Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (The Rajes #1) by Sonali Dev

So I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite some time, I believe the first time I checked it out from the library was on October 11, 2019-but life got in the way and I had to return it, check it out, return, and repeat until finally I had some free time during this COVID19 quarantine.

The story starts off with Trisha Raje, of the impressive Raje family line-in fact they are the descendants of a royal family. Her mother was a former Bollywood star and the family has had everything anyone could want-money, status, education, beauty, etc.

But unlike other books-I really liked that the characters knew they were blessed, that they are many who would give anything to be them, and didn’t go down the route of “all power and money is evil” or “woe is me I have money” or “I’m rich and entitled but l am “really” average“, etc. Instead this family knows what they have and all try to do their best to use it to help others in some way.

One summer, teenage Trisha was touched when she visited children at one of her grandfather’s charities in India. Most of the children were blind and with many nothing could be done, while there was quite a number would have been spared this fate with more interest, money, medical intervention, etc. She was determined to help and from there not only created a charity (with help of her parents) that assisted the afflicted children but dedicated her life to becoming a top surgeon, specializing in developing machines that would help remove tumors, growths, cysts, etc.

She is doing well in her career, but unfortunately is no longer a part of the Raje universe. She has been the black sheep of her family, as years ago she made a mistaken judge of character and that person hurt her brother very badly. Since then she and her father have had a strained relationship and she hasn’t been invited to any of their big events. Her brother just announced his run for governor and Trisha is through with being on the sideline, she’s ready to try and get back in her family again.

In other (good) news, Trisha is super excited to work on a new patient, Emma. She has an inoperable tumor wrapped around her optic nerves, and this new tech will remove it and save her life, although it will cause her to go blind. But living is better than dying, isn’t it?

After staying late at the hospital, she then goes to the family dinner/political event (late as usual) and discovers she missed the dinner.

Trisha is starving and decides to head into the kitchen, plays with something at the stove and almost ruins the chef’s sauce. She doesn’t understand why he is freaking out over it-and insults him, even calling him the hired help to her sister.

Meanwhile, across the pond in England, Darcy James “DJ” Caine grew up with his sister, Emma, having very few advantages in life. His father was Anglo-Indian and infuriated his family when he chose to marry a Rwandan refugee rather than a British girl. When DJ’s father passed away when he was young, his father’s family kicked them out of their house and they became homeless. Through a church program, their mother found a job and a place for them to live. His mother worked hard every day to send them to good schools, and in the afternoons DJ watched the landlord’s epileptic mother in exchange for free rent.

While DJ’s mother had high ambitious for her children to become scientists or engineers, DJ connected with his charge-she becoming a surrogate mother- and the two spent hours cooking. Life was hard, but they made the best of it, however it did start to push on him and as a teenager he did get into some trouble. After that he has been on the straight and narrow and went to Le Cordon Bleu and worked in Paris.

He comes to California to help care for his sick sister and through an old friend from Cordon Bleu, he has managed to land the Rajes as clients. He is working so hard to keep them (and hopefully cater more of their parties and events), losing it when a self-absorbed socialite almost destroys his sauce. To add further insult and injury, he not only had to grab the hot pot to secure it and burned his hands, she’s very rude to him, and he also overhears her calling him the hired help.

That should be the end of it, unless she comes to future events, except for one small thing: Emma, (the patient Trisha wants to operate on but doing so will turn her blind), is DJ’s sister. The two are now both thrown together as they work on convincing Emma to take the surgery, but as she is an artist she is very angry and upset about losing her eyesight.

They are then further brought together when Traisha’s sister Nisha, and her brother Yash’s campaign manager, has to take a step back. Nisha and her husband Neel have one daughter and have been trying for years to have more kids with each attempt ending in miscarriage. She’s pregnant again, and even though her doctor doesn’t say to, she decides to go on bedrest, asking Trisha to keep it a secret. With Nisha self-grounding herself, Trisha has to care of planning the next event-which includes the catering with DJ.

Life gets even more complicated when someone from Trisha’s past reenters the picture, Julia Wickham. Julia almost destroyed the Raje family when she plotted and threatened Trisha’s brother. Trisha is scared that Julia might try and hurt Emma and DJ, but she cannot reveal what Julia did as her brother is running for office and the last thing he needs is for all this to come out.

DJ and Emma meet Julia at the hospital, and she offers them a way to pay their medical bills. Julia’s plan is to create videos with Emma sharing about her story and creating a kickstarter so people can donate to it. As their medical bills are extremely high and DJ can only keep them afloat so long, they decide to trust her and let her into their lives. She further gains DJ’s trust when she shares how the Raje family destroyed her, left her with nothing, and she had to fight and scrape together to be where she is now.

That coupled with Trisha calling him hired help, and a few other misadventures, miscommunications, and mistakes between the two-when Trisha finds herself falling in love with DJ and his food, and decides to tell him-he flat out refuses and rips her a new one.

Can they overcome pride, prejudice, their own hurts, and hangups? Or will these two part ways after the dinner and never see each other again? Can they convince Emma to have the surgery? Or will Trisha and DJ lose her? Will they stop whatever plan Julia has? Or will she completely destroy the Raje family.

So I really enjoyed reading this book. In the forward, Sonali Dev states that this was inspired by Pride and Prejudice, but is her own story, and I thought she did a good job bringing in her own “flavor” (bad pun, I know), while creating a new story. I enjoyed how she adapted the story to a modern times, along with Indian culture. I think Jane Austen’s stories are extremely relatable to other cultures, as the elements in there are still present today. Growing up biracial, I could see how with my Mexican side there is still an emphasis of getting married before you are “an old maid”, the importance of family, having children, etc; while with my father’s side (Danish and Sicilian Italian) it isn’t as important. I wouldn’t see mind seeing more culturally diverse Jane Austen adaptions.

