Horrorfest VIII: Strange Tales of Terror

It’s that time of the year again!

It is time for Horrorfest VIII!

HORRORFEST!!!!!!

31 Days of horror, suspense, mystery, gothic tales, Alfred Hitchcock, psycho killers, ghosts, murder, dystopian futures, monsters, and more!

I love film and here’s my chance to share it with you all.

A couple years ago I put Jane Austen in a costume and added it to my Horrorfest traditions. This year I choose to dress her up in a skull mask for Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos. As you know I’m Latino and that is a part of the way people celebrate those who have passed on. This year both my grandmother died in the beginning of the year, while one of my best friends died last month. While I can’t paint my face, my skin allergies, I can honor them in this way. Along with Jane!

Well, I hope you enjoy this year’s picks!

To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World: Carnival of Souls (1962)

To start Horrorfest II from the beginning, go to There Are Many Strange Legends in the Amazon: The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart: The Wolf Man (1941)

To start Horrorfest IV from the beginning, go to You Cannot Conquer It. It has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)

To start Horrorfest VI from the beginning, go to One of Our Guests is a Werewolf, I Know It.: The Beast Must Die (1974)

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

Northanger Soapworks Review

So I’m sure many of you Austen fans are like me, you see something Austen related and you’ve just gotta have it.

I’m not quite sure how I came across Northanger Soapworks. It might have showed up on my feed based on other things I follow, someone might have reposted something, or (most likely) I started following it when I entered to win a copy of Rational CreaturesAll I know is I started following it, was hooked by the name (I adore Northanger Abbey), and loved the cute names/themes for each item! Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.

Or book lovers

She has items that reference each Jane Austen book, just to name a few: Norland Autumn Soap and Music and Reading: A Sense and Sensibility Candle from Sense and Sensibility; Brighton on the Sea and Mr. Darcy Soap from Pride and Prejudice; A Fondness for Reading Candle and a Proper Wedding Soap from Mansfield ParkBlack Sheep and Donwell Abby Soap from Emma; The Black Veil Lip Balm and The Waters of Bath Soap from Northanger AbbeyAnne Elliot and Rational Creatures Soap from Persuasion; and more!

Wow!

And she has even branched out to do a Sherlock Holmes themed soap and has A Christmas Carol themed box that is only available through pre-order (so if you want it order today!) 

So of course it being Jane Austen, I wanted to review it-but that’s where I found myself stuck. Most of the time when I have ordered Austen-themed things, I review them and keep them or gift them-like the Babylit Austen series or Little Literary Classics.

But I couldn’t purchase a bar of soap, review it and then give it away.

But then if I bought a bar of soap for someone else, I’d have to make sure I was there to see it. And all the people who’s birthdays were all coming up, lived in other cities or states.

It’s a puzzle

I know you are thinking, “why not just buy it for yourself?” Well the problem is my skin.

Ugh!

If you have been following me, you know I have very sensitive skin. It is so sensitive I don’t even know half the things I am allergic to. Sometimes I am just going about my life and my skin gets irritated, hives break out, and next thing you know I’m scratching and breaking the skin.

Ugh!

Everything I use is hypoallergenic and scent-free-as it not only bothers my skin but I’m sensitive to scents (I have to keep antihistamines on me as some scents I have no issues with and others I can’t breathe). I cannot enter Bath and Beauty and nearly pass out if I have to cut through Macy’s perfume counter. When it comes to bath products I often feel like the Boy in the Plastic Bubble.

So I was resolved to wait until Christmas and gift it to someone who I can witness opening it and then have them tell me what they think.

But then I saw that Northanger Soapworks  was doing a rep search! You know me and free-I can’t resist, but I wasn’t sure if I should apply. What if something was sent to me and caused an allergic reaction?

Hmm…

After some hemming and hawing, I decided to enter the search, but make sure that they knew I was allergic. In the end, I didn’t end up being chosen. But I figured I would just go back to my original plan and order at Christmas for a friend (or two!).

Oh, well.

But then I was given a huge surprise when I was asked if I would be interested in getting a free something in exchange for an honest review.

I enthusiastically said yes. When asked what I was interested in, I told her send me whatever she wanted to, I didn’t want to make any extra trouble.

The package arrived quickly, too quickly, as I was in the middle of my Rational Creatures review and knew I couldn’t get to this post for a while. The package was in an adorable little box with a beautiful rose stamp on it.

I took a video of me opening it, but when I went to post it, it turned out that when I filmed it I had moved the phone and ended up filming nothing!

So the box came with a personalized note and card that were just beautiful!

Inside the box the item was wrapped in brown paper and muslin. And then when I opened it, I saw it was:

Yes, Mr. Darcy Bath Soap. I will let you all make your own jokes about Mr. Darcy in the bath with you:

So first of all I thought the soap was absolutely beautiful in green and cream with bronze running through it. It had the most beautiful little label that went around it and had a quote from Pride and Prejudice; along with a little information on Mr. Darcy:

“Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report…of his having ten thousand a year.” ~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

“Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, wealthy and proud, is a catch beyond the the grasp of the average lady. Though he ultimately wins the heart of Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, countless readers fell in love with him as well and wish that he were still available.”

As to why it was designed that particular way:

“Mr. Darcy is rich to be sure, and many will never see anything more. The shimmering bronze and green top of this soap is meant to convey his grandeur and wealth. But beneath the glitz lies the white heart of our beloved hero, the heart that Elizabeth found and loved.”

I loved the way it looked and the label as I felt that made it perfect for any Austen-fan (who will adore it) along with non-Austen fans (who will get a clear picture of what and why it was made the way it was.)

