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


alice in wonderland

Don’t Worry, #Bee Happy



After Alice in Wonderland, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, falls down the rabbit hole she keeps trying to recite “How Doth the Little Busy Bee” (a Victorian childhood favorite) but it keeps coming out as “How Doth the Little Crocodile.” That’s when she knows she’s in trouble! Refine your own bee knowledge by taking the quiz below:

A Collection of hives is called

a. an aviary b. an apiary c. a honeycomb

The typical Queen Bee’s life span is

a. 1 year  b. 3 years  c. 6 months

Victorians often kept bees in an upturned straw basket known as

a. skip  b. skep   c. trug

Honey bees will typically stop flying when the temp. drops below (in Fahrenheit)

a. 30 degrees b. 50 degrees c.  60 degrees

The wooden hive, with moveable frames and “space” for bees, was invented in

a. Ireland  b. USA  c.  ancient Egypt

Mesopotamian civilization recorded the harvesting of honey as early as

a. 1000 BC  b. 2400 BC  c. 600 BC

To get your colony off to a good start feed your bees

a. honey from a jar  b. white sugar  c.  brown sugar

When Sherlock Holmes retires he keeps bees in

a. Wessex  b.  Sussex  c.  Essex

Nectar is changed into honey because of natural chemicals in the bee’s

a. stinger  b. head glands  c. thorax

Science has shown that honeybees can recognize

a. human voices b. human faces c. the human alphabet

Per year Americans consume how many pounds of honey?

a. 11 million  b. 285 million pounds c. 350 thousand

If you answered b to all of the above, you are correct! You have earned a pot of honey!
















What the Bee Sees


As Alice in Wonderland and several other characters in Annabelle Troy’s novel Jane Eyre Gets Real can attest, the Victorians knew their flowers. They had a whole secret language which devolved around them: the pink carnation stood for gratitude, the yellow rose for friendship, violets for youth. If you wanted to express the first flushes of love you might send a bouquet of purple lilacs, while nothing signified consolation better than a red poppy. As you might expect daisies symbolized innocence and sunflowers happiness. But did you know that the iris was code for a message, the jasmine for amiability and the lily for flirtation?

If Victorians saw double meanings behind every blossom, so do bees. A bee looks at a flower in a completely different way than a human. Though people can see a wider variety of color, bees are much more sensitive when it comes to depth of color vision. Purple, violet and blue are the colors most dynamic to bees; they can’t see pure red at all but perceive the reddish wavelengths that create yellow and orange. Bees, due to the construction of their eyes, hone in on iridescence and the individuality of each flower.  For example, in the photo below we see the top image and the bee sees the bottom. The patterns insects can view within the petals, invisible to us, serve as “landing strips” to uncover pollen. Remember: to the bee your garden is a wonderland!


The Father of #Cat Photography: A Wonderland History



#AliceinWonderland, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real as well as the girl famous for  falling down a rabbit hole, had a cat named Dinah. References to Dinah pepper Alice’s adventures. Early in her story she thinks:  `Dinah’ll miss me very much to-night, I should think!’ (Dinah was the cat.) `I hope they’ll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I’m afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that’s very like a mouse, you know. But do cats eat bats, I wonder?’ And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, `Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?’ and sometimes, `Do bats eat cats?’ for, you see, as she couldn’t answer either question, it didn’t much matter which way she put it.’

If owning cats delighted the Victorians so did photographing them. The father of pet photography, and the precursor to all four-legged twitter memes, is widely acknowledged to be Harry Whittier Frees. Frees, born in 1879, was an American who began to photograph cats when a paper hat accidentally drifted onto a feline’s head at a party, creating an instant “cute” moment that just had to be captured. From there he went on to produce postcards and books of kittens in adorable poses, doing such human things as stirring jam, hanging laundry and learning lessons, all dressed up in costumes made by his housekeeper and bearing LOL-worthy captions.  Since Frees had to work with a very slow exposure and cats are notorious for wriggling around, his profession was stressful–only 30 negatives out of a 100 could be used and he worked only 3 months a year, allowing himself to restore his nerves during the other nine. Though Frees did eventually move on to dogs and rabbits, they proved to be no easier as subjects.

In 1953 Frees, who never married or had children, was diagnosed with cancer and committed suicide alone in Clearwater, Florida. Unfortunately–or perhaps fortunately–he didn’t live long enough to see his art form become a popular amateur pastime.


How to Build a Japanese Snowman

Alice in Wonderland, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, is a teen model, physics student and lover of all things wacky and different. When it snows in New York City she makes a snowman Japanese-style: using two big snowballs only. You got it–two snowballs, not three. The Japanese word for snowman is yuki.  Last year during the famous Sapporo Snow Festival, over 10,000 yuki were built and exhibited–setting a new world’s record for the number of snowmen assembled in one place. Frosty, eat your heart out!

Yuki can also be used as language teaching tools. Alice recently found this fun video on Youtube–at least she hopes it’s fun and not at all like the video in The Ring, originally a spooky Japanese movie remade for Western audiences starring Naomi Watts and a strange girl who keeps creeping out of the TV.


