The Freedom Continues

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http://www.amazon.com/The-Grace-Hunchback-story-Taglioni-ebook/dp/B00L1RWQ7Q

Read The Grace of the Hunchback for free, now until midnight July 29.  Summary below:

Marie Taglioni was a ballerina born in 1804. She and her father, the dictatorial Philippe, are credited with having invented the Romantic style of ballet: fairies, white tutus, dancing en pointe. This fictionalized version of Marie’s real life explores the gap between her role onstage, where she is considered a great beauty, and that offstage, where she’s a neglected ugly duckling. She marries a handsome nobleman who only wants her for her money; yet her own love for him sustains her thoughout most of her life. Running parallel to Marie’s story is that of her maid, Lucette, who leaves service to become a successful courtesan in demimonde Paris.

Hester Prynne Gets a Swimsuit

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Puritans never go swimming. Why should they, when at any moment the powers that be might send a deluge upon the land? Time enough to learn to swim then! But in my novel Jane Eyre Gets Real, Hester Prynne is living in New York City where the heat and the Hamptons combine to make beach attendance almost mandatory.  She doesn’t mind mastering the backstroke but picking a swimsuit is much more daunting. She likes this Gottex number because the lace insets remind her of the embroidery wealthy Puritans got to wear on special occasions, like funerals: On the other hand, it is strapless so a more demure choice might be the one below. The black and white combo makes her think of Reverend Dimmsdale, in his cloak and ruff: If she weren’t still a little afraid of being put in the stocks, she’d definitely go for a monokini. Well, maybe next summer…

All Packed Up & Ready To Go

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Modern suitcases have nothing on Victorian trunks.  When Jane Eyre leaves for Lowood, Bessie bakes her a little cake and helps her pack a trunk, no doubt something simple, oak and sturdy. We imagine Jane uses the same trunk when she goes as governess to Thornfield Hall, and perhaps even when she is about to embark, with misplaced optimism, on her wedding tour.

Emma Bovary, thinking she is going to run away with her lover, the dashing nobleman Rudolphe, orders a brand new trunk–on credit of course!  She makes sure to get some new traveling clothes, too: a blue-grey cloak in a burnoosh style, and a jacket with “pagoda sleeves.” She wishes the trunk to be small but lined; it was no doubt meant to be exquisite:

Considering that Rudolphe never shows up to take Emma away, instead sending his regrets in a large basket of apricots, and that Jane Eyre doesn’t gets her dream honeymoon, either, maybe trunks ARE ill-fated things. We all can learn a lesson from Heidi’s Aunt Dete who, when she takes Heidi up the Alps to her grandfather, puts all the child’s clothes on her back at once, so there is no need to buy a suitcase:

“On a clear sunny morning in June two figures might be seen climbing the narrow mountain path; one, a tall strong-looking girl, the other a child whom she was leading by the hand, and whose little checks were so aglow with heat that the crimson color could be seen even through the dark, sunburnt skin. And this was hardly to be wondered at, for in spite of the hot June sun the child was clothed as if to keep off the bitterest frost. She did not look more than five years old, if as much, but what her natural figure was like, it would have been hard to say, for she had apparently two, if not three dresses, one above the other, and over these a thick red woollen shawl wound round about her, so that the little body presented a shapeless appearance, as, with its small feet shod in thick, nailed mountain-shoes, it slowly and laboriously plodded its way up in the heat.”

 

But if the layered look doesn’t work for you, you can always invest in a vintage Samsonite, or two. Wherever you go, and whatever you pack in to get there, happy travels!

 

Mr. Darcy Reviews “Belle”