So when I opened the package the smell, cinnamon and patchouli, was wonderful and strong-but not too strong. Cinnamon and patchouli are both things I have to be careful around as too much can create an allergic reaction, but this was just the perfect amount. It filled my bathroom and apartment (it is very small), but was not in a cloying or overpowering way, but the perfect added scent.

So it was absolutely beautiful, smelled wonderful-how did it react with my skin?

It was fantastic!!!! We had had a bit of change in the weather and my skin was drier than normal, but I  used this soap ad I felt great. NO itchiness, dry skin, hives, welts, nothing.

So I would say that this soap is something you should purchase for yourself or others. For an extremely reasonable price (I looked the whole site over), you get to support a small business, get a beautiful product (that works just as well as it is beautiful), and get an adorable Austen (or book-themed) item.

I already plan to purchase a minimum of two items for people on my Christmas list!

Don’t miss out, check the site out today!

Amish Baked Oatmeal

Or scones!

So I love tea

And I am always on the lookout for new recipes to go with my teatime. This one my sister blog, Mysterious Eats, posted and it looked so good, I decided I needed to try it out with my tea time.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1.5 Tsp of Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp of Cinnamon
  • 1.5 Tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Tsp of Salt
  • 1 1/4 Cup of Milk
  • 1/4 Cup of Butter, Melted
  • 3 Cups of Rolled Oats (Quick Oats work too)
  • Cinnamon Sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter an 8×8 inch baking dish, set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs.
  4. Add in brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until there are no lumps.
  5. Stir in milk and melted butter.
  6. Add oats and mix well.
  7. Pour into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. (At this point you can refrigerate overnight or bake immediately.)
  8. Bake in oven 30-40 mins until it is set.
  9. Top with cinnamon and sugar.
  10. Cut into squares and serve warm with fresh nuts, milk, a little cream, half and half, maple syrup, or honey of desired.

Unlike my sister blog I took a couple tablespoons of my hot Earl Grey tea and poured them over the top of the square and I thought it tasted fantastic! I would recommend this for you tea time.

For more goodies to make with your tea, go to Cheese Round

For more recipes, go to Green Tea Frappuccino

Rational Creatures: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney, & Lady Susan

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

So this is the final post:

Like seriously! Where did the time go?

Oh yeah…

For those of you who might have missed the last few posts, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:

But not just the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay. Each story gives us a look at these rational creatures.

 

So far we have reviewed Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility with Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston; Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice in Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio and Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes;  Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, and Harriet Smith from Emma in Knightley Discourses by Anngela Schroeder,The Simple Things by J. Marie Croft and In Good Hands by Caitlin Williams; Fanny Price and Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park in The Meaning of Wife by Brooke West and What Strange Creatures by Jenetta James; & Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, and Louisa Musgrove in An Unnatural Beginning by Elizabeth Adams, Where the Sky Touches the Sea by KaraLynne Mackrory, The Art of Pleasing by Lona Manning, and Louisa by the Sea by Beau North. And what have I thought of it so far?

This section is a little different as it is on the Northanger Abbey and Lady Susan parts as it just didn’t feel right leaving Lady Susan by herself. So to start:

I found this ’60s copy in a thrift store and just love it!

So I was so jazzed to see something from Northanger Abbey as I’m not ashamed to say it is probably my favorite. I know it is not popular opinion, but it is just so me. When I was a child/tween I was a mix between Anne from Anne of Green Gables and Jo from Little Women and Catherine Morland. As I grew into teenage years, I became less Jo and more Catherine and Mr. Darcy.

She and Mr. Darcy are probably my favorites and the ones I feel the most like (even though the beauty of all Austen heroines and heroes is that they are extremely relatable).

So I love anything that is Northanger Abbey related and as it is often ignored by people. I was also interested in the Eleanor Tilney story as I’ve always enjoyed her character and would love to see her point of view of all that went down in Northanger Abbey.

Hmmm

So for those who haven’t read it it- Catherine Morland seemed so average that no one would think she could ever be a heroine-but those people will be proven wrong. She loves to read, especially gothic stories and has an overactive imagination. She is gifted with a trip to Bath and ends up in her own romance suspense novel! A love triangle, an overbearing father, a mysterious death, a foreboding Abbey, and more! I love it and you all should read it if you haven’t!

There aren’t that many adaptations, the only true adaptation I have ever read is Dangerous to Know.

The Strength of Their Attachment by Sophia Rose

So this story begins after Northanger Abbey. If you haven’t read the book:

***Spoiler Alert!***

Anyways, Catherine embarrassed herself, Mr. Tilney sent her home after he found out that she wasn’t as rich as Mr. John Thorpe said, and Mr. Tilney followed her to apologize and propose. HIs father still does not approve, and Mr. Tilney has left to try and convince him to allow the marriage.

Catherine waits at home, but doesn’t have too much time to think on that-he brother, James Morland, has disappeared!

After his fiancé Isabella threw James over, trying to snare a bigger fish, he became despondent. They have tried to contact him numerous times, but there are no answers to them. Even their aunt who resides in Oxford has had one of her grooms deliver a letter but nothing.

That is not good,

Oh no! What if he’s been kidnapped?

Uh-oh, you know what this whole thing sounds like to me? A Mystery!

Mystery, you say?

I’m ready!

Ready for any case

Wait, wait, wait-hold the phone. An overactive imagination is what got Catherine into trouble the first time. It is time to stop, think, and reflect. Catherine takes a moment to work away from kidnapping, gothic plots, and etc. Focus, think, plot out a reasonable plan.