However, what I thought was really interesting was how Dev took elements from Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet and used them in both DJ and Trisha. You see at first I thought that Trisha was Darcy (rich family) and DJ was Elizabeth (as he is from a poorer background), but as I read on they reminded me of both the Austen characters.

Trisha as Darcy

  • Trisha has the money & status
  • Trisha insults DJ and he overhears her
  • Had a Wickham try to ruin her family
  • Feels strong guilt over them buying off Wickham instead of exposing her
  • Giving advice/deeply persuading her best friend (cousin)
  • Awful love confession (proposal)
  • Saves love interest’s sister

Trisha as Elizabeth

  • Trisha comes from a big family
  • Trisha was really close to her father (then something happened)
  • Closeness to an older sister
  • Best friend/sister gives advice on love
  • Makes quite a few conclusions and then realizes she was wrong

DJ as Darcy

  • DJ’s family is him and his sister like Darcy & Georgiana
  • DJ has had to be the father for his sister after their father passed
  • DJ’s relationship with his sister is more Darcy & Georgiana than Elizabeth & Jane
  • DJ’s name is Darcy, Darcy James
  • Broods a lot

DJ as Elizabeth

  • Trisha insults DJ and he overhears her
  • Comes from a poorer family
  • Doesn’t like Trisha because of something she says and when he meets someone who shares an unfavorable view of her, he instantly believes her.
  • His father dying and relatives kicking him out (exactly what Mrs. Bennet feared would happen to them)

You should read the book and tell me what you think. Is DJ Elizabeth or is he Darcy? Is Trisha Darcy or is she Elizabeth?

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (1940)

One of the most interesting supporting characters is Trisha’s brother Yash and I hope we have a future book with him (although I’m not sure which Austen character he is the most like? Colonel Brandon is the only one I can think off the top of my head that might work). He is a kind and caring older brother, supportive fiancé, survived the machinations of the evil Wickham, was in a car accident and lost his ability to walk-astounding doctors when he made it out of the wheelchair, encourages DJ to go after his sister, and stopped a terrorist attack on Alcatraz (pg. 17). Please tell me he is coming back.

So this book is more than just a story of Pride and Prejudice, it also is a love letter to food and food creation. Parts of it reminded me of my Mexican grandmother who would make things with no recipe but how she was taught and always had to feed us when she saw us. I loved reading about how DJ loves food, his preparation in making it, his desire to bring comfort to others. One of my favorite parts was when he was having a hard time talking to Emma-his worry, anger, and pain muddling up his words, and he put together the perfect breakfast for her.

How sweet!

So reading this reminded me of the show Hart of Dixie. In the show, Mischa Barton plays Dr. Zoe Hart who has horrid bedside manner and instead of her dream job gets told she needs to spend a year in a general practice. She moves to Bluebell, Alabama and ends up inheriting the practice from her biological father (it’s complicated, it’s a soap opera). She is kind of a know-it-all (treating the people of Bluebell lower than her) and focused solely on herself and her plan to get patients and complete her time-but eventually she gets a change of “heart” and grows to love the people and the town.

Trisha reminded me a lot of Zoe Hart. We hear her backstory and where she is coming from, but the way she relates to people-she is as bad as Zoe. They way Trisha treats DJ as he is just a “cook” is the same way Zoe treats Wade as he is just a “bartender”. Both believe they are better than the “hired help”. When she firsts meets DJ she tells him her surgical hands are more important than the dish he was cooking, she eats all the food at the tasting without him, and when she proposes she says she has never dated someone who hasn’t gone to college (forgetting that DJ went to Cordon Bleu).

But even with those flaws, you still want her to have a happy ending with DJ-mostly because like Darcy and Elizabeth, she realizes her wrongs and apologizes for them along with actually changing her behavior.

Emma’s storyline of being an artist with a tumor who’s choices are either death or blindness is heartbreaking. Every part with her was raw and real as she went through the stages of grief-grieving her loss of what she loves. I can’t imagine life without my eyes, and her storyline was beyond powerful.

Life seems grey..

Throughout the book there is also this theme of secrets causing issues and I thought it was really well done. Secrets can cause miscommunication, for instance Nisha doesn’t want anyone to know she is pregnant until she is out of the troubling stage. She makes Trisha promise not to tell anyone, and instead of including DJ in her confidence, her keeping him out of the loop causes some serious miscommunications. Secrets can also keep you from knowing the truth of a whole story and color your views. For instance, Trisha’s mother has a powerful secret she has kept because she doesn’t want her children to view her differently, but revealing it allows Trisha to better understand both her parents.

Hmmm…

At the end Dev says that she is going to write more books based on Jane Austen using some of the characters and I’m thinking it can’t be Nisha as she is already married. It has to be Asha or Yash and Asha sounds prime for a Persuasion retelling-family used to be rich, trying to pick up the financial pieces, always sad, growing older and is still unmarried…perfect for Persuasion.

And I saved the part I found most meaningful for last:

“You’re Indian?” This time the shock wasn’t a surprise. Both Emma and he favored their Rwandan mother.”

Yes! Finally, a book involving not only a multiracial character but finally a voice to what it feels to grow up multiracial. This is 100% truth for how it feels growing up a mix of different races, but your phenotype favoring one, and the way people treat you different.

