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Doll Break

Doll Break: It's an Innocent World

Sep 03 // Brigitte Coovert
Remember when I was waiting for my Byul doll to show up, and then I didn't say anything for weeks? Well, say hello to Innocent World Hermine! Lovely. I'm such a sucker for these Japanese fashion brand collaborations and I think Hermine probably has my favorite outfit of the three Innocent World dolls that Groove has released so far. She comes with an adjustable head band, faux fur stole, dress, shirt, bloomers, socks, shoes, and the saddest excuse for a petticoat I've ever seen. Saddest petticoat aside, the quality on the clothes is quite nice, though for these more expensive collaboration releases, I really wish Groove would go the extra mile and replace the velcro with snap closures and line the garments. Who am I kidding? Snap closures would be a giant leap forward by itself. It took a long time for the Byul face to grow on me, but now I just love them. The wig on Hermine is very soft and the quality is beautiful. The exception being the wig "scalp" showing above her right eye, which you can see clearly in the photo above, but it might just effect my Hermine. Still, I've been surrounded by these dolls for years and even I found that distracting. The braid is a cute touch and I think it adds a needed something "extra" to the hair. Another odd thing is that her eyes aren't foiled at all, meaning they are just translucent chips and you can see the shadow of the darkness inside the head coming through them. Man that sounded creepy! Still, not foiling the eyes seems lazy. The painted eyelashes and eyebrows are both very natural and soft feeling, which definitely mirrors the tone of the Innocent World brand. All my gripes aside Hermine is a beautiful and sweet looking doll with an amazing, deer-covered outfit (they're even on the socks!) so I'm completely happy with the purchase. I love that Groove took the time to actually reproduce these patterns in miniature and the clothes are definitely higher quality than with a standard release. Here, you can see Hermine with my Pullip Tiphona, who I still think is a total knockout, and you can see tons more photos of Hermine plus a few more a Tiphona in the gallery. I went complete snap-happy with these dolls so I hope you enjoy all the bonus photos! Just when I thought I was nearly caught up on my Innocent World x Groove doll collecting ... boom! The November releases are announced. That's right, another round of Innocent World collaboration dolls! First up is Dal Kleine, looking very sweet in chocolate and rose pink. I like the contrast between the darkness of her outfit and the unusual, caramel-colored hair, though I think I see another pair of un-foiled chips ... sigh! I love the shoes and socks and the wig is very cute; I'm such a fan girl of course this doll is on the wishlist, who am I kidding? Not all sites have her up yet, but for now you can pre-order Kleine on Hobby Search or AmiAmi for around ¥15,500 (a whopping US$198). The other Innocent World x Groove collaboration doll for November is Pullip Fraulein. I have to say that, as much as I want to like this doll, she feels very similar to Innocent World Dal Clair, from the tiered, dark lolita-esque outfit to the long ringlets of the hair. The only wig difference seems to be the color and this is the only Innocent World doll from Groove that isn't blonde, so it feels almost out of place. The hat looks a bit sloppy; some times you need to make things out of something other than floppy fabric, but the shoes have potential. I'm planning on skipping this release to get Clair and round out Series 1, but if you're interested in Fraulein you can pre-order her