She convinces her parents to let her go to Oxford and try a personal visit. Catherine prepares for the trip and gets an interesting bit of news when she stops at the store to pick up her father’s paper order and she is told that a stranger is asking questions about her brother. Catherine has a bad, bad feeling about this and wishes she was in Oxford, her brother would answer, or that Henry was near.

Catherine gets there and it appears her fears were not unfounded. The porter has not seen James, but his mail has disappeared. The porter went to James’ new room (as after all that happened he did not want to live with John Thorpe anymore) and some of things are gone with no one knowing where he has gone.

Then there are rumors that he has been gambling and running up large debts everywhere. Catherine worries about it and writes it all to Henry, but unfortunately does not hear anything back.

Time to get on the case!

Catherine grows more and more worried-nothing heard from James-nothing from Henry. Maybe Henry is regretting his engagement? Maybe he won’t want to be connected to her anymore? Maybe her brother is tortured or kidnapped? Or maybe, maybe, maybe…

Hmm…

Catherine tries to keep her imagination reined in, but continues to worry. Catherine goes out for long walks every day, searching every man, every robe, everywhere for her brother. On one such walk she overhears the person responsible for the whole terrible plot?! What can she do?

Catherine once again finds herself in a plot she’s only ever read about-dastardly plans, missing brother, missing fiancé, a viscount, goons after her-straight out of an adventure story. Will she be able to stop this plotter? Will she find her brother? What’s wrong with her fiancé?

I LOVED it. From the beginning I was hooked into this adventure tale and could not put it down. I had to find out what happened! Where was Henry. It was amazing!!

And Mr. Tilney and Catherine are so cute together!

“Miss Catherine Morland, you are an amazing lady. You are my lady and I am proud to own it.”

For more by Sophia Rose, go to “As Much As He Can” from Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

For more on Catherine Morland go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

A Nominal Mistress by Karen M. Cox

Eleanor is the only daughter of of General Tilney. General Tilney is a plotter and planner when it comes to his children’s love lives-like a mean, scary, rude, horrible guy version of Mrs. Bennet.

He has been trying to have his children marry wealthy and snag a title. He can’t maneuver his sons in the same way, but does all he can with his daughter to thrust her at titled men.

This time he is trying to win Edward Grantham, Viscount Lynton. He thrusts Eleanor at him, but she is not interested in a rake with such a bad reputation.

He’s a no

She and her friend escape the questioning that is soon-to-be from her father, where she shares with her friend how she couldn’t stand him. Her friend doesn’t care as he is handsome-but Eleanor wants more than that.

“In our society, the choice of husband is one of the few over which we can exert some control. It is the choice on which rides an entire life’s worth of felicity.”

Her friend goes in to try her luck, while Eleanor waits a bit longer outside. Unfortunately, it appears that the Viscount’s brother, Mr. Grantham, was outside, hiding, and overheard everything.

She apologizes to him, but inside is seething:

“Although a gentleman would have made his presence known rather than snooping like a servant girl.”

Hey, that reminds me of something…

Scarlett: [Rhett has heard Scarlett’s and Ashley’s fight] and Sir you should have made your presence known

Rhett Butler: In the middle of that beautiful love scene. Now that wouldn’t have been very tactful would it?

Scarlett: Oh! You sir are no gentlemen.

Rhett Butler: And you Ms. are no lady.

Book lovers too.

After that little meeting, Eleanor flees into the ball, and gets asked to dance by Mr. Grantham. The two dance, and he teases her about what she had been talking about, along with just making conversation. Eleanor surprises herself by actually enjoying his company.

Later, her father, General Tilney grills her about her night and whether she hooked the Viscount or not. She tries to dissuade him from that plan, and mentions that she danced with Mr. Grantham. Her father is not happy with him, as he has no title, and is involved with trade.

But never tell a daughter to forget about a guy, they tend to not listen.

Like The Little Mermaid

A year passes, and Eleanor and Mr. Grantham have been spending as much time together as they can. Her father still doesn’t like him, but Mr. Grantham doesn’t want to give up.

Unfortunately, he will be leaving-his business is taking him to Barbados. He wants Eleanor to run away with him…but Eleanor doesn’t want to. I really enjoy their exchange as this reminds me of the whole Anna Karenina situation. If a man runs off with a women-there will be talk, but eventually he’ll be back into society good as new. If a woman did that-oh no, we are held to higher standards and face harsher consequences. I liked the exchange, and how relatable it was, while still be perfect to the time period. Plus I like how strong and powerful Eleanor is.

“When I leave my father’s house, it will be as a grown woman, going toward the rest of my life, not running away from the past.”

Mr. Grantham leaves, and then the Viscount starts paying attention to her, but not in the way you might think…but that is all moot. If her father isn’t on board, will she be able to marry the man she loves?

I LOVED it! I thought this was a great story and I loved seeing Eleanor’s side of things. I also liked how she was a strong powerful woman. I do wish we could have seen her view of how the events in Bath went, as I would have loved to get her opinion of the Thorpes, but I guess that means Cox will to write another story.

Looking forward to it!

For more by Karen M. Cox, go to “An Honest Man” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE

So on to the final story: Lady Susan.

Lady Susan is a novella that Austen wrote in the late 18th century and never published. After her death her family published the work.

Lady Susan has recently become a widow, and goes to stay with her brother-in-law, Charles Vernon. She has sold the family estate and enjoys being free from marriage. Unfortunately, she can’t stay free. She has to marry herself and her daughter off in order to keep the lifestyle she loves.

Lady Susan is a very callous and manipulative woman. She enjoys being with many men-along with manipulating/controlling others.

