Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Secrets of the Heart

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading List? The idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured books, (and I still do), that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would be reading or interested in reading.

It started with one review, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

Secrets of the Heart (The Ravensmoore Chronicles #1) by Jillian Kent

This book is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers.

Madeline Whittington is the daughter of the deceased Earl of Richfield. She has been deeply depressed and heartbroken since her father’s passing, along with her siblings’ passing, and has just ended a year-long period of mourning. Her best friend, Hallie, Lady Gilling, a widow, is trying to get her out and about but Madeline is still suffering.

Life is grey…

Devlin Greyson, is also suffering, but not deaths but from people bullying him and not wanting to befriend him because of his new title, Earl of Ravensmore. As the second son, Devlin had never planned to be the Earl, but instead wanted to pursue his dream of being a doctor. After his brother passed, he received the title, and to the chagrin of the ton he has decided to forgo what is expected and continue his doctoral studies.

Madeline is feeling lost and spends her days meandering the property by walking or on horseback. She is deeply troubled when she discovers a a mute girl on her property that looks as if she has been suffering from terrible things, she decides to help her-hiding and feeding “Brown Eyes”. This gives her something new to devote her attention to as home is not so pleasant with her mother’s new beau, Lord Vale. Lord Vale claims to be her late father’s friend, but Madeline doesn’t know him or trust him and she has a bad feeling about him. He is just too slimy and creepy.

Madeline continues in this despondent way, not going to any parties or events as she doesn’t want to be involved with what the ton likes. The grief she encountered from the loss of her family coupled with seeing the heartbreak her mother faced, she never wants to be married, but then what is left for her? What should she do with her life?

Hallie doesn’t mind her friend wanting to do something else, but is worried over her despondency and hoping to spark some light in her, she has invites her to join the latest hunt. Although Madeline is not into hunting, she agrees to go as she enjoys horseback riding. During the hunt Madeline gets injured and Devlin is introduced and looks in on her as she has injured her arm, but Madeline is not having it. She wants zero to do with Devlin as he killed her father.

Relax, Devlin is not a murderer, but he was the physician-in-training who was unable to help as her father arrived too far gone.  Devlin instantly falls for Madeleine, but is unable to start any relationship with her as she hates the very sight of him. She’d rather be concussed and lying on a field with a broken arm than receive any help from him. In fact she only gets treatment because of the insistence of her friends.

Wow!

So this wouldn’t be a gothic novel if it didn’t have a creepy building and the creepy building in this one is Ashcroft Asylum. The Asylum is located behind Madeline’s home and guess which creepy dude is in on board and in charge of a lot of asylum decisions? Lord Vale.

One day when Lord Vale is visiting the Countess, Madeline’s mother, he talks about a missing mute murderess, a child. Madeleine figures out it is “Brown Eyes”, but doesn’t believe him as the girl is so nice. Madeleine does all she can, but unfortunately the little girl is discovered and sent back to the creepy Asylum.

Creepy…

Ashcroft Asylum continues its creepy grasp as it holds dread for Devlin as well. His mother went insane and his father sent her away to the asylum where she passed away. Devlin does all he can to stay far away from it, and the fear of mental illness has a strong grip on him.

One day he can no longer avoid it as his school gets a call that the asylum is in need of medical assistance and his instructor volunteers Devlin. When Devlin looks at the wounded inmates, he feels very suspicious of the “self-inflected” wounds, they have but without any concrete proof nothing can be done. Fearing that there is something not right going on in the facility, he decides to tell his instructor and have him check up on it.

Hmm…

Hallie and Madeline run into Devlin and his fellow trainee Melton repeatedly, with Hallie and Melton being very interested in each other, but Madeline doing all she can to get rid of Devlin. Devlin honors her requests as a suitor, but as a doctor he feels he must check up on her health after the horseback riding incident, and then a later carriage accident. On one such visit to see that her arm is healing properly, the two go horseback riding (Madeline’s insistence) and when they return they discover Madeleine’s mother is gone!

She has eloped with Lord Vale to Gretna Greene.

They run after them, but are too late. They have been married and Madeline has a wicked stepfather. Madeline becomes so angry at it all, that when Devlin goes to check on her mental and physical state he discovers she has a gun, one she had wanted to use to keep Vale from marrying her mother. Devlin comforts her and helps her return home, but his visits stop as he will be busy with the upcoming tests to complete his training, leaving her alone in her thoughts.

Vale and her mother return and Vale slimily slips into every part of their lives, taking over. He even volunteers Madeline to help at the asylum, teaching two young boys who are awaiting transport. In doing so Madeline starts to see what really goes on in the asylum: uncleanliness, lack of food being given to the inmates, etc. Vale “listens” and agrees to consider her requests of going through the head of the Asylum’s practices and having  doctor check the inmates, but his compliance seems very out of character and as benefactor, does he really not know what is going on?

Hmm…

Madeleine finds herself attracted to Devlin, and turning to her with her problems, but she still doesn’t want to be with him if he is a doctor. She insists Devlin tell her what happened with her father, and when he reveals the truth, he wasn’t too far gone it turned out that her father didn’t like how tight the tourniquet was and when the doctors were busy with other patients, he loosened it and bleed to death.

