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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

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alice in wonderland

“A” My Name is Alice

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is expecting her third child. Again she is suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum, a very severe form of morning sickness which also affected–and killed–Charlotte Bronte, due to ensuing dehydration.

The third royal child is rumored to be a girl and one name supposedly chosen for her is “Alice”. (Alice in Wonderland, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, was delighted to hear that Kate Middleton did her university thesis on Lewis Carroll’s classic work.) Since Alice is only a possibility for the little princess’s name, other characters in Jane Eyre Gets Real share their choices below, reflecting what was popular in their eras:

Mr. Darcy: Araminta 

Hester: Amity

Sherlock Holmes: Arabella

Madame Bovary: Amandine

David Copperfield: Agnes

Heidi: Adelheid (fittingly, as it means “noble”–and is Heidi’s own given name)

Dorian Gray: Athena

Jane Eyre: Agatha (from the Greek word meaning “good”)

What is your own favorite “royal” baby name starting with the letter A? You may choose Annabelle, if you like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!!!

 

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Be A Princess Or Just Look Like One

Alice in Wonderland is a kind of Victorian fairy tale princess–led astray by a magical rabbit, plunged into adventures with queens, hatters, and caterpillars, careful all the while not to rumple her pinafore. She is a girl who exhibits great wit, character, and resourcefulness. In today’s world fairy tales are hot again, at least the Disney versions. Inspired by the upcoming premiere of Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, Alice has composed a list of things any ordinary girl can do to emulate a princess:

Let Down Your Hair: Rapunzel-like, ravishing locks are a cinch with super-long clip-in hair extensions. Seven pieces of 24″ straight, virgin hair will run you about $100. Remember, blonde is so 1016–try brunette, bright red or even ombre.

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Slip Into Glass Slippers: OK, they may not be real–but when is magic, ever?! Lucite heels make a great substitute for glass; they will be just as transparent and won’t disappear at midnight. We can’t say the same for the Prince.

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Get Enough Beauty Sleep

You may not need 100 years like some girls but 7-8 hours of sleep a night is essential to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Fairy Godmother tip: invest in a silk pillowcase to wake up looking extra-smooth.

Rosy Pink Silk Pillowcase

Puff Up Your Sleeves

Rock the Snow White look–boho peasant blouses with scoop necklines and puffed shoulders are everywhere now. Just try not to make any witches poison-green with envy.

Meg's Puff Sleeve Tee

Adopt a Frog. 

Tree frogs are dying out in the rainforests of Central and South America. Help keep the species thriving; contact 1-800-CALL-WWF to save one now. A frog adoption kit is $55 and comes with a species card, adoption certificate, and plush toy cute enough to kiss.

Frog

Finally, what do princesses read? Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy. Get your free copy on Amazon March 8-12.

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Eyre-Gets-Real-Annabelle-ebook/dp/B00FAS3I7O

That Old Black Cat Magic

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Alice in Wonderland, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, is missing her cat Dinah. When Alice was plucked from her book and made to live in contemporary NYC, beloved Dinah was left behind. So Alice went to an animal shelter to adopt a cat. She fell in love with a vivacious green-eyed kitten, but because it had black fur the agency suggested she adopt in November. Many animal shelters don’t let black cats get adopted right before Halloween; too many people use them as living decorations, abandoning them after the holiday; or they can be cruelly used for pranks. For the latter reason, it is suggested that if you already own a black cat, keep him/her inside around Oct. 31st.

Contrary to popular belief, the “unlucky” black cat is not discriminated against when it comes to adoption. It’s simply that more black cats exist than white, gray, or brown ones.  According to the ASPCA black cats represent 31% of all feline adoptions annually, followed by gray then brown cats. However, black-coated animals show age more quickly; silver hairs show up easily on that color of fur, the same way dark-haired women have to dye their roots more often! When it comes to taking a selfie with black cats, they can be hard to photograph. Non-professionals may find the black cat comes out like a dark blot, while the fur of a lighter-colored cat catches the light. (Fair is always easier to photograph which is why early Hollywood preferred blondes with pink skin tones over “exotic” types.)

While medieval black cats were historically accused of being “familiars”, messengers who traveled at night between the witch and the devil, some cultures have revered them. In ancient Egypt black cats were thought to bring their owners good luck, which is still considered to be the case in modern Japan and parts of Britain. In fact there is an Old English rhyme that goes:

Black cat, cross my path
Good fortune bring to home and hearth
When I am away from home
Bring me luck wherever I roam

 

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All Choked Up

Supposedly the choker trend which swept New York Fashion Week is a reflection of nostalgia for the 90’s–that’s the 1990s. Jane Eyre finds it ridiculous that a decade only twenty-five years in passing, and an insipid one at that, should already be inspiring regret. However, she is pleased that chokers are popular again–as they were during her own day. Indeed, chokers have been worn by women–and men–since ancient times. The first piece of jewelry may well have been some caveman’s choker made from shells and teeth! Chokers became especially notable as a fashion statement during the 18th century French Revolution; noblewomen who had escaped the guillotine sported red ribbons tied around their throats, both to honor their slain friends and relatives and as a kind of f–k you to Robespierre.

