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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

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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Is There a Cure for Tulip Fever?

This weekend the film Tulip Fever, based on the novel by Deborah Moggach, opens in New York City. The film was supposed to be made over a decade ago, and was to star Keira Knightley and Jude Law; it now features Alicia Vikander and Christoph Waltz. Set in the 17th century, the plot revolves around the zeal aroused by tulip speculation–hundreds of years ago fortunes could be made (and lost) by investing in the Oriental flower.  So far, the movie has received lukewarm reviews; it seems to be a bit dull and over-plotted. (Given the dour Dutch setting this isn’t surprising; Vermeer just made it look easy!)

Hester Prynne, a character in the novel Jane Eyre Gets Real, doesn’t understand the fuss. A survivor of the 1600s, she thought Tulip Fever was a real disease. When she heard it was coming to NYC, she rustled around some old recipe books and wooden boxes, eager to find a cure. In Hester’s time, pre-antibiotics, any fever was potentially fatal. Below is a list of some particularly nasty ailments and their common cures (from the article Disease and Illness in Regency England by I. A. Hilden:

Smallpox- virus causes blister bumps on the skin and in the mouth and throat, accompanied by a fever. If you get this disease and survive, you would not get it again. Believed to have emerged in 10,000 BC. A smallpox rash was found on Pharaoh Ramses V of Egypt. It can cause blindness due to ocular scarring. Eighty percent of children who contracted this disease died. It is airborne and easily inhaled or transmitted through bodily fluids. One of the first vaccinations ever created was for smallpox in 1798.

Pleurisy-is an inflammation of the lungs that produces a hacking cough and sharp chest pain. Respiratory infections and pneumonia are the main causes of pleurisy. Milk Weed- helps to relieve breathing difficulties, ease pain, and lessen inflammation. Leeches- applied to rib cage where the pain was located.

Yellow Fever-a tropical disease spread by mosquitos. It usually occurred in seaports and carried flu like symptoms. This disease killed many British soldiers in the West Indies. Severe cases led to kidney and liver failure. Bloodletting, cold baths, and a calomel and James’s powder purge. Often bled 4-5 times in a 30-hour period.

Croup- this name applied to many illnesses at the time, including diphtheria. This disease
occurred with children, leading to hoarseness and coughing. Severe cases led to convulsions and death. Nowadays we say the patient is barking like a seal when they contract this virus. Croup causes inflammation in the upper airways. The disease often begins with signs of the common cold. White Horehound Syrup was used to alleviate the cough and lung trouble. 

Typhoid Fever-brought on by consuming food or water that has been contaminated by human waste either directly or through flies. Could lead to delirium and death if untreated. Often accompanied by a rash that is similar to Typhus. It has four stages with a variety of terrible symptoms. Sanitation and education is the way to prevent it. Bloodletting and Calomel- Calomel is Mercury and it acts as a purgative and kills bacteria. It also does irreversible damage to the patient.

As summer chills into fall, be sure to wrap up warm, and pick up a bouquet of tulips from your local florist. If chicken soup is good for the body, flowers feed the soul.

 

 

Queen Victoria’s Tramp Stamp

 

OK, Queen Victoria getting a tattoo may be a rumor started by Annabelle Troy…BUT, Alice in Wonderland, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, knows that tattooing was all the rage amongst grand ladies in the 1880s. The practice was first popularized in high society when that playboy trend setter the Prince of Wales got a cross tattoo in Jerusalem (Alice is not sure where on the body); his sons copied the cross design on their own flesh. Thus the rage for tattoos was born. After Czar Nicholas II. and Kaiser Wilhelm succumbed, aristocratic women started to get designs from the tattoo machine as well. Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Jennie, had a serpent tattoo encircling her wrist–which she covered in public with bracelets. To have ornate designs inscribed on the skin, which only husbands or lovers would see, was definitely a Victorian lady’s well-guarded secret.

