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


Jane Eyre Gets Real

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!
















19th Century Daddy Issues

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David Copperfield, who appears in Jane Eyre Gets Real, also “starred” in his own novel, written by the great Charles Dickens. In this classic, Copperfield’s father dies when David is very young and his stepfather is cruel, even brutal. As #FathersDay Sunday, June 17 approaches, David reflects on the children of his literary creator.

Charles Dickens and his wife Kate had 10 children. A few of them including son Charley were alcoholics with gambling addictions. Frank stuttered and walked in his sleep. Katey, the eldest daughter, would grow up to marry Charles Alston Collins, a painter and the brother of author Wilkie Collins. Alston Collins was rumored to be a homosexual. Kate herself almost certainly had OCD; even before her marriage, she was compelled to count furniture and check under the bed several times a day. (She would later remarry Charles Edward Perugini and become an artist herself but that is a story for another occasion).

Though Charles doted on all his children when they were born, the older they grew the more they disappointed him. Henry, the eighth–no pun intended–went to Cambridge and became a lawyer. But he was really the only one to attain conventional success. Plorn, the baby boy, was always of a very nervous temperament; nonetheless, Plorn, when he turned seventeen, was sent by Dickens to make his own way in the harsh Australian outback. Daughter Mamie never married; after Dickens’s death she became mysteriously involved with a clergyman and his wife and traveled with them, as part of a charity called–wait for it–Muscular Christianity. It was thought Mamie was being exploited by this couple for her inheritance.

A great deal of why Dickens’s children might have lacked self-esteem, and therefore the ability to tackle adult life, can be traced to Charles’s affair with Ellen Ternan. This relationship caused him to separate from Kate, his most devoted and once-beloved wife, and to remove the children from her–in a stunning act of self-centered Victorian patriarchy. So the children grew up in a fractured household, torn between love for their long-suffering mama and respect for their strict father, whose great expectations for them all were, sadly, never realized.

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Beautiful Robots

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It’s no secret that robots designed to be a part of your home are on the rise, from Kuri the cute little mechanical critter that responds to sound and touch and has “moods” which it reflects through light, to the bot that will carry home your shopping. Dorian Gray, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, knows better than anyone how appearances can be deceiving. Though robots seem very modern, sophisticated automatons began to appear before the European public as early as the 1600s.

In the reign of Louis XV, a mechanical bird was created called “Digesting Duck.” Made of copper it could eat, fully digest and even excrete food, as well as flap its wings and quack. At the turn of the 19th century “The Draughtsman-Writer” had a built-in memory, could draw four pictures and write three poems. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, renowned watchmaker and mathematician Jacquet-Droz invented “The Musician”, a little lady who played the organ while her chest rose and fell; she bowed at the end of each performance. Take that, Siri!

Victorians had great fun with the automaton. Mechanical dancers circling inside glass bell jars to the beat of mechanical tunes became popular items to display on the mantelpiece. There were also banks, often with circus themes, which did “tricks”; for instance, set a penny in the trunk of a mechanical elephant and it would deposit it for you. But automatons were not just fun and games. They questioned the nature of life itself.  In the 1880s a French author, Auguste Villiers de l’Isle Adam, wrote a novel called The Future Eve, about an English nobleman who falls in love with a beautiful mechanical woman, a forerunner of The Stepford Wives and Her. Incidentally, it was in this book by Adam that the term android was first coined.

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Very Victorian #RoyalWedding Problems


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#MeghanMarkle and #PrinceHarry may be encountering logistical problems shortly before the Windsor Castle extravaganza scheduled for tomorrow. However, Jane Eyre, a character in Annabelle Troy’s novel Jane Eyre Gets Real, can remember all the way back to 1840 and the day Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert. Here are some of the wedding hoops Victoria had to jump through:

White Wedding Gowns Were Not Yet in Fashion but Victoria Insisted on Wearing White Silk, Trimmed with Lace & Orange Blossoms. Interestingly, White At That Time Symbolized Not Purity But Wealth.

The Groom Was Prettier than the Bride. Victoria Mourned the Fact that Albert Must Think Her Plain and That A Scottish Newspaper Depicted Her As Having “Open, Anxious Nostrils”.

Her Wedding Cake Lingered On: It Was 300 Pounds and a Piece Has Not Only Survived Until Modern Times, It Was Actually Sold Last Week for the Equivalent of $2000 American Dollars.

Like Meghan, Queen Victoria Did Not Have a Father Present to Walk Her Down the Aisle. Because Victoria’s Father was Deceased, She was Escorted by Her Favorite Uncle.

Victoria and Albert’s Honeymoon Only Lasted Two Days and Was Spent, Not Somewhere Exotic, But at Windsor Castle Where the Couple Rode Horses, Took Walks & Hosted Dinner Parties. They Then Returned to Buckingham Palace.

Of course, it Might be Construed that the Honeymoon Lasted All of Victoria’s Life, as she Never Stopped Loving Albert and Reenacted the Wedding Ceremony Numerous Times Throughout their Years Together. During Victoria’s Official Diamond Jubilee She Wore Her Wedding Veil. Long May Love Reign.



