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

Jane Austen’s Cherry

Cherries, native to Asia, became popular in Europe in the late Middle Ages. The tasty red orbs were brought to America by the first colonists. Back in the Regency era of #MrDarcy, the hero of both Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre Gets Real, the most popular types of cherry included Flemish, carnation, black, white, duke and of course English. Though made into tarts and pies one of their most popular uses was in ratafia, an old receipt for which can be found in Robert’s Guide for Butlers & Other Household Staff, published in 1828: Into one quart of brandy pour half a pint of cherry juice, as much currant juice, as much of raspberry juice, add a few cloves, and some white pepper in grains, two grains of green coriander, and a stick or two of cinnamon, then pound the stones of cherries, and put them in wood and all. Add about twenty five or thirty kernels of apricots. Stop your demijohn close and let it infuse for one month in the shade, shaking it five or six times in that time at the end of which strain it through a flannel bag, then through a filtering paper, and then bottle it and cork close for use; you can make any quantity you chose, only by adding or increasing more brandy or other ingredients.

Regency society, if well-steeped in cordials, would have missed out completely on other delights such as the Maraschino. The brilliantly colored Maraschino was “invented” in the 1930s by taking a natural cherry and soaking it in brine. They are now dyed red and shot through with sugar then packed in sugar syrup, to appear in cocktails and on top of cupcakes. Though glamorous as red lipstick Maraschino cherries are not strictly “natural.” Whether Jane Austen would have approved of them or not, even Mr. Darcy cannot know.



The Father of #Cat Photography: A Wonderland History



#AliceinWonderland, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real as well as the girl famous for  falling down a rabbit hole, had a cat named Dinah. References to Dinah pepper Alice’s adventures. Early in her story she thinks:  `Dinah’ll miss me very much to-night, I should think!’ (Dinah was the cat.) `I hope they’ll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I’m afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that’s very like a mouse, you know. But do cats eat bats, I wonder?’ And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, `Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?’ and sometimes, `Do bats eat cats?’ for, you see, as she couldn’t answer either question, it didn’t much matter which way she put it.’

If owning cats delighted the Victorians so did photographing them. The father of pet photography, and the precursor to all four-legged twitter memes, is widely acknowledged to be Harry Whittier Frees. Frees, born in 1879, was an American who began to photograph cats when a paper hat accidentally drifted onto a feline’s head at a party, creating an instant “cute” moment that just had to be captured. From there he went on to produce postcards and books of kittens in adorable poses, doing such human things as stirring jam, hanging laundry and learning lessons, all dressed up in costumes made by his housekeeper and bearing LOL-worthy captions.  Since Frees had to work with a very slow exposure and cats are notorious for wriggling around, his profession was stressful–only 30 negatives out of a 100 could be used and he worked only 3 months a year, allowing himself to restore his nerves during the other nine. Though Frees did eventually move on to dogs and rabbits, they proved to be no easier as subjects.

In 1953 Frees, who never married or had children, was diagnosed with cancer and committed suicide alone in Clearwater, Florida. Unfortunately–or perhaps fortunately–he didn’t live long enough to see his art form become a popular amateur pastime.


Jane Eyre Runs Rings Around Jane Austen

In Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, #JaneEyre finds herself on a Big Brother-type reality TV show along with #MrDarcy and other literary favorites. Read Jane Eyre Gets Real for free April 6-8. Available on Amazon.


If reading isn’t your thing you might want to shop online at #VictorianTradingCo. Among the many luscious period-reproduction items they carry: a replica of a turquoise ring belonging to #JaneAusten.  (Though not free it’s under $70). It’s Item No. 29846, at

Taking a Peep at Pepys

Hester Prynne, who appears in both The Scarlet Letter and Jane Eyre Gets Real, may have committed adultery–but she never celebrated Easter. Dyeing eggs and hoping to spot a life-size rabbit would have been considered much too pagan for a Puritan gal.  However, as a fortunately literate woman of the 17th century (Puritan men and women were taught to read so they might peruse the Bible), she might have kept a diary–just like her contemporary Samuel Pepys.

Samuel Pepys was Chief Secretary of the Admiralty under King James II. Though we can’t be sure he invented bell bottoms or sailor suits, he did have a lot to do with developing the Royal Navy. His diary, written between the years 1666-1669, was first published in the 19th century. Not only did he witness “great” events such as the Great Fire of London and the return of the Plague, he had a lot of risque flirtations along the way–which is perhaps why his book, intended only to be private, has gone through many reprintings. Pepys, by the way, is pronounced PEEPS with two long ees.