on Hobby Search or AmiAmi for around ¥15,500 (US$198). Honestly, I'm still trying to mentally process why these Series 2 releases, which seem less complicated than Series 1, are nearly US$75 more expensive. That makes no sense to me. If any part of you saw these two dolls and thought, "I want their clothes!" then Innocent World has you covered. As seen in Kera Vol. 170 (thanks Groove blog), Innocent World has coordinated these two dolls with two outfit set releases. Dal Kleine wears the Chocolate Teddy Bear Jumper in pink (though in most shots on the site it looks yellow) while Pullip Fraulein wears the Antique Doll Dress (Ariel). I know these clothes are meant to be worn in real life and it makes me feel a strange combination of old and in the wrong culture. I would love to wear floofy, Victorian-inspired dresses all day while drinking tea in a well-lit room, but I'm also an adult with a job and not 8 years old. These outfits are perfect, perhaps, for a convention or meet up, but I still honestly feel too old for these outfits in any context. Frankly, the girl on the left looks way too old for that teddy bear, while the girl on the right just looks very eccentric, which I approve of. There's a thin line between cute and creepy, ladies, and while I'm all for giving the middle finger to adulthood and perpetually dressing like a child, I also think there's a time and a place for it, with the necessity of not infantalizing oneself. Remember, if an adult man were walking around in a sailor suit with a giant lolly, you'd lock your doors. Ditch the teddy bear. The new Re-Ment releases have been announced and it looks like there's even more miniature Hello Kitty food offerings for you to enjoy. This time around, the name of the set is even more of a mouthful than normal: Hello Kitty Warm Eatery Hokahoka Syokudou. What ever you say, Re-Ment! At this point, I'm just wondering when Re-Ment will just come out with an entire miniature Hello Kitty-themed house play set, which I will buy, of course. Warm Eatery Hokahoka Syokudou is scheduled for release in October and you can pre-order it now at eTraders Place for US$42. I'm not sure I'm feeling tempted by this set but I do like #6 and #7, miniature soy sauce = adorable. Last but not least, the always lovely Brilliant Haute Couture has released a fabulous Alice set for Blythe dolls as well as a very sweet, pink yukata set (see gallery for pics). Alice is a really standard doll trope, so if you don't already have your Wonderland swag on lock, this set might be for you. It runs US$53 and does not include the shoes, but BHC has an excellent reputation for well-made, limited-run sets, so I'd wager it's worth the cost. The yukata set is equally adorable and US$49. Before I go, I am also very happy to announce that the mint Jardin du Alice Pullip and matching carrying case that I posted about are, in fact, not a Kera Shop exclusive! I've never been so happy to be wrong. Pre-orders are still open for the October Pullip release at HobbyLink Japan, Pullip Style, Hobby Search, and AmiAmi. Lowest pre-order price I found is US$120, which I may have to pounce upon. Thank you for reading Doll Break! There are tons of bonus photos in the gallery so be sure to check them out. Please remember to leave tips/corrections in the comments or e-mail me at brig@tomopop.com. For fellow Groove collectors, I'd love to know what you think of the price spike on these new Innocent World dolls!
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This week on Doll Break, it's (almost) all about Innocent World dolls from Groove. It was fairly recently that Groove started making collaboration pieces with major Japanese fashion brands, but with fan girls like me not b...

