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

The Burning Tree: A Swiss Miss #Xmas

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Little Heidi, the youngest character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, loves Christmas in NYC. She also fondly recalls how the holiday was spent in her 19th-century Alpine village. Christmas was a month-long event back then, in which Saint Nicholas appeared on December 5th to fill Heidi’s stocking with small gifts; since St. Nick was really Grandfather these were very small indeed, like an orange or a whistle carved from wood. (Presents in Switzerland today, even for children, still favor practicality: books, socks, funny tasseled hats rather than extravagant toys).

On Chrismas Eve the entire village might gather on the mountain, carol together and eat fondue from a communal pot. A very old tradition, still practiced today, was to cut down a tree and light it on fire, creating a huge blaze (though pine trees brought into the home and decorated with candles were also popular and remain so). It was believed that on midnight December 24th, animals were granted the gift of human speech; barns were heaped with extra hay to keep the animals from speaking directly to their human owners, which was considered to bring the farmers bad luck. A petite Christkind–perhaps Heidi herself–would suddenly appear amidst the villagers, clad in white with glittery wings and holding a magical stick. To sight the Christkind was to experience joy and good fortune. Everyone, even curmudgeonly  Grandfather, would go to Midnight Mass then share hot chocolate and ringli, special doughnuts.

On Christmas Day a lot of people slept late.

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What’s on YOUR #Christmas Card?

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Mild-mannered David Copperfield, featured in Jane Eyre Gets Real, was originally created by Charles Dickens, aka “the man who invented Christmas”.  That may well be–but he didn’t invent the Christmas card. That honor goes to Henry Cole, credited with sending out the first card in 1843. It featured a controversial image–of children, along with adults, imbibing spirits–and it was sent for just one cent via the new “Penny Post”.

Victorians may not have been fans of drunken children but they did love a good picture. As the century evolved so did two popular motifs: dead birds and killer frogs. Though robins with rigor mortis and frogs brandishing swords may not do much for the modern eye, the 19th-century person would have instinctively connected with these images. Sacrificed birds were seen as symbols of Christ on the cross–in fact, on December 26, wrens and robins were ritualistically killed (in a kind of reverse crucifixion) in some remote country villages for good luck. Murdering frogs were “dead ringers” for Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus.

Meanwhile, you just might want to stick with cherubs, reindeer or a nice Norman Rockwell.

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If Victorian #Toys Could Talk

Heidi, the youngest character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, already knows what she wants for Christmas. Of course, the toys themselves may have their own opinions. Dear reader, what would YOU most like for #Christmas?

I’d Really Prefer No Strings Attached 

Trust Me, Kid–Together We Can Drive Your Parents Crazy

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I Intend To Be An Engineer When I Grow Up

Rock Me All Night Long

Somebody Forgot To Tell The Unicorns

You Know We Move Around By Ourselves When You’re Sleeping, Right?

I’m A Great Catch

Have You Lost Your Marbles? We Can Help!

Alice in Wonderland’s #Thanksgiving Tea Party

Alice in Wonderland, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, doesn’t fancy a big meal for Thanksgiving. Instead, she is throwing a tea party for her flatmates, including Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Darcy, Heidi, Hester Prynne and of course Jane Eyre. She has rethought some classic dishes and tried to make them full of hearty autumn flavors yet simple and delightful and, wherever possible, bite-size. Refreshments will be served on Victorian china with a leaf pattern, laid out upon starched white linen, and the teapot shall be shaped like a squirrel. Only downside: no leftovers. Great fun, we have heard, is anticipated by all.

Alice’s Thanksgiving Tea Menu:

Cranberry Iced Tea Punch

Turkey or Ham Layered Between Homemade Ginger Biscuits

Thinly Sliced White Bread Rounds Spread With Fresh Pumpkin Butter

Miniature Sweet Potato Egg Rolls

Apple Tartlets Topped With Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream

Frosted Iced Sugar Cookies Cut Into Fancy Shapes

A Selection of Fruit and Nuts

Hot Teas such as Chamomile & Peppermint and Coffee, for those who must 



Brits Now Celebrate #Thanksgiving!

On a recent visit to London, David Copperfield was surprised to find British friends who were planning to have Thanksgiving dinner. Why are the English embracing this quintessentially American holiday? Is it because nearly 200,000 Americans reside in the UK? Or maybe the British are trying to make up for never really taking to USA-style Halloween? Perhaps we’ll never know the reason why but we can at least figure out how.

Brits who plan to make dinner at home gravitate towards a traditional menu; turkey (more commonly served in the UK for Christmas), stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Dining out? The Savoy Grill offers such luxurious selections as Norfolk Bronze turkey–take that, Perdue!–venison terrine, crab & sweetcorn chowder, even a vegan Wellington. If you don’t fancy turkey the Plowden Arms in Reading substitutes pheasant for the native American bird. If you find yourself in Edinburgh you can get the entire works at the Calistoga Restaurant; amongst the dishes are sweet potato gratin, cranberry stuffing, buttered sprouts, maple ice cream-topped caramel pumpkin pie.