All the women in Jane Eyre Gets Real, the whimsical novel by Annabelle Troy, available on Amazon, deserve a choker. Here’s what they picked from today’s hottest looks:

Hester Prynne: We all know ornaments were forbidden in Puritan times. But the occasional bonnet or collar might be tied with a bit of black ribbon. In memory of this, Hester wants a wide black leather choker:

Soft Black Leather Choker Adjustable Necklace

Jane Eyre goes for the sentimental look of her youth:

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You know Emma Bovary is all about the drama:

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Alice in Wonderland shows that chokers can be innocent and charming:

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Even Heidi gets into the act with a girlish, faux tattoo style:

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So, whether you choose classic, bright, metallic or just an old velvet ribbon you have in a drawer, remember that fall, 2016 is the time to stick your neck out.

 

 

Child’s Play

 

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Is childhood a real psychological state or simply a creation of society–and a sentimental one at that? We tend to take for granted that children think and feel differently than adults, as well as that they exist in a better, purer realm. But throughout society this has not been the case. In the medieval ages, and before, children were treated like incomplete, somewhat defective adults. Only in the 18th century did ideas about kids undergo a significant change. Largely responsible for this was philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau who equated children with nature and innocence; he believed education should be linked not just to knowledge, work and social duties but to preserving what was untainted in the soul.

Childhood really got going in the Victorian era (1837-1901). Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert had nine children and idealized the idea of family. Though poor children often lead horrible lives, working at very early ages in mills and as chimney sweeps and unpaid servants, life for rich kids included nannies, toy soldiers, rocking horses, wax dolls, even elaborate toy shops complete with tiny goods for sale.  Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland in 1865 and it quickly became one of the most popular children’s stories–though how many kids today could read it (in its real, un-Disney form?). Picture books illustrated by Kate Greenaway, Walter Crane and William Nicholson were full of charming pictures of rosy-cheeked “good” little children indulging in ring-around-the rosy, hopscotch and hoop bowling. All of this perpetuated the idea–maybe a fantasy?–that children–at least those of wealthy parentage–inhabited their own reality, free from worry or any true unhappiness.

Later on, Freudian theories of burgeoning infant sexuality would dispel the notion of pre-pubescent innocence and upset the kinder applecart. Psychological tales such as The Bad Seed and Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour, in which spoiled little girls deliberately lie and ruin the lives of their caretakers, would perpetrate the image of kids as potential demons, hiding behind frilly skirts, knee socks and toys. Long before Freud, Jane Eyre speaks up to her Aunt Reed, accusing her of of unkindness and hypocrisy in a manner the early Victorians found shocking. She was a passionate child, a rebel, daring to be heard–and cruelly punished for it. Heidi, written by Johanna Spyri in 1881, decades after Jane Eyre, reverts back to an earlier prototype: a joyous child brings delight and miraculous health to all those who know her, simply by existing.

Which idea of childhood do you find the most compelling? Are children miniature grown-ups struggling with many of the same problems as their parents, albeit in different forms? Or did they exist in their own universe, discrete and uncorrupted (at least before they get on the internet?).

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Reflections on Mirrors

Alice in Wonderland crawls through a looking glass. In A Picture of Dorian Gray Dorian’s portrait acts “like the most magical of mirrors” to show him his damaged, hideous soul even though all real mirrors depict him as unblemished. “You are made to be good-you look so good,” one character remarks to him ironically.  The child Jane Eyre, locked in a supposedly haunted room, looks in a mirror and sees herself as a “strange little figure…with a white face and arms specking the gloom.” Later, as a bride, she describes her own reflection “as a robed and veiled figure…so unlike my usual self that it seemed almost the image of a stranger.” After being seduced by the aristocratic Rudolphe, Emma stands in front of a mirror, enraptured by her own corruption, and whispers, “I have a lover, I have a lover.”

One of the most famous reflections in the world is that of Narcissus, a handsome young man who, after glimpsing himself in a lake, desires his own image so fervently that he dies from longing. And so vanity is linked to the unattainable, to fantasy and pining. But that never stopped anyone from looking–because mirrors are also symbols of perfection and the allure of beauty. The earliest known mirrors date from around 6000 BC, and were made from polished volcanic glass. In 500 AD clearer, reflective glass mirrors began to appear, using amalgams of silver-mercury. Venetian craftsmen refined the art of making mirrors by figuring out how to fuse glass, mercury and tin; they then framed their creations with gilt and beveled edges. In 1665 Louis XIV imported twenty Venetian glass workers into his own court and–viola!–the Hall of Mirrors was conceived. Seventeen mirror-clad arches facing seventeen arcade windows still glitter today at Versailles. Mirrors greatly helped artists from the Renaissance onward in depicting “linear perspective”, the technique which takes what is flat and makes it appear in relief i.e. real.

Inside the looking glass: whether like Alice we are searching for a new world, or just taking a selfie, the search to verify ourselves and our surroundings remains essential. What do you see when you look in the mirror?

 

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