Imagine Classic Literary Characters living in the Modern World. Read Jane Eyre Gets Real, a Novel by Annabelle Troy, available on Amazon!

Alice in Wonderland Takes A Leap

a leap into reading that is…Recently Alice in Wonderland read a book by Annabelle Troy called The Grace of the Hunchback. This is her review:

“This book was inspired by the real life of the 19th-century dancer, Marie Taglioni. Along with her father, Philippe, an influential choreographer, Marie developed the Romantic style of ballet: toe-dancing, ethereal costumes, and athletic pirouettes executed with disarming ease.

Marie was born with what we would now call scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that today–if detected early enough–can be cured by wearing a brace. Marie’s scoliosis was not treated and she spent her childhood with a curved back, which earned her the nickname “hunchback”–a taunt hurled at her by the other little girls in dance class. Interestingly, Marie’s rigorous practice of dance did help her spine to straighten (though she would often be in pain after a performance).  On stage, Marie was the epitome of cool, unattainable beauty. Offstage she would suffer all of her life from the psychological image she had of herself: an ugly duckling who would never be a swan.

Though born into a prominent theater family, Marie had to fight against tremendous odds to secure her place in the pantheon of famous ballerinas. Her story remains an inspiring one, full of grit and determination. It’s hard to leap that high; she just made it look easy!

In a way, the book reminded me of Deenie by Judy Blume.  Deenie is a thirteen-year-old aspiring model who learns she must wear a body brace for at least three years, to correct her crooked spine. But Deenie is not just about a medical condition, it’s about how to overcome an obstacle that you think will ruin your life but instead changes it for the better. The Grace of the Hunchback is intended for older audiences but both books convey many of the same messages. They are both uplifting–no pirouette pun intended!”


Proper Regency Picnic


Nothing can seem more tempting on a hot summer’s day than to put on a white muslin dress, spray on some Yardley’s lily-of-the-valley scent and take a picnic hamper to the river, the nearest ruined temple, or just your own backyard. Jane Eyre, one of the characters in the Annabelle Troy novel Jane Eyre Gets Real, is all in favor of a Regency picnic. Her tips:

Pack a big wicker hamper or basket. You can put a cooler inside, discreetly hidden. Use real cutlery and spread out a pretty tablecloth, preferably with embroidery.

Modern menu/Regency approved:

Tomatoes & Potatoes were being eaten in the 18th century (in earlier times these foods were considered poisonous). Sugar, now affordable due to a booming if evil plantation industry, was very popular and was even used to preserve potted meats. There was a liberal use of spices, especially nutmeg, cloves and pepper. Moulding foods into fun shapes was all the rage–it was even more fun if that food quivered to begin with. You could also never go wrong with French or Italian confections. The average Londoner consumed 2 pints of gin daily (this amount has probably only increased with time…)

A Jane Eyre Picnic, Inspired by Jane Austen:

Pimm’s Cup (basically ginger ale & gin with cucumbers and fruit added, as well as some mint)

Candied Cherry Tomatoes Served on Sticks (think tomato lollipops; Mr. Darcy especially loves these)

Jellied Chicken and Aspic Terrine (this will quiver aplenty)

German Potato Salad (so much better without that nasty mayo)

Cold Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

Roast beef sandwiches on fresh rolls with a dab of horseradish; lightly butter the bread with good country butter and you will have a sandwich such as God–and the Duke of Sandwich–intended

Deviled Ham with Pickle Sandwiches

Jello Cubes Shaped Like Stars

A Punnet of Strawberries

An assortment of Cookies from the best French bakery, including macarons & tiny meringues

Cold Tea/Iced Coffee/Lemonade

Remember: arrange everything symmetrically on your tablecloth; as readers of Austen know, appearance counts for a great deal. And do say “please” and “thank you” when passing the refreshments.






Ruffles Without Ridges

Madame Bovary, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, is delighted by 2017’s latest fashion trend: ruffles. For a 19th century material gal, it’s like deja vu all over again. Emma’s favorite gowns were always smothered in ruffles. Though a potent symbol of femininity, ruffles were originally designed for men (think Jerry Seinfeld’s “puffy shirt”). In 1500s Spain no gentleman’s attire would have been complete without a collar, a separate piece of cloth not attached to the garment below, that could be as large and ostentatious as any grande’ could want. This collar, or “ruff”, reached its apotheosis around 1570, when it achieved a 36″ inch diameter–then burst. It would reappear again in the 17th century as a lace collar, then as a jabot (a kind of tied frill worn over a waistcoat).