From The Wolf Man (1941)

Madeleine is furious at this statement and refuses to believe him. She tells Devlin she never wants to see him again and refuses letters, calls,  etc. all contact from him.

Of him

Madeline continues to fall into depression and melancholia.

Life is grey…from Anna Karenina (1948)

Then Madeleine’s mother grows very sick wasting away. Madeleine immediately grows suspicious of Vale and tries to get her away and send for Devlin. When Vale uncovers this, he sends her packing to the asylum.

In the asylum she encounters the horrors of the asylum:

The Wolfman (2010)

She also finds out the deep secrets that lie in the asylum and has to fall victim to the horrors of the asylum, Will she get out, or be stuck in the dreaded place forever?

Hmm…

Will her mother be saved, or will she die by the plotting of the dastardly Vale?

Hmmm…

And what terrible secrets does the asylum hold?

Hmm…

So this was a really interesting book as it talked a lot about grief and depression, and showed realistic reactions to it. I used to work with grieving people and we see parents and children hating doctors after their loved ones died, depression, isolation, wanting to not be involved romantically because of fear, pushing away from new people, starting a new relationship (the mother), etc. It’s actually nice to read about her being lost and confused but trying to journey through.

The conditions of the asylum were truly terrifying. And the way that people could so easily be thrown in one, made me think of The Woman in White. (An amazing book, you should definitely check out!).

This is of course a romance, so the end was a bit quickly resolved in a happy way but I still enjoyed it. I thought it was cute and mysterious.

This is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers as the character of Madeliene reminds me of Marianne Dashwood. Like Madeleine, Marianne has just encountered the death of her father and her whole world changed. With the estate entailed she and her sister lose their house, some of the furnishings, friendships, position in society, and have to move to a place rented to them out of the kindness of their hearts. Like Madeleine she is a whirlwind of passion and emotion, and also like Madeliene rejects a suitor adamantly. Madeline rejects Devlin believing him to have killed her father ad hating all doctors in general, while Marianne thinks Colonel Brandon is too old and not passionate-yet they both end up with those guys who patiently love them from afar.

As I said a good book to read.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Cat Burglar Black

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Homespun Bride

For more Gothic Fiction, go to The Poison Diaries

For more stories with asylums, go to Trapped in a Mansion in the Middle of Nowhere with a Psycho: The Cat and the Canary (1939)

The Magician’s Nephew Tea Party/Book Club: Dark Chocolate Ginger Scones

So every Wednesday, starting in October, I have been a part of a Tea Party/Bible Study/Book Club on The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. This is different from my book club and the Book Club Picks I have been reviewing (and desperately need to catch up on). The first week we had Cederberg Tea Company Rooibos + Ginger Tea, Cranberry-Spice Scones with Maple Cream, Tea Time Magazine’s Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches, Cucumber-Four Peppercorn Goat Cheese Canapés, Fotina & Pork Puffed Pastry, and Mini Apple Pies.

Now we are moving onto week two. We had Chami Spice Ginger Plum Tea, Dark Chocolate Ginger Scones, Curried Egg Salad Triple Stacks Sandwiches, Turkey Apple Sandwiches, Fotina Flower Pastry, and Lemon Gingerbread Cake.

I couldn’t share the recipes in October as I was in the middle of Horrorfst IX, so I am catching up and of course starting off our second dinner with scones.

This comes from With Spice

Tea first!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups and 1 Tbsp of Flour
  • 1/3 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Cold Unsalted Butter Cubed
  • 3/4 Cup of Crystallized Ginger, diced
  • 1/2 Cup of Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1.5 Cups of Heavy Cream, Cold
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 Tbsp of Water

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger until well combined.
  2. Add the butter and quickly rub it into the flour until it is small pea-sized pieces, or cut the butter using two knives or a pastry blender.
  3. Stir in ginger and chocolate chips.
  4. Make a small well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the heavy cream.
  5. Using a fork, gently mix the cream and dry ingredients until it becomes a shaggy dough.
  6. In the bowl, knead the dough 6-8 times with your hands.
  7. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, cut in half and gently shape into round balls.
  8. Roll the balls of dough into 7 inch round disks, sprinkling the dough with flour as needed to prevent it from sticking.
  9. If the dough wars up too much, put it in the freezer for a few minutes to keep the butter cold.
  10. Cut each circle into 6 wedges and place the scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet with about 2″ between them.
  11. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 mins, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  12. Beat together the egg, yolk, and water in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, lightly coat the tops of the scones.
  13. Bake the scones 15-18 minutes or until the tops and bottom are golden brown.

These were delicious, and if you like ginger you’ll love these.

And food to go with.

For more from The Magician’s Nephew Tea Party/Book Club, go to Mini Apple Pies

For more recipes, go to Tea Time Magazine’s Fotina & Pork Puffed Pastry

For more scones, go to Cranberry-Spice Scones with Maple Cream

For more tea posts, go to Tea Time Magazine’s Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe (2018)

So in 2018 I was gifted the book, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe. I decided to wait and read it last year, 2019, and watch & review the film. I read it and hated it.

I planned to watch the film, but to be honest after that mess of a book I wasn’t too eager. The characters were horrible and mean, Darcy and Luke (Elizabeth) hardly even speak to each other…after reading this, I felt like a real Scrooge and had zero Christmas spirit.