The book is in epistolary format, told in letters between all the main characters. I know it was adapted in a film not too long ago, which I haven’t yet watched, but besides that I haven’t heard of too many adaptation of this work.

The Edification of Lady Susan by Jessie Lewis

So you all know that I’m not really into  diary novels, well that doesn’t apply to epistolary novels. I don’t mind reading books made up of letters (as long as they aren’t solely love letters-that makes me feel like a voyeur).

So this was a bit confusing for me. Because it took place before the novella some of the names are different and there are extra characters. This isn’t a bad thing, it just took me a little while to get my bearings. But that happens with most epistolary tales.

So in this, Lady Susan finds herself caught in a triangle of machinations and her own manipulations. Her mother wants Susan to marry Lord Doyle, as his mother is blackmailing her. If Susan and Lord Doyle marry, then it will save their family’s reputation.

Susan’s brother, however, wants her to marry Mr. Cohen as Lord Doyle is a rake and will never be faithful. However, her brother doesn’t have the best intentions either. He wants her to marry Mr. Cohen as he owes him quite a bit in gambling debts.

But Lady Susan will not be pushed around, she has her own plan.

I think Lewis was spot on. I think she really got the character of Lady Susan, and even though I knew which man she would end up with, it still was a major plot twist and awesome reveal when we see how deep her manipulations were. My bonnets off to you ma’am. She’s like Professor Moriarity level of planning.

Wow!

An excellent story.

So that concludes Rational Creatures. What do I think about this book:

I think that this was an amazing collection of stories. You can clearly tell that each and every writer loves Jane Austen and really, really tried to get into the characters and present them in a way that was true to Austen and the novels, while at the same time giving it their own twist and view.

Not only do I think every Austen fan should read this, they NEED to read this. This is probably one of the best adaptations I have read. And I think even those who have never read Austen could easily follow and love the stories.

I cannot stress how much I loved that the way the authors portrayed the characters, but I also love that they chose people from evert book, and even ones that we don’t see a lot of.

Reading this will be a pleasure-you will laugh, cry, and enjoy every minute.

For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, & Louisa Musgrove

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

For more Northanger Abbey, go to Did Jane Hate a Richard?

For more Austen book reviews, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

Rational Creatures: Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, & Louisa Musgrove

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

For those of you who might have missed the last post, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:

But not just the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay. Each story gives us a look at these rational creatures.

So far we have reviewed Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility with Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston; Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice in Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio and Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes;  Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, and Harriet Smith from Emma in Knightley Discourses by Anngela Schroeder,The Simple Things by J. Marie Croft and In Good Hands by Caitlin Williams, & Fanny Price and Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park in The Meaning of Wife by Brooke West and What Strange Creatures by Jenetta James And what have I thought of it so far?

This one is on Persuasion:

In Persuasion, Anne is the middle daughter of a Baron and is often ignored by her father who really only cares about himself. She becomes engaged to a naval soldier, but after speaking to her mother’s best friend, was persuaded it wasn’t the right decision.

Hmm…

Years pass, and another proposal, and Anne has grown older, wiser, and regretted turning her love down. With her father spending more than they have, they have to let the house, and the Admiral and Mrs. Croft rent it. Mrs. Croft’s brother, Captain Wentworth, comes to visit who happens to be the same soldier that she was engaged to! I don’t have to tell you that an interesting plot ensues!

I’ve only read a few adaptations of Persuasion and I’m excited to read this one. I like that there is a Mrs. Croft story.

An Unnatural Beginning by Elizabeth Adams

The story takes place before the events in Persuasion, starting when Charles Musgrove is trying to court Anne, but she is not interested, she still pines after Wentworth.

It’s not that Charles Musgrove is a bad man its just he isn’t the right man.

“He was a perfectly decent man. Kind, respectable, well-mannered. But alas, he possessed one fatal flaw that not even the best of manners could redeem.

He was not Frederick Wentworth.”

And being with Charles only makes her think even more when she met Commander Wentworth. He was visiting his brother in Monkford and Anne encounters him at a get-together and the two spend time together. She is completely struck by him.

With him

Back to the present, Charles continues to talk and court her, but she isn’t really present. The flame of her youth feels like it is dying.

Frederick proposes and Anne accepts, but then when she seeks advice-Lady Russell resoundly says no. I really enjoyed this part as all of Lady Russell’s arguments are extremely valid. I mean things could go wrong and she could become  poor widow-a poor widow who’s father isn’t going to help out (you’ve seen him). Or she could have ended up like Mrs. Price, Fanny’s mom.

“A large and still increasing family, an[sic] husband disabled for active service, but not the less equal to company and good liquor, and a very small income to supply their wants…”

I really enjoyed how Adams makes Lady Russell not evil, cruel, or even a snob (just a touch snoby). And I liked how fear drove Anne’s decision to break it off with Wentworth, but it is an extremely relatable fear

I really liked that we got a view into both proposals, as I have always wanted to see how both went down. And raise your hand if you think Charles continued to pine after Anne even though he married her sister (that line about Sir Elliot moving Charles to take Mary off his hands was gold.)

Both hands are up!

But that ending though. It pierces the heart.

 

This story was so sad, absolutely heartbreaking, but in a god way. A real way. This was so relatable and I really loved the language used. One of my favorite parts is when she describes how she feels about her beauty and youth fading. I think we all feel that when we are disappointed, injured, or broken in love, that we used to be more fun, gregarious. etc. The whole thing was so good, so sad, so heartbreaking, and I think Jane would be proud. As for me:

I’m going to hide under the covers with my ice cream

Just kidding. It was a wonderful read, just get those tissues ready.