Doll Break: Interview with Celine of Citron Rouge

Aug 27 // Brigitte Coovert
How did you start collecting dolls? It was in 2004, I was already very interested in Japanese art toys, figurines, and Japanese/Korean pixel art. I knew of and really appreciated Volks and the four sisters, Alchemic Labo and the Unoa, and Dollstown and the Seola. While visiting some Japanese/Korean websites I discovered Pullip dolls from Jun Planning and I was more seduced by vinyl dolls than resin (probably because they were closer to toys and figurines). I found them very pretty and with no precise idea in mind I got both a Raphia and a Latte, one for keeping "stock" and another one for trying some little changes like face-up, wig, etc. La fée morte (Dead Fairy) Did you start customizing your dolls straight away or was it something that happened gradually over time? When I bought these two Pullips I had no precise idea of what to do with them. I haphazardly took some photos and made some clothes, but I wasn't absolutely convinced. It didn't fit me, it wasn't me. It was only two years later (or something like that) with my first Blythe when I really wanted to add a seriously artistic mood to my dolls and was more convinced. At the beginning it was exclusively photography. I'm crazy about 60s and Mod culture and I found in Blythe the perfect medium for doing something in that mode. Step by step, and out of curiosity, I finally tried almost all kinds of dolls, vinyl as well resin, and if the vinyl offered me the possibilities to express my passion for the retro eras, the resin was also perfect to express my others passions: horror and erotic arts, mythologies, BME, and natural differences. Now I'm working and having a lot of fun with these two different styles. Laudanum, Sirène-fleur toxique (Laudanum, toxic flower-Siren) What was the most challenging part of customizing that you had to learn? Nothing seemed to me to be really complicated or difficult. You have just to think about the best way to obtain the final result you're looking for and slowly and seriously work on it. Learning and acquiring the proper equipment answers many of the questions. Even if vinyl or resin dolls are possibly expensive in price, they will stay very beautiful objects, and I don't have any regret about completely transforming them; it's my way to give them life. Black Widow Do you find that your work is easily misunderstood by the people who view it? To me my dolls are not so strange or offbeat. I just express who I am and by what I'm artistically or personally interested in (or both). Some themes or obsessions follow me for a very long time, sometimes since my childhood. My work is in complete continuity with general Asian and inter-Asian erotic culture, so maybe for a non-Asiatic person there is something curious about it, and I can understand that perfectly. By the way, even if my dolls are different, I've always received only positive feedback, compliments, and support. There's been absolutely no incomprehension of my work or obligation to justify myself. Anyway, this is something I never did and have always refused to do. I create my dolls in that way just for me, I don't need people's approval, and there are enough different styles of dolls so everyone can find happiness. Les Précieuses ridicules en vacances (The Precious Ridiculous Holiday) I believe that good art can be challenging or even upsetting to the viewer. With creations that suffer from childhood deformities or make mention of rape, what are you hoping that the audience will take away from it? To be completely honest, not finding my dolls especially offbeat, I've never asked myself what people would feel in front of my work. I began the heavy mods out of pure selfishness, for my personal pleasure, and to express themes that I especially love, but my work has never had the pretension to convey any message of tolerance or anything in that way. I just do what I like and what inspires me, people join in or not. Besides I hate decrypting each element of my work, either the heavy mods or photography. Everyone is free to see/read what she or he wants to, but I do not impose anything. Sometimes it's very