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

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Eyre-Gets-Real-Annabelle-ebook/dp/B00FAS3I7O

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Jane Eyre’s November Garden

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Thanksgiving means food but it can also mean flowers and fruits: anything that celebrates the earth. Jane Eyre, an English girl at heart but now living in NYC between the pages of Annabelle Troy’s novel Jane Eyre Gets Real, reminisces about her garden at Thornfield in the autumn.

“Mr. Rochester and I were proud of these November flowers:

Calendula will flower until frost. They look like daisies, are orange, yellow or apricot, and grow to 2 feet in height.

Candytuft–delightful name–are known as “autumn snow” because of their pure white color; they bloom in fall and spring. Also known as iberis.

Cyclamen have been likened to butterflies or stars; they are beautiful and hardy. Look for them in brilliant shades of pink, rose or red.

Erica or heath are small flowers growing on needle-like leaves. Not the prettiest but there is something very Wuthering Heights about them.

Hellebores are like drooping bells, often found in distinctive purple shades, the flowers eventually turn green.

Icelandic Poppies thrive in the British climate; they have tall, leafless stems and grow in a variety of bright colors.

Asters are star-shaped flowers which attract butterflies and were once thought, when burned, to ward off serpents.

In the greenhouse, you might find such luxuries as oranges, pears, even pineapples. Pineapples were grown under huge piles of manure in what was known as a “pineapple pit.” Unfortunately, many of our greenhouse plants were routinely sprayed with arsenic. Mr. Rochester’s head gardener did not live past thirty-five; nor did many gardeners in those days.”

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Mr. Darcy’s Very Regency Problems

Gentlefolk living during the Regency era (1811-1820) had problems, too. Mr. Darcy, a character in both Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre Gets Real, shares some of his:

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You Dislike How Your Valet Ties Your Cravat

 

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Bath Has Gotten Much Too Tourist-y

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Too Many Peasants Are Poaching Your Pheasants

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Lord Byron Gets All The Chicks

 

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Even Sensible Ladies Persist In Wearing Stupid Shoes–Plus They All Seem To Know Your Yearly Income

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Food Is Inevitably Served In Aspic

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You Keep Forgetting To Return This Book To The Library–And It’s 500 Years Overdue

Saints & Souls

We all know what Halloween is–or think we do;  traditionally Oct. 31st, called All Hallows’ Eve, was an especially powerful day to ask for God’s blessing against the forces of Satan. People dressed in costume, not to get candy, but to emulate good and evil spirits and to act out the eternal battle between them.

Everyone’s favorite Puritan Hester Prynne, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, will now explain the difference between All Souls and All Saints Days.

All Saints Day falls on November 1st.  It’s the day when Catholics offer prayers for souls in Purgatory. Also, people should strive extra-hard to act and think perfectly on this day, to emulate the saints. If you’ve forgotten to that, there’s always next year!

All Souls Day, November 2nd, is a day to remember the departed, perhaps to visit their graves and leave them candles, flowers, and food. You may also want to pour holy water or milk over their tombstones.

Of course, being Puritan, Hester doesn’t celebrate any of these days. She will spend the autumn carding wool, baking beans and reading Hansel and Gretel Inside the House of Candy, free on Amazon until November 5th. (Puritan women were exceptionally well-educated so that they could enjoy the Bible even when not in church; though fiction was forbidden, Hester will make an exception for Annabelle Troy.)

Bats in Your Belfry?

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Being told you had bats in your belfry originally signified that you were a crazy or eccentric person. The belfry was a church tower i.e. the head; bats were erratic or wildly swooping ideas.  Leaving metaphor aside, it is entirely possible to have bats, even hundreds of them, living in your attic or elsewhere in your house and have no notion that they’re there.  Here are the top 10 signs you might be sharing your home with winged mice, courtesy of Humane Wildlife Removal:

“(1) Seeing bats flying around your home at sunrise or sunset (2) Smell the scent of ammonia in or around your home (3) Smell a general pungent odour in or around your home (4) Seeing dead bats around your home (5) Seeing black oil stains/resin around cracks or openings into your home (6) Having a bat fly into your home (7) Strange scratching and fluttering sounds in your attic (8) Hearing high pitched squeaks or fluttering sounds at night (9) Seeing bat droppings (guano) around your property (10) Seeing these signs in out-houses, sheds, and garages.”

