A Novel Discussion: How Important Are Characters Clothes?

A Novel Discussion

I recently reviewed Carrie Ryan’s YA Mystery Daughter of Deep Silencewhich I gave 3/5 due to its lacklustre characters and plot. However, one thing I didn’t like about the novel that I didn’t actually mention was the style of one of the characters. Sounds petty, I know, but as soon as Greyson Wells, the love-interest, was described as wearing ‘pressed khakis and a light pink button-down shirt’ to a posh fundraiser, I knew I would never grow to ‘swoon’ over this supposedly handsome love interest. Not a chance.

Who wears khakis to a respectable event? What are you do wearing those monstrosities? I immediately imagined the short khakis, not the long trousers, which I’m presuming he’s wearing because it’s summer and they’re by the beach, but still. Unacceptable. And khaki with pink? Don’t even go there.

Yes, I am well aware that I sound like the fashion police right now, but of course I’m exaggerating (just a little). I’m pretty sure ‘pressed khakis’ are much more popular in the USA (where the novel is set) than the UK, so khakis might sound extremely normal to any American reader. In fact, when I google ‘pressed khakis’, there are only results for American retailers, no British ones. But for me, it just sounds like a fashion disaster. Invest in some nice suit trousers, Greyson Wells, not khakis. I think of khakis and I see Donald Trump, and I really don’t want to imagine the love-interests in novels as young Donald Trump’s.

So, this got me thinking; how important are the clothes characters wear? Clearly Greyson Wells’ fashion sense was enough to put me off him a little, but his personality wasn’t great either. Sure, if he’d had a great personality, I’d have forgiven the khakis, because I read novels to learn about and enjoy these fictional people, not lament over their dress sense. But still, it clearly affected my overall attraction to him as a character.

Of course, in Fantasy or Sci-Fi novels, clothes are often used to convey status, such as the use of flashy armour, family insignia’s, jewellery. Even today, clothes still convey status. A man wearing an Armani suit? Must be rich. Maybe a businessman. Or a celebrity.

Let’s use a TV programme as an example here. Arya Stark in Season 1 of Game of Thrones wears a thick cloak, a fresh dress, her hair clean and plaited. Arya Stark in the most recent Season is wearing rags, her hair limp and greasy, her skin dirty. You don’t need to watch Game of Thrones to understand that something bad has happened to Arya between these two stills. Clothes show status, but I don’t like Arya any less for being dirty and in rags. So why did Greyson Wells’ outfit put me off him?

Maybe I expected him to dress well because his father is a rich senator, but wealth doesn’t equate fashion sense (yes, Donald Trump, I mean you). Or maybe, because he’s the love-interest, I expect him to dress in a style that I like on men. Just a normal suit would have sufficed. But I can’t expect every girl in every book to dress how I do, or every boy to dress how my boyfriend does.

However, you do expect a love-interest to be one thing: handsome, in some way or another. I don’t expect every man in every novel to look like Tom Hardy, although I can dream, but they do need to have something that’s attractive about them. Whether that be their face, their personality, their physique or style, you want to be attracted to them, you want to root for them to end up with the other main character, be they man or woman, if there’s a romance.

Let’s take another example from a TV series, Peaky Blinders:


Now, let’s ignore the fact that Cillian Murphy is very pretty and focus on the clothes. Clean, sharp (I’m not talking about the razor blades in their caps here), layered. You know they’re organised, that they care about looking good, that they have money. Their suits say power and confidence. Clothes tell us immediately what someone is like before they’ve even opened their mouth. John, on the left, hat slightly askew – what does that imply? That he breaks the rules? You’d be right about that, but then again they all do. Tommy, in the middle, hat straight, arguably a nicer waistcoat than John’s – he’s the leader. Arthur, right, coat buttoned-up – things he wants to hide? Yes, but I do watch the show, so I’m probably just reading into it. But still, you see what I mean, their clothes can tell us what they’re like. And also, those suits are way more attractive than khakis and a pink shirt. I’d make my boyfriend dress like the Peaky Blinders if I could (yes I would, Mark).