I loved that this book had a multiracial character, as growing up there were no books or TV shows, except I Love Lucy that had that. Like I said in my review of The Colonel,  I can not express enough with words how it felt growing up and feeling so different and alone, with no one like you. This feeling of inbetween as you don’t really belong to one or the other.

I only wish it had more on DJ’s feelings of being multiracial. I’m not saying that him sharing how it feels to be dark skinned in America isn’t important, but being multiracial has its own set of issues, feelings, and ways of being treated that I wished she had talked more about. Take my niece for example, people would see her and think she is African-American: but she is Italian, Danish, Mexican, and African-American. Not only does she have to deal with the issues that face African-Americans, but she also has to deal with African-Americans not accepting her because she isn’t “black enough” and Mexicans not accepting her because she “isn’t Mexican”.

Any multiracial person can swap out Latino with their race and this describes what it feels like. Although I wouldn’t have used the word fraud.

I’m not saying what Dev has in there isn’t important, it is, I just wish she had expanded a bit more on DJ’s issues of growing up multicultural more. Did people of Indian descent treat him differently because of his dark skin? How did his Emma navigate this? Did he ever have to prove he was Indian, like I’ve had to prove I’m Mexican? I enjoyed what Dev did, I’m just starved for more as there wasn’t anything like this for me growing up.

Hmmm…

I really enjoyed this story, and I want to thank Dev again for including a multiracial character. I thought it was a great read, and I can’t wait for the next installment ( I looked it up, it IS Persuasion) and hopefully her versions of Northanger Abbey, Emma, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

For more on Elizabeth Bennet, go to Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part II, Other Eras

For more on Mr. Darcygo to Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie

For more adaptions of Jane Austen, go to Take a Chance on Me: Austentatious (2015)

You Ever Notice That The Gossip Girl TV Show is a Lot Like Persuasion?

So welcome back every one! I enjoyed my week off. As we had a lot of free time last month (April) with the quarantine and shelter in place I watched a lot of TV. Some new things, some old comforts or guilty pleasures.

Of course I am always on the lookout for Jane Austen bingos and Jane Austen comparisons. One that recently came to mind was this: you ever notice that Gossip Girl the TV show (not the book series as I have never read it) is a lot like Persuasion?

What are you talking about??

I know what you are thinking, what does a show about the rich and famous Upper East Siders who drink, do drugs, scheme, and intermix their relationships (I think this show had almost every character date another of the main characters) have anything to do with Jane Austen?

Hmm…

The relationship of Lily Van der Woodsen and Rufus Humphrey

Hmm…

So quick summary on both:

Persuasion is a story that spans over several years. When Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth are young they become engaged, and Anne is persuaded to turn him down as he could die, she could be left with nothing, they are young, he is leaving for the Navy, her family won’t approve, etc. He thinks it is solely because she from a rich distinguished family, and he’s a nobody. He becomes angry, takes a lot of chances in the war and increases his wealth and stature. He returns to find Anne unmarried and her family has lost their money, letting their mansion out to Fredrick’s sister and brother-in-law. Anne has never gotten over Fredrick and is shocked to see him enter her life again. Intrigue happens as some women are striving for Frederick’s heart, a woman has a ploy to snag Anne’s father Sir Walter Elliot, and a estranged relative reappears planning to go after his inheritance and cousin. Will the two get their happy ending together? Or has too much time passed?

Anne in the background, Captain Frederick Wentworth in the foreground with Louisa Musgrove.

In Gossip Girl we have the story of Dan and Jenny Humphrey who live in Brooklyn and attend the private school for the rich and famous on scholarship. Dan is a loner who is there to do well and go to college, hopefully achieving his dream of attending Dartmouth or Yale. Jenny strives to be just like the wealthy and rich, being the Queen B: Blair Waldorf’s lackey. Serena Van der Woodsen returns from boarding school and upsets everyone’s life: Blair is displeased at sharing the spotlight, Blair’s boyfriend Nate is in love with Serena, Chuck Bass is just a jerk with problems & lashing out, and for Dan she is his dream girl. Dan and Serena have a relationship but will he be able to handle the lifestyles of the rich and famous? The story spans several years, breakups and makeups, schemes, intrigue, fashion, money, etc.

The parents and adults on this show are just as bad as the children-drugs, drinking, affairs, etc. Lily is Serena’s mother and former roadie and girlfriend to Rufus Humphrey, former aspiring rock star, and Dan’s father. They traveled around but Lily left him for her life on the West Side. They are thrown back together when their kids date, but the flames between them have not quite died out. And almost every move and act is commented and written about on the Gossip Girl blog.

***Spoiler Warning***

So I know this still might not be making total sense to you, but bear with me until the end and comment if you see it or if you think there is no comparison.

I have never read the books and am basing this on the storyline in the TV show. In the TV show Lily was raised on the Upper West Side, is rich, famous, and beautiful, but also not as stuffy or following in the path of her mother-there is a serious disconnect between her and her mother (and her and her father as shown in one episode). She does not follow the plans her mother wanted for her, but instead gets involved with the average, aspiring rock and roll star, Rufus, and they are so adorable together.

How sweet!

Unfortunately, Lily’s mother, Celia Catherine “CeCe” Rhodes, persuades her against staying with Rufus as she threatens to cut Lily off and will her trust fund and inheritance away. That wouldn’t have stopped Lily except that her mother also convinced her that Lily would be unable to handle a regular life, that eventually Rufus would move on (an aspiring rock star can’t be faithful), her parents and family would never see her again or have anything to do with her, and she would end up poor and alone.