For more on Anne Elliot, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

Where the Sky Touches the Sea by KaraLynne Mackrory

So this story picks up in the middle of Persuasion about chapter 8 before and after the dinner party. The Crofts are heading to out and their gig gets stuck in the mud, but they get through it together. This leads Mrs. Croft to think on their relationship and thier marriage.

This story was so cute and sad. But the good kind of sad. I don’t know how to review it without giving anything away. Just be prepared, if you are a crier-have tissues ready. It is just a sweet little story.

I’m so sad and happy!

I’ve always loved the Admiral and Mrs. Croft and it makes me love them more. One thing I love about Jane Austen is how she has these horrible marriages (like Charles and Mary Musgrove, Sir Walter, etc.) but then these amazing ones like he Crofts. I think Mackrory really got the heart of the characters and I loved her story.

So romantic! So cute!

For more by KaraLynne Mackrory “Clandestiny” from The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

For more on Mrs. Croft, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen

The Art of Pleasing by Lona Manning

So Mrs. Clay has an interesting backstory in this. She was “married” to a corrupt merchant who juggled the book and raked in every extra but he could. When things got too heated he took off, leaving Mrs. Clay with her two boys and nothing.

She heads home hiding her disgrace under the guise of widowhood and then implements herself into the Elliot household. It wasn’t her idea, but her father’s, the Elliot’s solicitor, as he wants her to gather intel on the Elliot’s expenditures and hopefully influence them to spend less.

Mrs. Clay does so and better than ever. She becomes Elizabeth’s best friend, so much that Sir Walter and Elizabeth choose to take her with them to Bath and leave Anne behind.

Ouch

Mrs. Clay can’t really stand either of them, but is thrilled that about her new position. So thrilled at how Sir Walter trusts and leans on her. With this new possibility opening up, now Mrs. Clay starts using all her wit to try and snare him. She doesn’t like him, but does like becoming a lady, having a father for her sons, prestige, etc. And to rub Elizabeth, Anne, and Lady Russell’s faces in it would be great as well.

Sucks to be you

Everything was going well until Mr. Elliot came to town.

Smarming and plotting away.

Yes, Mr. Elliot plans on seducing both sisters and Mrs. Clay away from Sir Walter. Will she resist or succumb?

Hmmm

I really enjoyed this as I always thought Mrs. Clay (like Charlotte Lucas) was cunning, although much shrewder, and a bit more a mistress of her fate than they show in adaptations. I like how the author made her witty and shrewd even though she wasn’t “educated”. (That line about Paris was hilarious). This was great and spot on-that ending was perfect.

“A lady would have said, ‘Sir! What do you take me for?’

I whispered, ‘Yes.”

She and Mr. Elliot deserve each other.

Good job!

And this was perfect right after the two sadder stories.

For more by Lona Manning, go to “The Address of a Frenchwoman” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

Louisa by the Sea by Beau North

So we start this story after Louisa has had her fall. Louisa was very headstrong, stubborn, and always insisted on having her own way-

There was too much wind to make the high part of the new Cobb pleasant for the ladies, and they agreed to get down the steps to the lower, and all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. In all their walks, he had had to jump her from the stiles; the sensation was delightful to her. The hardness of the pavement for her feet, made him less willing upon the present occasion; he did it, however. She was safely down, and instantly, to show her enjoyment, ran up the steps to be jumped down again. He advised her against it, thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, “I am determined I will:” he put out his hands; she was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless! There was no wound, no blood, no visible bruise; but her eyes were closed, she breathed not, her face was like death. The horror of the moment to all who stood around!”

We start off with her recovering and North does a great job showing what it is like. My friend’s brother injured his head in a car accident and North was spot on with what they go through .

Louisa slowly recuperates, and who is by her side? Wentworth? No. Captain Benwick. Captain Benwick has a sad backstory, he fell in love with a woman who became sick and passed away. He hasn’t been able to do much since, but here he aids Louisa, by her side every moment, eating with her, reading to her, just all around supporting her.

So romantic! So cute!

The rest of her family feels awkward or unsettled or unsure what to do, but Benwick takes charge and helps.

Louisa has to relearn what to do, has violent headaches, a lot of trauma to noise, and seizures. Everyone thinks she is in love with Captain Wentworth, but Louisa has fallen head over heels (literally?) for Captain Benwick. Now how to convince him?

Hmmm….

Oh my gosh this story was so cute. I never really liked Louisa in Persuasion she just kind of annoyed me and of course we want Anne and Wentworth TOGETHER. But this gave a whole new spin and view on her. And I have always loved Captain Benwick, and I think this story just continued to show how wonderful a character and man he is. And they are so gosh darn cute together!!

“Are you certain?’…’Am I certain? No, my dear captain, it is far worse. I am determined.”

Aw! Squee!!

For more by Beau North, go to “Fitzwilliam’s Folly” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

These stories were just as great at the others, but be prepared-have tissues at the ready for those first two .

So far all have been amazing and we only have a few stories left?! Where did the time go? How are we almost at the end?

I guess all I can say is stay tuned for the final post.

For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more Persuasion, go to It Sucks to Be Lady Elliot

For more Austen book reviews, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

For those of you who might have missed the last post, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:

But just not the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay. Each story gives us a look at these rational creatures.

So far we have reviewed Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility with Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston & Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice in Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio and Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes & Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, and Harriet Smith from Emma in Knightley Discourses by Anngela Schroeder,The Simple Things by J. Marie Croft and In Good Hands by Caitlin Williams And what have I thought of it so far?