To remove bats from your property, you may choose to call Humane Wildlife Removal services or other pest control outfits. That is assuming you WANT to get rid of them. As Halloween approaches, you may just prefer to see if they morph into vampires.  “Some men, like bats or owls, have better eyes for the darkness than for the light,” wrote Charles Dickens in The Pickwick Papers. Dickens went on to create David Copperfield, who also appears in Annabelle Troy’s novel Jane Eyre Gets Real. Dickens himself was CHIROPTOPHOBIC–inflicted with the fear of bats.

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Victorian Mean Girls

October third was Mean Girls day–not a day to be mean but a time to pay homage to the 2004 cult classic starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert. Written by Tina Fey, the film depicts the attempts made by newcomer Cady Heron to infiltrate–and destroy–her high school’s most popular clique. Cady succeeds in defeating “Queen Bee” Regina George, as well as learning such valuable life lessons as “only wear sweatpants on Fridays”, “joining the Mathletes is social suicide” and “the more people are afraid of you the more flowers you get.”

The characters of Jane Eyre Gets Real put their heads together to come up with three mean girls from Victorian literature. Here are the winners.

David Copperfield thought of Estella Havisham, the young heroine of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. Her father may not have been the inventor of toaster strudel but Estella, the brunette ward of rejected bride Miss Havisham, could teach Gretchen Wieners a thing or two about the rules of feminism. Raised to break men’s hearts, Estella is proud, cold and beautiful. Why are her ringlets so big? They’re full of secrets!

Mr. Darcy suggested Lydia Bennet, the youngest sister in Pride and Prejudice. Smitten with soldiers, she runs off with the notorious cad, George Wickham, who finally agrees to marry her–for a price. Airheaded Lydia, instead of being ashamed, lords her marital status over her unmarried sisters. She may not have “ESPN or something” but like Karen Smith, Austen’s 15-year-old bride is self-centered, loves to party and doesn’t know how to spell “orange”.

Jane Eyre’s nominee is Blanche Ingram, the gorgeous golden-haired socialite who tries to seduce Mr. Rochester–and pretty much succeeds except Blanche leaves him when she fears he’s about to lose his fortune. Blanche, a rich snob who is willfully ignorant and perfect on horseback, lives to taunt the help. She could eat Regina George for breakfast, not to mention a governess or two.

Who is your favorite Victorian mean girl?  Please let us know…and remember on Wednesdays we wear pink.

 

 

 

 

“A” My Name is Alice

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is expecting her third child. Again she is suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum, a very severe form of morning sickness which also affected–and killed–Charlotte Bronte, due to ensuing dehydration.

The third royal child is rumored to be a girl and one name supposedly chosen for her is “Alice”. (Alice in Wonderland, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, was delighted to hear that Kate Middleton did her university thesis on Lewis Carroll’s classic work.) Since Alice is only a possibility for the little princess’s name, other characters in Jane Eyre Gets Real share their choices below, reflecting what was popular in their eras:

Mr. Darcy: Araminta 

Hester: Amity

Sherlock Holmes: Arabella

Madame Bovary: Amandine

David Copperfield: Agnes

Heidi: Adelheid (fittingly, as it means “noble”–and is Heidi’s own given name)

Dorian Gray: Athena

Jane Eyre: Agatha (from the Greek word meaning “good”)

What is your own favorite “royal” baby name starting with the letter A? You may choose Annabelle, if you like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Brown, With Mangoes

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Jane Eyre, living now in NYC courtesy of the novel Jane Eyre Gets Real, was surprised recently when she saw a coming attraction for Victoria and Abdul. The movie, starring Judi Dench and Ali Fazal, has just opened in New York. It tells the true story of the aging queen and how she makes an Indian butler her Muslim adviser. Directed by Stephen Frears, of Philomena fame, the film has a stellar cast and lavish production values. Normally it would be right up Jane’s alley–except it all seems to be suspiciously like the 1997 movie Mrs. Brown. 

Mrs. Brown also starred Judi Dench as Queen Victoria who, extremely saddened by the death of Prince Albert, emerges from depression with the help of her Scottish servant (played by Billy Connolly). Both films revolve around the premise of a melancholy old queen, draped in black and out of touch, who is brought back to life with the aid of a “foreign” man of lowly social stature. As reward, said man is elevated to high rank and given the queen’s royal devotion. In Mrs. Brown, Billy the gillie serves Victoria whisky, encourages her to ride out in rough temperatures and to interact with peasants. In Victoria and Abdul, Abdul endeavors to present the Queen with a perfect mango: symbol of her Eastern kingdoms, too far away for her to visit yet glowing with refracted exoticism. Same difference.