This reminded me a lot of what happened with Anne. While Anne was close to her mother, after she died she was left with her father who she shares a similar disconnect and he also has zero involvement in her life (like Lily’s dad). Anne may not be wild like Lily, but she definitely ranks high in his disapproval. Like Lily, she fell in love with someone society deemed “beneath” her, but also fell victim to the persuasion of a family friend, someone she trusted and loved as a second mother, Lady Russell. The social rank doesn’t matter to Anne, like it does to Lady Russell, but like Lily-Anne falls victim to the what ifs-if she had married Frederick she could end up with no family support (or ever seeing them again), no money, a wounded turned alcoholic husband, the life of drudgery, a widow with nothing, etc. (In fact she could end up with the same life of Fanny Price’s mother)

Fanny (left) and Mrs. Price, her mother, and little sister (right).

In Gossip Girl, it has been over 16 years and Rufus and Lily find themselves back together again. Rufus’ initial reaction is very similar to Captain Wentworth, as he is hurt and angry at how he was treated by his love. The two verbally spar with each other, but as they spend time together, they end up falling for each other again. Rufus realizes his feelings for her when his wife he’s been separated from for months (who is cheating on him), returns. Seeing her back with his family, coupled with him meeting her lover, makes him realize that it’s over for them and he really wants to be with Lily. This part reminded me of when Louisa, the girl Captain Frederick has been constantly flirting with, falls and injures herself making it impossible for him to get with Anne as everyone thinks he is engaged to Louisa-this situation cluing him into the fact that he is still in love with Anne and doesn’t want to be with anyone else. Luckily, Louisa is tended to by Captain Benwick and is engage to him, freeing Captain Wentworth and allowing him to chase after his true love.

So in Persuasion, Captain Wentworth needs to let Anne know his feelings and he writes her one of the most romantic letters so that she has concrete proof he cares for her. Rufus is also very romantic and while he doesn’t write Lily a letter he “walks” (as I don’t believe that he really walked the whole way) from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side in the snow with no coat to tell Lily that he loves her, leaving her with a romantic voicemail.

Both Lady Russell (Anne’s godmother) and CeCe Rhodes (Lily’s mother) realize their mistakes as both stories progress. Lady Russell sees that Frederick is a good man and will take care of Anne, along with valuing her. CeCe also realizes her mistake in having separated the two and even encourages them to get together.

But of course the TV series ran for six seasons and LOVED the drama, so every time Rufus and Lily drew close, they broke up or something came to keep them apart. Eventually, they do marry and I really liked them together, but then Lily’s ex-husband was poisoning her to think she had cancer and rely on him and she couldn’t tell Rufus (so that caused issues) and even later her previous husband Bart Bass-who died but somehow miraculously lived, comes back from the grave so her marriage to Rufus is invalid. And then she ends up with her ex-husband who poisoned her, which is one of the dumbest decisions that TV show made, really? Why would she be with him when he was POISONING her?

So it has parallel’s to Persuasion, but unfortunately they don’t get the happy ending Wentworth and Anne do.

So what do you think? Do you see the similarities? Or are these two stories completely different from each other? Comment below!

For more on Persuasion, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more on Gossip Girl, go to Prom Book Dream Come True: Valley Girl, Gossip Girl (2009)

For more Jane Austen meets modern culture, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

Lavender Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies

So last month my friends and I were supposed to meet up for high tea, but then COVID-19 happened and screwed up all our plans.

So we decided to throw a virtual tea party.

We each set up a space with snacks and tea, I drank Earl Grey Tea and made Cucumber Sandwiches to snack on. When it came to the sweets, I was going to make one thing, but then decided now was the time to try and make something I have wanted to for a long time, Earl Grey Cookies. You all know how much I love Earl Grey Tea:

I have always wanted to make Earl Grey Cookies, I have a ton of pins of them on my pinterest board.

Thats me

The only issue is that you have to chill them for a while before baking and I just haven’t had the time to bake, let alone bake something that had to be chilled first. But with quarantine, I have both the time and the ingredients. This recipe originally comes from Let’s Eat Cake.

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 Cups of Flour
  • 3/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of Lavender Earl Grey Loose Leaf Tea
  • 1/2 Tsp of Salt
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1.5 Cups of Unsalted Butter

Directions:

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, tea, and salt together for one minute in a bowl or food processor.
  2. Add butter and vanilla extract.
  3. Pulse until shaggy dough is formed, about two mins.
  4. Remove blade and transfer dough to a working surface.
  5. Work dough until it comes together and shape it into two discs.
  6. Place each disc on parchment paper and transfer to refrigerator for 30 mins.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out cookies using a 1 inch wide cookie cutter.
  10. Transfer cookies to baking sheet.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown.

So these cookies were good, but after they had been chilled they were so difficult to scoop out, like they were a rock. I had to use a spoon and chisel the dough, making the cookies extremely tiny. Tiny cookies weren’t all that bad as it let me eat more of them.

I ended up overdoing it though. I drank like 16 cups of tea and I don’t know how many cookies and had a hard time falling asleep.

For more recipes, go to Cucumber Sandwiches

For more tea posts, go to NovelTea Tins’ Romance Sampler

For more cookies, go to Ginger Cardamom Meyer Lemon Crinkle Cookies

For more shortbread cookie recipes, go to Basic Shortbread

For more Earl Grey Tea, go to Iced Blackberry Infused Earl Grey Tea

In other news, this week I am going on vacation.

I know, crazy right? A whole week? I had all these plans to spend the time with my niece doing all kinds of things but now it sounds like it will be a staycation. Oh well.