Not surprisingly Marie Antoinette loved ruffles, especially on her sleeves, and popularized them for women. The ruffles dear to Emma’s heart would have been worn with a crinoline. By the turn of the century, the iron hoop skirt had gone completely out of fashion and was replaced with a more frothy, natural silhouette. Isn’t she charming?

Today’s ruffles, straight off the runway, are no less exuberant. In fact, they may be the most “ruffly” ruffles yet!


If you simply hate this fashion trend you can always take your ruffles the all-American way: by mouth.

Jane Eyre Wishes to Thank You

BANNER website

Jane cherishes each and every one of the followers of this blog. She wants to let you know that her author Annabelle Troy has a new blog:

dedicated to all of her literary works. If you could find it in your hearts to follow Annabelle there,  Jane would greatly appreciate it. So would Annabelle.

Both AnnabelleTroybooks and Cicily17 will feature new material weekly. Cicily17 will continue to be dedicated to whimsical observations of the world from the POV of Jane Eyre Gets Real. AnnabelleTroybooks will showcase all of Annabelle’s novels, available for purchase on Amazon.

We extend much gratitude for your indulgence!

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Unhappy Mother’s Day: The Handmaid’s Tale


Image result for a handmaid's tale elisabeth moss picturesHester Prynne is deeply engrossed in Hulu’s original version of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. So far, five episodes have aired with more to come. Hester had always been a bit disappointed in the 1990 film version, starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall. The performances were good but there was something underdone about it, as if the director was slightly embarrassed by the material and didn’t want to fully commit.

The TV version doesn’t have this problem. It’s fully committed, all right. Starring Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”) as Offred, the show revels in blood-red capes, strange winged hats, and hangings. In a world where most women are infertile, the few who can still give birth are both prized and enslaved. Offred, once June with a husband and small daughter, is kidnapped when she tries to run away (from a post-apocalyptic America into Canada). She is forced to attend a harsh school where “Aunt Lydia” and other matronly figures instill in her Puritanical values, including rigid self-discipline, frigidity, and shame. Then she is assigned, as are the other “handmaids”, to a rich and powerful but infertile couple. Her role is to become impregnated by the husband, “the Commander”, in a truly bizarre and Biblically inspired ceremony. Ritually raped, spied upon, and humiliated in every way, Offred, played superbly by the highly intelligent and incandescent Moss, must rely on every resource she has to maintain her independence and humanity. The performances of Moss, and the rest of the awesome cast, are augmented by poetic dialogue, haunting music, and precisely composed cinematography worthy of Vermeer.

Hester recognizes a lot of herself in Offred. “The Scarlet Letter” is a tale set in the past; “The Handmaid’s Tale” is set in an imaginary, horrific future where women have no bank accounts, jobs or civil rights. But both are veiled stories of the present, speaking not of what may be but of what “is” already occurring, albeit in much milder and disguised forms.  In Atwood’s world babies are everything but the women who give birth to them are nothing. New life is revered while any life–at least any female life–over the age of sixteen is pretty much shot to hell.

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Black Is The New Vanilla

Madame Bovary, who considers herself to be the real star of Jane Eyre Gets Real, has always been a trendsetter. There’s no exception when it comes to ice cream. In 2015, Emma Bovary advocated for jet-black ice cream; see the post that appears below:

Black ice cream is now one of the coolest flavors in the frozen world. As served by Little Damages in downtown LA, the treat is made with activated charcoal–so much hipper than food coloring–and even comes with a black cone to match. Morganstern’s in New York City also dishes up a version, called Black Ash Coconut. Activated charcoal has become the latest ingredient to jazz up cocktails, pizza, even toothpaste. Ironically, for the black ice cream-loving Emma, it is also given to patients who have overdosed on drugs. Could the 19th century Emma’s life have been saved if she’d just indulged in an ebony-colored ice cream sundae? Not really–of course, the ice cream has no healing properties.

One thing seems certain: vanilla is so last season.


Who Needs A Flying Car?

Last week Google co-founder Larry Page debuted his flying car. The vehicle, which can be driven vertically over open water, is rather unimaginatively called The Flyer, and is expected to be on the market by the end of 2017. Operators will NOT need a pilot’s license though they may want to keep a lifejacket handy.

