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



True romantic; loves English literature and the UK. Author of these books, available on Amazon: Jane Eyre Gets Real, A Cure for Cecily, The Grace of the Hunchback & Hansel and Gretel Inside the House of Candy. I can be reached at Follow me on twitter!

Don’t Worry, #Bee Happy



After Alice in Wonderland, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, falls down the rabbit hole she keeps trying to recite “How Doth the Little Busy Bee” (a Victorian childhood favorite) but it keeps coming out as “How Doth the Little Crocodile.” That’s when she knows she’s in trouble! Refine your own bee knowledge by taking the quiz below:

A Collection of hives is called

a. an aviary b. an apiary c. a honeycomb

The typical Queen Bee’s life span is

a. 1 year  b. 3 years  c. 6 months

Victorians often kept bees in an upturned straw basket known as

a. skip  b. skep   c. trug

Honey bees will typically stop flying when the temp. drops below (in Fahrenheit)

a. 30 degrees b. 50 degrees c.  60 degrees

The wooden hive, with moveable frames and “space” for bees, was invented in

a. Ireland  b. USA  c.  ancient Egypt

Mesopotamian civilization recorded the harvesting of honey as early as

a. 1000 BC  b. 2400 BC  c. 600 BC

To get your colony off to a good start feed your bees

a. honey from a jar  b. white sugar  c.  brown sugar

When Sherlock Holmes retires he keeps bees in

a. Wessex  b.  Sussex  c.  Essex

Nectar is changed into honey because of natural chemicals in the bee’s

a. stinger  b. head glands  c. thorax

Science has shown that honeybees can recognize

a. human voices b. human faces c. the human alphabet

Per year Americans consume how many pounds of honey?

a. 11 million  b. 285 million pounds c. 350 thousand

If you answered b to all of the above, you are correct! You have earned a pot of honey!
















19th Century Daddy Issues

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David Copperfield, who appears in Jane Eyre Gets Real, also “starred” in his own novel, written by the great Charles Dickens. In this classic, Copperfield’s father dies when David is very young and his stepfather is cruel, even brutal. As #FathersDay Sunday, June 17 approaches, David reflects on the children of his literary creator.

Charles Dickens and his wife Kate had 10 children. A few of them including son Charley were alcoholics with gambling addictions. Frank stuttered and walked in his sleep. Katey, the eldest daughter, would grow up to marry Charles Alston Collins, a painter and the brother of author Wilkie Collins. Alston Collins was rumored to be a homosexual. Kate herself almost certainly had OCD; even before her marriage, she was compelled to count furniture and check under the bed several times a day. (She would later remarry Charles Edward Perugini and become an artist herself but that is a story for another occasion).

Though Charles doted on all his children when they were born, the older they grew the more they disappointed him. Henry, the eighth–no pun intended–went to Cambridge and became a lawyer. But he was really the only one to attain conventional success. Plorn, the baby boy, was always of a very nervous temperament; nonetheless, Plorn, when he turned seventeen, was sent by Dickens to make his own way in the harsh Australian outback. Daughter Mamie never married; after Dickens’s death she became mysteriously involved with a clergyman and his wife and traveled with them, as part of a charity called–wait for it–Muscular Christianity. It was thought Mamie was being exploited by this couple for her inheritance.

A great deal of why Dickens’s children might have lacked self-esteem, and therefore the ability to tackle adult life, can be traced to Charles’s affair with Ellen Ternan. This relationship caused him to separate from Kate, his most devoted and once-beloved wife, and to remove the children from her–in a stunning act of self-centered Victorian patriarchy. So the children grew up in a fractured household, torn between love for their long-suffering mama and respect for their strict father, whose great expectations for them all were, sadly, never realized.

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Beautiful Robots

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It’s no secret that robots designed to be a part of your home are on the rise, from Kuri the cute little mechanical critter that responds to sound and touch and has “moods” which it reflects through light, to the bot that will carry home your shopping. Dorian Gray, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, knows better than anyone how appearances can be deceiving. Though robots seem very modern, sophisticated automatons began to appear before the European public as early as the 1600s.

In the reign of Louis XV, a mechanical bird was created called “Digesting Duck.” Made of copper it could eat, fully digest and even excrete food, as well as flap its wings and quack. At the turn of the 19th century “The Draughtsman-Writer” had a built-in memory, could draw four pictures and write three poems. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, renowned watchmaker and mathematician Jacquet-Droz invented “The Musician”, a little lady who played the organ while her chest rose and fell; she bowed at the end of each performance. Take that, Siri!

Victorians had great fun with the automaton. Mechanical dancers circling inside glass bell jars to the beat of mechanical tunes became popular items to display on the mantelpiece. There were also banks, often with circus themes, which did “tricks”; for instance, set a penny in the trunk of a mechanical elephant and it would deposit it for you. But automatons were not just fun and games. They questioned the nature of life itself.  In the 1880s a French author, Auguste Villiers de l’Isle Adam, wrote a novel called The Future Eve, about an English nobleman who falls in love with a beautiful mechanical woman, a forerunner of The Stepford Wives and Her. Incidentally, it was in this book by Adam that the term android was first coined.