This one is on Mansfield Park:

If Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are often forgotten or ignored Mansfield Park is just plain hated on. Mostly because people think Fanny is “boring” and “spineless”.

But Fanny isn’t boring or spineless. Mansfield Park is a great book and Fanny is a fantastic character! Fanny is a sweet kind girl-niece to the Bertram family, and was sent to stay with them. Instead of being treated as family, she is seen as “less” because of the “bad blood” inherited from the low class, wastrel father her mother married down to.

She is particularly mistreated by her evil aunt and two cousins; all of which take pride in bossing her around and being as cruel as can be. Fanny is the essence of sweetness, taking this injustice in stride and trying to remain optimistic in a bad situation.

The life of the Bertrams are interrupted when a Mr. Henry Crawford and Miss Mary Crawford come to visit their half-sister Mrs. Grant. Mary is set on winning the eldest Bertram, but finds her being struck by the younger. Henry’s sole purpose is to upset the apple cart by going after the Bertram sisters for fun, but having no intent of follow through. Will the Bertrams survive this?

That is not good,

So Mansfield Park is in a unique position. I believe (not quite sure as I’d have to count them) Mansfield Park has the least amount of adaptations. Besides Dangerous to Know the only one I’ve looked at are the films. And I know a lot of people like it, but I could not stand the Mansfield Park (1999) film as they had no concept of Fanny.

Did you even READ the book?!

Fanny is a hard character as society today doesn’t seem to like or encourage this type of character, but want them to be more aggressive, flashy, or loud. So I was a bit anxious, would this go well or would they fall into the same trap?

The Meaning of Wife by Brooke West

We pick up in this story at the end of Mansfield Park. Fanny turned down Henry Crawford’s proposal and was sent home to live with her family as punishment. Then Tom became sick and almost almost died. Fanny was brought back to Mansfield Park. Henry ran off with Maria Bertram-Rushworth. Mary Crawford wished Tom would have died and didn’t see the scandal of Maria and Henry as a big deal so Edmund ended everything.

A lot of people think Mansfield Park is boring but it has quite a bit of action in it. Look at that summary.

Anyways, so Fanny and the Bertrams are hanging out one morning when Tom reads a letter about a friend’s sister who is going to Europe to study philosophy. He makes a snide comment and then Edmund chimes in with a compliment to Fanny, that actually insults her. WOW!

Dude just pulled a Barney Stinson:

“The backhanded compliment is truly an art form – the best will lower the intended target’s self esteem thus making them more susceptible to the power of suggestion.”

Fanny has been crushing on Edmund for years, although I honestly don’t know why. If I had to rank my favorite Austen men, Edmund is on the bottom. I am joyful that Fanny gets her true love, but I think she could have done better.

Nope!

Anyways, Edmund looks at her with ardor and Fanny should be happy, but he completely just insulted her, again. Ugh.

Seriously stop!

Fanny shares how she would enjoy such a trip that they discussed and then Edmund says:

“The journey alone would be well beyond your capabilities.”

Ouch! This dude.

The conversation at the table made Fanny think and wonder and she takes a look at the book they were skewering, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and enjoys it.

As Fanny finishes reading, Edmund comes to talk to her. He tries to console her over her heart being broken by Henry. Ugh, men. He won’t listen that she isn’t heartbroken.

But ugh, he won’t listen. He goes on for a while, talks about Mary who he has been mooning over, and then proposes.

He’s been my least favorite and West made him even more so.

Ugh!

So then the story takes a twist. Fanny refuses him!

But I wasn’t upset with this twist. West did this really well as Fanny considers whether or not this will be the best choice as does Edmund really know her? Does he really care about her? Or is she his rebound from Mary. I love how she has Fanny wanting to say yes, the thing she has wished for her whole life is in her grasp, but is it what she really wants?

Hmm…

This is where I was hooked in. I LOVED it. We have Fanny considering is this is what she wants? Will this lead to happiness or a marriage like her mother and aunts have? Could she be happy with Edmund? Should she search for happiness in another person? What does she want to do with her life?

West has set the standard really high for any Mansfield Park adaptations. She really captured the character of Fanny, put her own twist on it, showed how she was the powerful character she is without ripping off Elizabeth or changing her complete personality.

And the ending was so cute. You’ve got to read it. I actually liked Edmund and Fanny together and this whole story made me like him more. We don’t really see Edmund romantically in love with Fanny:

“I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that every one may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people. I only entreat everybody to believe that exactly at the time when it was quite natural that it should be so, and not a week earlier, Edmund did cease to care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny as Fanny herself could desire.”

-Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

So it was cute to see him actually romantic. So adorable.

“If an idea takes root in your mind and you find merit in it, then I am persuaded that idea too, is moral and right. Your endorsement is all I need.’ He [Edmund] set his book aside and took her hands in his. ‘You are all I need.”

Brooke West, The Meaning of Wife

For more by Brooke West, go to “Last Letter to Mansfield” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

For more on Fanny Price, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

What Strange Creatures by Jenetta James

Mary is living with her uncle, the Admiral. He is a cruel, horrid man and it has become more unbearable living with him since her aunt passed away. Anyways, it seems to be an ordinary day, until a magistrate from Bow Street, Mr. James Hunter, comes calling about her missing friend, Miss Verity Stanhope.

Gone Girl

Mary just laughs it off thinking that she probably ran off with some guy. She thinks they eloped and will be back, or took off and now have to elope. But Mr. Hunter assures her that this isn’t a “normal” disappearance. She is the third in a serial kidnapping.