I’ll be on instagram still but I won’t be doing any posting on my blog.

GOOD!

Take a Chance on Me: Austentatious (2015)

Almost done! It’s the final countdown,

Three more episodes left and than I am done FOOOOOOOREEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So if you have been following me you know that I hate this show. I really, really do not like this or how they portray the characters.

That movie

But I started it, so I’ve got to finish it.

So Austentatious is the story of Elinor, Marianne, Emma, Elizabeth, and Mr. Knightley being friends in modern times. But they don’t involve ANY Austen plots or subplots. In fact, besides names they hardly share anything with the original source material.

So in the last episode Elinor and Edward were doing IRS stuff and she is smitten with him, Marianne accidentally dyed herself blue and met Knightley’s friend Nurse Brandon (he chose not to be a doctor big plot point in the previous episode), the friends set Emma up on blind dates to get back at the disastrous dates she paired them with, and Elizabeth had acrylic nails that she hated.

Yes…this is why I don’t like this show.

For the thousandth time

So Edward is back, and he and Elinor have finished getting their IRS stuff all together.

Elinor has a hoodie on, which seems really weird as we spent a large time with her being on Marianne’s case about being a good worker and professional, and she was promoted to be in charge-so why isn’t she dressing professionally?

Elinor is on cloud nine as she loves her IRS man (one of the few people who are happy to see and deal with the IRS). She gets home and Emma and Knighltley are at her house…or is it all their houses? They never make that quite clear and everyone is always in that one apartment.

Weird…

Emma is on break and Knightey is bored. What does he do for a living? He dresses nice but never seems to be doing anything at all…

Elizabeth and Marianne bought an exercise bike and brought it to Elinor’s apartment. So if it is Marianne and Elinor’s apartment why are Emma and Knightley over when she isn’t? Why don’t they go to their houses? I mean I must not be the only one who finds it weird that their friends hang out in their apartment when they aren’t home do I?

I mean if they were going to just use one location then they should have had them share an apartment or a house.

Emma is “working” and wearing a hoodie and ripped jeans? Like what is going on with the clothes today? This whole entire show Emma was a fashionista and as a lawyer always dressing professionally. What is happening here? I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone, more than ever.

Emma: [To Grant Knightley] “What’s the point of having all those muscles if you don’t help a damsel when she’s in distress?”

I actually like that line. One flake of gold in the whole program.

Emma and Elinor leave Elizabeth and Knightley to put it together as they head over to the smoothie shop to “work”. Emma is secretly reading a regular book instead of a law tome, as it turns out she lied to get out of putting the machine together. I knew there was a reason she wasn’t dressed in her usual wear.

Marianne goes to Emma for advice over Elinor and Elinor’s mad, but I don’t blame Marianne for thinking Elinor knows zip. She doesn’t have a great track record, I mean I saw the makeover/date episode.

Elinor complains that they are being loud and distracting as she is working. Well helloooo Elinor you are in a public shop-if you want quiet why don’t you go home and work in your room or go back to the office?

I mean for real!

Lizzie and Grant/Knightley are trying to put the bike together and are seriously struggling. Grant tries to convince Lizzie to get a gym membership like him instead, and Lizzie is surprised that Grant goes once or twice a week to the gym.

Okay that was funny.

Lizzie doesn’t want to go to the gym as they are gross and full of sweaty people, people hog the machines, creepy guys-I feel for you Lizzie, although I don’t have a gym membership as I don’t have time.

Emma can’t stop thinking about the exercise machine is freaking out about her weight and the cupcakes she is eating at the shop. But then she is distracted when Elinor accuses her of manipulating Grant Knightley and that Emma takes him for granted. (She does).

Back at the apartment Grant and Lizzie are talking but Grant is the only one doing anything while Elizabeth is just chilling. That’s how my sister would be.

Grant is struggling and he calls Brandon to help put it together, but doesn’t tell him that he needs his help to put a bike together…a bike that doesn’t even belong to him.

I mean for real!

Marianne comes home and Lizzie is all mad that Marianne bought a take and bake pizza. She’s all why buy a pizza and take it home to cook-well gee Elizabeth maybe I don’t want to take the time to do it myself, maybe I don’t want to travel with my cooked pizza getting cold on the way home, maybe I want to make it when I want to, maybe I want my house to smell of pizza and not pizza grease, maybe I like how it tastes, maybe I got a good deal-I could go on and on with different reasons. Pizza is always good.

It’s times like these I am like we are sooooooo far off what the plot was in any of the books. Like Jane Austen has soooo much for you to work with-and yet you decide to do acrylic nails, exercise bikes, and whether take and bake pizzas are worth your money.

I am so upset right now.

This is awful!

Brandon is so into Marianne, it is soooo cute. This guy, Blake Webb is saving this episode. I don’t know if he read the book or watched an adaption but he is the only one that got his character. You sure are going to make these last few episodes bearable, and I’d appreciate it if you could teach the guy who is Darcy how to act like his character.

Speaking of which there are only three episodes left (including this one) and we have yet to resolve the Darcy house issue, Brandon and Marianne need to get together, Elinor and Edward need to get togther, and Emma and Knightley need to match up. There are a lot of loose ends and only 50 mins until resolution (I paused 10 in and each episode is 20 mins). And what about Collin, is he coming back too?

Or plot!

So back to the Smoothie Shop Elinor admits to Emma she really likes Edward and all I can think is what about Lucy? In fact what about Fanny Dashwood, Lady Catherine, Mr. Wickham, Mr. Willoughby, Frank Churchill, Jane Fairfax, etc.? Where are the villains and character foils? Where is the drama? Where is the comedy? Where are the components of Jane Austen we love, her giant tapestry of plots and characters, and so on.