Thank goodness for Yuletide, or my Christmas would have been dreadful.

So I skipped watching the film and kind of forgot about it until July. July is my blogiversary, and on Instagram I ask different Jane Austen related questions and post the results. I asked who was the worst Darcy on Instagram and this was one of them picked, the person said:

“OMG this was the worst film. This film and character had no relevance to Pride and Prejudice.”

So the film starts with Darcy Fitzwilliam (Lacey Chabert) giving a Christmas gift to her street coffee barista and they talk. She is excited t hear that his son got into Stanford and she wants to help invest his money. After watching that scene I was in shock.

Who is this person? She’s kind and caring…waaaaay different from the Darcy in the book.

Then we se her with her clients, kind and caring. She is going to help her mother with the Pemberly auction She’s helping her mom plan that and is actually excited about it and Christmas.

Who are you?

In the book she didn’t get along with her parent (father disowned her when she wouldn’t marry his choice) and only returned home because of a her mother having a heart attack. It’s nice to see this being a Christmas film, and Darcy is much more interesting instead of the book already.

Hmm…

So Darcy started the firm with Austin, and I wouldn’t trust her sounds to me like she is going to edge her out of the company.

So Darcy is coming home and her ex, Carl is going to be there. In this they had an amicable split and broke up a month ago. They sent Carl to pick her up as he still works fopr the company. Seems weird to me, why not call a car or get a taxi. But I think that they are trying to put them together.

Darcy’s parents.

So Darcy’s character is way better in this, not at all like the jerk in the book. In the book she just played with Carl’s feelings.

We then flash to Luke Bennet (Brendan Penny), a cook and caterer (in the book he was a handyman). Mrs. Fitzwilliam had to take over the Pemberley auction, and hires Luke as the caterer. Mom is really nice too, everyone seemed so mean in the Fitzwilliam household in the book. Much better in the film. I mean Darcy seems really close to her family, she has only mmissd two Christmases and saw her mom last month. In the book they hardly ever spend time together. This was a fun change.

Good job!

So they are going to auction off designer Christmas trees to help fund a children’s home and all are in a flutter because the previous person dropped out and they only have a few days until the event. Stress mode in overload.

Darcy’s friend Caylee (gender swap Charles Bingley) comes over for them to go out to dinner. Caylee’s new guy is Jim Bennet, who Darcy recognizes his name from his brother Luke Bennet who she used to fight with all the time. Jim Bennet is so sweet, and he is a great Jane.

They go out and Darcy and Luke run into each other. Luke is nice, but Darcy is a bit rude taking every compliment as an insult.

So Darcy and her dad have a great relationship, I actually see this as being similar to how Darcy and his father would be.

So back to the film, Luke is the caterer and both are surprised, oh Hallmark.

I like Luke. He comes to the house with a plan for the auction and some ideas, although Darcy is mad as she had a mapped out plan, but her mom likes Luke’s better. Luke is a bit of a jerk about the theme, seriously dude you already won, calm down.

So of course Darcy and Luke end up spending a lot of time together planning everything for the auction. They go out and pick up donations, meeting a lady who is also an interior decorator, they should totally hire her. But don’t? Maybe later? Weird of them to drop that and not follow through.

Hmm…

Carl, Darcy’s ex, sees Darcy and Luke laughing together, gets upset and sidetracks the conversation. Guys do their measuring up thing we always see, the most realistic part of any Hallmark movie.

So Darcy’s partner is trying to take over. She schedules all these partners meetings without Darcy-ha ha I thought so. Her father is very supportive and there for her, but Darcy is taken it all on her own.

Darcy goes out to the White Elephant party where Darcy unwraps an apron “I’ll Bake it, Yule eat it”. Hmm…Luke’s a caterer, I wonder when that will come into play?

Hmm…from Saboteur

Darcy talks to Luke and looks sad and tired, Luke offers to listen, and it is all very sweet. This is a much better plot than the book already. It doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with Pride and Prejudice, but at least it is more enjoyable than the book was.

Hmm…I’m starting to enjoy this.

Luke is going to take the trash out and Darcy runs into him, both under mistletoe.

Luke wants to kiss her, but Darcy declines.

Not okay.

Darcy’s brother Parker comes with a girl, fiance? Girlfriend? Wife? He’s a doctor and she is pregnant. This scene is cute as we see Darcy’s relationship with her brother, I’m glad as in the book she had like four brothers but no interaction with them.

So the auction is in peril again when the tree designer drops out. Mom calls Luke to pick the trees up and Darcy is mad because she was going to pick them up herself, girl have you ever carried a large Christmas tree? They heavy.

Darcy is upset with Luke but I think it is because she feels so out of control with what’s going on with work but it just comes off as rude. She tries to carry a tree by herself and knocks over several in lot. Oops.

From Clueless

We actually get good development between Darcy and Luke as she shares how she has so much to prove, feels so judged, that no one would think of her as serious at her father’s company etc.

Back at Darcy’s work they tell her they are keeping their decision of only expensive premiums in order to invest and Darcy can stay with that or leave the company. Way harsh.

Darcy goes to pick someting up, and sees the shop agin with the decorator and hires her and they pick up the supplies, calling Luke. Aw, Luke and Darcy are cute together. He invites Darcy to carol with him at Pemberley Square.