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Battenburg & Ballerinas

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This distinctive type of lace, named Battenburg after Queen Victoria’s son-in-law, was developed in the late 1800s. It was distinctly modern in that it combined machine-made techniques with hand stitching. It quickly became very popular and was used for everything from parasols to kitchen curtains.

For the next five days read The Grace of the Hunchback by Annabelle Troy, the story of an outwardly ethereal but inwardly fractured #ballerina–as unique as Battenburg lace--for free on Amazon.

Very Victorian #RoyalWedding Problems


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#MeghanMarkle and #PrinceHarry may be encountering logistical problems shortly before the Windsor Castle extravaganza scheduled for tomorrow. However, Jane Eyre, a character in Annabelle Troy’s novel Jane Eyre Gets Real, can remember all the way back to 1840 and the day Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert. Here are some of the wedding hoops Victoria had to jump through:

White Wedding Gowns Were Not Yet in Fashion but Victoria Insisted on Wearing White Silk, Trimmed with Lace & Orange Blossoms. Interestingly, White At That Time Symbolized Not Purity But Wealth.

The Groom Was Prettier than the Bride. Victoria Mourned the Fact that Albert Must Think Her Plain and That A Scottish Newspaper Depicted Her As Having “Open, Anxious Nostrils”.

Her Wedding Cake Lingered On: It Was 300 Pounds and a Piece Has Not Only Survived Until Modern Times, It Was Actually Sold Last Week for the Equivalent of $2000 American Dollars.

Like Meghan, Queen Victoria Did Not Have a Father Present to Walk Her Down the Aisle. Because Victoria’s Father was Deceased, She was Escorted by Her Favorite Uncle.

Victoria and Albert’s Honeymoon Only Lasted Two Days and Was Spent, Not Somewhere Exotic, But at Windsor Castle Where the Couple Rode Horses, Took Walks & Hosted Dinner Parties. They Then Returned to Buckingham Palace.

Of course, it Might be Construed that the Honeymoon Lasted All of Victoria’s Life, as she Never Stopped Loving Albert and Reenacted the Wedding Ceremony Numerous Times Throughout their Years Together. During Victoria’s Official Diamond Jubilee She Wore Her Wedding Veil. Long May Love Reign.



What the Bee Sees


As Alice in Wonderland and several other characters in Annabelle Troy’s novel Jane Eyre Gets Real can attest, the Victorians knew their flowers. They had a whole secret language which devolved around them: the pink carnation stood for gratitude, the yellow rose for friendship, violets for youth. If you wanted to express the first flushes of love you might send a bouquet of purple lilacs, while nothing signified consolation better than a red poppy. As you might expect daisies symbolized innocence and sunflowers happiness. But did you know that the iris was code for a message, the jasmine for amiability and the lily for flirtation?

If Victorians saw double meanings behind every blossom, so do bees. A bee looks at a flower in a completely different way than a human. Though people can see a wider variety of color, bees are much more sensitive when it comes to depth of color vision. Purple, violet and blue are the colors most dynamic to bees; they can’t see pure red at all but perceive the reddish wavelengths that create yellow and orange. Bees, due to the construction of their eyes, hone in on iridescence and the individuality of each flower.  For example, in the photo below we see the top image and the bee sees the bottom. The patterns insects can view within the petals, invisible to us, serve as “landing strips” to uncover pollen. Remember: to the bee your garden is a wonderland!


Autistic Or Aristocratic?


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Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer’s So Odd a Mixture: Along the Autistic Spectrum in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was an essay published about 10 years ago; it seeks to show that Mr. Darcy, far from being arrogant or aloof, suffered from a type of high-functioning autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. After all, he is “continually giving offense”, seems cold and unfeeling, and doesn’t seem to care about, nor even to realize, the emotions of other characters.

Mr. Darcy is also a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy. Darcy, when asked by Miss Troy what he thought of Ms. Bottomer’s analysis, politely replied that it is Sherlock Holmes who has Asperger’s–he, Mr. Darcy, is simply behaving like a gentleman. Though technically not an aristocrat, as he lacks a title, Mr. Darcy’s wealth, education and standing in his community put him on a par with the cream of his society. With his very proper and rigorous behavior, as well as his ability to leave both his own and others’ feelings unacknowledged, he was only being comme il faut.

Darcy is not the only character in the world to be viewed differently when taken out of social context. In a world of single mothers, Hester Prynne’s refusal to name her baby’s father might be seen as independent rather than rebellious. Judged by the standards of today Emma Bovary might be consumer-oriented rather than extravagant and Jane Eyre might seem foolish to have fled from the very married but nonetheless very eligible Mr. Rochester. In short, society’s diagnosis is forever changing where manners, character, and psychology are concerned.

However, common sense remains constant. The advice below, taken from a Regency book of etiquette, published in 1804 and written by John Trusler, is surely still prudent:

“If a man of rank, a superior, make you a visit, and you know of his coming, ’tis a mark of respect to meet him at his coach-door, and having brought him into the best room of the house, reach him a chair, and when he begs you to sit, seat yourself by him, but in a chair without arms.”

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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.


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