after a long time , after experimenting with it rather unsuccessfully in the summer heat.
    Coco and Coromandel are also back into my daily routine at last, just like Vol de Nuit and miss Dior (original version). September 18, 2017 at 8:08am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Nora. Your list is so inspiring. I now feel like having a glass of mulled wine or a cup of hot chocolate. Or both! September 19, 2017 at 1:00pm Reply

  • Nora Szekely: Dear Victoria and perfume lovers,
    I have to share with you a famous hungarian poem by Sandor Petofi, called End of September.
    This verse was written in 1847 just after he got married but the poet has a premonition about his future. Next year revolution breaks out and he leaves behind his beloved wife and little son to join the Hungarian army only to disappear forever in the madness of the battlefield. The Hungarian version give me chills and I think the translation by Geroge Szirtes is splendid.

    End of September
    Below in the valley the flowers are resplendent,
    Outside by the window the poplars still glow,
    But see where the winter, already ascendant,
    Has covered the far distant hilltops with snow.
    My heart is still bathed in the fierce sun of passion,
    All spring is in bloom there, by spring breezes tossed,
    But look how my hair turns hoary and ashen,
    Its raven black touched by the premature frost.
    The petals are falling and life is declining.
    Come sit in my lap, my beloved, my own!
    You, with your head, in my bosom repining,
    Tomorrow perhaps will you mourn me alone?
    Tell me the truth: should I die, will your sorrow
    Extend to the day when new lovers prepare
    Your heart for forsaking, insisting you borrow
    Their name, and abandon the one we now share?
    If once you should cast off the black veil of mourning,
    Let it stream like a flag from the cross where I lie,
    And I will arise from the place of sojourning
    To claim it and take it where life is put by,
    Employing it there to dry traces of weeping
    For a lover who could so lightly forget,
    And bind up the wounds in the heart in your keeping
    Which loved you before and will worship you yet. September 18, 2017 at 8:15am Reply

    • Jillie: Nora – that’s so beautiful and I am typing this with tears still rolling down my cheeks. Thank you for sharing it with us. September 18, 2017 at 10:00am Reply

    • Jacinta: This is a most beautiful poem. September 18, 2017 at 11:58am Reply

    • Neva: Thank you for this beautiful poem Nora. It is touchy on so many levels. I especially like the vivid images of the transition of the seasons forming a natural cycle of love/life. September 19, 2017 at 4:13am Reply

    • Liz S: Nora, thank you so much for sharing the poem. It is so wonderfully evocative and melancholy. Just beautiful! September 19, 2017 at 12:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s beautiful and poignant. I already read it a few times since you’ve posted it yesterday, and it feels even more moving. September 19, 2017 at 1:03pm Reply

      • Nora Szekely: Thank you, Jillie, Jacinta, Neva, Liz S and Victoria,
        Poetry is hard to translate and Hungarian poetry is so close to my heart. It gives me great joy to share this poem with the readers, and that you could appreciate its beauty. September 21, 2017 at 6:49am Reply

        • PrincessTonk: I just finished reading Iza’s Ballad by Magda Szabo which was very moving and beautiful, and was also translated by George Szirtes. As I was reading the poem I wondered at the ability to translate poetry and maintain form, intent and beauty. Thank you for sharing this! October 2, 2017 at 1:17pm Reply

    • ariane: Oh Nora, what a beautiful poem, very moving, thanks for sharing.I visited Budapest more than 20 years ago but I have clear and vivid memories, such a special place.I went to the theatre, didn’t understand a word but enjoyed it very much.Hungary is so rich culturally!Enjoy autumn,I love your choice of perfumes, please recommend writers and poets from your country again-(nagyon szepen koeszoenoem!) September 23, 2017 at 2:40pm Reply

  • Liz: What a beautiful sensuous post! I too have a deep love for autumn of all seasons. I love the return to cooler weather, being able to breathe deeply and sense the fresh chill air after a long Mediterranean summer (ours still in full swing here actually). I will be in Paris weekend after next and intend to take up your tips and hints. Strolling, reading, browsing books, antiques, and above all, indulging in a new scent (well, it’s my birthday end month so perhaps that’s why, and why I love autumn!. It’s in my make-up! Thanks for such a wonderful ode to autumn! September 18, 2017 at 9:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Mine is too, Liz. So perhaps that’s why autumn is in my blood. Few other seasons inspire me the same way. September 19, 2017 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Jillie: This morning I was watching a squirrel sitting in the maple tree, nibbling on one of the leaves! Then he bounced off to gather acorns which he has been busily burying in the lawn ever since.