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The new movie Belle is based on the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegimate mixed race daughter of an aristocratic British admiral. The film is beautifully produced with solid, elegant performances. Belle could very well be a Jane Austen heroine; the main drama centers around her difficulties in finding a proper husband for, in spite of a sizeable dowry, she encounters equally sizeable prejudice. Her story is contrasted with that of her very blonde cousin who, though she possesses  English rose looks and a demeanor to match, cannot find a fiance because she lacks any money. There is also a third plot in the mix: that of slavery itself. Interestingly, Jane Austen never mentions this institution directly in any of her novels; though in Emma, written in 1814, there are allusions to it. She says: : ‘Miss Hawkins was the youngest of the two daughters of a Bristol—merchant, of course, he must be called.’ This is telling as historically John Hawkins was a major English slave trader. The wealthy Eltons, who figure prominently in the novel, come from Bristol, a seaport second only to Liverpool as a slaving port. Austen, born in 1775, died in 1817. Slavery was not officially abolished in Britain until 1833, though the slave trade itself was declared illegal there as early as 1807. “Belle” is set in 1769, when the trade was still thriving. Austen herself was most probably for abolition, and I myself never kept any slaves at Pemberley. I have been told that a novel has recently been published based on “Pride and Prejudice”,  Jo Baker’s Longbourn, in which the footman at Netherfield turns out to have been a former slave (the assumption here being that Jane Bennet’s beloved Mr. Bingley made his fortune from slave-driven sugar plantations.) Though I have yet to read it, the theme does pique my interest. Meanwhile, I would recommend the movie Belle to anyone who might enjoy a romance with a likeable, lovely heroine (actually two likeable, lovely heroines),  in which a strong social message also features.

The Grace of the Hunchback: what Jane Eyre is Reading Now

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Annabelle Troy, author of both this blog and Jane Eyre Gets Real, has written a new novel, available on amazon.

It is entitled The Grace of the Hunchback, and is the fictionalized account of Marie Taglioni, a ballerina beloved of Jane Eyre and one of her favorite performers.  Marie Taglioni was a ballerina born in 1804. She and her father, the dictatorial Philippe, are credited with having invented the Romantic style of ballet: fairies, white tutus, dancing en pointe. This fictionalized version of Marie’s real life explores the gap between her role onstage, where she is considered a great beauty, and that offstage, where she’s a neglected ugly duckling. She marries a nobleman who only wants her for her money; yet her own love for him sustains her thoughout most of her life. Running parallel to Marie’s story is that of her maid, Lucette, who leaves service to become a successful courtesan in demimonde Paris.

Hope you can find time to read it. Would love your opnions and reviews:

 

Madame Bovary Takes The Cake

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At Emma Bovary’s wedding, her cake is described as:  a castle-keep or donjon wrought in Savoy cake, surrounded with diminutive fortifications in angelica, almonds, raisins, and bits of orange; and finally, on the topmost level of all, which was nothing less than a verdant meadow where there were rocks with pools of jam and boats made out of nut-shells, was seen a little Cupid balancing himself on a chocolate swing, the posts of which were tipped with two real rosebuds.” A savoy cake, or Gateau de Savoie if you want to get technical, is basically a sponge cake. Dating back to the time of Louis XIV, it contains no butter, milk or leavening. If you’re feeling ambitious here’s how to make your own: Ingredients: 1 cup (4 oz—113 g) unsifted powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar) + extra to sprinkle on the cake 1/4 cup  + 2 tbsp (1-1/2 oz—42 g) AP flour (sifted) + extra for the cake pan scant 1/4 cup (1 oz—28 g)  cornstarch 3 large eggs, divided 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (or to taste) vegetable oil to grease the pan — Grease and flour a Bundt cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) Sift together flour and cornstarch. Beat the yolks at high speed until very light and pale yellow, add the vanilla and then the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time, sifting it through a fine strainer. Beat until light. Add the flour-cornstarch mixture, sifting it through a fine strainer,  mixing by hand or at the lowest speed, and only until just incorporated. Beat the egg whites until stiff but still moist (do not overbeat). Add 1/4 of the egg whites to the yolks and flours mixture, folding them in until well mixed. Add the remaining egg whites, folding them in gently so that they do not deflate. Pour the batter in the prepared pan, place in the oven, and immediately lower the temperature to 325°F (160°C). Bake for 40-45 minutes, and do not open the oven door before 40 minutes have passed or the cake will fall. A cake tester will come out dry and clean once the cake is ready, and the cake will shrink slightly from the sides of the pan. Place the mold on a rack for five minutes, then delicately unmold the cake and let it cool on a rack. Once the cake is completely cold sift confectioners’ sugar on top and sides If you’re not feeling the oven thing, you can order a wedding cake at any of the following excellent bakeries:

Sugar Flower Cake Shop, https://www.sugarflowercakeshop.com Slide Wide Thumb

Butterfly Bake Shop, http://www.butterflybakeshop.com

Love Street Cakes, http://www.lovestreetcakes.com