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

Alice in Sunderland

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Sunderland, for those who do not know, is a coastal city in Northeast England. Lewis Carroll spent some time there, mostly at Whitburn; it is where he wrote Jabberwocky and The Walrus and the Carpenter, as well as deriving general inspiration for his future masterpiece Alice in Wonderland. At the time of Carroll’s visit, Sunderland was a thriving region known for its shipbuilding; now you are more likely to find litter on the beach and hen-dos on the streets.

Nevertheless, Sunderland has been commemorated in several ways. In 1965 a group called The Shadows put out a single entitled Alice in Sunderland. You can listen to it on Spotify. There is also a graphic novel with the same name by Bryan Talbot which playfully depicts Lewis Carroll in Sunderland. It also explores local legends such as the Lambton Worm and the monkey hanged in Hartlepool.

If you ever pay a visit to Sunderland challenge yourself–use your imagination to turn the prosaic into the extraordinary; for Wonderland is all around us, not just down a rabbit hole.  (It helps if you eat some magic mushrooms first!)

A very rare shot of Sunderland's old Central Station in the 1960s.


Things That Go POP


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Below the characters from Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy reveal their favorite POP word or concept. What’s yours?

Sherlock Holmes: Poppy

David Copperfield: Popover

Dorian Gray: Popinjay

Mr. Darcy: Poppycock

Madame Bovary: Pop-up Shop

Alice in Wonderland: Lollipop

Heidi: Pop Rocks

Hester Prynne: Poppet

Jane Eyre: Mary Poppins Returns

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Swiss Bread People: Not Just for Christmas Anymore!

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Heidi, the youngest character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, is perhaps also the wisest. She knows just how to beat the winter blahs–by baking a batch of grittibanz, the traditional “bread” people of Switzerland. Similar to gingerbread cookies, these little bread people will bring a smile to anyone’s face: take that, pancakes!!! Though it is traditional to serve them on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day, Heidi sees no reason they shouldn’t be enjoyed all year long. These would also be good to serve for the first day of school or a birthday.

Here’s what she does:

  1. In a cup, mix 1 and a half teaspoons of yeast with a pinch of sugar. Place 3 cups flour in a bowl and mix it with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of softened butter, lukewarm milk (about one cup), one egg, lemon zest and the yeast. Knead dough until it is smooth. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place (it should rise to double its original size).
  2. Knead the dough again, then use a knife to cut pieces of the dough in the desired size and roll out to an oval shape. Mark the head by pressing the dough together slightly and turn the head to the back to make the neck. Cut out the arms and legs and place them in the right anatomical positions.
  3. Decorate the figures with raisins and almonds. Leave to rise and put in a cold place for approx. 30 minutes. Before baking, brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with coarse, granulated sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven.

Because this bread comes out light, fluffy, soft and sweet it is also perfect for great-grandmothers, who may or may not have dentures, to munch with a cup of coffee.

Fun fact: gritti means a figure standing with legs apart and banz is a nickname for Benedict. So this bread really means Benedict who Stands Akimbo. Perhaps they were originally named for Saint Benedict, born in 480 AD, the son of a Roman nobleman who ended his life as a hermit.

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All #Calendars Are Not Created Equal

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Mr. Darcy who is a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real first appeared in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which was published in 1813. Just as the English escaped Napoleonic rule so did Fitzwilliam Darcy escape a childhood ruled by the French #Republican calendar. From 1793-1805 (as well as for 18 days during 1871, by the Paris Commune) France, high on its victory, heady with notions of liberty, egality and fraternity, abandoned the Gregorian measurements used by everyone else and introduced Revolutionary time. Its aim was to remove all religious and royalist influences from the lives of the people.

Though there were still periods corresponding to the twelve months, these “months” were now divided into ten-day segments called decades. The tenth day, known as decadi, usurped Sunday as the traditional day of rest. The beginning of the year was the colorful Autumn Equinox, not dreary old January first.  Each Republican month was given a poetic name inspired by nature such as Brumaire, meaning mist, Prairial (meadow), Thermidor (summer heat), Messidor (harvest). Fun fact: An unknown British wag christened these months Wheezy, Sneezy and Freezy; Slippy, Drippy and Nippy; Showery, Flowery and Bowery; Hoppy, Croppy and Poppy–which, amusingly enough, foreshadowed the names Walt Disney would at a much later date give Snow White’s dwarves. 

If this wasn’t all radical enough each individual day of the year got a name or “dedication”.  Some examples: 22 Sept. was known as Grape, 10 October Sunflower, 15 December Cricket (for the insect not the English game); there were also days for the watering can, the quince, cotton, garlic, tobacco, hemp and horseradish; you get the idea. Ordinary objects, beautiful plants, useful crops were meant to replace the saints’ names which had heretofore been associated with the Christian year.

It was all very pretty but, like the epochs of human history, this concept of time proved to be fleeting. When Napoleon fell France reverted back to plain old Gregorian time which, after all, had always been good enough for Mr. Darcy.

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, once known as Frimaire (Frost), Day of the Pinenut.

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Ballerina in Winter

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Read Annabelle Troy novel The Grace of the Hunchback free Jan 5-Jan 9, only on Amazon:

Mr. Darcy’s #NewYear’sResolution

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Below Mr. Darcy and the other characters in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy share their resolutions

Mr. Darcy: Propose to some woman and live happily ever after

Emma Bovary: Marry Mr. Darcy

Sherlock Holmes: Ban all showings of the new Will Ferrell film Holmes and Watson

Heidi: Eat more cheese

Alice in Wonderland: Avoid rabbit holes

Hester Prynne: Take up knitting

David Copperfield: Give more to charity

Dorian Gray: Drink more

Jane Eyre: Go bungee jumping, at least once

The cast of Jane Eyre Gets Real wishes you an extremely happy & healthy 2019!

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Very Sherlock Holmes #Christmas Problems

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Kissing Strangers Under Mistletoe Is Most Unhygienic

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Watson Always Gives Him Socks

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Refuses To “Fiddle” Good King Wenceslas

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Illogical To Bedeck Fir Trees

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Cocaine Dealer Insists On Spending Holiday In Biarritz

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Father Christmas Is Technically Breaking & Entering

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There Are No Plums In Plum Pudding

All of the characters in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, Including Sherlock, Wish You A Very Merry Christmas!


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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