    There’s a hint of autumn melancholy in the air, along with the chill, but I am relishing the woody, spicy scents that I couldn’t bear to wear in the summer’s heat.

    I can’t believe that I have never smelled Cuir de Russie but your description of it, Victoria, has made me want to try it! September 18, 2017 at 10:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Fall is a good time to try Cuir de Russie. The mood is somehow appropriate. September 19, 2017 at 1:04pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: New England expects an early & spectacular foliage change this year. Playing in the leaves, apple picking for homemade apple pie and discovering apple ciders! September 18, 2017 at 10:56am Reply

    • Victoria: One of the best seasons in New England, for sure. September 19, 2017 at 1:06pm Reply

  • Severine: Photographing fall foliage.
    Enjoying solitary, chill evening walks and coming home to steaming bowl of butternut squash soup.
    Wearing Chanel Coco.
    Wearing my tweed jackets and leather boots.
    Wearing berry lipstick.
    Listening to Vivaldi’s “Autumn” and “Winter”
    Watching geese depart the skies for sunnier climes.
    Watching Bergman’s “Autumn Sonata” September 18, 2017 at 10:59am Reply

    • Anna: Lovely. The image of geese flying overhead in Autumn is melancholy and exciting at the same time. September 18, 2017 at 9:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: All such pleasures make fall a season to anticipate. A note to self to watch more Bergman. September 19, 2017 at 1:09pm Reply

  • kat: For a variety of reasons (some of them health-related) I long for autumn. Luckily this year it did arrive on time and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t wear much perfume during summer as most flowery notes don’t appeal to me and because it can attract the wrong kind of attention. Autumn always comes with a huge sigh of relief and a return to my true scent loves. This year I had actually bought a new scent in summer that I was eager to try but decided to wait for autumn because that’s where it belongs: Accord Chic by Yves Rocher. It’s my first ‘incense’ and I adore it, it’s warm, spicy and powdery and elegant. But for variety’s sake I switched to BV’s Eau Légere today, the mothership scent will have to wait for the first snow (could arrive this week). On a side-note: On top of the pile of books I’m currently reading lies Kenko and Chomei too. September 18, 2017 at 11:03am Reply

    • Victoria: I love “Essays in Idleness.” He has such a great sense of humor, that sarcastic medieval monk.

      I was just smelling Accord Chic the other day and thinking that it might be a good addition to an incense list. September 19, 2017 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Filomena: Victoria, what a beautiful and poignant post.
    I have always felt sad when summer is over and autumn arrives. Not that autumn isn’t a beautiful season, but it’s a prelude to winter, leaves falling, bare trees and foliage. September 18, 2017 at 11:22am Reply

    • Victoria: True, that aspect of it gives it a tinge of melancholy. September 19, 2017 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Gabriela: Victoria, your post is beautiful and sensuous.
    You have changed my perspective to autumn. I love summer but now I realize how many beauties there are in autumn. Smells, colors, food, perfume, feelings…

    Today I wore Cuir de Lancome and it felt so right with the weather. September 18, 2017 at 11:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Cuir de Lancome is a perfect choice. You smell beautiful, Gabriela! September 19, 2017 at 1:16pm Reply

      • Nora Szekely: Oh, Cuir de Lancome, what a little gem. September 21, 2017 at 6:58am Reply

  • Becky K.: The cool autumn air is a welcome reprieve from a hot, humid summer. The evening glow of the sun is especially pretty on gold, yellow, and orange leaves. Right now, the garden is transitioning from summer to autumn by creating a blast of colorful roses. I can smell the roses before reaching the garden gate, and it’s as though they are reminding us that summer is not officially over yet! September 18, 2017 at 1:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: There is nothing like the late summer/early fall roses. The scents seem especially intense. September 19, 2017 at 1:17pm Reply

  • Klaas: Hey Victoria, thank you for this lovely post! Autumn is my absolute favorite season…..I love the colours, the smells, the golden light, the rain, early dusk, storms, dramatic skies…..and of course wearing scarves, hats and gloves again! Like you, I always feel very positive in the fall, la rentree being a time of excitement and positive change.