interesting and curious to see with one common image that interpretations can vary widely. Idolize, papesse (Idolize, Pope) You said that your work is in tune with Asian erotic culture and that you don't expect people outside of Asia to understand it, but you are French, correct? I would have assumed your work was more in line with the French feminist culture and functioned as critique, especially with your re-interpretations of mythology. This is, in part, in line with Asian erotic culture, but not exclusively; my inspirations are various and international. I never chose the Asian erotic culture specifically, it's just the culture which speaks to me and seduces me, more than the European one, for example. There is a melting pot of what feeds me artistically, since my childhood and teenage years, in very different categories, and this provides themes, which at first have no common threads anyway, mixed and re-combined. I happily mix Greek or Scandinavian mythology, or traditional religious representations, with Asian erotic iconographies. However, my work is probably the opposite of contemporary general feminism. My female figures are often enslaved and dominated, morally as well as physically, but only by choice, not by constraint, there is never rape connotation. I often call them "willing victims." They find some form of pleasure and personal accomplishment in it. Again, my work does not denounce anything, there is no social speech of society. What I explore visually stops at what might be called carnal and emotional experiences, all transposed on substitutes of human beings, allowing interpretations far beyond human limits. Madone des péchés (Madonna Sins) Mythology and religion are major themes in your work, what is it that attracts you to these two genres? When I was a child, I read a lot of tales, legends, and mythologies and, as an adult, I gained a spirituality that is very pronounced and very personal. It doesn’t coincide with any existing religion, to my knowledge, but Catholicism is the one that they taught me, so naturally I tend toward this one when I want to exploit some aspects of religion. What I always liked in mythology and religion (which in a sense is also a form of mythology, with its stories and its creatures) is that there are still several reading levels that promote the development of imagination. Everyone is free to have their own interpretation and vision of the thing. And mythologies and religions have always dealt with the complexity of the human being, soul and body, sins, good and evil, with a certain mystique about something that is obsolete and ultimately non-existent. The human being is what he is, in all circumstances, for better or worse. This is what makes his spiritual and emotional wealth and his interest. You take commissions for you work, but are there any plans to open a Citron Rouge shop in the future? I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in prints of you work. Some people asked me about this in the past, but I didn’t find my work sophisticated enough to be for sale. Now I'm more pleased and satisfied with it and I'm thinking about the opening of a prints shop. By the way, I just recently opened a postcards shop with my friend Amaktine, about our collaborations in a totally grotesque artistic universe. You can find them at Les Petites Filles Modèles (above). Also I regularly sell some OOAK (one-of-a-kind pieces) that are fully customized. Thank you to everyone for reading this interview with Céline, who graciously gave us her time and allowed us to use her images. Keep up with her work on her blog, Pretty Decay (NSFW), and her Facebook page, Reddish Fetish. I hope you all enjoyed reading the interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it! It will be business as usual for next Doll Break, so remember to send those tips and ideas to brig@tomopop.com or leave them in the comments.
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Céline, also known as Citron Rouge, is not your average doll customizer. The darkness of her aesthetic is matched only by her talent with not just customizing, but photography as well. With a solid body of work on ba...