Surely the best place to celebrate the holiday is in Plymouth, Devon from whence the Pilgrims originally sailed. Though the focus is on the waterfront, and recreating the history of the ships, “an all-American lunch” will be served at noon on the Mayflower Steps following a short service. Who needs the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?



You Gotta Be Crewel To Be Kind


Crewelwork, 18th century, 25.7 x 19 cm (10 1/8 x 7 1/2 in.), linen with wool and silk embroidery

Hester Prynne is the character in Jane Eyre Gets Real who is best known for her embroidery skills. Though Puritans were encouraged to dress mainly in muted or dark colors, with some touches of white for relief–or to be better seen in candlelight?–this code was known to be broken. They might, for instance, wear extra-large collars, gloves with gauntlet cuffs, prominent shoe buckles, even lace trimmings from time to time.

This doesn’t mean the fine art of embroidery fell into abeyance. Women and girls were expected now more than ever to practice morality in the home and nothing was considered more conducive to this than needlework. In the 17th century little girls began to learn stitches via samplers, which became very popular (at least for those not little girls). Crewelwork–a kind of surface embroidery using twisted wool–was all the rage and appeared on wall hangings and bed coverings.

Hester would also have been adept at raised work or stumpwork as it is now known. Inspired by the lavish scrolls of Elizabethan embroidery, stumpwork involved a variety of fancy stitches worked on backgrounds of white silk, often padded with horsehair and enhanced with ribbons or spangled lace to give the finished piece added dimensionality. On special occasions, perhaps the hanging of a witch, VIPs (Very Important Puritans) might sport a collar or set of gloves bearing such work. Alas, the disgraced Hester had to be content with her scarlet A.

Very Victorian #Halloween Problems 2018

The annual return of a popular favorite from the characters of Jane Eyre Gets Real, the Annabelle Troy novel available on Amazon:

Orange and Black Is The New Black

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Bobbing for Apples Is So Unhygienic

You Can’t Get Your Broom To Fly

Dressing Up Like Bat Girl Is Not As Much Fun As You Thought It Would Be

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You Are Destined To Marry A Jack-o-Lantern

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Your Best Friend’s Backyard Mausoleum Is Bigger Than Your Own Backyard Mausoleum

Turn Your Signature Look Into A #Halloween Costume


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Sherlock Holmes, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, is known for his pipe, cape and deerstalker hat. And who would Alice in Wonderland be without her pinafore, blue dress and hairbow which is even referred to as an “Alice band’? If you want to dress up as a literary character this Halloween, think of emulating your favorite literary hero or heroine–braid your hair and don an embroidered full skirt/white peasant blouse/boots and you’re an instant Heidi! Or Darcy it up in tight jeans (as a substitute for nankeen britches) and a vintage waistcoat, perhaps with a dangling pocket watch.

Don’t want to be a copycat? Take your own signature look and slightly modify it to create an instant, and easy, costume for that last minute Halloween party. If you like to dress all in black apply temporary skeleton bone hand tattoos, or rock a red dress with a devil horn headband. Wear a poncho with your favorite denim overalls to be an instant hippie or Audrey Hepburn-fy your LBD with cats eye sunglasses and fake pearls. If you lean towards floral prints a tiny handbag, lace collar and kitten heels will turn you retro. Prefer to sleep in? A long white nightgown, no makeup and uncombed hair could make you the perfect ghost. Just look too hard into the mirror and accidentally scare yourself…


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Charm Or Opulence: Which Do You Prefer?

Jane Eyre, the lead character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, a whimsical mash-up novel available on #Amazon, knows all about the language of flowers. To the Victorians, sending a bouquet of white violets meant you were asking someone to gamble on love; if they returned a dark pink rose it meant they shared your passion but a light pink one signified they wanted to leave you in the friend zone.

In a debate on the merits of charm versus opulence, two autumn flowers speak for themselves.

Aster Daisy: I’m sweet and unpretentious. If I were a house I’d be a thatched country cottage; if I were a person I’d be a kindergarten teacher called Lucy. I come in many varieties, some of which don’t even have a scent. I don’t like to intrude and I’m a helpful pollinator as I grow close to the ground. My name means “starlike” because of the shape of my blossoms and I stand for all things pure and gentle. I look good simply arranged maybe in an antique jug or mason jar.

Chrysanthemum: means gold and flower. I’m a big and imposing presence and have traditionally been used for medicine, especially to reduce high blood pressure, as well as ornamentation. In ancient Japan, I was featured on the emperor’s crest. I symbolize longevity, immortality and good luck. If I were a person I’d definitely be a movie star, a rock singer or an interior decorator; I need to be seen! Not to brag or anything but I’m America’s most popular autumn flower.

Which do you prefer: the daisy or the mum?





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