    I love baking apple pie in the fall. Apples are abundant in the season, and nothing beats the smell of it. Wait, I take that back; eating a piece of it defenately beats the smell 😉 September 18, 2017 at 2:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: So many more reason to like autumn. Thank you for an inspiration!

      I’m thinking that this weekend project might an apple pie. September 19, 2017 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Olivia: I love the idea of fall resolutions. As the kids start school, I have more time to myself to work on them before other matters clutter my days. In January, I just feel too “entrenched” to start something new.

    One of them is to spend less time on the internet, and replace it with reading. I’ve been meaning to get back to some classic fiction and started with Anne of Green Gables. I’ve also reserved a book at the library to help me brush up on my French!

    There are not four seasons where I live, but the slightly less-hot weather encourages me to wear some fall scents. A cozy oud note is present in a couple of my latest perfume acquisitions. September 18, 2017 at 4:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s always a good idea to tune out for a bit and keep time aside for reading or other hobbies.

      Which French book are you reading? September 19, 2017 at 1:20pm Reply

      • Olivia: A Pimsleur course. I own a vintage book called Image de la France that I can’t wait to delve into once I give myself a little language review. It’s an overview of French history and (as of the 1960s) arts and culture. September 19, 2017 at 4:46pm Reply

  • Anna: What a lovely review, Victoria, filled with lovely images. Haiku is indeed beautiful and one can read a few pages while relaxing in a coffee shop. Modern life is so filled with obligations and stress that we do forget to just take some time on a park bench to drink in the scent of the seasons and observe nature. Cuir de Russie is indeed a lovely fragrance for the Fall as well as Sycamore. Here in Toronto Canada we are enjoying some blissfully warm days after a very short and rainy summer so just drinking in these last days is a pleasure. September 18, 2017 at 9:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t agree more. It’s so important for one’s sanity and creativity to make room for some quiet contemplation. Haiku helps a great deal. September 19, 2017 at 1:22pm Reply

  • John: Wonderful article… I especially enjoyed the haiku. Every September I used to start all this by going for a long walk (I should still.)

    This year:
    Painting (just reorganized the studio)
    Vintage Old Spice Cologne (surprisingly rich)
    Probably rereading something that feels damp (Chekov short stories, or The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy, who has just passed.)
    Grey wool suits, blue shirts, brown ties.
    Table grapes rather than wine.
    Tracking down a working turntable for the Satie & Debussy records. September 18, 2017 at 10:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: Have you read Turgenev’s Sketches from a Hunter’s Album? That’s the book I want to re-read during every seasonal change and especially autumn, because he’s a master at describing nature in all of its sensual, rich detail. And of course, the characters that populate his stories make them poignant. September 19, 2017 at 1:25pm Reply

      • John: I have it somewhere and always meant to read it… I should especially, because I am quite sure I loaned out my nice old copy of Chekov to who knows who. That, and Hemingway’s discussion of Turgenev as being like a good meal or a heavy beer or something… For some reason, fall is the season where books seem the most like literal nourishment! Maybe a nice pot of bon femme soup and my dad’s old copy of the Hunting Sketches then. Thanks for the suggestion. September 19, 2017 at 1:50pm Reply

        • Victoria: I re-read it over the summer, in my grandmother’s cherry orchard, and it only made me want to read it again and again. My favorite from the collection is the Bezhin Meadow (not sure how your edition translates it). September 19, 2017 at 2:15pm Reply

          • John: Thanks, I’ll search it out! September 19, 2017 at 2:21pm Reply

            • Nora Szekely: I love Chekov’s short stories. They are so poignant. September 21, 2017 at 7:01am Reply