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Doll Break: Aliens and Monsters


Aug 20
// Brigitte Coovert
Welcome back to Doll Break! I hope you all like American dolls because this post is absolutely full of them. In fact, I have so much US doll news to share that there's not a Japanese toy in sight, which is a first for...

Doll Break: Dolly Deluge

Aug 13 // Brigitte Coovert
All week, I've been abuzz about this beautiful new mint colorway of the Alice du Jardin doll from Groove. Of course, I've also been in a cloud of willful denial, hoping it would pop up on my regular sites, but no; it's a Kera Shop exclusive. You can reserve her now for ¥12,600 (US$161) and she will be released around mid-September. I'm crazy about this release and I'm not sure why: the standard colorway is pretty, but this one is an even more stunning version of an already lovely doll. However, there is absolutely no way I'm paying that much money, so I might content myself to get the standard colorway, which was released in April and is still readily available. Ah, but here's the rub! Kera Shop is also releasing this amazing Angelic Pretty x Gothic and Lolita Bible collaboration Pullip carrying case in conjunction with the mint Jardin Alice! It has a throne for the dolls to sit on and if you want to take it out, you can use it as a wardrobe for clothes. You can reserve it for ¥9,030 (US$115) with an early October release date. Again, there's no way I'm paying that much, but now that the company has produced it my hopes have been raised that there will be a more affordable colorway released for us commoners down the road. Lots more of the official Kera Shop photos of the case are in the gallery, including some of mint Alice secure and ready for travel. I don't have any of the Azone dolls in my collection, just a few pieces of clothing, but that might change soon. I stumbled upon this gothic darling. Part of the Sarah's a la Mode series, she will be released late in August. Lise (which I've also seen written as Rise) is around ¥11,500 (about US$150), but the detail on the clothing is amazing so she may very well be worth the cost. Pre-orders are still open at HobbyLink Japan, AmiAmi, and Hobby Search. Speaking of new dolls, I've been looking forward to seeing the new Novi Stars line by MGA Entertainment, the makers of Bratz and Lalaloopsy (so I just learned). They're alien girls and they've come to Earth for  ... fashion and pizza. Okay, so they're marketed toward kids and I literally had to reach over the head of a 10-year-old girl to look at one on the shelf, but hey, they're interesting and the US$20 price point is a relief from time to time. Each one has a shtick: Mae Tallic talks, Allie Lectric lights up, Una Verse has clear legs filled with glitter and water, and Ari Roma is scented. What I like, aside from the designs in general, is that they remind me of toys from the '80s where they've have some crazy random thing that was supposed to "sell" them for kids. An example was those Barbie roller blades that "twinkled," but were just fixed with lighter sparkers thus some kid lit their house on fire, remember? Anyway, I didn't think I'd be able to find these Novi Stars locally, but I (obviously) did, and my first impression is a positive one. I bought one so expect a proper writeup next week with photos! While I was at the store scoping out the Novi Stars, I decided to pick up some parts for a Monster High custom I'm attempting to finish. It grew out of one of the Create-a-Monster kits that they make and it has started to spiral out of control a touch. Why? Because the kits don't actually come with all the parts you need to make a doll and the parts they do include are, from my experience, not interchangeable with stock dolls. Goodbye, Plan A! One of the people out there helping Monster High customizers deal with this crazy is Rachael of Jemgirl Creations. She makes replacement torsos for MH dolls along with amazing shoes plus all kinds of Blythe goods. You can buy these torsos as a set or individually and she even has a clear one available that would probably look great with the new ghost girl kit. Thank you to Rachel for giving us permission to use your photos! Okay, why be coy: here is a piece of the aforementioned Monster High custom that's driving me crazy. It all started with the skeleton add-on kit that I foolishly presumed would be interchangeable with a Laguna Blue I already had at home. Not so! On top of that, I discovered that the wig that comes in the kit was hands down the worst quality wig I have ever had the displeasure of handling. It was a dry, frizzy mess and the customizer in me cried out "Unacceptable!" Before I knew it I had ripped out all the hair, removed the paint with acetone, and was knee-deep in a Saran reroot. I've rerooted about two dozen G3 My Little Ponies and one Blythe doll, but I feel like this MH reroot is taking forty forevers. It's probably because I'm taking the time to do it properly — just because it's a US$20 doll doesn't mean I should do a US$20 job — but it drove me a bit nuts and I had to take a break. I'm feeling a bit more inspired now, so I hope I'll be able to show off the fruits of my labor soon. Cross those fingers. Moving on from customizing to handmade, if you happen to have a pile of cash burning a hole in your pocket there's a new release from high-end doll fashion design house Jojiko. The Sweet Pink Hearts Lolita Dress is full of pink, ruffles, and other such girlie charms; I for one think that it's darling. At ฿4,491 (that's Thai baht) or about US$145 it's an investment, but if this dress is your cup of tea, it's an investment I recommend. I happen to be fortunate enough to have the Pink Rabbit Lolita set in my collection and I can say that, without a doubt, their clothes are worth every cent. If you're outside of Thailand, I suggest just scrolling down the page and emailing them directly to order. Thank you to Kanjana for letting us use her photos! Staying on the topic of high-end doll goods, if you're a fan of Marina of Enchanted Doll but can't afford one of her amazing handmade ball-jointed art dolls (approximate cost, my yearly salary), then this new Enchanted Doll face necklace might be for you! They are made to order and cost $98 CAD, which is approximately US$98, and are cast in silver. I love the Enchanted Doll line, but this isn't my cup of tea. My favorite part is probably the crown bail, I cannot deny the attention to detail on it, and it's lovely. Thank you for taking another Doll Break with me! I'll have tons of my photos to share with you next week so I hope you'll stop in again and as always feel free to email tips/ideas to brig@tomopop.com or leave a comment below!
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Welcome back to Doll Break! This week was "one of those weeks," by which is mean one of those weeks that gives you perspective into what's really important in life by placing upon your head a huge potential disaster and de...