What? A mystery? And a Jane Austen mystery?? You know me…

Mystery, you say?

So where will this story take us? Is she going to become a super sleuth? Will she solve the mystery? Could it be someone she knows? Henry? Her uncle, the admiral? A new character? I’m invested.

Ready for any case

He questions her, but there is no new information regarding her missing friend. Although Henry did leave early. And Verity always liked him. Hmmm….

Hmmm…

No, he has an alibi. It is clearly not him.

Mary keeps trying to shrug it off as an elopement as Verity was having a fortune coming her way, but Mr Hunter is not convinced. The two share a brief flirtation, and he is gone. A brief flirtation is all it could be as Mr. Hunter isn’t the type of man Mary is after.

The next morning Mary is at home with the Admiral, ugh. Things are harder with him now that her aunt has passed and Henry is away. She tells him about an invite they received, but he declines as he will be out. He always does that sort of thing, could he be up to something nefarious? Such as…kidnapping?

Hmmm

The admiral doesn’t care about her or what she does, she can go to the party by herself. And he doesn’t care about this Verity business, as he sees her as just a dumb female.

This guy!

Mary tries to stay away from the idea that it is more than just an elopement, but Mr. Hunter’s words keep coming back. She goes shopping and is enjoying herself, but then thinks how can she be happy and go out when something horrible could be happening to her friend?

“The loss of a person one loves, however so occasioned, can draw a line through happiness as surely as any of life’s misfortunes.”

She continues on her way and then she notices a carriage, it seems that wherever she goes the carriage follows. She goes, it goes. She stops, it stops.

She starts to become alarmed and wants to go into a shop when someone comes out…Mr. Hunter?

Huh?

He followed her?! Is he the kidnapper?

Yes, he followed her, but just because he was worried maybe she could be next. He wasn’t going to say anything, but she was about to go into the shop of Madam Villechamp, a place where all the women who disappeared went into before they vanished.

Mary never would have gone in there, (except she was being followed), as her aunt always forbid her. Her aunt didn’t like the shop. But Mary must know what is going on and so she makes an appointment. She goes to check it out and when the assistant is out of the room she starts investigating.

She goes through the correspondence and writings There she finds a letter from her uncle! Her uncle’s mistress is Madame Villechamp! And he wants her to move in with him.

She runs to Bow Street and talks to Mr. Hunter, and finds out that Verity was found, it was an elopement. Mary talks with him and leaves to start a new life, going to visit Mrs. Grant and entering the Bertram’s lives.

So…what about the missing women? Their disappearances? Serial kidnapper? What happened? I wanted to solve the mystery.

But that aside, I think Mary was very well-written and I liked how they showed her character. And I enjoyed the view into her dysfunctional family as it really does give a great view into their dynamic.

For more by Jenetta James, go to “The Lost Chapter in the Life of William Elliot” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE

For more on Mary Crawford, go to Anna Karenina Made Me View Maria Bertram-Rushworth and Mary Crawford Differently

These stories were really great, even though I didn’t get to fully utilize my detecting skills.

Next time…it has been a while since a Bebris mystery.

 So we have had nine incredible stories. Will the next ones be just as good? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see! 🙂

For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more Mansfield Park, go to Once Upon a Time There Were Three Sisters…

For more Austen book reviews, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

For those of you who might have missed the last post, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:

But just not the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay. Each story gives us a look at these rational creatures.

So far we have reviewed Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility with Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston & Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice in Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio and Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes. And I loved them!!!!

This one is on Emma

Emma is the story of a girl who has been mistress of her house and doted on by her father. After her governess marries (a match she believes she put together) she becomes bored and intends on trying her hand at matchmaking. She pygmalions Harriet Smith as she plans to set her up with the new minister. Things do not go according to plan as her matches do not take hold and her “creation” takes a life of her own.

Oh Emma, some people hate her-others love her. With adaptaions, it has been a toss up for me. Half of them I have enjoyed, while the other half I haven’t liked how they portrayed Emma or Mr. Knightley. Emma is an interesting character and it can be hard really difficult to grasp who she is at the heart.

Then I saw that we had a Miss Bates storyline. That deeply interested me as I haven’t read anything from her point of view-and I was interested in how her constant chatter was going to be interpreted.

And then we have Harriet Smith. Were they going to make her silly, lonely, desperate, hopeful, or naive?

Well, I can’t wait!

Knightley Discourses by Anngela Schroeder

So all the other stories thus far in the anthology have all started at some point in Jane Austen’s tale and then taken the author’s own flavor, twists, and turns. This is the first that takes the story in a completely new direction, years after the original Emma story ended.

So the book starts off similar to Emma‘s beginning, except we have an Emma Knightley who is now 36 years old. She has been mistress of Donwell Abbey and Hartfield, until her father passed away a year ago, in which her sister Isabella and brother-in-law John took over the estate.

She has been so busy managing the estates, her father, marriage, children, etc. But now she is in a state of restlessness. One estate managed by her sister and brother-in-law, opens a lot of extra time. The children are managed by a nanny, her husband spending more time with his brother-in-law who has moved back.

She is feeling a little lost when she spots something that makes her remember the picnic on Box Hill all those years ago, and decides to go to visit Miss Bates. While she is visiting, she hears news from Jane (Fairfax) Churchill, all news that Jane already wrote her and read-until Miss Bates gets in a flurry over Jane’s acquaintance with the Winthrops.

Emma has locked on to this and after bugginginterrogating…asking others, she discovers that there was the possibility of something between a Mr. Winthrop and Miss Bates. With the Winthrops planning on visiting, Emma starts thinking…

Mr. Knightley tries to get Emma to promise to leave the two alone and she doesn’t plan to, but also doesn’t promise she won’t.