  • Irem: As always, a wonderful post to remind us about the pleasures of autumn. Autumn has always been my favorite season, part of it is certainly because it is the best season to walk. I love to walk, too. Sometimes I feel like a flâneuse trapped in Midwestern Suburbia. Sure, we have great paths and parks all around, but as you say I miss the city, its lights, its sounds, its little patches of nature.
    Also, dearest Victoria or dearest readers, I have a question re: Cuir de Russie. I was waiting for the this month’s Recommend me a Perfume post, but maybe I can ask right away. I plan to purchase a bottle of CdR but cannot decide on the concentration. Is the current EdP good, or should one go for the Parfum? Midwestern Suburbia also means that the nearest Chanel boutique is 500 miles away. I had a bottle of CdR EdT purchased pre-exclusives (ca. 2005-2006) which is long gone, both the bottle and the memory. I have recently tried the parfum at an airport, and while it was exquisite it had almost no silage. Would you care to share your experience with different strengths of Cuir de Russie?
    Thanks again for the inspiring autumnal pleasures. September 18, 2017 at 11:20pm Reply

    • Penelope: I have worn Cuir de Russie in winter for some years. When I went to by a new bottle of the EDP the SA suggested I try the extrait. It is different – there is less of the edgy leather and more flowers. I fell in love with it immediately. I think it is much more elegant and subtle than the EDP, but if you like the masculine leather note you should stay with the EdP. September 19, 2017 at 7:24am Reply

      • Penelope: Sorry I should have said the sillage is fine for me. And good longevity too. September 19, 2017 at 7:26am Reply

    • Victoria: And I was just thinking how I miss the quiet suburban parks. 🙂

      My opinion is similar to Penelope’s. I like the parfum very much even thought it’s softer, mellower and has less sillage. It lasts well on me and feels more like my own scented talisman. The EDP is more assertive, sharper, bolder. These days that’s what I’m wearing, since I have a bottle, and it’s also very good. September 19, 2017 at 1:27pm Reply

      • Austen: How does the Cuir de Russie EDP compare to the EDT? I’m familiar with both extrait and EDT. September 19, 2017 at 3:34pm Reply

        • Victoria: Oops, I meant the EDT! September 19, 2017 at 4:11pm Reply

  • Neva: This autumn I will continue redecorating my small apartment. I have started in July, went off for a holiday and now I’m really looking forward to continuing. I had the walls and doors painted anew, ordered a bigger bookcase so I can put all of my books in one place and I will sell some pieces of furniture I don’t need anymore. I actually don’t like the cold so I need more consolation at this time of the year. Usually I start eating more which means I must work out more unless I want to end up with a few kg too much. Yoga keeps me in balance and perfume is the cherry on top. My autumn perfumes brought a big smile to my face and I’m spraying with abundance: vintage Trussardi Donna, PdN Cuir Cuba, Antonia’s Flowers Tiempe Passate… September 19, 2017 at 4:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Good luck with your redecoration and your other projects. Sounds like a good way to start the season.

      I also like yoga, especially since on busy days I can do it at home and still feel like I’ve gotten some exercise. September 19, 2017 at 2:01pm Reply

  • Aurora: I was feeling rather blue and swamped by work. I like your resolutions very much. Less Than Angels is my second favorite Pym novel and I am in the process of reading all Henry James who strikes me as rather like Proust in his style. I look forward to putting away the light floral perfumes but not yet my colognes, and say hello again to richer perfumes. September 19, 2017 at 12:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Which is your favorite Pym novel? I’ve read Excellent Women so far, and I’ve started Quartet in Autumn, which seems appropriate enough for the season. September 19, 2017 at 2:07pm Reply

      • Aurora: Victoria: It’s Excellent Women, but all the novels I have read are good, Quartet in Autumn is bleaker but has a lot of darker humour. Her observations are so true to life. September 21, 2017 at 7:44am Reply

        • Elisa: Another big Excellent Women fan here! September 25, 2017 at 1:59pm Reply

    • Nora Szekely: Oh Henry James is one of my favourite authors.
      His portrayal of women’s soul is disturbingly accurate 🙂
      My most beloved from him is Portrait of a lady so I was very happy that I loved the scent bearing the same name.
      His books are especially good to read during colder months on a sofa, under a soft blanket, with a hot beverage at hand an a cat on my lap. They require quiet and a contemplative mood. September 21, 2017 at 7:11am Reply