Where are the Austen things and characters I love??!!

I am extremely disappointed.

UUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Like in the Jane Austen Academy they kept the issues from the books and transferred them to the story. Instead of losing her home-Anne lost her school that her ancestors had founded, Elizabeth is sparring with Darcy, Fredrick Wentworth is back in town, you know….

Elinor wants to date Edward but isn’t sure as they wok together-but they don’t, not really. I mean Elinor is an accountant and he’s with the IRS so you do not work together and it won’t be breaking any rules.

Seriously

Emma encourages Elinor, trying to get her to ask Edward out, but Elinor says she physically can’t. We then get a flashback of her being geeky and struggling. I think she looks cute with glasses on, glasses that we never ever see her wear again. Hello actors and actresses that’s not how glasses work. Even if you do wear contacts, you eventually have to wear glasses again or else you’ll mess up your eyes. And what’s wrong with having a character wear glasses. We defintely need more characters who wear them.

So Lizzie and Marianne are not helping at all, while the guys do all the work. Brandon is so into Marianne, still being cute. Grant/Knightley is like you don’t know that much about Marianne are you sure and Brandon is all I know her medical history (last episode). Whoever wrote his lines- you get a gold star, you are actually getting some laughs out of me.

Knightley/Grant is the one doing all the work, while Brandon is distracted by Marianne. Knightley/Grant is like dude just ask her out so we can get this torture machine put together and Brandon is all no, I need her to get to know me first. Awww, Brandon you are actually making watching this bearable. Too bad you weren’t here earlier.

Soooo cute!!!!

Grant/Knightley is all it’s better to ask someone out and be possibly turned down then to become a friend and stuck in the friendzone. Hmm…who could he be talking about?

The pizza burns as Lizzie and Marianne were too bust talking right next to it and didn’t notice, or smell it, and Lizzie is all that’s why you should never make or bake pizza at home. Whatever. How did they not notice it, being right next to the oven? How could they with the vast amount of choices and plots to use decide to focus on take and bake pizzas.

Back to the Smoothie Shop, Elinor “I’m working stop distracting me” Dashwood is going on about how she wants Edward to ask her out. Girl you have two episodes left, better get to asking.

Elinor can’t move in that but decides to flat out tell Emma Grant is into her.

Like that wasn’t your secret to tell Elinor. And Emma is actually shocked at this. Really?

I present Exhibit A:

And let’s not forget his massaging you, paying for the food, tipping Marianne and making her look good at work because Emma told him to, putting the exercise bike together as Emma told him too, etc.

Mr. Knightley loves Emma

Elinor gets all psychoanalyzing Emma and Knightley, but they are interrupted when Elinor spots Edward at the smoothie shop.

Look at that guy…

Emma encourages Elinor to not hide behind the couch but go ask him out. I’m going to pause here and say I do NOT get why in movies do they always hide behind or underneath things when they spot someone they want to avoid. Who really would hide under a restaurant table or other things in public where is it dirty and you are sure to touch something you would rather not.  Why not just make sure they only see the back of your head.

I mean for real!

Edward has like button up shirt and pants from circa 2005 there. Where did you get those, and put them back in their time machine please and thank you.

It’s not working for you. Those pants, that shirt…

Edward is there WITH A girl!!!

Is it Lucy? Are we finally getting some actual Jane Austen content???

Please, oh please!

Back at the apartment they are eating the burnt pizza, although I’m thinking why don’t they just order a new one.

The girls eat ice cream while the guys build the bike.

Poor Grant, he’s all sweaty and tired from doing 99% of the work. Poor dude. And all because you’ll do anything Emma tells you to do.

Poor Elinor is sad and depressed and Emma tries to cheer her up by saying maybe the girl is Edward’s sister and they are just creepy close. Really, Emma? Really?

Like HOW would that make her feel better? HOW? But this is so true, us women do this to each other all the time.

Grant Knightley takes a break and talks to Marianne, who decides to ask him for help with her guy problem. He tries to encourage her to not try to focus on making changes for guys but do changer herself only if she wants to do it. That instead she just needs to be herself. Aw, that’s cute. Even though I am sad/upset that there is no Fanny Price, Catherine Morland, Anne Elliot, Mr. Tilney, or Captain Wentworth I do like how Grant/Mr. Knightley is friends with everyone and counsels not just Emma but all the ladies. It is very cute and very well done.

How sweet!

The bike is finally put together, Emma tests it out, and it falls apart. Yes…that’s it. All that work for nothing. It’s supposed to be funny, but falls flat.

So where is the Jane Austen?!!! It’s like not even here, just a few drops. Why? Why? There is so much you could do, choose from, there is just so much…and this is what you came up with.

Why?

I can’t wait until I’m finally finished with this. Then I’ll be freeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

Only two left!!!

For more Austentatious, go to Make Me a Match: Austentatious (2015)

For more Jane Austen film retellings, go to Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

For more Sense & Sensibility, go to Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne Dashwood

For more Pride & Prejudice, go to NovelTea Tins’ Romance Sampler

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

Cucumber Sandwiches

So last month my friends and I were supposed to meet up for high tea, as this is something we have been trying to do about every three months to stay connected as it is seems to get harder the older you get.

We had the date and reservations at this amazing historic tea place, but then COVID-19 happened.

So we decided to do our own tea party, a virtual tea party.

We each set up a space with snacks and tea, I drank Earl Grey Tea of course.

