Modesto Jane Con: Gowns & Groans, A Costumer Looks at Regency Costumes on Film and Stage

So Modesto Jane Con was this past weekend. From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!

I, unfortunately, could only go on Saturday, but I had so much fun and I can’t wait until the next one! If there is a next one…

So your $30 ticket allowed you to attend the workshops (BOTH DAYS) and see one showing of Mansfield Park Opera (your choice of Saturday or Sunday).

I dressed up for the event (I’ll post on that later) and brought a reticule my sister made. Reticules are tiny, so I couldn’t pack everything in my bag-just the essentials. Debit card, credit card, ID, fan, gloves, pens, glasses (as I was wearing contacts) and a handkerchief. I wasn’t too worried about the size of the reticule though, as I had planned on purchasing one of their cute tote bags.

I also brought my notebook, as I planned on taking notes and later posting them (as I am now).

Our group was traveling from 1.5-2 hours away (depending on that CA traffic) and left around seven and arrived a little after 8:30. We actually headed to the theater as I was looking at the wrong event. You know me and navigating, I always get lost!

I then redirected our group, and we went to the library. We easily checked in and finished just as they announced the first workshop: Gowns & Groans

So of course, we were excited about this workshop. We wanted to learn more about the Regency gowns and who can resist the chance to snark about costumes?

Let the snark begin!

This workshop was run by Kristine Doiel and Hillari DeSchane

“Costumes have a coded language all their own. They can transport us back to Austen’s time and speak volumes about the characters, or they can be a constant distraction and prevent us from losing ourselves in the unfolding drama. Join veteran costumer Kristine Doiel on a lively, and likely to be controversial, stroll through this Regency costume Hall of Fame and Shame.”

Kristine Doiel is a costume designer and theater educator with over 50 theater and dance productions to her credit. A lecturer at Fresno State since 2017, she has taught costume and theater classes and mentored student designers. Awards include the UC Davis Provost’s Fellowship in Arts, the Princess Grace Foundation Theater Grant and a Dramalogue Award for costume design for The Rivals in Santa Barbara.

Hillari DeSchane is a JASNA life member and a board member of Opera Modesto. Her pre-show opera talks have become audience favorites. DeSchane’s first Regency pet cozy: A Christmas Tail: A Regency Holiday Mystery received a Certificate of Merit from the Cat Writers Association hillarideschane.com

Picture by Arnold Chavez

So Doiel started off the workshop talking about her background; moved onto the judging of the film depictions, finished with her experiences in costuming the Mansfield Park Opera, and concluded with a Q&A.

Part I: Doiel’s Background

Doiel shared that didn’t have a background in Regency wear, and had to do research on it-being an archeologist, literary analyst, and art historian all in one. I enjoyed this aspect of her talk as you don’t really think about that when watching a film or performance, that not only do the clothes have to be accurate-but they have to reflect the action of the scene, the context of the characters, and the literature of the piece.

That’s a lot

It reminded me of when I studied art history and how you looked at the art and what it was saying, but at the same time also looked into what was happening at the time and how that influenced it. There are many layers you have to work through-such as a self portrait of an artist wearing red, blue, and white takes on a different meaning when it was created post-French revolution, such as to show liberty, fraternity, that is one of the new citizens, etc.

Part II: Gowns & Groans

The next part of the discussion was Doiel reviewing the clothing choices in Mansfield Park (1999), Mansfield Park (2007), and Pride and Prejudice (1940).

So to start with, I do not like Mainsfield Park (1999). 

Not for me..

Eventually I will review it, but as for now-we will get back to the clothes.

Gowns:

Doiel felt that quite a bit of the costumes in here were accurate. Lady Bertram wore flimsy, lacy gowns that looked like something the wealthy class would wear, but older-late 1700s and post-French Revolution. It fits as Lady Bertram wouldn’t be at the height of fashion, but wearing something more her time. Maria, Julia, and the men were all accurate.

Groans:

So here is the good part, let’s start talking trash! J/K, Doiel was very kind in her remarks, trying to not be too judgmental and try to reason why a certain outfit would have been picked.