      • Aurora: Hi Nora: He’s uncanny that way, isn’t he. I am going to read The Golden Bowl next. September 21, 2017 at 7:47am Reply

      • Carla: Henry Jamesnisnone of my favorites too. The Golden Bowl is an amazing novel. I read it with the Wall Street Journal book club a few years ago and got so much out of it that way. It was chosen by Colm Toibin who headed up the discussion and knows James well. The audio book reading by Katherine Kellgren is very good too. (Toibin claimed he doesn’t like audio books but I do.) Maggie is one of my literary heroines. The consideration she gives for others, sacrificing momentary indulgence of her feelings for social peace, keeping the big picture in mind as she works toward what she wants most and ultimately triumphs thanks to her discipline…riveting scenes between characters throughout especially Charlotte and Maggie. I love every Henry James I’ve read though September 21, 2017 at 1:47pm Reply

      • Carla: The perfume Portrait of a Lady is perfect for fall September 21, 2017 at 1:55pm Reply

    • Carla: I have been considering indulging in reading only and all Henry James! I was forcing myself through the beginning of Elena Ferrante’s second novel in the quartet and not liking it. Too harsh, I find the sentence structure awkward. However when I reached the halfway point I started enjoying it and I’m about finished. I think rather than make myself read the other two Ferrante novels just because they are bestsellers I will read what I want – James! I’m considering either working forward from his first novel or backwards from his last. What do you suggest? September 21, 2017 at 1:51pm Reply

      • Aurora: Hello Carla: Many thanks for your insights on The Golden Bowl. I’ll start it this w.e. I’ll tell you the way I decided to read him: I begin with the ‘late novels’, I’ve already reread The Wings of the Dove, and after the TGB I plan to read The Ambassadors… and then to pick and choose from among the rest of his works, some I have read already but might revisit.

        Re: Ellena Ferrante, thank you for an interesting review of the style. You are ahead of me I’ve not read anything because I wholeheartedly agree with you there’s no point in reading something just because it’s a bestseller. Maybe the translation into English is not very good, I read in French as well as English so when I’m ready to approach her I’ll check the French version. September 22, 2017 at 7:54am Reply

        • Carla: Hi Aurora, I hope you enjoyed the introduction to the Prince in the Golden Bowl. I remember Toibin said you have to read James fast and not try to understand every part of the sentence completely. I would say it’s like the sentences’ meaning will still wash over you as you read. The introduction to the Prince and his thoughts is very dense indeed. I think I will work backward starting with James’ last novel.

          I think it’s actually not Ferrante’s sentences structure but the translator’s word choice I find jarring. And the undercurrent of violence to reflect Naples… I like mostly very pleasant novels! You remind me I didn’t follow my rule of reading all translated books in French rather than English, as I read in French as well! Maybe Ferrante would better in French. September 23, 2017 at 10:28pm Reply

  • Aurora: And I’ll quote Lamartine:
    [Automne]
    C’est l’adieu d’un ami, c’est le dernier sourire
    Des levres que la mort va fermer pour jamais. September 19, 2017 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much. I now want to read Les Méditations Poétiques. September 19, 2017 at 2:10pm Reply

      • Nora Szekely: Beautiful quote. September 21, 2017 at 7:11am Reply

      • Aurora: He flies a little bit under the radar as far as Romantic poets go, I studied him as school. He had a very interesting life although less flamboyant than Victor Hugo, and less tragic than Baudelaire. He also wrote a short novel Graziella which I enjoyed as a teenager. September 21, 2017 at 7:56am Reply

  • Liz S: The autumn chill has come early to London and whilst I am looking forward to bringing out my ‘heavier’ perfumes, I am really enjoying wearing Laura Biagiotti’s Venezia and Serge Lutens 5 O’Clock Gingembre as both have that touch of warmth without being too heavy at present. I have already been out gathering up conkers (horse chestnuts) from the park, made a huge batch of soup today and sorted out the books I own that are yet to be read… Autumn is always a personal new start for me as September is my birthday month but this year, it is also a month of change and letting things go… September 19, 2017 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Another September birthday! We have a little group here. 🙂