As far as David Copperfield (the Dickens character featured in Annabelle Troy’s Jane Eyre Gets Real) is concerned, Larry Page can keep the d–d contraption! Copperfield fondly recalls the carriages of his youth. There’s the popular phaeton, the sports car of its day, a light open vehicle with a folding top, four snazzy wheels, and a seat, reached by a ladder, on top of jaunty springs. Those wishing a more elegant ride might try a victoria, introduced to England from France in 1869 by that rebel the Prince of Wales. He named it in honor of his mother. Low and light, it boasts a forward-facing, open seat for two–good way to show off your outfits–as well as a graceful shape. And there’s always the brougham, not unlike a victoria, but with an enclosed passenger seat, for those days when you’re not feeling good about yourself, or if you only have one horse available.

Of course, if you want the opinion of Mr. Darcy, the only way to get about town is on the back of a thoroughbred. Never fly when you can ride.



Get Your Bonnet On

“Women of fashion have decreed that it is ‘bad form’ to wear new and gorgeous apparel on Easter Sunday in the bourgeois manner of past years, irrespective of the appropriateness of the season or the occasion…The day for women to appear in gaudy clothes, topped by summery hats, on a cold, blustering day of early spring ‘because it is Easter,’ and their toilets have been created for the dress parade that follows the Easter church service and must be worn, is emphatically a thing of the past and has been for several years now…”

The excerpt above was written in 1896. But the Easter bonnet–the tradition of putting on a new, festively bedecked hat on Easter Sunday–has proven to be alive and kickin’. Not only is the Fifth Avenue Easter Parade, which culminates around St. Patrick’s Cathedral, still thronged with participants, the custom has produced a worthy fundraising event: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ 31st annual Easter Bonnet Competition, will be presented April 24 at 4:30 PM and April 25 at 2 PM at the Minskoff Theatre (200 W. 45th St.). Hosts for Tuesday’s performance include Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce and Gavin Creel as well as Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone (War Paint). There will be original numbers performed from shows such as Kinky Boots, Wicked, and The Lion King; a special parade of bonnets will pay homage to the colorful shows Sunday in the Park with George and Waitress. Some $30 tickets are still available so get them while you can! No special headgear is necessary to attend.

But, if like Jane Eyre you cannot afford expensive millinery and must make your own bonnet, you will need a pattern–easily found these days on the internet, and sewing materials, buckram, felt, ribbons and laces. Or go totally modern and make one from cardboard and duct tape. Just don’t forget the paper flowers, fake chickens, robin’s eggs and feathers–you can’t possibly overdo here.


Fiction Gets Brainy

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Famous fictional brain, Sherlock Holmes, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, was engrossed by an article he recently read in The Paris Review. Entitled The Hundred Trillion Stories in Your Head, it tells the unique story of “the father of modern neuroscience”, Santiago Ramón y Caja. The first man to apply the term “plasticity” to the brain, Caja was born in 1852 in bleak and rocky Northern Spain. His father was a humble barber-surgeon, determined that his son grow up to an esteemed doctor; his mother an incurable romantic who used to sneak little Caja novels (all fiction was forbidden by the father) like candy. With this family dynamic and a slightly different twist, Caja might have matured to become Freud before Freud himself was a twinkle in his father’s eye.

Instead, devouring the creations of Cervantes, Dumas. Hugo and other literary giants led him to come up with metaphors about cell theory. Looking through a microscope for the first time, Caja rhapsodized that he saw “captivating scenes from the life of the very small.” He even wrote and illustrated his own book about a cell-sized man who travels through huge bodies who happen to inhabit Jupiter. Becoming more and more fascinated by cell anatomy and the nervous system, Caja declared that the job of the anatomist is “to separate the apparent from the real.” This gave him the revolutionary ability to visualize the brain–and the neuron–in ways that were far ahead of his time. He imagined neurons as “protoplasmic kisses–the final ecstasy of an epic love story.”

In 1906 Caja was awarded the Nobel Prize.  Along the way, Caja made many personal and subjective drawings of the neuron, treating them like objects in a still life. He credited imagination, inculcated within him by the beloved novels of his youth, with his ability to give the abstractions of science a vivid reality. In the same way, authors distort and mold their subjects into characters, to depict a truth which captures the essence of life–so that fiction becomes not an evasion of reality but its hyper-essence, distilled.


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