However, he bears no relation to Peeps chicks and/or bunnies!

Annabelle Troy and all of the characters in her novel Jane Eyre Gets Real wish you a happy holiday; may it be filled with joy, flowers, and all the Peeps you can eat–or read!

Victorian Lamb Cake

A classic spring dessert. Enjoy!

Cakes in the shape of a lamb are an adorable Easter tradition in many parts of Europe, including Italy and Poland. Jane, the lead character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, always bakes one for Easter. (TIP: for Halloween, bake a red velvet version of this cake–blood of the lamb–and take its head off before you serve.)

Where to get a lamb mold:

This company sells both large and mini versions!

LAMB CAKE RECIPE 2 cups all purpose flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/8 cups sugar 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 3/4 cup milk Grease pan front and back thoroughly and dust lightly with flour. Or, mix together a paste of 2 tablespoons flour and 1 tablespoon shortening; then use to grease pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl and set aside. Cream butter, and add sugar slowly, until batter is smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and add vanilla. Add flour mixture and milk alternately, until well combined. Place face half of mold on cookie sheet and fill with batter to the top, being careful to fill nose and ears. Lay one toothpick in batter of each ear, to add stability. Place back mold on top of front mold, and tie two pieces together with kitchen string. Bake 45 minutes. When done, let cool on cooling rack for 15 minutes, then remove back pan. Let cool another 15 minutes, then use a sharp knife to carefully loosen pan around edges. Allow to cool completely before frosting. BUTTER FROSTING 6 tablespoons butter, softened 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups powdered sugar 1/4 cup milk 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla In a small mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add about half of the sugar, beating well. Beat in milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, adding more milk, if necessary, to make frosting of spreading consistency.

Have fun with decorating: simulate lamb’s wool by abundantly covering the frosting with shredded coconut. Then make a face by using two black jellybeans for eyes, one pink jellybean for a nose, and red jellybeans for a mouth. Don’t forget the neck ribbon! Serve on a bed of dyed green coconut.


Wild Irish Roses With Mr. Darcy

Fitzwilliam Darcy, a character created by Jane Austen, also appears in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy.  Though known for his English rectitude, Mr. Darcy has a surprising soft spot for the wild hedge roses of Ireland, also known as briars, dog roses and hip fruit. A hardy bloom that thrives in heavy clay soil, the “dog rose” may be considered common by some. But Mr. Darcy is discerning enough to see the worth behind this vigorous five-petaled blossom, whose foliage gives off a pretty scent when crushed and which attracts many bees and butterflies–and perhaps boys–to the yard.

Mr. Darcy also loves the music of Dolores O Riordan, lead singer of renowned Irish band The Cranberries. O Riordan’s recent, sudden death at the age of 46, shocked the world. Her mezzo-soprano voice was roughened round the edges by a pronounced Limerick accent, and in 2014 she was arrested for air rage on an Aer Lingus flight (an incident that might have been triggered by her bipolar disorder as well as stresses brought on by a failing marriage). Usually, she was noted for her kind personality as well as her lovely voice. Born on September 6, 1971 O Riordan passed away on January 15, 2018 in a London hotel room.

Could Mr. Darcy’s penchant for uncultivated roses as well as Dolores O Riordan’s distinctive vocals be the key to why he married Elizabeth Bennet, and not a more docile, conventional beauty?



The Dark Side of St. Patrick

Image result for pictures of last snakes of ireland

While many see St. Patrick’s Day as a simple holiday in which to get drunk and wear green, Sherlock Holmes likes to complicate matters. In the course of solving mysteries, he often construes layers of meaning between things and/or people that would normally not be noticed.

Therefore, he proposes a connection between three diverse figures: the famous saint of Ireland, the Pied Piper and the Slenderman. St. Patrick was of course renowned for having driven the snakes out of Ireland; he was so good at it there is no evidence any snakes ever WERE there! He simply charmed the serpents away. Centuries later in Germany, 1284 Hamelin to be exact, 130 children allegedly vanished “after the appearance of a piper.”  The following is from a contemporary record:  “A young man of 30 years, handsome and in all respects so finely dressed that all who saw him were awestruck by his person and clothing came in by way of the bridge and the Weser Gate. On a silver pipe which he had, of wonderful form, he began to play through the whole town, and all the children hearing him, to the number of 130, followed him beyond the eastern wall almost to the place of the Calvary or Gallows field, and vanished and disappeared so that nobody could find out where any one of them had gone. Indeed the mothers of the children wandered from city to city and discovered nothing.” This was witnessed by Herr Johann de Lude, mother of the deacon, amongst others.

