top flight:

book club

THE stopped heart

In her column for The Violet Files, makeup artist and noted bookworm Val Garland shares her favorite reads. The latest: a tense thriller set in the English countryside.

Photographed in the studio with violet grey

Val Garland is a fashion industry icon in her own right. The UK-based makeup artist is the skilled hand behind scores of British Vogue cover stories and a constant presence backstage at fashion shows, creating extreme looks for Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh, as well as soft and natural ones for Giambattista Valli and Erdem. Whenever Garland has a spare moment between shots (or shows), you’ll find her with her nose in a book—and later posting the cover to her popular Instagram feed. In her column for The Violet Files, Garland brings #valsbookclub to life. Below, she reviews The Stopped Heart, a thriller by Julie Myerson.


The Stopped Heart | Written by Julie Myerson

Category: Psychological Thriller

Key Subjects: Haunted Cottages, Grieving Parents, Creepy Neighbors 


By Val Garland

This novel explores whether it is possible to forget about a traumatic event and move on, or if, in fact, the past never dies. Mary and Graham Coles move into a house in Suffolk in search of a new life and an escape from the grief over the loss of their children. In a parallel story, more than a century earlier, the inhabitants of the same house are tormented by a horrific assault and the murders of children in the village. Set apart by 150 years, the intertwining narratives somehow collide. It’s a flesh-cutting, teeth-grinding page-turner that pushes us right to the edge of reason. Not for the faint of heart.

“Love is nothing, she thinks. It’s nothing.

Just the very smallest sliver of a so much larger and MORE complicated thing.



It was in the staff’s pick section of my favorite book-y haunt, Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street in London. It’s where I always go when hunting a new book.


In the early morning before breakfast and again at bedtime. I became obsessed, and also had to read it in cabs to the studio. It was addictive, like eating wasabi—a little dose gives you that sting at the back of the nose. It’s pleasure and pain at the same time.


If you are a compulsive reader like me, you’ll probably finish this in a week.

                                                                                                                                                 Val Garland reads from The Stopped Heart


If I was casting a film adaptation, my picks would be:

Cate Blanchett as Mary Coles, the heroine:

I feel Cate can pull off the fragility and complexity of being a “good girl,” and add in a tasty dose of 42-year-old woman on the verge.

Ryan Gosling as Eddie, the neighbor:

Eddie is a love addict; he is an obsessive-compulsive, practically a stalker of love. I think Ryan Gosling could do really needy-clingy very well.

Paul Dano as James Dix, the nefarious predator:

With his slightly eerie-looking features, Paul Dano is always playing roles that are slightly twisted, and that’s perfect for James Dix.


There’s a timidity about Mary’s character; she doesn’t do center stage very well. She would rather be in the wings, so a subtle slick of a beautiful, barely there beige works well, and MAC Velvet Lip Pencil in Oh Honey is perfect.


Name: Val Garland

Known For: Spontaneity

Where to Find Her: London

Clients: Kate Moss, Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Vogue, I-D, Dazed & Confused, Giambattista Valli, Erdem, Gareth Pugh

Years in the Industry: 30

Instagram: @thevalgarland

Beauty Essential: Sisley-Paris Supremÿa at Night

Agent: Paula Jenner @ Streeters London

In the world of editorial beauty, Val Garland is queen bee. Her creativity is legend, having colored countless Vogue covers, advertising campaigns, and runway shows for the likes of Gareth Pugh and Alexander McQueen (late designer Lee McQueen was a close friend), and more. Many artists from VIOLET GREY’s community, Kate Lee included, cut their teeth assisting the brassy beauty boss. 

Garland came onto the scene in the 1980s, at a time when the world embraced experimentation. She did it all: made her own clothes, styled hair and makeup, even shot films. Her strategy when starting out was to say yes to everything, but “it was a natural progression for me to focus on the one thing that I was best at, and that was always makeup,” the autodidact recalls.  

At her best when under pressure, Garland says nothing compares to the adrenaline rush she feels backstage at a fashion show, when the stakes are high and everyone is just a bit crazed. “My approach to makeup is very spontaneous,” she explains. “Every time is different.”

And while this spontaneity makes it hard to define her specialty (“Some say my signature look is an eyeliner; others say it’s a lip”), Garland’s willingness to take chances is what consistently inspires the artist (and those around her) most. After all, who else could create brash, do-me-now pouts with the use of a concealer brush? Color us inspired. 


In the last chapter of Val’s Book Club, be swept away in a romantic novella set in 1920s England.