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

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?






Autumn The #JaneAusten Way

Mr. Darcy, a character who, by the grace of Jane Austen, features prominently in the novel Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, wishes to remind you that Sept. 22 is the Autumn Equinox. Celebrate the Regency way by following some rural customs:

Honor Pomona, the goddess of apples, by baking an apple pie or going to your local orchard and picking some–apples, that is, not pies–straight off the trees.

Make Corn Dolls, aka Corn Poppets, from dried husks. Click on this link to find out how:

Build a Scarecrow. Forget Build a Bear; instead make a scarecrow by stuffing some of your old clothes (or even better a relative’s old clothes) with hay or, if you can’t find hay, old stockings. Use a pole to prop up your scarecrow. Arms can be formed with a broomstick and a pillowcase or pumpkin both make a great head! Remember, the more colorful the scarecrow the more crows he will scare.

Bake Bread in the shape of a child. If you don’t have a special mold for this just use your imagination!

Burn an Orange Candle. Write “I Release Thee” on a piece of paper and hold it to the flame, whilst cleansing your mind of troublesome thoughts. Just be careful the neighbors don’t see you, get wrong ideas, and begin to think of witchcraft–after all, Halloween is right around the corner.





Sherlock Holmes & the Mysterious Green Children


Sherlock Holmes, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, is fascinated by a medieval cold case. It features two siblings, brother and sister, who in the late 12th century (that’s the 1100s to you & me!) suddenly appeared in the English village of Woolpit. They were wearing clothes made of strange cloth, spoke an unfamiliar language, and oddest of all had green-colored skin. Luckily for them they weren’t tried as witches; instead, they were adopted into the community and treated with kindness.

The brother died whilst still a child. The sister grew up, eventually her skin lost its green tinge and she learned to speak the English of the time. She always talked of having been on an arduous journey, through a land of perpetual twilight and claimed to have reached England by going through a very long and mysterious tunnel, describing it like a portal in the sky or a gap in space.

Were the children aliens, fairies, liars–or did they even exist at all? Sadly, though the legend of the green children is a popular and enduring one, all documentation of it is basically hearsay. Have you, dear reader, ever heard of these children before? What is your explanation for their appearance? Sherlock would love to know!

Not Your Grandmother’s Cross Stitch

Hester Prynne, the sultry femme fatale in Jane Eyre Gets Real, is known for wearing a scarlet letter A, the mark of an adulterer, as part of her penance (for being, well, an adulterer). What is not so well-known is that she had to embroider all those As herself and that she eeked out a living in Puritan New England by doing fancy handwork for other colonists. In Hester’s day embroidery was a tolerated but relatively unimportant skill.

With renewed interest being taken in traditionally feminine pursuits, however, some modern-day artists are challenging the world to take embroidery seriously. Needlework can now be found in galleries and museums worldwide and is used to make political as well as gender-specific and psychological statements. Elaine Reichek uses digitally generated patterns to create modern samplers:

Elaine Reichek, The Sick Rose, 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

Orly Cogan embroiders images onto vintage linens that already have pre-existing motifs. Cogan is interested in archetypal depictions of women (“the Madonna, the whore, the pin-up girl”) which she stitches in deliberately childlike outlines, sometimes enhanced with paint:

Orly Cogan, The Wonder of You, 2007. Courtesy of the artist.

Elsa María Meléndez mixes embroidery with applique to create large, highly detailed art installations that speak to women’s identity and sexuality:

Elsa Maria Melendez, Quiero más o la pelea del cuerpo, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

Ana Teresa Barboza uses needle and thread to create hyper-realistic depictions of nature, seeking to convey a sense of wildness and motion:

Inge Jacobsen is inspired by media images and advertising:

These are only a few of the fascinating international artists, both male and female, who are using needle and thread to manifest exciting visions. Hester hopes this post has motivated you to see embroidery in new ways. It’s anything but quaint.


“My Father Is A Catholic Priest”


David Copperfield, originally created by Charles Dickens and now a character in Annabelle Troy’s Jane Eyre Gets Real, is no stranger to daddy issues. Raised by a cruel stepfather, he would later find a kindly if impecunious father figure in the eccentric optimist Mr. Micawber. David greatly enjoyed reading “Priestdaddy”, the memoir written by Patricia Lockwood about her own father, who was/is a Catholic priest. (Because he was ordained after he was married and had children, he was allowed by the Church to retain his marital status and his family.)