Hansel & Gretel: Let Them Eat Cake

As a holiday treat David Copperfield took Heidi and Alice in Wonderland to Hansel & Gretel at the Metropolitan Opera. This Humperdinck opera, in a production by Richard Jones, gives viewers the chance to see familiar fairy tale characters in a slightly wacky light–the children get lost in a forest full of trees comprised of besuited men wearing antler-like branches; they are served a banquet presided over by gigantic chefs and a fish-headed butler; the Wicked Witch is like a deranged Italian mama, forcing cake down their throats the better to eat them. In the end, after the Witch is charred to death, all the kids she has enchanted come to life and join Hansel, Gretel, and their parents in a triumphant feast of food and song.

The opera reinforces a basic theme in many fairy tales, which is just as important as love or fortune: hunger. Hansel & Gretel is the perfect vehicle for winter, the time when famine so often killed without mercy. And who better to conquer hunger than children, those eternal emblems of spring, rebirth and the return of nature’s bounty? Like Christmas itself, the misadventure of Hansel & Gretel brings joy and hope to the depths of our longest, darkest days.

As December 25th approaches and the warmth of living rooms all lit-up and filled with good things to eat conquers the frost outside, remember to read Hansel and Gretel Inside the House of Candy by Annabelle Troy.  The book, a modern retelling of the classic fairy tale, is available on Amazon:


Fictional Characters Need Presents Too!

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In Jane Eyre Gets Real, by Annabelle Troy, nine characters from classic literature find themselves whisked from their books and placed on a reality TV show set in contemporary NYC. As Christmas is fast approaching, they divulge what they each want most from their Secret Santa (each gift must be $25 or under)

Alice in Wonderland: Game of Phones, a scavenger hunt-type board game designed with tween girls in mind. Now all she needs is an i-phone.

Heidi: Goats Adult Coloring Book by Jennifer E. Garza–a coloring book filled with “stress relieving goat designs.” Though made with grown-ups in mind, there is no doubt Heidi would love this book which features “all types of goat expressions”, each one of suitable for framing. Takes the bahhh right out of bah-humbug!

Speaking of which, David Copperfield would like a ticket to see the new movie “The Man Who Invented Christmas”. Starring Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame) and Christopher Plummer, it’s the tale of how a struggling author, Charles Dickens, must convince his publishers to accept a story revolving around Christmas–then a relatively obscure holiday. With the publication of A Christmas Carol, Dicken’s career took a joyful leap forward–and many concepts he wrote about, like a snowy day filled with celebration, generosity and pudding, became integrally linked with the day.

The list of perfect gifts continues below:

Mr. Darcy: the Paddywax Library Collection Jane Austen-inspired soy candle; burns 60 hours; comes with the scent of gardenias and the Austen quote “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”

Hester Prynne: Brit + Co Embroider a Wallhanging Kit, as Puritans are definitely into DYI.

Dorian Gray: Keep Calm and Focus on Hedonism baseball cap

Sherlock Holmes: Carson Page Magnifier–like a really big magnifying glass but flat

Emma Bovary: Chanel black and white signature gift box; apparently, these can be purchased for $18 on e-bay. If you want to put something from Chanel in the box it will cost considerably more.

Jane Eyre: PINCH Pom-Pom Mini Emergency Kit available at Bloomingdale’s; contains 17 essentials any lady would welcome, such as stain removal pad, lip balm, a safety pin, dental floss and more!

With Christmas only a few days away, all Santas, secret or otherwise, had best get busy.

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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.





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!”


I’m Like A Bird

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Birds are linked in all world mythologies to birth, death, freedom and rejuvenation–making them the perfect symbol of spring. Giving whimsy its way, here are the characters of Jane Eyre Gets Here by Annabelle Troy, reimagined as avian spirits:

Dorian Gray: peacock. A reminder that beauty should never be taken too seriously, the peacock also represents new life rising out of the ashes–a kind of vain phoenix.

David Copperfield: cuckoo. An orphan bird always looking for foster families; not known for being a hero in his own life, the cuckoo looks for other nests in which to build his future.

Mr. Darcy: bluejay. If you dream of a bluejay your subconscious is telling you to be more honest with yourself. Once you have embraced your inner jay, you will be the picture of truth, integrity–and a bit of a bully. Like a smug public school boy who can use his power for good or for evil.

Sherlock Holmes: the raven. A known detective of the bird world, ravens were followed by hunters in order to find deer; the man would slay the deer, the raven would eat the innards. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Holmes was often depicted in Victorian illustrations as wearing a “deerstalker cap.”

Heidi: chickadee. A sociable and cheerful bird, there are seven varieties, a mystical number. Harbingers of joy, they can alter their own body temperature to survive even the harshest winters.

Alice in Wonderland: goose. Not always silly, the goose is known in the spirit world for going on quests.  The wise goose teaches us that we can alter our course abruptly and still come out a winner.

Emma Bovary: swan. Symbol of feminine grace and timeless beauty, the swan strives towards refinement. If it tarnishes its feathers sometimes, it only goes to show how muddy the waters can be.

Hester Prynne: chicken. Don’t laugh. Chickens can be very powerful beings; for instance, the Russian Baba Yaga dwells deep in the forest, in a hut posed on chicken legs. She is the archetypal symbol of the mother, capable of great fertility and immense destruction–take that, KFC!

Jane Eyre: bluebird. Not just a symbol of happiness, the bluebird represents the well-adjusted ego. A dead bluebird means disillusion and innocence lost; a thriving one stands for radiant transformation into a higher self.

Now get out there and go feed some ducks!!!


Image result for pictures of bluebirds in victorian painting







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