Victoria and Abdul, Jane imagines, is a treat as predictable and delicious as Victoria sponge cake. She’s sure it will be easy to watch, and will offer what American audiences seem to crave: the ability to savor the beauty of empire while remaining smug in their liberal beliefs. After all, even the prim and proper queen comes to love her Indian servant, “Munshi”, valuing him over prime minister Lord Salisbury (Michael Gambon) and her other po-faced courtiers. Meaning, in theory, that the film is supporting the virtues of the “humble.” In fact, apart from being a showcase for Dench’s amazing talent, Jane fears it’s just another opportunity to feature gleaming silks in jeweled colors, plummy accents, and endless green lawns beneath a watery English sun. Nothing wrong with that; just be honest about what exactly Victoria and Abdul is celebrating.

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When Hope Despairs, Turn to Fiction

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If you are feeling in despair, as the Bronte sisters–and brother Branwell–almost always were, reading is a good way out. Emily Bronte can attest to the power of the imagination, and so she did, in the poem at the end of this post (reprinted by kind permission of her spirit). If writing poetry on the moors isn’t your thing, read Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, free on Amazon from Sept 16-Sept 20th. Happy Imagination!

To Imagination by Emily Bronte

When weary with the long day’s care,
And earthly change from pain to pain,
And lost, and ready to despair,
Thy kind voice calls me back again:
Oh, my true friend! I am not lone,
While then canst speak with such a tone!

So hopeless is the world without;
The world within I doubly prize;
Thy world, where guile, and hate, and doubt,
And cold suspicion never rise;
Where thou, and I, and Liberty,
Have undisputed sovereignty.

What matters it, that all around
Danger, and guilt, and darkness lie,
If but within our bosom’s bound
We hold a bright, untroubled sky,
Warm with ten thousand mingled rays
Of suns that know no winter days?

Reason, indeed, may oft complain
For Nature’s sad reality,
And tell the suffering heart how vain
Its cherished dreams must always be;
And Truth may rudely trample down
The flowers of Fancy, newly-blown:

But thou art ever there, to bring
The hovering vision back, and breathe
New glories o’er the blighted spring,
And call a lovelier Life from Death.
And whisper, with a voice divine,
Of real worlds, as bright as thine.

I trust not to thy phantom bliss,
Yet, still, in evening’s quiet hour,
With never-failing thankfulness,
I welcome thee, Benignant Power;
Sure solacer of human cares,
And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!

Mr. Darcy Weathers the Storm

 

With Hurricane Harvey having recently battered Texas and Irma about to hit Florida, Mr. Darcy, who appears in Jane Eyre Gets Real, reflects on storms that he has known. We think of Jane Austen’s arguably most popular creation living a serene life on his estate, Pemberley. For the most part that is true but, like some of Austen’s other characters and like the author herself, Mr. Darcy sometimes visited Lyme Regis. It is a seaside place near Bath, known for wild storms. Darcy was there in 1824 when the Great Gale hit Weymouth then went on to top The Cobb, a sea wall in Lyme, destroying its length by 90 meters–this, after wrecking havoc on the villages of Fleet and Chiswell. Since Jane Austen died in 1817, she was fortunately spared all knowledge of this storm.

That doesn’t mean Jane wasn’t influenced by Lyme. In Persuasion, Austen’s poignant novel of middle-aged love, Louisa Musgrove has an accident on the Cobb. This brings to the fore Captain Wentworth’s still-vivid regard for his erstwhile lover, Anne Elliot as he looks to her to take charge. Lyme Regis is also famous for its place in John Fowles’s spectacular novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Rejected by a dashing officer, penniless and forced to take menial employment, Sarah Woodruff dramatically stalks Lyme Regis, her hood billowing in the wind, her skin stung by salt as her eyes blaze with misery. Mr. Darcy is frightened by women like Sarah, whose spirit is so like a hurricane. He prefers to tame storms, or ignore them, not indulge them. “No drama.” Of course, as one of the most eligible men in literature, he has a choice. Most people, when it comes to love or storms, have none.

The prayers of all the characters in Jane Eyre Gets Real are with the victims of Harvey and Irma.

 

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