So how important are the clothes that characters wear? In my opinion, quite important. They tell you something about the character. Even if it’s a knight in armour, you know they’re strong and respected. Clothes will tell you if someone conforms or rebels, what their personality may be like, how much they value their appearance.

On the other hand, some authors never tell us what their characters are wearing. Do I mind? No, I just imagine them how I like, or how I think best fits their personality. Yet this still proves the importance of clothes; not just as something to cover people up with, so characters aren’t running about naked in our heads as we read a book, but so that we can project what clothes we like and want onto them. It gives us a sense of ownership, makes us like them more. In the end, clothes, to me, are an important factor of characterisation. But does it matter a lot? No, unless your character is personality-less and dresses like Donald Trump, in which case, yes, it matters a lot.

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So, over to you; how important are the clothes characters wear? Let me know in the comments below, whether you agree or disagree with me, I’d love to hear some other opinions!

Caitlin (1)


Book-to-Screen Adaptations That Actually Work

Book-to Screen (1)

As a bookworm and film fanatic, it’s great to see characters you’ve connected with on paper be portrayed on screen, whether it’s TV or film. However, a fair bit of the time, the crew behind the screen adaptations of these novels don’t always get it spot on. Of course, you have to accept that they can’t fit everything into an hour-and-a-half film, or 12 episodes, but you don’t have to accept it if they take your favourite novel and massacre it on screen. One such film for me was Inkheart. I adored the books as a kid and when they finally brought out a film adaptation, it just didn’t fit. One main reason for me was that I’d always imagined Basta being a young man in his 20s, but on screen he was old and fat. That killed it for me.

But, on a more positive note, there have been a lot of book-to-screen adaptations that have worked surprisingly well. Here is a list of my favourites:

1. Game of Thrones

I have to admit that I’ve only read the first two novels of the A Song of Ice and Fire series as I just haven’t had time for the others. Whilst the TV adaptation does leave out and move away from some of George R. R. Martin’s plot points, the creators behind the series have passionately recreated Martin’s world and characters. I adore Game of Thrones.

2. The 100

I started series 1 of The 100 before the books but, when the TV show had undeniably hooked me, I went out and bought the novels. Now, this may be a bit of a controversial selection, as The 100 TV series deviates heavily from the novels. However, this is one of those rare times where I actually think the TV adaptation is better. It’s more exciting, with better plot twists and an improved story-arc involving the Grounders and Mount Weather. However, if you call yourself a fan of the TV programme, you should definitely check out the books to see where it all began.

3. How I Live Now

How I Live Now is one of my favourite novels. Beautifully and uniquely written, Daisy’s voice is strong and fraught with emotion. This book had me in tears and so did the film. The movie adaptation stays true to the book and captures the anguish and isolation Daisy and her cousins experience as Britain is invaded by foreign forces. This is both a novel I wish I’d written and a film I wish I’d directed. The only most obvious difference is that Eddie is not younger than Daisy in the film, as he is in the book. But how can anyone complain when you get to look at George MacKay’s face? Not to mention he’s an exceptional actor; this film was brilliantly cast.

4. Never Let Me Go


I read Never Let Me Go before I saw the film. Another of my favourite novels, I was in floods of tears at the end; to me, it’s a modern masterpiece. So, when it came to watching the film, I was sobbing my eyes out at the first scene! I couldn’t handle it. The film is just as moving as the book and I especially loved Andrew Garfield as Tommy. Even Keira Knightley (who can be a little hit-and-miss) was excellent.

5. Warm Bodies

I got Warm Bodies many a Christmas ago and couldn’t put it down. Witty, philosophical and very touching, it is yet another of my all-time favourite novels (do you see a pattern here? I’m kinda lucky that so many of my favourite books have had good adaptations done!). As for the film, it’s sweet and funny and I loved Nicholas Hoult as R. My only gripe is that they left out R’s somewhat-telepathic conversations with Perry. There’s a moment near the end of the novel (no spoilers, I promise) where Perry is speaking to R and sometimes I go back and re-read that passage because it is some of the most heartfelt prose I’ve ever read. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. But overall, I really enjoyed the film adaptation and I think they did the book justice.

