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

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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Counting Your Chickens Before They’re Hatched: Very Victorian Spring Problems

This year the spring equinox was March 20, so it’s official: we have sprung! Victorians, who loved all categories, enjoyed celebrating this season with their usual aplomb. Hence, the cast of Jane Eyre Gets Real presents Very Victorian Spring Problems:


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Your Chickens Have A Better Love Life Than You Do

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You Dress Your Children In White & Expect Them Not To Get Dirty

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Your Greenhouse Looks Like A Mausoleum


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Everyone Else Has Gone A-Maying But You’re Stuck At Home Baking Scones 

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Your New Pet Refuses To Play Fetch


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Rabbits Are Taking Over The School System

The Flowers In Your Garden Look A Little Too Real

Finally, no matter which holidays and traditions you celebrate, from all of us in the pages of Jane Eyre Gets Real to all of you: Have the Most Enchanting of Aprils!



I’m Like A Bird

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Birds are linked in all world mythologies to birth, death, freedom and rejuvenation–making them the perfect symbol of spring. Giving whimsy its way, here are the characters of Jane Eyre Gets Here by Annabelle Troy, reimagined as avian spirits:

Dorian Gray: peacock. A reminder that beauty should never be taken too seriously, the peacock also represents new life rising out of the ashes–a kind of vain phoenix.

David Copperfield: cuckoo. An orphan bird always looking for foster families; not known for being a hero in his own life, the cuckoo looks for other nests in which to build his future.

Mr. Darcy: bluejay. If you dream of a bluejay your subconscious is telling you to be more honest with yourself. Once you have embraced your inner jay, you will be the picture of truth, integrity–and a bit of a bully. Like a smug public school boy who can use his power for good or for evil.

Sherlock Holmes: the raven. A known detective of the bird world, ravens were followed by hunters in order to find deer; the man would slay the deer, the raven would eat the innards. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Holmes was often depicted in Victorian illustrations as wearing a “deerstalker cap.”

Heidi: chickadee. A sociable and cheerful bird, there are seven varieties, a mystical number. Harbingers of joy, they can alter their own body temperature to survive even the harshest winters.

Alice in Wonderland: goose. Not always silly, the goose is known in the spirit world for going on quests.  The wise goose teaches us that we can alter our course abruptly and still come out a winner.

Emma Bovary: swan. Symbol of feminine grace and timeless beauty, the swan strives towards refinement. If it tarnishes its feathers sometimes, it only goes to show how muddy the waters can be.

Hester Prynne: chicken. Don’t laugh. Chickens can be very powerful beings; for instance, the Russian Baba Yaga dwells deep in the forest, in a hut posed on chicken legs. She is the archetypal symbol of the mother, capable of great fertility and immense destruction–take that, KFC!

Jane Eyre: bluebird. Not just a symbol of happiness, the bluebird represents the well-adjusted ego. A dead bluebird means disillusion and innocence lost; a thriving one stands for radiant transformation into a higher self.

Now get out there and go feed some ducks!!!


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Dorian Gray & the Leprechauns

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In addition to being a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, Dorian Gray was created in 1890 by Oscar Wilde. Of Irish ancestry (Wilde’s mother, Lady Jane, who wrote poetry under the pen name Speranza, supported the Irish national movement), Wilde identified with the Celtic country in that he saw himself as an outsider. He rebelled against conventional British morality; like his then-shocking homosexuality, Ireland represented his shadow side. Some modern critics consider A Picture of Dorian Gray, with its Gothic and Romantic overtones, to be a national tale of Ireland. Others consider it to be an English novel written by a man with an Irish father (an ear and eye surgeon) who would die, alone, penniless and almost friendless, in a Paris hotel room.

A more well-known symbol of Ireland, trotted out every St. Patrick’s Day (which falls on Friday, March 17), is the leprechaun. Sometimes the word “leprechaun” is traced to that of  “bhrogan”, meaning shoemaker. Cobbling is indeed the traditional occupation of these little, bearded men, a cousin of the fairy–interestingly there are no female leprechauns. Depicted as solitary, and often nasty, the leprechaun was originally shown in folklore as wearing red, not green. and clad in a leather apron. Every leprechaun is considered to have one pot of gold which he keeps at the end of a rainbow (the sprite equivalent of a bank). If you ever hear the tap, tap, tap of a teeny hammer you will know that one is near. Be careful, though; charming one minute the leprechaun can easily turn on you and kill you with a glance, especially if he thinks you are after his gold.

What does Dorian Gray have in common with leprechauns? Nothing, actually. They make him shudder; the astonishingly handsome man’s worst nightmare is to wake up looking like this:

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Be A Princess Or Just Look Like One

Alice in Wonderland is a kind of Victorian fairy tale princess–led astray by a magical rabbit, plunged into adventures with queens, hatters, and caterpillars, careful all the while not to rumple her pinafore. She is a girl who exhibits great wit, character, and resourcefulness. In today’s world fairy tales are hot again, at least the Disney versions. Inspired by the upcoming premiere of Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, Alice has composed a list of things any ordinary girl can do to emulate a princess:

Let Down Your Hair: Rapunzel-like, ravishing locks are a cinch with super-long clip-in hair extensions. Seven pieces of 24″ straight, virgin hair will run you about $100. Remember, blonde is so 1016–try brunette, bright red or even ombre.

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Slip Into Glass Slippers: OK, they may not be real–but when is magic, ever?! Lucite heels make a great substitute for glass; they will be just as transparent and won’t disappear at midnight. We can’t say the same for the Prince.

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Get Enough Beauty Sleep

You may not need 100 years like some girls but 7-8 hours of sleep a night is essential to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Fairy Godmother tip: invest in a silk pillowcase to wake up looking extra-smooth.

Rosy Pink Silk Pillowcase

Puff Up Your Sleeves

Rock the Snow White look–boho peasant blouses with scoop necklines and puffed shoulders are everywhere now. Just try not to make any witches poison-green with envy.

Meg's Puff Sleeve Tee

Adopt a Frog. 

Tree frogs are dying out in the rainforests of Central and South America. Help keep the species thriving; contact 1-800-CALL-WWF to save one now. A frog adoption kit is $55 and comes with a species card, adoption certificate, and plush toy cute enough to kiss.


Finally, what do princesses read? Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy. Get your free copy on Amazon March 8-12.

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