I decided to make a new type of Cucumber Sandwiches and Earl Grey Tea Cookies. Both of which were extremely delicious, and I decided to share them with you here, starting with the cucumber sandwiches, which originally come from Spend With Pennies.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons of Mayonnaise
  • 2 Teaspoons of Chopped Fresh Dill
  • 1 Teaspoon of Chopped Fresh Chives
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Long English Cucumber, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Loaf of Bread, Crusts Removed

Directions:

  1. Mix cream cheese and mayonnaise in a small bowl with a hand mixer, until smooth.
  2. Stir in herbs, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cut crusts off bread slices.
  4. Spread bread slices with cream cheese mixture.
  5. Thinly slice cucumbers, layer over half of the bread slices.
  6. Top with additional herbs, if desired.
  7. Top with remaining bread slice and cut each sandwich into three pieces.

These were delicious! I’m glad I was the only one eating them as I wanted to eat them all!

 

For more recipes, go to Lemon Curd

For more tea sandwich recipes, go to Basic Chicken Salad

For more tea party recipes, go to Scottish Oat Scones

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

So the idea of Catherine Morland’s Reading List came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured all these books that I know, if Catherine was alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on eventually reviewing. What can I say…

The next book I think Catherine Morland would read is…

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

I read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton and really enjoyed it. I was shelving books in the library and spotted this book and it called to me, you know like books do. I picked it up and knew I had to read it, as it is perfect to add to this list.

So first of all this book is amazing in how it was printed. The cover pages are set up like the cover pages of old books, looking like they are worn, torn, folded, etc. The prologue begins with a snippet from gothic story, The Mud Man, and I was instantly hooked.

This story is a Gothic Novel Lovers dream! It has a scattering of references to other novels, like the trail of breadcrumbs Hansel and Gretel left-this one leading you to the conclusion.

W have the prologue of the Mud Man and I wish it was a real book. It is so creepy!

The book is told between a few different timelines, we have 1992 (present) and 1940s (past). The story starts off with our main character narrating the story, reminiscent of Wuthering Heights, which continues as she tries to search for the truth of a family secret, just like how the main character does there.

I’m telling you, this is like Gothic Novel bingo!

Edie works for a book publisher as she loves reading. It is very small and starting to die out, only saved by Edie’s moxie as she doesn’t really want to start over.

So it starts off with an unlikely beginning, (after the Mud Man story). Back in WWII a postman became a bit too inebriated and forgot to mail a bag of letters. Said bag was discovered years later, with it becoming a huge story in the media.

Wow!

Edie’s mother was one of the people who received a letter, but instead of being happy about the missive that went away she became extremely upset about it, and asked Edie to leave.

Edie forgets all about it until she heads to Kent to sign an author. There she passes this amazing castle, Milderhurst Castle, the owner being Raymond Blythe-the author of Edie’s favorite book, The Mud Man.

Wow!

She purchases a copy of The Mud Man and another book on the history of the Blythes, and when she hears of tours to the castle she heartily wants to do it!

However, the Blythe sisters don’t allow tours anymore as they are growing older and have a younger sister who has dementia. But for some strange reason they agree to let her.

Edie is fascinated by the castle, and the strange family. (There is this part where they talk about the tubes going through the castle like in the Vincent Price radio drama Fugue in C-Minor). But it isn’t until the younger sister Juniper calls her her mother’s name-that Edie is hooked!

Huh?

Why did she think she was her mother? How does she know her mother?

What the heck?

Meanwhile, back in WWII the Blythe sisters are having some issues. The world may be at war, but they are too.

The elder sister Percy loves the castle, as if it was a part of her. She doesn’t want any thing to happen to it, and will do anything and everything she can to keep it going. She especially doesn’t want her sisters to leave as she has no knowledge or use for cooking, laundry, or any thing that really keeps the castle going and with no money to do it she needs her younger sister.

The middle daughter Saffy dreams of being a writer, a nanny, a research assistant, pretty much anything if she can get to London. But every time she tries to go-her twin Percy makes her stay. Poor girl, she’ll be stuck here forever.

Juniper is beautiful, intelligent, talented, the whole package. But she needs to be cared for as her mood swings take her to dark, dark places; she seems almost manic depressive with her mood swings and possibly schizophrenic. She goes to London and wants to stay there and get married to an army officer, who happen to be Merry’s teacher.

Merry, Edie’s mother, did not want to leave London during the bombings in WWII. She cried the whole way on the train and was one of the last to be picked. She was saved when Juniper came storming in and claimed her for their house. Merry came from a lower middle class family and finds herself in a brand new world when she goes into the castle. Books upon books, a family that values daydreaming, writing, etc-all the things that Merry was looked down back at home for liking. She loved being in the castle so much that when her parents came to take her home, she didn’t want to go back. But she does have to…and while she still sees Juniper when she comes to the city, she developed a serious crush on her teacher turned soldier. When she finds out the two are getting married, she is heartbroken as she was sure he felt something for her.

Aw, that’s sad.

Like every castle, this one holds dark, deep secrets-generational secrets. Ones that Edie gets involved with. First she tries to figure out her mother’s connection to it, and then when her father is recuperating from a heart attack and bored-she reads to him The Mud Man and they begin searching what could have been the origin of the story.

Hmmm…

She also gets asked to help write the new edition of The Mud Man, going back to the Castle and interviewing the ladies. Will she discover the secret to the idea of The Mud Man, why her mother is connected and upset over the past, and what really keeps those sisters anchored there?

