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

The Great Comet of 1812

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Mr. Darcy recently took his beloved, Emma Bovary, to see Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway. Because being plucked out of his novel and placed into modern life (you can read all about this in the novel Jane Eyre Gets Real) has forced him to suffer reduced circumstances, they didn’t sit on the stage, where the audience interacts with the cast. They had to settle for the mezzanine; luckily the show is staged in a circus-like way with action going on all over the theater. A bit of a mash-up like Hamilton–and like Jane Eyre Gets Real–the play takes scenes from War & Peace, primarily those focusing on Natasha cheating on her betrothed, Andrey, a heroic soldier off fighting Napoleon, and sets them to music which ranges from soul and folk all the way to electronic-Russian-gypsy-fusion-funk.

When Natasha is found out she becomes the greatest drawing room pariah since Anna Karenina. But she has one champion–Pierre, a nobleman/scholar/semi-recluse who happens to be Andrey’s best friend, and who is desperately seeking peace in his own life. Having married a beautiful but shallow (in fact, depraved) woman who constantly humiliates him, Pierre is no stranger to despair. His sympathy for Natasha, who is forsaken by everyone else including Andrey, leads to a gentle love developing between them. Though this is not shown in the musical, readers of War and Peace know that upon Andrey’s death (from wounds incurred in battle), Pierre and Natasha ultimately wed: two scarred souls who have made mistakes but find redemption in each other.

Emma Bovary loved Natasha (played by  Denée Benton) and her elegant white gowns. But she agreed with Mr. Darcy that the soul of the show is Josh Groban as Pierre. While foot-stomping dances, buoyant instrumentals, and strobing lights comprise much of the show, the ending is pure. When Josh Groban sings about how the historical comet portends a new blossoming in his hitherto stagnant life, the brightest light that shines is his voice.

Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813. Darcy would have been a young man in 1812, watching the historic comet blaze across Regency skies. Sitting in the Broadway theater, so far from home and from his past, he couldn’t help but quiver with the memory.


A Most Angelic Flower

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When the March sun began to melt the snow on the slopes, the first snowdrops came out”–quote from Heidi

The snowdrop that Heidi would have seen blooming in the Swiss Alps represents the common genus; there are twenty other varieties. But Heidi, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, has always known that simple things are best. Known to flower as early as January, the little snowdrop poking its way out of the cold creates an image that is both pure and hardy.

According to one folk legend, the first snowdrop appeared when an angel saw Eve, cast out of paradise, crying in the cold. The angel blew on a snowflake and created the delicate flower to comfort her. Another legend, from Germany, says that the snow visited all the flowers on earth and asked each one to give it a color. All the flowers, who apparently have selfish natures, refused. Only the gentle snowdrop cheerfully said yes; hence the snow became white and allowed its benefactor to bloom first among all flowers every spring.

Though usually thought to symbolize hope, the Victorians saw snowdrops as emblems of death and considered it unlucky to gather them and bring them home. Of course, the Victorians saw death everywhere!  During Candlemas (Feb. 2) medieval peasants would remove enshrined pictures of the Virgin Mary and replace them with snowdrops, cultivated in monastery gardens. On a more practical note in some countries, the alkaloid found in the snowdrop is used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. Snowdrops are the traditional birth flower for those born in January, though you probably won’t see one before early March. Remember to watch out for these symbols of rebirth as winter brightens into spring; don’t step on one by mistake because you might crush its gentle soul.

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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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