Late in the 19th century “tattooed ladies”,  sometimes inked from head to slipper, became a circus staple. These ladies were definitely NOT aristocrats. Eventually, when the rage for tattooing spread to the lower classes,  along with methods for procuring them on the cheap, “real” ladies began to forego them. If Kate Middleton has one, she’s not telling…though she does have “permanent makeup”–liner etched onto her eyes so that she will always look presentable. Still, it’s no serpent.

 

 

 

 

Some Enchanted Eclipse

An eclipse of the sun deserves a good fairy tale. Read Hansel & Gretel Inside the House of Candy for free Aug. 17-21. You don’t even have to follow a breadcrumb trail through the forest. Simply click on the box below that says Buy On Amazon and the book will appear free on your electronic reading device; it’s as easy as magic! Remember to act before the sun disappears.

Did You Know Bambi Had Kids?

Recently Heidi, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real who originally starred in the children’s classic by Johanna Spyri, found a great book in the New York Public Library. It’s called Bambi’s Children, by the author of the original Bambi novel (which existed before the Disney cartoon), Felix Salten. It tells the story of a grown-up Bambi who hooks up with his cousin Faline–ok, deer have different rules about such things–and they have twins, Geno and Gurri. Geno and Gurri do sound more like Jersey Shore characters than fawns, but, as a family saga about deer–maybe the only one in existence–Bambi’s Children works like a charm.

Facts About Felix Salten:

He was a Jew who escaped Nazi-occupied Austria and sought refuge in Switzerland. His real name was Siegmund Salzmann and he was born on September 6, 1869 (died October 8, 1945). Incidentally, September 6 is also the birthday of author Annabelle Troy.

Bambi’s Children, though originally written in German, was first published in the USA in 1939. The mating scenes, and realistic scenes of animals being hurt or killed, were cut. Salten, who did not wish to be regarded as a children’s author, objected to this. (Bambi, the original, unabridged novel, was intended to be an allegory of a child growing up to become a man.)

Geni and Gurri were modeled after Felix’s own children, Paul and Anna Katharina, minus the antlers and the spotted coats, of course!

Though Bambi’s Children never made it into a cartoon, Walt Disney Productions did publish a comic book version of it in 1943.

For fun: Feeling wiped-out and uncreative after a hot, sticky day? Imagine your favorite classic character as an animal–dog, bird, alligator, lobster, whatever–and reimagine their story that way. Pride and Prejudice with foxes, anyone?

 

 

 

 

Lady Macbeth: Murder Most Clean

Spoiler Alert: the ending is revealed

Emma Bovary was sure she would identify with the heroine of the recently released film, Lady Macbeth, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and which is based on the Russian novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov; if you’ve never heard of him, that’s ok–neither had Emma. Set on the moors in 1865, the heroine Katherine, portrayed by Florence Pugh, marries an older man. Unlike Charles Bovary, Katherine’s husband does not dote on his bride; in fact, he torments her, as does her new father-in-law. They seem to hate women in general, as well as any softness or beauty. Katherine begins an affair with Sebastian, the hunky groomsman, who is seductive if you like the primitive type. When Katherine’s father-in-law begins to suspect the affair, Katherine poisons him–cooly, cleanly and apparently without conscience. She also brings about the demise of her husband, and an innocent little boy as well. Katherine is all for Sebastian being her consort–she appears to love him in a passionate, willful way–until the groomsman cracks and confesses. Katherine adroitly turns the confession to her own advantage, pinning the murders on Sebastian and a shy, oft-abused black maidservant. Her class and luminous face protect Katherine; she is seen at the end of the film, deserted by her household but rich and free. Lonely as she is, we feel her brilliant career–both as a lover and a murderess–have just begun.

Emma did enjoy the film, especially the performance of Florence Pugh, who plays her part with deft perfection. You always want to watch her; she is a panther in a sky-blue crinoline and you can’t wait for her to pounce. The only issue for Emma was that she expected to be enraptured and instead she was perplexed. None of the characters, except the maid, are remotely likable—-and even the maid is much more pitiable than sympathetic. The father-in-law is coarse, the husband probably a psychopath, Sebastian is gross and maybe just plain stupid. As for Katherine, you either hate her for her willful crimes or admire her aplomb. But you don’t exactly root for her. Then again, why should a movie heroine be likable? Katherine–and perhaps Emma as well–might ultimately prefer to be survivors.

