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

Pride, Prejudice & Politics

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Mr. Darcy, a character created by Jane Austen and appearing “on loan” in Annabelle Troy’s contemporary novel Jane Eyre Gets Real, reminds us that political strife is nothing new. In 1813, the year Pride and Prejudice was published, the reigning British king George III. had relapsed into insanity; hence “the Regency” was created as his eldest son, George the Prince of Wales, was appointed to rule in his stead. Due partly to George III.’s incompetency and/or madness, the American Colonies had won their war of independence in 1783. Meanwhile, whilst Jane Austen wrote Mr. Darcy into existence, Napoleon was wreaking havoc across Europe. He would not be defeated until 1815 and the Battle of Waterloo.

On January 20, 2017 Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. For those who follow astrology, both Trump and George III. were born under the sign of Gemini. They both inherited wealth, have ruddy skin tones and remarkable hair–in George’s case a wig. They both tend to favor grandiose posturing alternated with exclamations that they are “men of the people.” The king was even dubbed “Farmer George” and seemed to favor earthy matters over subtlety. (For the record Napoleon was a Leo, which is Trump’s rising sign).

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What Does Hester Prynne Have In Common With the NFL?

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons

Devin Hester, of course! Things That Link Hester Prynne & Devin Hester:

  1. Dates: On Jan. 4 2017 Devin Hester signed with the Seattle Seahawks for the NFL Playoff. On Jan. 4 1642 Hester Prynne gave birth to her child, Pearl.
  2. Animal Affiliations: The last team DH played for was the Baltimore Ravens. HP used to shoo ravens off her lawn in Salem.
  3. Protective Headgear: HP wears a dimity cap; DH a helmet.
  4. Autumn: We associate both football and Puritans with crisp, bleak weather.
  5. Dedicated Parenthood: DH is often seen playing with his sons Devin Jr. and Dray. Hester never went anywhere without her little Pearl.
  6. What goes around comes around: Seahawks Coach, Pete Carroll, did not offer DH a scholarship when he was first starting his career–though DH was a popular blue chip recruit at the time. Dimmesdale ultimately confesses that he is the father of HP’s child.
  7. Fear of God: HP lives by the word of the Bible. On joining the Seahawks DH has said, “I guess God has another chapter in my book of life.”
  8. Embellishment: Hester Prynne wears a huge scarlet A on her chest. Devin Hester wears a huge Number 17.
  9. Goal Oriented: HP wants God and her community to forgive her for her sins. DH wants to play in the Super Bowl
  10.  American Icons: millions of American kids read “The Scarlet Letter” in high school (and it doesn’t even have commercials). Over 100 million Americans watch the Super Bowl on TV.

If you can think of other similarities please let Hester know!

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Ballerina on the Rocks

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Celebrate 2017 with free week of The Grace of the Hunchback by Annabelle Troy

Jan. 2-6

Radiant 19th century ballerina Marie Taglioni leaps from tragedy to triumph!

Meanwhile, enjoy this ethereal Basho haiku:

If there were fragrance

these heavy snowflakes settling…

Lilies on the rocks

Wrenboys: or how to spend the time btw Xmas & New Year’s


Image result for pictures of wrenboysDecember 26th has always been a problem. What is to be done with a day that is so anti-climatic? Nineteenth century England had boxing day, as David Copperfield, a character created by Dickens and appearing in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, well remembers. Servants, who had to work on Christmas, were given a box full of food, some money, perhaps castoff clothing from their employers, and allowed to take the day off to visit their families. Though still a legal holiday in the UK, it hardly packs the same punch now.