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Doll Break: The Little Things


Aug 06
// Brigitte Coovert
Waiting is the hardest part, or so they say, and right now I'm waiting for my Innocent World Byul Hermine to arrive at my doorstep. In the meantime, this Doll Break will feature the two newest members of two of my mini col...

Doll Break: Coming Back and Looking Ahead

Jul 30 // Brigitte Coovert
... And so I bought Tiphona. Released in July 2010, Pullip Tiphona is a collaboration with the Japanese clothing brand Innocent World and is one in a set of three dolls. I desperately wanted the entire set a full two years ago when they came out, so I didn't have to think about it too much before adding her to my cart. This doll is absolutely stunning; she actually reminds me a lot of Paja, and I'd be surprised if I even end up even changing her out of her stock outfit. I have high hopes about getting her two companions (Dal Clair and Byul Hermine), so hopefully you'll see them here before too long. Spoiler: After I finished writing my first draft I went ahead and ordered Byul Hermine. I cannot wait to see her! One of the things I love about the Innocent World collaboration dolls is that the clothes that they're wearing are real clothes reproduced in doll size. The purse isn't perfect and the socks are a bit too bulky to fit into the shoes comfortably, but on the whole, the quality of the outfit is really impressive. It's kind of an unusual thing to have the dolls wearing "real clothes" and it's fun to know that the human-sized version of this outfit is floating around out there. It helps a lot that I'm a fan of Innocent World in general and these collaboration dolls will probably be the only pieces of Innocent World clothing I'll own. Just because I was on a collecting hiatus doesn't mean that I only spent my money on responsible things like groceries and gas and a new water heater, oh heavens no. After many excuses, I bought my first Lalaloopsy mini last October, Candy Broomsticks to be precise, and I have all of seven of them in the collection right now. My most recent Lalacquisition is the super cute Scoops Waffle Cone you see above; adorable! I love the odd little accessories Scoops comes with, like the crazy ice cream kitty, and the fact that she's wearing what appears to be very high-top pink Converse. I also love that I can buy these at a local shop, unlike my Groove dolls, but I ended up having to buy this one online after only finding damaged ones on the shelves. Still, US$6? Super cute? I can live with some small flaws. Onto things I don't own ... yet. This week, I spotted this amazing, beautifully odd paper doll from Ana Camamiel on Etsy. It's called "Lolivamp" and it's illustrated and assembled by Ana. The doll is sweet, fun, dark, and definitely different. Ana also has more paper dolls (nearly 40!) in her Etsy shop, so if you collect paper dolls and love handmade, her shop is a must-see. Thank you to Ana for giving us permission to use her photo! I am really excited about the J-Doll for October, La rue de Rivoli. I've had my eye on the J-Doll line for a while, but I've never invested in one. That will be changing in October because this is a must have for me. I think it's the whole candy strawberry confection feel, plus pink and seafoam is one of my favorite color combos for dolls (note: it's the same color combo as Lolivamp above). I was hesitant to get a J-Doll before because they have the same body as Pullip, only with a tiny a.k.a.  "normal" sized head, and I wasn't in love with the Type 3 body. This release uses the Type 4 body which I like a lot more and it makes the US$150 price tag more bearable when you know you won't have to swap the body out. Speaking of the Pullip body, the October Pullip release is this gorgeous, lolita-infused version of Snow White. There are nods to the Disney Snow White, but this doll is definitely it's own thing. The austerity of a mostly white doll with red accents makes me think of the blood-flecked snow of the original fairy tale. Her "Feel Like So" is "The white fingertips that touched the forbidden fruit, the luscious smell of honey that overflows under the alluring skin heard someone's voice beyond the ceasing conscious ... Feel Like So." For those unfamiliar, all Groove releases have a "Feel Like So," which is just a tagline for the doll and which is almost always completely bizarre, thus making it rather fun. Keeping Snow White company in October is the Dal release Sentimental Noon. I love everything about this Dal, the red and white color scheme, the bubble skirt (more photos in the gallery), the delightfully bizarre name. She's supposed to be one of the dwarves that Snow White lives with. Her Feel Like So reads, "There is nothing as sad as this. I'm sure a person who will save the girl who looks like she's sleeping, will surely come!!!" With the press release adding, "The combination of [big] white clown hat and bright red hair bring out the best of both." I concur! The hime haircut is really cute too and I'm thinking I might have to pick this one up. Groove is also releasing Taeyang Mad Hatter from the Jardin du Alice series and a new Preppy outfit set in October, both of which you can see in the gallery. Groove releases can be pre-ordered at HobbyLink Japan, AmiAmi, Pullip Style, and Plastic Pop. Tips and ideas for upcoming Doll Breaks can be sent to brig@tomopop.com. Thanks for reading!
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I took a hiatus from doll collecting officially about a year ago. That meant no more spending money, barely following the news; I was broke and dolls can be an expensive hobby. I never liked window shopping and I never go ...

Doll Break: Hello Dolly

Jul 26 // Brigitte Coovert
Well that's life ain't it? Here we are some seven years later and I'm still collecting them. This column is kind of a "Tales from the Doll Side," my weekly-ish take on what's going on in the world of dolls from my perspective. There will be news and announcements for collectors and customizers alike and any tips that you may have can be emailed to brig@tomopop.com. It's a subjective view of doll collecting, my journey, about the strange state of being a lady with a serious job who still freaks out when a new must have item materializes on her screen, who has not one, but two 3-foot-high metal storage drawer units packed with doll clothes in her home, who has customized over 60 Groove dolls, and who has never stopped wanting MOAR. It's very appropriate to me that I start this column when I do, Groove just recently released the Regeneration Pullip Paja doll - seven years after her original appearance sparked the beginning of my collection. I look at the original Paja next to my laptop as I type this and I don't regret for a moment being that "poor kid;" if being a grown up means getting rid of my toys, I'll be a little girl until the day I die.
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When I was 25, my house flooded. Not so much that anything important was destroyed, but enough that every part of the house became filled with things from every other part of the house and a parade of workmen had to deal w...


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