      5 O’Clock au Gingembre feels especially right for the cool September days and for walks in the park, when it complements the scent of fallen leaves and wet earth. September 19, 2017 at 2:13pm Reply

      • Liz S: I think us September babies get the best of both worlds – golden sunshine of late summer and the glorious colours of autumn! I am also wearing Miller Harris Un Poirier d’un Soir a lot these days…I love it when it starts to get cold and I can bring out my warm, resinous scents – they make me feel as though I am wrapped in cashmere! September 19, 2017 at 5:41pm Reply

        • Liz S: Oops – Poirier d’un Soir – that is what happens when you edit on a phone keyboard..! September 19, 2017 at 5:43pm Reply

  • Andy: I loved reading these ideas, not to mention all the eloquent comments. September is an incredibly beautiful month where I live, but even still, I need encouragement to let go of summer and embrace the switch to autumn. As I lament the dwindling baskets of buxom summer peaches at the farmer’s markets, I sometimes fail to notice all the sweet blushing apples that are taking their place. And so it can be, as I hold on to the vestiges of summer. Fortunately, I like autumn, so it’s never a great challenge.

    I’ve been craving some Mitsouko, and I think it will be time to break it out again soon. In the meantime, Diptyque Eau de Lavande (from which I get more nutmeg and freshly splintered cinnamon than herbs), and a new discovery, Olfactive Studio Close Up (Menardo!) are as welcome a change as the cool evenings. September 19, 2017 at 2:48pm Reply

    • Carla: I will have to try Close Up! September 21, 2017 at 1:39pm Reply

      • Andy: Another Menardo fan? Every time I smell one of her fragrances, from mainstream (like Yves Rocher) to niche, I seem to find something to appreciate. September 21, 2017 at 4:53pm Reply

        • Carla: Hello, yes I have been a fan since I timidly asked a pretty girl at the “Fac” during my year abroad what perfume she was wearing and she responded Hypnotic Poison. That was nearly 20 years ago! September 23, 2017 at 10:31pm Reply

          • Andy: What a great story! Hypnotic Poison is fantastic, I need to get myself a decant for sure. September 24, 2017 at 1:34pm Reply

    • Tara C: I just bought Close Up today! It has an apple note to my nose that goes well with the tobacco note, perfect for fall. September 23, 2017 at 8:33pm Reply

      • Andy: Several perfumes take on this combination of tobacco and apple (Ambre Narguile, for instance), but it seems especially well done in Close Up. I really get some of the scents of Fall in here, and it feels very cozy. September 24, 2017 at 1:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also liked the warmth of Eau de Lavande and it feels just right for the fall days. September 25, 2017 at 3:18pm Reply

  • Austenfan: This year I seem to really dislike September! Having all this gloomy weather doesn’t help. Still I will adjust in due course, as I always do. It’s nice to wear my irises and leathers again. I don’t enjoy them as much in warmer weather, I started today in Heure Exquise, but after preparing a large number of samples for a swap, I’m covered in lots of different smells; lovely though.

    I’ve been reading a lot of Simenon, I think the pervading melancholy of his books suits this time of year, although come to think of it, some of his works are best read in the even darker gloom of winter. September 19, 2017 at 4:33pm Reply

    • bregje: i know exactly what you mean!
      Normally i don’t have any problems with autumn and i enjoy all the things mentioned here.Long walks(especially op Terschelling 😉 ),hot chocolate, spices,pasta tartufo or porcini,the leaves changing colours,nice wool jumpers, new coat or boots etc.
      But this year i haven’t been able to take a vacation and it’s been raining all summer.I’ve already started wearing those warm jumpers while i long to feel the sun on my skin and throw on a light dress.Wear summery scents like light blue and the Jardin’s.
      Still,i don’t dislike september since my birthday is just before the first and therefore a new start indeed but it does feel different this year.