Throughout Europe, especially Ireland, Dec. 26th is also celebrated as St. Stephen’s Day or Wren Day. St. Stephen was Christianity’s first martyr. All over Ireland, especially in rural communities, people–okay, usually boys and men–don old clothes, wear straw hats or straw capes, and go from door to door singing and carrying a fake wren on a pole. In past times, a real wren used to be hunted and killed before it was impaled. Why this association with Stephen and wrens? No one seems to be sure but it has to do with ancient folk legends–probably of pagan origin– featuring the wren and Jesus. Because mumming is also part of St. Stephen’s Day it’s the traditional day to see pantomime in theaters–think Stephen Fry’s Cinderella with men dressed up as Ugly Stepsisters, Dolce and Gabbana.

In Finland, where Christmas itself was celebrated austerely, a big part of the St. Stephen’s Day tradition was to go out on a horse and sleigh, bells jangling. Could this be why Santa rides a reindeer? Whatever the answer, Wren Day tries not to disappoint.

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Very Victorian Christmas Problems

It’s that time of year again. Happy Yule from Annabelle Troy and the characters of Jane Eyre Gets Real.

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Victoria and Albert got a Christmas tree…so now you have to get a Christmas tree

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Plum Pudding Too Dry

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Extremely Disturbing Greeting Cards

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Um, kids, that’s not really Santa…


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Angels Keep Dropping By While You’re Trying To Sleep

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Heidi and the Christmas Mouse

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Growing up in the Swiss Alps, Heidi was a big fan of the carol “Silent Night”.  Originally titled “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht”, the song was composed in Oberndorf,  Austria by Father Joseph Mohr in 1818. It was composed for the guitar by Mohr, a humble parish priest. At the time that he wrote the song, the organ of the village church would not play; the bellows had been eaten by mice! A charming legend has it that one of these mice crawled into Father Mohr’s guitar; hearing the sound of its movement within his beloved instrument, the priest was inspire to write a great Christmas song, one that rings throughout millions of churches and private homes today.

Heidi, created by Johanna Spyri in 1881 (with no mice involved–though perhaps a goat?) is a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy. In this whimsical book, available on Amazon, Heidi, Jane Eyre, and several other literary characters including Sherlock Holmes, wake up to find themselves on a Big Brother type reality show, set in contemporary New York City. It makes a fantastic holiday read. Please consider curling up with it on your Kindle, after you have had your cocoa and sung some carols. Read it aloud, in case any mice might be listening. You never know when one might return the favor and inspire you.

Very Jane Eyre Problems


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You’re Just Not Into Polygamy

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You Can’t Stand Any More Burned Grilled Cheese Toast At Breakfast

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Aunt Reed Will Never, Ever Forgive You–Never, Ever, Ever

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Your Pupil is Marie Antoinette In An Eight Year Old’s Body

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You’ve Had It With Brooding Men–Get Over Yourself, Rochester 

Tired of traditional Jane Eyre? Then read Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy on Amazon:

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Turkey Three Ways

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Though Thanksgiving is strictly American, Jane Eyre, David Copperfield and Mr. Darcy all have fond memories of turkey dinners. They ate their turkey at Christmas but they won’t tell if you make these victuals in November instead.

Jane Eyre’s Boiled Turkey (from a receipt she found in Magazine of Domestic Economy, 1838). Remember, the clean napkin is essential!

1 Turkey
1 Clean napkin
1 Anchovy
Oysters (a few)
Mushrooms (a few)
Butter (a bit)
Suet (a bit)
1 Egg

“Boiling a turkey is a very common mode of dressing it, and if nicely done makes a very agreeable dish. To boil it properly, it should be trussed with the liver and gizzard in the wings, be well dredged with flour, and sewn into a clean napkin. But previously to doing that, fill the crop with a forcemeat, or stuffing made of crumbs and bread, parsley, pepper, salt, nutmeg, lemon-peel, an anchovy, a few oysters chopped, a few shred mushrooms, a bit of butter, and a little suet, the whole bound together with an egg. In the water in which the turkey is to be boiled, put the juice of three lemons, two ounces of butter, and handful of salt. Let it boil very slowly.”