So something has to happen to waylay this little train. Is she going to insult him when she asks him out? Skip the ball, to go back to work? Get back with Carl?

Hmm…

They go caroling together with Darcy’s family. Darcy and Luke talk, sharing that his dad gave him his love and they were supposed to open a restaurant together, but he died before. So now he is continuing the dream with him.

From The Wolf Man (1941)

Caylee spots the two under the mistletoe, again. It is nice to see that mistletoe wasn’t just a cheeky title, but comes up multiple times. Darcy tells him he is every ounce who his dad is and kisses him. Aw!

How sweet!

That night they plan to decorate the tree and invite Luke to stay with them for the tree trimming. Darcy puts the tree topper on with help from Luke, aww.

How sweet!

I’m actually surprised they have such a little slender tree. They have a ton of money, you think they would have something spectacular.

Anyways, Darcy gets called away by her assistant, as Austin is poaching clients and trying to push her out. Darcy is down why as she rejects that she trusted them and Luke tells her it’s okay to put your trust in people. Awwww! So cute! They adorable.

Darcy and Luke go to the youth center and see all the good the charity ball gives. They even have a youth choir-oh they should totally sing at the event like in The Bishop’s Wife.

Luke after seeing the youth center decides to not collect a fee, just to pay for staff and food all else goes to the auction. What a nice guy. Too bad these Hallmark men don’t exist in real life. Darcy comes up with a new name for Luke’s restaurant, Luke’s Table. Meh. Luke’s sounds better, but maybe they can’t because of copyright infringement.

Hmm…

So George, his lady, Darcy, Luke, Mom, Dad, Carl, and Charlotte all work together to get everything finished in time. Everyone reaches out to Darcy, even Carl, but she doesn’t tell anyone what is going on. She should really talk to someone, like her dad.

Speaking of which, that night Darcy and her dad share a moment over Luke’s pie. Her dad again tries to encourage her to talk.

The next day Darcy comes to help Luke and he is the only one working on it, he doesn’t have any staff? They are so cute together and look Darcy is wearing the apron she won.

How sweet!

The two have a much better relationship than in the book and I can believe that they are falling in love.

Caylee tries to encourage Darcy to continue things with Luke, but Darcy is like nah-she doesn’t think Luke is interested.

It’s super obvious!

Caylee also encourages Darcy, like her father did, that maybe she needs a new job and location.

The staff are unable to come to the event, so they end up filling in and having the kids serve, and of course sing, I knew that one too. That night Darcy and Luke are cute together, they each compliment each other and are no longer arguing with each other.

Darcy is trying to reach one of her clients and he shows up to the event. He tells her integrity matters more than anything else and he will stay with her as his investor wherever she goes. Darcy can finally relax and focus on the event.

Darcy is dancing with Luke and about to tell him how she feels, when she is interrupted by Carl. He shares his feelings and bows out. Okay, so no big fight to separate Darcy and Luke?

Hmmm…

Luke sees them and thinks they are back together. Ugh, they went the misunderstanding/eavesdropping mode.

It’s super obvious!

Darcy decides to quit the company she created, as they don’t want her either and talks to her father about coming on board with his company. Darcy then goes to look for Luke but can’t find him. She runs into Caylee who tells her Luke thinks she is with her ex. Darcy searches for Luke but can’t find him, neither can Caylee and Jim.

That’s not good.

She runs outside, and it turns out he didn’t leave but was talking to a future client. They end the film under the mistletoe, Luke knows what it means and Darcy kisses him for real.

So was this better than the book?

Yes, this was a thousand million times better. That book was a solid mess, but this was an actual cute Christmas movie with solid development between the leads. You liked the characters in this, while in the book I hated everyone.

Was this a good Christmas movie?

This was a cute Hallmark film. I mean you know what is going to happen, you know the story-but it wasn’t bad. The characters had good chemistry, it was funny, there are a few places that are a tad cheesy or too predictable, but if you are looking for a sweet, reliable Christmas film this is a good one to watch.

Was this a good Pride and Prejudice film?

NO. While this was better than the book and a cute Christmas film, it is not a good Christmas Pride and Prejudice film. This has nothing to do with the plot of Pride and Prejudice, the characters resemble very little to the Austen characters, along with the plot. If you want a good holiday Jane Austen film The 12 Men of Christmas or Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade would be a better choice.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Marrying Mr. Darcy Card Game: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game

For more Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe, go to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

For more Pride and Prejudice variations, go to The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair)

For more films based on Jane Austen, go to Are You Prepared to Encounter All of Its Horrors?…Let’s Just Say That All Houses Have Their Secrets, and Northanger is No Exception.: Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more Jane Austen variations, go to Hart of Dixie’s Jane Austen Scene

The Magician’s Nephew Tea Party/Book Club: Mini Apple Pies

So every Wednesday, starting in October, I have been a part of a Tea Party/Bible Study/Book Club on The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. This is different from my book club and the Book Club Picks I have been reviewing (and desperately need to catch up on). The first week we had Cederberg Tea Company Rooibos + Ginger Tea, Cranberry-Spice Scones with Maple Cream, Cucumber-Four Peppercorn Goat Cheese Canapés, Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches, Fotina & Pork Puffed Pastry, and Mini Apple Pies.