Flash forward to our times and the Slenderman, who first appeared on Creepypasta, an internet site devoted to modern supernatural tales. The Slenderman is a shadowy, tall, willowy man, clad in a black suit, who children see out of the corners of their eyes, and who lures them away from life into an otherworld where they either become his slaves or his enchanted guests, depending on which version you believe. Most people are aware of the recent sensational event in which two young girls stabbed a middle school classmate repeatedly, apparently in order to get into the Slenderman’s good graces. This was the subject of HBO’s documentary, Beware the Slenderman, eerie for many reasons, one of them being: the girls’ parents seemed to have no idea their daughters were devoting so much time to becoming involved in the Slenderman legend. One day they were normal children–the next they had disappeared into the bodies of would-be murderers.

So beware of all enchantment, even that of saints, as you never know where it may led you. So sayeth Holmes, and so sayeth the departed snakes of Ireland!


Image result for pictures of last snakes of ireland

There Was A Crooked House

Just in time for #STPATRICK’SDAY, Dorian Gray, the character in Jane Eyre Gets Real who is most likely to imbibe, recounts the Tale of the Crooked House.

The Crooked House Pub deep in the English countryside, in Himley west of Wolverhampton, once stand upright. But for the past 100 years, the structure has been dependably sinking into the ground, so that now it’s at an angle of 15 degrees, with the left side a good four feet lower than the right. Even if you go into the pub sober and stay that way throughout your visit, you’ll think you’re tipsy. All of the slanting angles will make your head positively spin! If you were to place a bottle upon a windowsill you won’t be sure which way it will roll. As for carrying a full glass from the bar to the table, you’ll be sure to spill it–unless you orient yourself very carefully, by staring at the line of the beverage in the glass.

At The Crooked House, you can’t win so you may as well enjoy yourself. The pub may be in England but when you’re in it, you’ll know how the Irish feel.




Heidi & the Silver Skating Dress

For many viewers figure skating is the highlight of the Winter Olympics. Little Swiss Miss Heidi, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, is more into skiing herself–she had to get down those Alps some way! But skating is fun, too, especially with female figure skaters attracting a lot of the limelight–sometimes, unfortunately, due to wardrobe malfunctions.

Skating costumes were not always the glamorous confections of rhinestones and nude mesh common at the 2018 rink. In 1928 German athlete Ellen Brockhoft wore a full pleated skirt over what looked like a girdle–she even thought to add mittens!

(Eingeschränkte Rechte für bestimmte redaktionelle Kunden in Deutschland. Limited rights for specific editorial clients in Germany.)   Eiskunstläuferin, Sportlerin, Deutschland 

Portrait beim Eiskunstlauf 

Aufnahme: Robert Sennecke 

Originalaufnahme im Archiv von ullstein bild    (Photo by Robert Senneckeullstein bild via Getty Images)

In 1930 Constance Wilson opted for velvet and pantyhose.

(Original Caption) Miss Constance Wilson, woman figure skating champion of canada and the United States, photographed while training here for the world championship meeting at New York February 3-5. (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

And check out this male French competitor from 1936, skating in a suit and tie (Heidi’s not exactly sure what look his partner is going for!)

February 1936:  Maxie Herber and Ernst Baier winning the 1936 Olympic Pairs figure skating gold medal in Germany.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

It wasn’t until 1968 that skating costumes started to look like…well, skating costumes. See Pretty in Pink Peggy Fleming:

FRANCE - FEBRUARY 05:  Figure Skating: 1968 Winter Olympics, Portrait of USA Peggy Fleming in action during practice, Grenoble, FRA 2/5/1968  (Photo by John G. Zimmerman/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)  (SetNumber: X12984)

Surya Bonaly, in 1994, opted for this bold look–remember, crystals have heft and weigh down the skater, so must be used carefully, while a sleek unitard adds no extra volume.

Surya Bonaly of France competing in the Ladies figure skating event during the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, circa February 1994.  Bonaly placed fourth. (Photo by Eileen Langsley/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

If you think skaters’ costumes have become too provocative, Heidi leaves you with this image of perhaps the most wholesome skater of all time, Norwegian three-time Olympic champion and film star:

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