“Priestdaddy” is an entertaining, sometimes solemn, account of growing up with a father who possesses both a strong vocation and a strong personality. What David Copperfield was really impressed by, however, was not the story but the words. Lockwood is an award-winning poet and this shows in her vivid, lively and often beautiful prose. Here are some examples:

“Lightning was sunlight played backwards–and moms hated it. Dads didn’t care about lightning, because lightning was on the cover of all their favorite albums.”
“The room had the scent of office supplies.”
“The Midwest, contrary to popular opinion, does not lack a sense of irony. It may have too much of one.”
“Why could I never (sing)? Because I kept a cat. A cat is a kind of externalized thinking, another intelligence in the house, which prowls…But some people keep a canary.”
“Outside, the moon is casting a powdery round halo, the kind that draws you up toward it like the silhouette of a wolf.”
What was the last book you read where the words captivated you? David Copperfield would love to know!

Very Victorian #BacktoSchool Problems

As the summer air turns crisp, Jane Eyre, reluctant teacher; Heidi, who would have loved school if her village had possessed one; and Alice in Wonderland, the class dreamer, are pleased to present the challenges of attending school in the 19th century:

You May Be Bullied By Cats

Middy Blouses Are A Thing

This Is Your Delete Button


And This Is Your Spell Check

The Alphabet Sure Is Curvy!

Recess Can Make You Positively Dizzy

The author and characters of Jane Eyre Gets Real wish you all a happy Back to School

What Color Is Your Parasol?

Even Jane Eyre, shy governess, knew about the secret language of fans: the way a lady could tilt a fan one way to flirt or flip it upside down to show she wasn’t interested. There is a secret language inherent in parasols too. For instance: handle to lips means “kiss me”, a swing to the right means “I’m married”, and dropping your parasol means “I love you” (just don’t actually drop it on your beloved’s toes). You could even convey fairly complicated meanings like “You’ve changed” (hold the parasol to the right ear) or “We are being watched” (draw the handle across your forehead).

A passionate and/or sexually wanton woman might carry a red parasol unless she was Chinese in which case it would signify good luck. The more conventional type of lady might have favored blue, and white lace was always an appropriate choice. A lady who was artistic or intellectual might choose a purple parasol thereby flaunting she was a bluestocking.

Though parasols have gone out of fashion more and more women are carrying umbrellas against the wicked sun, especially in heat waves. This signifies to Jane E. that it might be time to bring back the parasol, perhaps rebranded with a cute name like “sunasol” and sold in disposable packs of three, in assorted patterns and colors. Would you take refuge beneath one?




In popular mythology, goats are often represented as wicked–agents of the devil or even directly possessed by Satan. There is now an “Evil Goat” game online where kids can use an arrow to guide a goat along a maze, trapping children along the way. Heidi, the little Swiss girl immortalized by Johanna Spyri and a major character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, wants to set the record straight. She ain’t afraid of no goats!

Aside from cavorting with goats all over the Alps, as well as consuming products made out of their milk such as cheese & soap, Heidi was raised on the following 16th century story:

A man is struggling to build a bridge across the Ruess River which cascades between sheer cliffs. Suddenly the devil appears before him and says, “I will build the bridge for you but in exchange I want the first soul to cross it.” The man agrees; a stone bridge appears; now the devil wants payback. As he is greedily awaiting a human, a goat comes traipsing across the bridge and the devil must take its soul instead. The bridge remains standing to this day. However, the huge boulder the devil threw down in his anger has been moved due to highway construction. Heidi hopes the goat’s soul has been taken from Satan and placed in heaven, as a reward for his valiant sacrifice.



She Glues Seashells

If Jane Eyre had ever gone to the seaside she’d be the kind of lady who’d make shell art. This was a popular pastime in the Victorian era, as it involved patience, dexterity, ingenuity and the use of found (free!) objects. Of course, a lady could always cheat a bit and buy shells; for instance at Mrs. Robinson’s shop on Grosvenor Square they were available by the packet, complete with patterns for mirrors, boxes, and picture frames.

Though making all kinds of things with shells became a trend in the 1800s, rather like adult coloring books are now, shells-as-decoration actually started with Royalty then trickled down to the bourgeoisie. Did you know that Louis XVI commissioned a cottage made entirely of shells for Marie Antoinette? Back in England the posh 18th-century furniture maker Thomas Chippendale was known for carving shell motifs onto chairs and cabinets. Across Europe noble estates boasted faux grottoes, copied from ancient Rome, and positively smothered in seashells.

Humble objects, especially those created by women, are achieving more attention in the art world. Embroidery, patchwork, needlepoint and beading are all being viewed with a fresh eye as to their importance. Former President Obama’s portrait was even recently done in Legos, by the artist known as Brixel (admittedly a man). Can we look forward to the first critically acclaimed seashell artist? To a replica of the Mona Lisa rendered in scallops perhaps or, a la Picasso, women descending a spiral staircase made from the curvy helix? With shells all things are possible!



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