David Copperfield’s Turkey Pie. This is especially recommended if you happen to have a hare and a brace of partridge hanging around. Don’t forget the four pounds of butter.

Having made a large standing crust, bone a turkey, a goose, a hen, a partridge, and a pigeon. Season them with half an ounce of mace, the same quantity of nutmeg, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, half an ounce of black pepper, all beat fine, and two large spoonfuls of salt, mixed all well together. Roll up the fowls, the one within the other, with the turkey outermost, so as to look like a whole turkey, and place it in the middle of the crust. Have a hare ready cased, and wiped clean; disjoint and cut it in pieces ; season, and lay it close to one side of the crust; put woodcocks, moor-game, and any other wild fowl you can get, on the opposite side, well seasoned, and packed close together. Put four pounds of butter into the pie; then lay on the lid. The crust must be very thick, and it will take four hours at least, in a hot oven, to bake it properly.

Mr. Darcy’s Turkey in Aspic. People in the Regency era loved aspic. It’s a fancy word for jello. If you’re counting calories this recipe is under 250, unlike that turkey/hare/pigeon pie. This leaves you more leeway for dessert such as mincemeat tarts.

12 ounces cooked turkey white meat, cut in 6 slices
4 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
3/4 pound fresh asparagus spears or 1 8-ounce package frozen asparagus spears, cooked and drained
6 pimiento strips
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 13 3/4 ounce cans chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 thin slice onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 sprig parsley

Trim turkey slices to uniform shapes; arrange in 13x9x2-inch pan. Top each with 4 slices, about 3 asparagus spears, and a pimiento strip. In saucepan soften gelatin in chicken broth and water. Stir in onion, lemon juice, horseradish, and parsley. Bring to boiling, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and strain through cheesecloth. Chill just till syrupy. Spoon a little broth mixture over each salad in pan. Chill till almost set; keep remaining broth mixture at room temperature and stir occasionally. Repeat spooning room-temperature broth mixture over turkey slices and chilling till a thin glaze of gelatin forms. Pour remaining broth mixture around salads in pan. Chill till set. To serve, trim around each turkey slice and transfer to serving plates. Break up remaining gelatin in pan with a fork and arrange around salads on serving plates. Makes 6 servings.

Which one appeals to you most?

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Colors of the Past

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Emma Bovary, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, loves beautiful dresses. The era in which she lived, the mid-19th century, saw the turning away from natural dyes such as indigo, and the explosion of rich new colors through the use of aniline dyes. Think acid green, royal purple, chrome yellow, pillar box red. Victorian women were shrinking violets no more; instead they were bold violets bedecked in coral and sapphire with hints of that trendy new color, mauve. In 1856 the 18 year old English chemist William Henry Perkins “invented” mauve, and a range of other fantastic hues, by accident; he had been trying to find a cure for malaria but revolutionized fashion instead. In an attempt to synthesize aniline with quinine, he came up with a mixture that dyed cloth an amazing purple. He filed a patent for it. From then on, labor-intensive dyes made from natural substances became a thing of the past. Forget plants and crushed beetles; make way for coal tar (from which aniline is extracted). Unfortunately, Perkins was born before “Shark Tank.” Though he achieved much renown for his colorful work, by the 1890s Germany had a monopoly on chemical dyes, and Perkins had to sell off most of his holdings. Still, he had a good run, including owning a factory which literally painted the town red on many occasions, and he is known to this day as the Father of Mauveine.

Another “brilliant” fact: fossils indicate that ancient dinosaurs were covered in bright feathers. They may have even been peacock feathers, whose iridescence serve as camouflage. So next time you see “Land of the Lost” imagine the Tyrannosaurus Rex Grumpy coming at you in blazing techno-color, feathered tail and all. He’s a little less intimidating now, huh? What’s next? Dragons who breathe fireworks? Unicorns with horns made of stained glass? In the magical-yet-real world of ornamentation anything is possible.

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