I have been posting the recipes from the first meeting, but am ending on the last thing we had during that session: Mini Apple Pies

Today’s recipe is one that I’ve shared before, but made mini. It an easy recipe and a delicious one. After all, who can resist pie?

Ingredients:

Pie Crust

  • Pre-made Pie Dough

Filling:

  • 1/2 Cup – 1 Cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 6-7 Granny Smith Apples peeled, and cut into slices
  • 1 Cup of White Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons of Butter

Directions:

  1. Peel and slice the apples. When cutting up the apples, make sure to remove the hard pieces where the seed grows along with any spots or blemishes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°
  3. Combine the apples, with the brown and white sugar.
  4. Add the flour and cinnamon, mixing them all together.
  5. Roll out the dough and using a cookie cutter or small bowl, cut round circles out-large enough to fill a cupcake/muffin pan.
  6. Lay the apples down on the dough in the pan.
  7. Chop the two tablespoons of butter and put a little in each mini pie.
  8. Place the second ball of dough down and roll it out into a large circle, cutting it to create a lattice top.
  9. Add a dash of cinnamon and sugar on top.
  10. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

These were delicious and a great final piece to our tea time. After all, as Mr. Woodhouse says:

For more from The Magician’s Nephew Tea Party/Book Club, go to Fotina & Pork Puffed Pastry

For more recipes, go to Tea Time Magazine’s Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches

For more apple pie, go to Are Dean Winchester and Jane Austen Kindred Spirits?

For more desserts, go to The Picture of Earl Grey Tea Cookies

For more tea posts, Cucumber-Four Peppercorn Goat Cheese Canapés

Is Emma Jane Austen’s Only Mystery?

Mystery, you say?

So a few years ago I read an article about how this one expert believed Jane Austen wrote a mystery, (I unfortunately can’t find it but there are other articles out there if you are interested) and she believed that mystery was Emma.

What??

At first I was what? Emma?

If anything it has to be Northanger Abbey-the mystery of the Tilneys, did the General kill his wife, what was in the forbidden rooms?

The reasoning was that a large majority of the novel is spent trying to uncover who Jane Fairfax’s secret admirer is. I never really thought of it as a mystery as Emma didn’t seem to me that interested in Jane, at least not until Frank stokes her interest with the thought that the man, Mr. Dixon, who married might really be in love with Jane and sending the expensive gifts. In fact, it seemed more like gossip than solving a mystery.

Let’s spill the tea.

It also seemed to me that she wasn’t really interested in getting to know the truth, but seemed more like she wanted to know a dirty secret about someone she doesn’t like-you know to lord it over here. You know, when you don’t like someone and then you find out a reason to really not like them. 

So I was like nah, I don’t think it is a mystery. 

But then I read A Visit to Highbury by Joan Austen-Leigh and that changed my perspective. The story is about Mrs. Goddard and her relationship with her sister who made a hasty marriage. The whole novel is told in letters as Mrs. Goddard sends news of Highbury to her sister. Soon the three of them are embroiled in several mysteries: Why is Mr. Elton so angry at Emma Woodhouse and Harriet Smith? Why does Harriet refuse Mr. Robert Martin when it was clear she was crazy about him? Who gives Jane Fairfax the piano? Why do Harriet and Emma suddenly stop being friends? Who does Mr. Knightley wish to marry?

Hmmm…

Okay, so I had to admit, it seems that Emma is a mystery. 

It,

So I was wrong, but while i will concede that Emma is a mystery, is it the only one?

Hmm…

Is Northanger Abbey a mystery as well? I mean we all know it is a gothic novel, but is it a mystery too?

Time to get on the case!

So the definition of mystery is:

Mystery (pronounced mis-tuh-ree, ) is a genre of literature whose stories focus on a puzzling crime, situation, or circumstance that needs to be solved.

In Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland is a reverend’s daughter who loves to read gothic novels and has an overactive imagination, is asked to join family friends on a trip to Bath. There she gets involved with a gothic novellike plot and journeys to Northanger Abbey. 

The first mystery are the Tilneys. Catherine meets Mr. Tilney and falls for him, let’s be honest who wouldn’t? After that she tries to glean more information about them, but can find very little from the people she knows. Are the Tilneys the amazing people she believes them to be?

Or could they not be good acquaintances? They are the first friends Catherine makes that aren’t known to her friends and family so she doesn’t know if anything they tell her is true or not. This makes me think of Agatha Christie as a big theme used in a lot of her mystery novels is that we meet people and assume all they tell us the truth when they tell us about them, but we honestly don’t really know if anything they say is real or a lie. 

Hmm…

Mr. Tilney jokes about the Abbey being haunted or holding secrets, but Catherine (and my mind) go there as well. Is there a dark cloud hanging over the home? Is there a dark secret?

Hmm…?

Then there is the mysterious chest in her room and the manuscript she finds. What secrets do they hold?

And of course the big one: the mystery of Mrs. Tilney’s death. She dies so quickly, did she die naturally or was she murdered?

Hmm…

And of course what is in Mrs. Tilney’s old rooms? Why are the shut up and forbidden? What secrets do they hold?