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!


Jane Austen’s Cherry

Cherries, native to Asia, became popular in Europe in the late Middle Ages. The tasty red orbs were brought to America by the first colonists. Back in the Regency era of #MrDarcy, the hero of both Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre Gets Real, the most popular types of cherry included Flemish, carnation, black, white, duke and of course English. Though made into tarts and pies one of their most popular uses was in ratafia, an old receipt for which can be found in Robert’s Guide for Butlers & Other Household Staff, published in 1828: Into one quart of brandy pour half a pint of cherry juice, as much currant juice, as much of raspberry juice, add a few cloves, and some white pepper in grains, two grains of green coriander, and a stick or two of cinnamon, then pound the stones of cherries, and put them in wood and all. Add about twenty five or thirty kernels of apricots. Stop your demijohn close and let it infuse for one month in the shade, shaking it five or six times in that time at the end of which strain it through a flannel bag, then through a filtering paper, and then bottle it and cork close for use; you can make any quantity you chose, only by adding or increasing more brandy or other ingredients.

Regency society, if well-steeped in cordials, would have missed out completely on other delights such as the Maraschino. The brilliantly colored Maraschino was “invented” in the 1930s by taking a natural cherry and soaking it in brine. They are now dyed red and shot through with sugar then packed in sugar syrup, to appear in cocktails and on top of cupcakes. Though glamorous as red lipstick Maraschino cherries are not strictly “natural.” Whether Jane Austen would have approved of them or not, even Mr. Darcy cannot know.


Jane Eyre Runs Rings Around Jane Austen

In Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, #JaneEyre finds herself on a Big Brother-type reality TV show along with #MrDarcy and other literary favorites. Read Jane Eyre Gets Real for free April 6-8. Available on Amazon.


If reading isn’t your thing you might want to shop online at #VictorianTradingCo. Among the many luscious period-reproduction items they carry: a replica of a turquoise ring belonging to #JaneAusten.  (Though not free it’s under $70). It’s Item No. 29846, at

Taking a Peep at Pepys

Hester Prynne, who appears in both The Scarlet Letter and Jane Eyre Gets Real, may have committed adultery–but she never celebrated Easter. Dyeing eggs and hoping to spot a life-size rabbit would have been considered much too pagan for a Puritan gal.  However, as a fortunately literate woman of the 17th century (Puritan men and women were taught to read so they might peruse the Bible), she might have kept a diary–just like her contemporary Samuel Pepys.

Samuel Pepys was Chief Secretary of the Admiralty under King James II. Though we can’t be sure he invented bell bottoms or sailor suits, he did have a lot to do with developing the Royal Navy. His diary, written between the years 1666-1669, was first published in the 19th century. Not only did he witness “great” events such as the Great Fire of London and the return of the Plague, he had a lot of risque flirtations along the way–which is perhaps why his book, intended only to be private, has gone through many reprintings. Pepys, by the way, is pronounced PEEPS with two long ees.

However, he bears no relation to Peeps chicks and/or bunnies!

Annabelle Troy and all of the characters in her novel Jane Eyre Gets Real wish you a happy holiday; may it be filled with joy, flowers, and all the Peeps you can eat–or read!

Victorian Lamb Cake

A classic spring dessert. Enjoy!

Cakes in the shape of a lamb are an adorable Easter tradition in many parts of Europe, including Italy and Poland. Jane, the lead character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, always bakes one for Easter. (TIP: for Halloween, bake a red velvet version of this cake–blood of the lamb–and take its head off before you serve.)

Where to get a lamb mold:

This company sells both large and mini versions!

LAMB CAKE RECIPE 2 cups all purpose flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/8 cups sugar 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 3/4 cup milk Grease pan front and back thoroughly and dust lightly with flour. Or, mix together a paste of 2 tablespoons flour and 1 tablespoon shortening; then use to grease pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl and set aside. Cream butter, and add sugar slowly, until batter is smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and add vanilla. Add flour mixture and milk alternately, until well combined. Place face half of mold on cookie sheet and fill with batter to the top, being careful to fill nose and ears. Lay one toothpick in batter of each ear, to add stability. Place back mold on top of front mold, and tie two pieces together with kitchen string. Bake 45 minutes. When done, let cool on cooling rack for 15 minutes, then remove back pan. Let cool another 15 minutes, then use a sharp knife to carefully loosen pan around edges. Allow to cool completely before frosting. BUTTER FROSTING 6 tablespoons butter, softened 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups powdered sugar 1/4 cup milk 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla In a small mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add about half of the sugar, beating well. Beat in milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, adding more milk, if necessary, to make frosting of spreading consistency.

Have fun with decorating: simulate lamb’s wool by abundantly covering the frosting with shredded coconut. Then make a face by using two black jellybeans for eyes, one pink jellybean for a nose, and red jellybeans for a mouth. Don’t forget the neck ribbon! Serve on a bed of dyed green coconut.


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