 

Global Warming Uncovers A Secret

 

Heidi, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, is thinking about a news story she just read. It’s like a sad fairy tale complete with “Frozen” elements: 75 years ago a humble Swiss couple–the husband a shoemaker, the wife a teacher–went out to milk their cows and never came back. Their seven children were separated, sent to live with different families; growing up apart from each other they remained united in one goal: to find their parents. Last week the bodies of  Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, missing since 1942, were discovered perfectly preserved in an Alpine glacier; DNA testing has confirmed their identities. They were found near the Tsanfleuron ski lift; apparently, the couple had tumbled into a crevasse and were only uncovered as the glacier began to melt. Five years ago another melting glacier revealed the remains of the Ebener brothers, lost since 1926.

Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, the youngest child of Francine and Marceline, says she will wear white to her parents’ funeral. “It represents hope, which I never lost.”  A toddler at the time of their disappearance, she is now 79 years old.

By the Light of the Silvery Moonstone

Sherlock Holmes, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, can’t deduce how Wilkie Collins beat out Arthur Conan Doyle to write the first full-length detective novel. Published in 1868, and written in the form of letters (the 19th century equivalent of email, lol), The Moonstone centers around the inheritance of a huge jewel which sets off an Indian curse, theft, and murder. This fictional “moonstone” has an association with the Hindu god Chandra and was supposed to gain brilliance when the moon waxed. Technically, Collins’s moonstone was a diamond, much more expensive but less poetic.

There is an actual moonstone, a kind of feldspar, which is the birthstone for July and the sign of Cancer. Cancer is named for the crab, not the disease, and is linked to all things lunar, as crabs themselves have behaviors dictated by moon cycles, just like werewolves and humans…The semi-precious moonstone gem was beloved by the Victorians who, with their usual literal-minded precision, often carved it into the likeness of the man in the moon and wore it as a ring on their finger. This translucent stone is supposed to be a reflection of the person who owns it, and was favored by 19th-century men who wanted to get in touch with their feminine side. Women wore it during the full moon for luck and to gain understanding, long before therapy and tranquilizers, into their own complicated psyches. So next time, before you reach for that Xanax, you might want to simply don a necklace made of moonstones.

 

Alice in Wonderland Takes A Leap

a leap into reading that is…Recently Alice in Wonderland read a book by Annabelle Troy called The Grace of the Hunchback. This is her review:

“This book was inspired by the real life of the 19th-century dancer, Marie Taglioni. Along with her father, Philippe, an influential choreographer, Marie developed the Romantic style of ballet: toe-dancing, ethereal costumes, and athletic pirouettes executed with disarming ease.

Marie was born with what we would now call scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that today–if detected early enough–can be cured by wearing a brace. Marie’s scoliosis was not treated and she spent her childhood with a curved back, which earned her the nickname “hunchback”–a taunt hurled at her by the other little girls in dance class. Interestingly, Marie’s rigorous practice of dance did help her spine to straighten (though she would often be in pain after a performance).  On stage, Marie was the epitome of cool, unattainable beauty. Offstage she would suffer all of her life from the psychological image she had of herself: an ugly duckling who would never be a swan.

Though born into a prominent theater family, Marie had to fight against tremendous odds to secure her place in the pantheon of famous ballerinas. Her story remains an inspiring one, full of grit and determination. It’s hard to leap that high; she just made it look easy!

In a way, the book reminded me of Deenie by Judy Blume.  Deenie is a thirteen-year-old aspiring model who learns she must wear a body brace for at least three years, to correct her crooked spine. But Deenie is not just about a medical condition, it’s about how to overcome an obstacle that you think will ruin your life but instead changes it for the better. The Grace of the Hunchback is intended for older audiences but both books convey many of the same messages. They are both uplifting–no pirouette pun intended!”

 

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