This is a fantastic book, with amazing characters full of depth. If you like Gothic novels you will go ga-ga over this. You can clearly see how much the author loved gothic novels and loves books-she goes on and on about them (I clocked Wuthering Heights, The Yellow Wallpaper, Rebecca, etc.) This author is a spooky girl!

The end was is very cute with her father getting interested in reading fiction and novels after they read The Mud Man together.

And the twist of how the mud man came to be, the truth behind who the monster is-wow!

Wow!

There were two things I didn’t like about this book though: there is a point in the third act where the book drags, I would have cut those pages as they didn’t really add to the story.

And there is a whole section about what did Juniper do that night? Everyone is scared as she is late coming home, covered in someone else’s blood, and coming out of a “mood”; but they never resolve it. What did she do that night?

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Tell-Tale Heart

For more on Gothic Novels, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Murders in the Rue Morgue

For more stories set in WWII, go to The Colonel

NovelTea Tins’ Romance Sampler

So my church is doing a “secret sister”. You get matched up with another woman in the church for three months, praying for them and sending them notes or giving them gifts.

With COVID-19 having us shelter in place and not being able to meet at church, if we want to give our secret sisters gifts we have to come up with different ways. My secret sister ended up mailing me $20 to buy myself something nice for Easter.

Hmm…

What to buy? I knew I wanted to support a small business as they are hurting, and searched through Instagram to see which one.

Hmmm…

So a while back I found this company NovelTea Tins and instantly loved how cute it was. They are book tea tins and each have a punny title off of classic literature. You all know how I love classic literature.

War and Peach (Peach Tea + War and Peace), The Picture of Earl Grey (Earl Grey + The Picture of Earl Grey), Matcha Do About Nothing (Matcha Green Tea + Much Ado About Nothing), Pride & Peppermint (Peppermint Tea + Pride and Prejudice), Anne of Green Gables Tea (Green Raspberry Tea + Anne of Green Gables), Sense and Senchability (Green Sencha Tea + Sense and Sensibility), Don Quixote: Man of La Manchai (Chai Tea + Don Quixote: Man of La Mancha), and more. You know me, I love:

So I was excited to try these out. I agonized over which to buy as there were so many that sounded good…but I finally decided on the Romance Sampler, as it had The Picture of Earl Grey, being my favorite type of tea-Earl Grey.

Along with Pride & Peppermint (Peppermint Tea) and Sense and Senchability (Green Sencha Tea). I also love both of those teas and couldn’t resist them being Jane Austen. You know me…

The sampler cost about $24 with shipping and handling and it came extremely fast. I ordered it afternoon on Sunday and it arrived on Tuesday.

Tea #1: The Picture of Earl Grey

This tea is inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, one of my favorite Gothic novels where a young, gorgeous, rich man gets seduced by the Hedonist lifestyle and wishes that he would never grow old but his beautiful picture would instead. It does, but also with it growing older instead of Dorian-every selfish, cruel, rude, horrible acts he commits-gets transferred onto the painting as well.

It is a great book, and I highly recommend reading it.

The tea actually has the picture of Earl Grey-Charles Grey 2nd Earl Grey, the namesake of the delicious tea, the one that the tea was presented to and comes with a bookmark with his face on it as well.

This tea is made of Jasmine Green Tea, Black Tea, Rose Petals, Natural Flavor; and has moderate caffeine.

So I LOVE Earl Grey, but I did not love this one. It wasn’t bad, but I felt the Jasmine Green Tea in it was too strong. I tasted that over everything else and I prefer my Earl Grey with black tea, lavender, and bergamot oil. 

What I ended up doing was mixing it with my Tiesta Tea and enjoying it. My mom loved it, so please don’t think I’m saying the tea is bad, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

For more on The Picture of Dorian Gray, go to If Only It Was the Picture Who was to Grow Old, and I Remain Young: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

Tea #2: Pride and Peppermint

This tea is inspired by Pride and Prejudice and I’m sure most of you know how much I love this book.

Pride and Prejudice is the story of a mother wanting to marry off her daughters, as with their father’s death they will have very little-but the story is MORE than that. It deals with the concepts of pride and prejudice, first impressions, whether you should be overt in how you feel or play it close to the heart, etc. It has amazing wit and characters.

This peppermint tea has Elizabeth Bennet on it and comes with two bookmarks, one with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Peppermint tea was my first love, when I just started drinking tea. It is made of organic rooibos, organic peppermint, and organic chamomile; it is also caffeine-free.

I thought this tea to smell absolutely divine and it was so delicious. I absolutely loved it, and immediately drank three cups.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

Tea #3: Sense and Senchability

This tea is inspired by Sense and Sensibility, and like Pride and Prejudice I love Sense and Sensibility.

Sense and Sensibility follows two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as their world is drastically changed when their father dies and they older half brother moves them out of the house and basically forgets they even exist. Elinor is the elder sister-logical, sensible, and in command of herself. Marianne is the middle daughter-passionate, outspoken, and emotional. Elinor falls for a man, but finds him promised to another. Marianne meets a man right out of her romantic dreams, but is he all that he seems to be? Each sister goes through a journey and discovers depths to them they never realized.

This tea has both sisters on it and comes with a bookmark that has a Dashwood sister on either side. This has green Sencha tea and “sensible levels of caffeine.” Haha, I love that.

This tea was fantastic. It probably is the best Sencha tea I’ve ever had.

For more Sense and Sensibility, go to Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne Dashwood

So these teas were so cute and good, even though the first one was not my cup of tea-but I had  wonderful time drinking them.

For more tea posts, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God