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

The Heart of Mr. Darcy


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Yes,  it’s almost that time again–Valentine’s Day when our thoughts turn to the heart. Of all of literature’s romantic heroes Mr. Darcy is probably the most popular. He is certainly the total package: intelligent yet normal (when compared with say Heathcliff), less of a liar than Rochester, richer than Tom Jones, younger than Maxim de Winter. His heart has captured that of many ladies. But what, in the Regency, WAS a heart’s true value and how was it measured?

Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813. The first stethoscope was invented in 1816 by Doctor Laennec; when he saw a female patient who seemed to be suffering from a diseased heart he felt it unseemly to lay his head against her chest, so he took a piece of paper, rolled it into a tube and listened that way. Later he would perfect his invention by making the tube out of wood; an early version of his stethoscope can be seen today at the Science Museum, London. The part that plugged into the ears, via flexible bifurcated tubing, didn’t arrive until 1850.

The Regency era also saw medicine grow as a profession. The poet John Keats studied to be a doctor–though tuberculosis fatally shortened that career. Regency doctors often carried their instruments around in black leather medical bags. These instruments included mainly saws and other grisly things. No one had yet invented the blood pressure cuff; however, doctors understood that blood pumped through the body and would test the patient’s pulse the old-fashioned way–by using their fingers. Ironically, it was in this burgeoning age of science that the heart being the seat of emotion–a fancy stemming from ancient Roman times–began to be questioned.

Scientists now believe that the heart does play an active role in determining our feelings, along with the brain. In fact the heart and the brain are in a constant dialogue; the brain sends signals to the heart which then responds in a myriad of ways–by slowing down, beating faster or even skipping a beat. Forget Eliza Bennett and Mr. Darcy; the heart and the brain might be the world’s most sympathetic duo.


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Female Empowerment Started With Madwomen


Over a hundred years before pussy hats and mass protests in Washington DC, New York and elsewhere across America, women who had opinions of their own were asserting themselves, sometimes from the confines of asylums. Throughout the 19th century charges of insanity were brought against ironically strong-minded women, often by family members, especially husbands, who were eager to curb their independence.

For one such case read A Cure for Cecily by Annabelle Troy, free on Amazon through Feb. 6:

Would Jane Eyre Wear a Pussyhat?

Knitted Cat Hat

Though Jane Eyre is too often associated now with gooey Gothic romance, she would definitely have donned a pink pussyhat for Jan. 21’s march in Washington DC and across the nation. Her character was one of the first feminist voices in literature, which rang out across 19th century England for being clear, disobedient, controversial–and, yes, downright nasty.

In a powerful grassroots effort, last month women across the nation knit distinctive pink hats, complete with ears, and mailed them either to marching points across America, where they were dispersed free of charge, or to individual protesters. Jane was interested to learn that London’s Victoria & Albert Museum recently held an exhibition, now closed, called Disobedient Objects.  This exhibit was the first to showcase the role of objects to help bring about social change. Among the displays: banners finely woven by suffragettes; defaced currency; an inflatable silver cobblestone used during the Barcelona General Strike of 2012; even activist bicycles! No doubt any future exhibition will showcase the pussyhats of which well over 60,000 were estimated to have been hand-made and distributed.

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Ballerina on the Rocks

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Celebrate 2017 with free week of The Grace of the Hunchback by Annabelle Troy

Jan. 2-6

Radiant 19th century ballerina Marie Taglioni leaps from tragedy to triumph!

Meanwhile, enjoy this ethereal Basho haiku:

If there were fragrance

these heavy snowflakes settling…

Lilies on the rocks

Wrenboys: or how to spend the time btw Xmas & New Year’s


Image result for pictures of wrenboysDecember 26th has always been a problem. What is to be done with a day that is so anti-climatic? Nineteenth century England had boxing day, as David Copperfield, a character created by Dickens and appearing in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, well remembers. Servants, who had to work on Christmas, were given a box full of food, some money, perhaps castoff clothing from their employers, and allowed to take the day off to visit their families. Though still a legal holiday in the UK, it hardly packs the same punch now.