I think for me I always felt like this was a mystery because Catherine is actively investigating and searching out the truth, searching for a mystery-while Emma doesn’t seem as invested or investigative as she has other plans on her mind-matchmaking and party planning.

What do you think? Is Emma Jane Austen’s only mystery? Is Northanger Abbey a mystery as well?

Mystery, you say?

For more Emma, go to Interference: Friday Night Lights Meets Emma

For more Northanger Abbey, go to Are You Prepared to Encounter All of Its Horrors?…Let’s Just Say That All Houses Have Their Secrets, and Northanger is No Exception.: Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more on Emma Woodhouse, go to Take a Chance on Me: Austentatious (2015)

For more on Catherine Morland, go to Let That Catherine Morland Flag Fly Free

For more mysteries, go to The Conclusion to the Griggs Mystery…Or Is It?

The Magician’s Nephew Tea Party/Book Club: Tea Time Magazine’s Fotina & Pork Puffed Pastry

So every Wednesday, starting in October, I have been a part of a Tea Party/Bible Study/Book Club on The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. This is different from my book club and the Book Club Picks I have been reviewing (and desperately need to catch up on). The first week we had Cederberg Tea Company Rooibos + Ginger Tea, Cranberry-Spice Scones with Maple Cream, Cucumber-Four Peppercorn Goat Cheese Canapés, Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches, Fotina & Pork Puffed Pastry, and Mini Apple Pies.

We have already had the scones and sandwiches, it is time for a side.

And eat tea treats!

This recipe comes from Teatime’s Teatime Celebrations Autumnal Harvest Tea.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Slices of Bacon
  • 12 ounces of Ground Pork
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Sage
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Sheet of Frozen Puff Pastry, slightly thawed
  • 2 Tablespoons of Spicy Brown Mustard
  • 1/2 Cups of Shredded Fontina Cheese
  • 1 Large Egg
  • Garnish: Fresh Sage

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Line a plate and a heatproof bowl with paper towels.
  3. In a large nonstick sauté pan, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp.
  4. Remove bacon, and let drain on the prepared plate, reserving 1 tablespoon of drippings in the pan.
  5. Add pork, garlic powder, salt, paprika, sage, and pepper to pan; cook, stirring and breaking apart pork with a spoon-until pork is browned and crumbly.
  6. Remove pork using a slotted spoon, and let drain in prepared bowl.
  7. Using a rolling pin, roll out puff pastry sheet to a 1/8 thickness on a lightly floured surface.
  8. Spread mustard onto puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border around all sides.
  9. Top mustard layer with cooked pork, crumble bacon and sprinkle over pork.
  10. Sprinkle cheese over bacon, bring long sides of puff pastry to center encasing ingredients, and pinch puff pastry together to seal.
  11. Turn pastry over so seam is on the bottom.
  12. Pinch the ends of pastry together, and tuck under to form a loaf.
  13. Transfer loaf to prepared baking sheet, seam side down.
  14. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush egg was onto loaf.
  15. Using a serrated bread knife in a gentle sawing motion, make diagonal cuts across the top of the loaf.
  16. Make another set of diagonal cuts in opposite direction, creating a crosshatch design.
  17. Bake until puff pastry is golden brown, 15-17 mins. Let cool slightly.
  18. Garnish with Sage, serve warm or at room temperature.
  19. Using a serrated bread knife in a gentle sawing motion, and slice into 12 pieces.

These were delicious and a great addition to our tea time.

For more from The Magician’s Nephew Tea Party/Book Club, go to Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches

For more recipes, go to Cucumber-Four Peppercorn Goat Cheese Canapés

For more sides, go to Super Easy Classic Deviled Eggs

For more tea posts, go to Mug o’ Tea Treats Christmas Gift

Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game

Have you ever wished you could marry Mr. Darcy?

Well you can now in this game!

So I have been wanting to play this game for a while, I mean you know me and Jane Austen stuff:

I received it this year for my birthday in May and have been planing on reviewing it, but you know how things go.

This game was created by Erika Svanoe and Erik Evensen and it actually isn’t just about marrying Mr. Darcy, you have your choice of being all the single ladies in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: Jane Bennet, Elizabeth Bennet, Mary Bennet, Kitty Bennet, Lydia Bennet, Charlotte Lucas, Caroline Bingley, and Georgiana Darcy.

Your goal in the game is to try and earn character traits (the more points you get at the end helps you win) along with making a good match. Depending on your character, you have an ideal man (the one who will give you the most points), but you still earn points for whichever man you marry. Your choices are: Mr. Wickham, Mr. Collins, Mr. Denny, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. Bingley, and of course Mr. Darcy.

Although there are a couple guys in here I would rather NOT have.

The first thing you do is choose your character, and each one has a special ability. I started off with Elizabeth Bennet who has a Dowry of 1 and a Wit of 2. You have to have a Wit of 5 in order for Mr. Darcy to propose so you get an advantage over the other ladies; eat your heart out Caroline Bingley.