6. The Children of Men

Whilst the film does deviate substantially from the plot-line of P.D. James’ novel, the film is a triumph in its own right. It perfectly captures the fear and desolation of James’ world where no baby has been born for nearly two decades. Both the book and the film explore the horrors of that world and the lengths humanity will go to when faced with its own extinction.

7. Love, Rosie


I heard about the film adaptation of Cecelia Ahern’s Where Rainbows End before I’d actually heard of the book. But, upon learning it was a novel originally, I read the book whilst waiting for the release of the film. Yet again another novel and its subsequent film adaptation that had me in floods of tears. Both were hilarious and moving, excellent rom-coms and, whilst the film didn’t span quite as many years as the novel, I actually preferred that. Not to mention I really like Lily Collins.

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Have you read any of these books and their on-screen adaptations? Did you enjoy them? Do you think the film/TV does the book justice? Let me know in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)

Bookish Scents: Literary Candles


I have a bit of a candle obsession. If there were a support group for people like me, I’d join it. Or maybe I wouldn’t, because who doesn’t love candles?

I’ve seen blog posts about candles whose scents are based on novels, like Wuthering Heights or The Hunger Games or the smell of old bookshops. But when I followed the links to these candles on Etsy, I was put off completely by the postage I’d have to pay to get these candles from America. I’m a poor student; even I can’t justify spending £12 on p&p for a candle.

So I started looking about on Esty and found a few UK candle shops (with much more reasonable prices). Whilst the candles aren’t based on books, I ordered a couple of candles from ‘Cozy Glow‘. One was called ‘Rainy Days’, the other ‘Pine Needle’. Their candles don’t tend to be an amalgamation of scents, which I enjoy. For example, I really like the smell of roses or sandalwood, and they have candles that are just those scents.


‘Rainy Days’ is one of the few which has a mixture of scents. It smells really comforting and its aroma is gentle, not overpowering. I can’t put my finger on what’s in it, but I think there’s a faint aroma of baby powder.


The ‘Pine Needle’ candle is a little overpowering when you sniff it, but when lit the scent mellows slightly and its really relaxing. It helps me to calm down in the evenings after a busy day. ‘Cozy Glow’ also have excellent customer service, I must add, and the delivery was quick.

Now, onto the literary candles.

I ordered two from ‘Old Glow Candles‘. One is ‘Ghost Stories’, the other is based on ‘Winterfell’ from Game of Thrones. 


I love horror and all things creepy, so I was excited to see what ‘Ghost Stories’ would smell like. It smells really nice but not… creepy. Yet in all honesty, what does creepy even smell like? No one wants a candle to smell of death and decay. I do really like the aroma of it though. I can’t put my finger on what it does smell like, so if anyone purchases it and has any ideas, let me know!

‘Winterfell’, however, wow. Just wow. As soon as I sniffed it I was like “This smells like a castle!”. You know those holidays where your parents drag you around some musty old castle or stately home? ‘Winterfell’ smells just like that and more. It doesn’t smell like a disused castle, but a working one. It’s a little musty, but not in a bad way; it’s supposed to smell like Winterfell after all. There’s definitely a woodiness to it and a scent that reminds me of the incense used in Catholic churches. It smells just like I’d imagine Winterfell to smell. Wild but homely.

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I really like both of these Etsy shops. ‘Old Glow Candles’ took a while to dispatch my order, but I’m not sure if that was due to them needing to actually make the candles; they may not have had any ready. They have a lot of other literary candles, including Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Neverland and Rivendell. I’m excited to try the last two especially when I have the money to buy them.

I hope ‘Cozy Glow’ consider releasing some themed candles because, whilst I love their simple candles, I think it would be great to see another company’s take on how the moors of Wuthering Heights would smell, or the Red Keep at King’s Landing. But either way, they have a large selection of candles and I can’t wait to try some more.

In case you missed the links earlier in the post, here they are again:

Cozy Glow

Old Glow Candles

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Have any more literary candles you love? Have you tried any other candles from Cozy Glow or Old Glow Candles? Let me know in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)