Throughout Europe, especially Ireland, Dec. 26th is also celebrated as St. Stephen’s Day or Wren Day. St. Stephen was Christianity’s first martyr. All over Ireland, especially in rural communities, people–okay, usually boys and men–don old clothes, wear straw hats or straw capes, and go from door to door singing and carrying a fake wren on a pole. In past times, a real wren used to be hunted and killed before it was impaled. Why this association with Stephen and wrens? No one seems to be sure but it has to do with ancient folk legends–probably of pagan origin– featuring the wren and Jesus. Because mumming is also part of St. Stephen’s Day it’s the traditional day to see pantomime in theaters–think Stephen Fry’s Cinderella with men dressed up as Ugly Stepsisters, Dolce and Gabbana.

In Finland, where Christmas itself was celebrated austerely, a big part of the St. Stephen’s Day tradition was to go out on a horse and sleigh, bells jangling. Could this be why Santa rides a reindeer? Whatever the answer, Wren Day tries not to disappoint.

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Very Victorian Christmas Problems

It’s that time of year again. Happy Yule from Annabelle Troy and the characters of Jane Eyre Gets Real.

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Victoria and Albert got a Christmas tree…so now you have to get a Christmas tree

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Plum Pudding Too Dry

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Extremely Disturbing Greeting Cards

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Um, kids, that’s not really Santa…


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Angels Keep Dropping By While You’re Trying To Sleep

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Very Jane Eyre Problems


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You’re Just Not Into Polygamy

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You Can’t Stand Any More Burned Grilled Cheese Toast At Breakfast

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Aunt Reed Will Never, Ever Forgive You–Never, Ever, Ever

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Your Pupil is Marie Antoinette In An Eight Year Old’s Body

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You’ve Had It With Brooding Men–Get Over Yourself, Rochester 

Tired of traditional Jane Eyre? Then read Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy on Amazon:

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Colors of the Past

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Emma Bovary, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, loves beautiful dresses. The era in which she lived, the mid-19th century, saw the turning away from natural dyes such as indigo, and the explosion of rich new colors through the use of aniline dyes. Think acid green, royal purple, chrome yellow, pillar box red. Victorian women were shrinking violets no more; instead they were bold violets bedecked in coral and sapphire with hints of that trendy new color, mauve. In 1856 the 18 year old English chemist William Henry Perkins “invented” mauve, and a range of other fantastic hues, by accident; he had been trying to find a cure for malaria but revolutionized fashion instead. In an attempt to synthesize aniline with quinine, he came up with a mixture that dyed cloth an amazing purple. He filed a patent for it. From then on, labor-intensive dyes made from natural substances became a thing of the past. Forget plants and crushed beetles; make way for coal tar (from which aniline is extracted). Unfortunately, Perkins was born before “Shark Tank.” Though he achieved much renown for his colorful work, by the 1890s Germany had a monopoly on chemical dyes, and Perkins had to sell off most of his holdings. Still, he had a good run, including owning a factory which literally painted the town red on many occasions, and he is known to this day as the Father of Mauveine.

Another “brilliant” fact: fossils indicate that ancient dinosaurs were covered in bright feathers. They may have even been peacock feathers, whose iridescence serve as camouflage. So next time you see “Land of the Lost” imagine the Tyrannosaurus Rex Grumpy coming at you in blazing techno-color, feathered tail and all. He’s a little less intimidating now, huh? What’s next? Dragons who breathe fireworks? Unicorns with horns made of stained glass? In the magical-yet-real world of ornamentation anything is possible.

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Very Dickensian Problems

When we fantasize about going back to Victorian times we usually picture ourselves as being rich: dressed in silken clothes, living in gorgeous houses, waited on head and foot. Of course for many Victorians life was one of heart-wrenching poverty. This fact was well-documented by Charles Dickens, the creator of David Copperfield and many other rags-to-riches characters. Dickens himself was taken out of school when his father went bankrupt. Little Charles, then twelve years old, had to live alone in a boarding house and work at Warren’s Blacking Factory, making polish for boots, until an unexpected inheritance allowed his father to regain social standing. Charles was then enrolled in Wellington House Academy; but his past was so bitter to him that he could never pass the Blacking Factory without crying, even after he became a famous author.

To those of his contemporaries who were not so fortunate, David Copperfield presents Very Dickensian Problems:

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Your Mother Was Right–You Should Have Married That Blacksmith


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17 Kids In The Family/0 Bathrooms


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“Grool” Is Not Just A Quote From “Mean Girls”

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There’s Nothing To Play With Except String

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Smoking Is Bad For The Lungs But You’ve Inhaled Too Much Soot To Care

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You ARE The Maid

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