So the game begins with lining all the men out so that you can see what they all need. Each man is looking for different things before they will even consider proposing to you:

  • Mr Wickham: Dowry of 2 or Higher
  • Mr. Collins: Beauty of 2 & Reputation of 2 or Higher
  • Mr. Denny: Friendliness of 2 & Wit of 2 or Higher
  • Colonel Fitzwilliam: Dowry of 3 & Reputation of 2 or Higher OR a Reputation of 5 or higher
  • Mr. Bingley: Beauty of 5 or Friendliness of 5 or Higher
  • Mr. Darcy: Wit of 5 or Higher

For 2-3 Players they recommend using 1/2 the event cards, 4 players 2/3 event cards, and for 5-6 players all the cards.

Each person gets three character cards to start with and you play the game. For each turn you pull out an event card, some affect only you-while others all the players. The event cards will allow you to “play” a character card-which  you put face up. The face up cards are the only ones who count for points at the end, allow you to be proposed to, etc. Its important to have them, but just because they are played they are not safe. They can be stolen.

Some event cards change the course of the game: Mr. Bingley goes to London (if you don’t get the card that brings him back he can’t be anyone’s suitor), Darcy’s surprise proposal (you get this you are instantly proposed to and don’t have to do the end roll to see who you get), and an Elopement with Mr. Wickham (you can only get rid of the elopement if you get enough reputation cards).

Just because you get enough of the character traits to get your dream man, that doesn’t mean you will get him. At the end you each have to roll the dice to see if he proposes, you toll too low-you become an old maid. But even the old maid has multiple options too, and you can still have a shot at winning as an old maid if you roll high enough or have a lot of character cards played. Your life as an old maid ranges from lonely bitter life, a companion to a cranky widow, governess to a wealthy family, your resentful uncle takes you in, or your kind and wealthy family takes you in and you become a celebrated author.

This game is really fun as you can play it multiple times-being different people and of course having different events, so no two game plays will be alike.

I tried every character because I wanted to be sure to give a thorough review before posting this:

Game 1: Elizabeth Bennet 20 points

As Elizabeth the best match you can make is Mr. Darcy (netting 15 points) and the worst match is Mr. Wickham (7 points). With Elizabeth’s lack of dowry she can’t win a man with that unless you get an “inheritance” card-the other options being to try for men who are just looking for character.

I did not marry Mr. Darcy as my mom got the surprise proposal from him.

I did score Colonel Fitzwilliam and was only on point shy of winning.

PROS: Elizabeth’s special ability is a “Wit of 5”, higher than anyone else in the game.

CONS: Even though Elizabeth has higher wit than anyone else she still is at a disadvantage. I had enough for Mr. Darcy, but then my wit was stolen from me and I couldn’t get higher than a three. It really isn’t a strong advantage.

Game 2: Caroline Bingley 32 points

If you want to win the game, play as Caroline Bingley. She has the best chance of winning out of everyone. As Caroline the best match you can make is Colonel Fitzwilliam (netting 14 points) and the worst match is Mr. Wickham (5 points). Caroline has a dowry of 3 and a special ability: Any time she draws a character card she can draw an extra card and decide which of them you want.

I won this game! I married Mr. Darcy as I got the surprise proposal from him and had 32 points altogether.

PROS: With Caroline’s dowry, if she does nothing she still can get with her highest guy, as Colonel Fitzwilliam needs a dowry of 3. Her ability is super awesome as getting to check out an extra card can really help you stack your deck, or discard cards that will be helpful to others.

CONS: As Caroline you have one less suitor (you can’t marry your brother, Mr. Bingley), but it doesn’t really affect you. Caroline can win the game every time very easily, the only way to fail is to roll bad in the proposal stage.

Game 3: Georgina Darcy 25 points

Georgiana Darcy is another way to win the game right away. The best match you can make as Georgiana is Colonel Fitzwilliam (13 points) and the worst match is Mr. Collins (6 points). Georgiana has a dowry of 4 and a special ability: Georgiana has a +1 to all proposal rolls.

I won, married Colonel Fitzwilliam, and had 25 points.

PROS: With Georgiana’s dowry, if she does nothing she still can get with her highest guy, as Colonel Fitzwilliam needs a dowry of 3. Her ability is very useful at the end of the game as if you screw up a roll you get that extra point to add.

CONS: Like Caroline, as Georgiana you have one less suitor (you can’t marry your brother, Mr. Darcy), but it doesn’t really affect you.

Game 4: Jane Bennet 22 points

As Jane the best match you can make is Mr. Bingley (netting 15 points) and the worst match is Mr. Wickham (5 points). Jane has the same dowry problem as Elizabeth.

I won by marrying Mr. Darcy with the surprise proposal and had a total of 22 points.

PROS: Janes’s special ability is a “Beauty of 2”, higher than anyone else in the game.

CONS: Even though Jane has higher beauty than anyone else she still is at an extreme disadvantage. Her beauty could be stolen by other players; along with Mr. Bingley going back to town-if he doesn’t come back she has to try for someone else.

Game 5: Lydia Bennet 9 points

With Lydia the best match you can make is Mr. Denny (netting 13 points) and the worst match is Mr. Collins (5 points).

I did not win this round. My sister took Mr. Denny and I didn’t have enough character for anyone else. I ended up becoming a companion to a cranky widow. I know just who I ended up with:

Mrs. Van Hopper in Rebecca (1940)

PROS: Lydia’s special ability is any time a Party card is drawn she gets to steal 1 random Character card from any player.