Emma and Knightley also have a cute scene when they talk about their marriage and about poor Jane Churchill who’s marriage is not happy at all-what with Frank Churchill doing his own thing, being away, and caring only about himself.

Slight pause on the story…I think it is AMAZING how the stories are written by two different authors, but the Frank Churchill storyline in Dangerous to Know, goes perfect with this one. Where that story ends is right where we pick up on Jane and Frank’s marriage.

Emma visits Mrs. Weston who drops a bomb on her. Mrs. Weston met Miss Winthrop, Mr. Winthrop’s brother, and she should be what Emma focuses her attention on-not matchmaking. Miss Winthrop is after Mr. Knightley.

Say what!

Yes, she was carrying on about how she and Mr. Knightley were engaged at one time and that if she hadn’t had to leave they’d have kids and ever grandchildren by now.

Forget you!

Emma feels okay and secure in her marriage, plus she’s much younger but then she meets Miss Winthrop, Miss Winthrop-always-gets-her-man-Sanchez. She’s a hunter and she’s after Mr. Knightley.

OMG! When I reached this part I was locked into this story. I had other things to do, but they were no longer important as I had to find out what happened next!

Argh, Miss Winthrop! She’s a maneater, we all know the type and an excellent villain. The perfect foil for Emma.

I loved this story. So far it has been my favorite as it captured the essence of Emma, presented the loved characters in a new, interesting, and adorable way (married Emma and Knightley are so cute). Plus women like Miss Withrop, they always get me going.

And I adored the friendship between Jane and Emma.

I HIGHLY recommend it, as I LOVED it!!!

I’d start early as you won’t want to stop.

You’ll notice that this is the one story I didn’t do a quote from, and that’s because I was reading so fast to finish it and find out what happened, I forgot to highlight.

For more on Emma Woodhouse, go to Call Me, Maybe: Austentatious (2015)

The Simple Things by J. Marie Croft

So first of all, reading Miss Bates in Jane Austen’s Emma always gave me a major headache. I loved her, felt for her, but the endless chatter made my brain hurt.

J. Marie Croft did a perfect, perfect, representation of her. You can tell she really studied Austen and the character and put her all into it.

But, while the character in Emma was annoying-Croft did an excellent job not making her chatter unbearable. She would go on when speaking to people, but didn’t continue this within her mind, or with her close friends.

Good job, this was not an easy feat.

We start the book off with Miss Bates turning down a Mr. Franklin as she doesn’t love him. Even though he could answer all their family money woes. She knows Mr. Franklin doesn’t want a wife, but a nanny/nursemaid/cook/cleaning woman/housekeeper/etc and is not interested in becoming a free servant.

“The sacred institution of matrimony is too often perverted, Patty. Perverted by men and women shackling themselves to a mate for whom they feel no special regard. No attachment. No affection. No ardent admiration. No that is not the life for me. I will not doom myself to a marriage of apathy, misery, or fear. I would rather live independently, if poor.”

As Mr. Franklin was the landlord, they have lost their home and will have to find another cottage. But Miss Bates refuses to be shackled to a man she does not love. This makes her think back to her first love.

Hmm…

This story was so cute and amazing in how it portrayed Miss Bates. We were able to see a new side of her-her touched by love, the care she had for her sister and best friend, her devotion as an aunt, I loved it. And how even through the suffering and the trials she goes through, she still remains an amazingly cheerful person.

“And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will[sic].” –Emma, Jane Austen

Croft did an amazingly good job. An excellent read!

For more by J. Marie Croft, go to “The Art of Sinking” from Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

For more on Miss Bates, go to Should We Pity Miss Bates or Strive to Be Her?

In Good Hands by Caitlin Williams

This story picks up after Emma tried to match Harriet up with Mr. Elton, and failed.

Then Emma thought Harriet was into Frank Churchill and tried pushing them together-but that failed.

Harriet tried to get with Mr. Knightley and that failed.

Harriet and Emma’s friendship broke up. And Mr. Knightley and Emma got engaged.

Poor Harriet Smith and to top it off-she has a horrible toothache. Emma arranges for her to go to London, and stay with the Knightleys, while she sees the dentist. Harriet is exuberant as she wants to get away from it all and her embarrassment over what has happened.

So embarressed

Harriet tells Isabella what happened-all of it from Mr. Martin to Mr. Elton to Mr. Knightley. Isabella feels for her and has her stay longer, as Harriet is a great help with the children. Harriet is trying to figure our what to do next (and how to keep from returning to her embarrassment) when Robert Martin comes walking in.

Harriet is embarrassed, tongue-tied, and a little scared at what to do or say.

“Now the pretty decorated timepiece felt like an enemy, a thief robbing her of the opportunity to say something meaningful to Robert Martin before he went.”

Will this be just more embarrassment to pile on, or a second chance?

You know I really like this choice. I like the view into Harriet, her resolution to improve herself, and that we get to see how the two get together. Plus Mr. Knightley sent him, Mr. Knightley is matchmaking. So adorable!

I loved how Harriet was written as well. She wasn’t desperate or dumb, but she was a pleasant, sweet girl, a pinch lonely and unexperienced.

For more by Caitlin Williams, go to “Death of a Bachelor” from The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

For more on Harriet Smith, go to Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

These stories were just as great at the others, especially the Emma one.

 So we have had seven stupendous and striking stories. Will the rest be just as good? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see! 🙂

For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth & Charlotte

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne

For more Emma, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

For more Austen book reviews, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book