      And…Simenon!Wow it’s been so long since i read his books.My mother owned a whole collection so i think i’ll go look for them one of these days. thanks for the reminder 😉 Melancholy is indeed very appropriate for this season.
      Listening to Autumn leaves by Eva Cassidy can bring me to tears sometimes. September 20, 2017 at 7:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: The one I re-read by Simenon recently was Le Petit Homme d’Arkhangelsk. It was downright sinister and remarkably on point given the current political climate. Have you read it? September 25, 2017 at 3:20pm Reply

      • Austenfan: No, I haven’t. I have mostly read his Maigret novels, but this one sounds very interesting. He had a blead view of humanity and unfortunately he was mostly right. September 26, 2017 at 9:52am Reply

        • Austenfan: I mean bleak, not blead of course. September 26, 2017 at 9:53am Reply

  • Nancy: The Barbara Pym novel in your autumnal still life caught my eye. I have read and loved all her books, and it might be time for me to reread a few! I think my favorite is her first, Some Tame Gazelle. September 19, 2017 at 7:36pm Reply

    • Nancy: For some reason, the only Pyms on my bookshelves are Crampton Hodnet (the *real* first one, written when she was still at Oxford) and two of the later, more bittersweet ones, A Glass of Blessings and The Sweet Dove Died. I have a feeling I loaned out the others and never got them back! September 19, 2017 at 7:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve only read Excellent Women so far, but it made me want to read everything she wrote. September 25, 2017 at 3:20pm Reply

  • Surbhi: Fall sunsets. I dread fall/winter so much that I couldn’t see the good parts of fall. But this year I started noticing how pretty the sunsets are in fall compared to any other season. i am trying to be outdoors every day during sunset, walk in different parts of city and explore areas of the city again as things change as well as my perception in a decade. September 20, 2017 at 12:38am Reply

    • Nora Szekely: Hi Surbhi,
      Yes the light in autumn is declining differently to that of any other season. It is melancholic and makes me want to slow down and savour the moment after the rush of summer joys. September 21, 2017 at 7:15am Reply

    • Victoria: True, it’s small things that make a difference. September 25, 2017 at 3:21pm Reply

  • mysterious_scent: I see Barbara Pym. She is one of my favourite writers. September 20, 2017 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m definitely going to read more. September 25, 2017 at 3:21pm Reply

  • Carla: How beautiful, especially the Cuir de Russie description. Fall was definitely my favorite season in Hamburg and throughout Northern Europe I’d probably like fall best. I miss it and your descriptions made me nostalgic for past similar experiences. Fall in America (I’m now in the Midwest) is not half so romantic. I suppose the grass is always greener…or the maple leaves more golden.
    (And I tried to read Proust in French and gave up right away!) September 21, 2017 at 1:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: Was it too difficult or simply not your genre? September 25, 2017 at 3:22pm Reply

      • Carla: Too difficult! September 25, 2017 at 10:00pm Reply

  • Rita: Dear Victoria. Thank you you have been in my life for the last 10 years. Your blog is amazing and you are a nice and warm person. It is autumn in Denmark and I wear Casmir by Chopard. It is warm and comfort scent, the sillage leaves much to be desired, but it is nice. I an deeply in love with your blog. I remember your Gogols books, photos of your grandmother and the possibilities to read Jean Claude Ellena an orange scent you described some years ago I was seeking in the shops. Thank you very much indeed. regards. Molodets! September 22, 2017 at 1:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words, Rita. Casmir is one of my top favorites, and I also think that it’s perfect for fall. September 25, 2017 at 3:23pm Reply

  • Elisa: I love the idea of autumn resolutions. Here are mine:

    Find reasons to walk more (copying you)
    Finish my book proposal
    Start Xmas shopping early September 25, 2017 at 1:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Good luck! They’re all fine resolutions, especially the second one. 🙂 September 25, 2017 at 3:23pm Reply

  • DelRae: Beautiful Victoria, makes me yearn for the cooler weather and to be in Paris which I always associate with Autumn. My autumn resolution is a trip there. xo September 25, 2017 at 6:15pm Reply

  • Inma: Dear Victoria,

    Living in Seville, in the south of Spain, an autumnal pleasure is going out and being able to breath and walk easily because it´s not so hot anymore, 29º right now.

    Another pleasure is observing the change of light. It is not so lumninous as during the summer, it is full of darker gold reflections. So beautiful.

    So curious about Cuir de Russie now!

    Thank you very much, as always. September 26, 2017 at 9:08am Reply

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