CONS: Lydia’s ability only works if you are playing with a large group when you are using the the whole deck. If you are only using half the deck you don’t pull out that many party cards and she doesn’t really get to use her ability.

Game 6: Mary Bennet 17 points

With Mary the best match you can make is Mr. Collins (netting 12 points) and the worst match is Mr. Wickham (5 points). Mary has the same dowry issues as her other sisters

I gained my highest guy, but lost by one point. Sounds like Mary’s life.

You made me stop and let other girls have a turn.

PROS: Mary’s special ability is she can take the top discarded Character Card instead of drawing from the deck.

CONS: Even when Mary gets her ideal man and achieves the highest she can, it is lower than everyone else. I think it would have been better if Mary could get more equal points to Caroline, Jane, Elizabeth, etc.

Game 7: Kitty Bennet 12 points

Kitty’s best match is Mr. Denny (netting 12 points) and the worst match is Mr. Collins (6 points). Kitty has the same dowry issues as her other sisters

My sister stole Mr. Denny, the only man I could get, so I ended up an old maid. Luckily my resentful uncle took me in…I guess things turned out okay?

Not okay.

PROS: Kitty’s special ability is when it is her turn to pull an Event card she has a choice to use a discarded event card.

CONS: Like Lydia, her ability works best when you play with a full deck-but it still is great in any type of game.

Game 8: Charlotte Lucas 18 points

Charlotte Lucas’ best match is Mr. Collins (13 points) and the worst match is Mr. Wickham (6 points). Charlotte has a dowry of 2 and a special ability: Charlotte has 3 cunning.

I barely won this round, I married Mr. Collins and won by 1 point. I also kept getting inheritances and increases in dowry. Now that I have my own money, I think I’ll take a vacation without Mr. Collins.

PROS: With Charlotte’s dowry you have a big advantage over the Bennet ladies. You also have cunning without additional cards, so if no one else has saved any you get to go first in the proposals stage.

CONS: Mr. Collins only gets you 13 points which puts you at a disadvantage with Elizabeth and Jane Bennet. Like Mary, I think the top person should be equal in all of them.

What Didn’t I Like:

There are only a few things I would have changed, one the point system-I think that all the ladies’ highest men should be equal. That way if you net him you have a better chance of winning the game.

I also wish that the two eldest Bennet sisters had more useful abilities than the extra wit and beauty. They do have an advantage, but it isn’t really that strong-the other women seem to have better ones.

Hmm…?

What I Did Like

I really enjoyed the whole game.

The game was really fun, the events interesting, and I loved the little references to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice. I loved it and could play it over and over again (and did!) and tried to get everyone I could to play with me.

If you are looking for a fun Regency game to play, you defintely should get this.

I highly recommend it and am eyeing the expansion pack…maybe after Christmas.

For more Jane Austen products review, go to Jane Austen-Inspired Magazine Cover Cards

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair)

 

The Magician’s Nephew Tea Party/Book Club: Tea Time Magazine’s Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches

So every Wednesday, starting in October, I have been a part of a Tea Party/Bible Study/Book Club on The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. This is different from my book club and the Book Club Picks I have been reviewing (and desperately need to catch up on). The first week we had Cederberg Tea Company Rooibos + Ginger Tea, Cranberry-Spice Scones with Maple Cream, Cucumber-Four Peppercorn Goat Cheese Canapés, Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches, Fotina & Pork Puffed Pastry, and Mini Apple Pies.

I couldn’t share the recipes in October as I was in the middle of Horrorfst IX, so I will be starting now-and as I started with scones, I’m moving on to sandwiches.

And eat sandwiches!

This recipe comes from Tea Time Magazine Annual British Issue.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 Pound of English Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup of Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons of English Mustard
  • 8 Slices of Firm Honey Wheat Bread
  • 8 Large Slices of Deli-Style Ham

Directions:

  • Using a cheese slicer, cut very thin slices of cheese horizontally from a cheese block (I picked up cheese from the deli so it was already sliced thin.)
  • In a small bowl combine mustard and mayonnaise, mix well.
  • Spread a layer of mayonnaise mixture onto 8 slices of bread.
  • Arrange 2 ham slices on 4 bread slices.
  • Place cheese slices over the ham and top with remaining bread slices, spread side down, to make 4 sandwiches.
  • Using a serrated bread knife in a gentle sawing motion, trim and discard crusts from each sandwich to create 4.5×2.5-inch rectangles.
  • Cut each sandwich into 3 (2.5×1.5-inch rectangles).
  • Serve immediately, or cover with damp paper towels, place in a covered container, and refrigerate up to 2 hours before serving.

So my sandwiches didn’t come out quite right, I don’t think I cut the bread as thick as it should have been, as they kept toppling over.

I’ve noticed that a lot of these English recipes want you to use mustard and mayonnaise, not my favorite condiments. I usually half the amounts as that is more to my taste.

Otherwise they were pretty good and very easy to make.

For more from The Magician’s Nephew Tea Party/Book Club, go to Cucumber-Four Peppercorn Goat Cheese Canapés

For more recipes, go to Cranberry-Spice Scones with Maple Cream

For more sandwiches, go to Cucumber Sandwiches

For more tea posts, go to Mug o’ Tea Treats Christmas Gift