The first offender: Fanny Price played by Frances O’Conner

So in this Fanny wears a lot of what looks like a jumper or vest over a shirt. This is not accurate at all. Instead the film, which is one reason why I can’t stand it, doesn’t follow the book at all when it comes to Fanny’s character. Instead, they turn Fanny into Jane Austen, and emphasize the writing aspect, dressing her in this more masculine, “writing type” outfit. I call it a “writing type” outfit as when I saw this the first time it made me think of Jo in the 1933 version and she was a writer. It also is similar to what Jo wears in the 2019 version of Little Women.

The other offender: Mary Crawford.

All of Mary’s clothes were too contemporary. I mean look at the dress above, it is something that we were wearing at the start of the millennium, rather than 185 years earlier. remember wearing sleeves like that on my clothes.

She also has an outfit with a giant collar, that is just what? Doiel pointed out that the person in charge of wardrobe would have the resources and done the research on what was accurate and somebody (whether them, the studio, actor, or the director) picked this for a purpose. Doiel didn’t know why, but guessed that either the director or actor wanted something more modern to relate to audiences.

Mary’s outfits definitely were the worst.

So Mansfield Park (2007) is not the most accurate of films, as they cut a lot out to keep it at standard movie time length-however I am apparently one of the few that actually enjoys it.

Gowns: 

She didn’t talk about any she liked as it was time to move onto the next section.

Groans:

The offender here was Billie Piper as Fanny Price.

So Doil noticed that Piper wore a wide range of styles and thought maybe it was so varied as the production wanted her to be wearing hand-me-down gowns. There is a diamond dress that she wears that is completely inaccurate to the time period. Also her hair is one hundred percent wrong, as it is too modern, and she would have had it pinned up as she isn’t a young child. I think that is an interesting comment in light of the Emma Vogue photo shoot. 

The other outfit that Doiel pointed out as wrong was the white wedding dress Fanny wears at the end of the film. White wedding dresses only became popular after Queen Victoria, prior to that they were colored dresses. I disagreed with this as I thought the white dress was more a comment on Fanny’s innocence, sweetness, and morality versus being white to be in with what is in fashion today. I mean, after all this takes place after an affair, a love proved false, and all the manipulations by the Crawfords. Plus, it is a foil to Maria’s dress who had opulence (check out that hat) and color, Fanny’s being plain not because of what she was forced to wear (as I am sure Sir Thomas would have bought her a different dress), but a testament to her character. But that’s just my thoughts…

The last one we looked at was Pride and Prejudice (1940) a film I love, but apparently a lot do not.

Gowns:

The men were all accurate. *Sigh* Laurence Olivier.

Groans:

The film was set in the 1830s instead of the Regency period and no one quite knows why. Some say it was because Gone With the Wind was so popular and they wanted to use costumes like that. Others say it was because the Regency gowns seemed too plain. Others believe it was more cost effective to use these gowns than create new ones. Doiel thought that they might have picked such extravagant costumes as England was having to o with sparse materials, “mend and make do” as the slogan goes, and seeing such fun fabric and opulence would raise spirits. I don’t know if we will ever know…

Hmmm

Doiel said that she felt that this style works for Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, and Lydia as it is extravagant, frivolous, oversized, and fits their characters.

However, with Elizabeth, it works against her.

That’s where we ended, although I wished they had discussed Mansfield Park (1983) as that one has some doozies in choices. I mean look at their hair.

From left to right: Edmund Bertram, Mary Crawford, and Mr. Yates

Part III: Costuming Mansfield Park, the Opera

So Doiel said that when costuming something that takes place in the past, buying the right type of fabric can be a problem. You need something that looks right on stage, fits together as a whole (in color and style), and needs to be accurate as to something they would wear.

Doiel did say that she was fortunate in this Opera to be able to reuse costumes from an earlier production, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley that had been done in December 2019.

She brought swatches in of the different fabrics for each characters costumes, and me and my group really liked that. We all enjoyed the closeup look and when we watched the performance later in the day, looked at the costumes and remembered what we had seen earlier in the workshop. We also loved that her mom, who helped her sew and cut things out, was there. It was so sweet how she helped hand out the swatches and supported her. I had tried to take a picture of the one for Fanny, but the people in my row wanted me to pass it along and the pic came out blurry.

Doiel’s favorite dress of the production was the gray number that Mary Crawford wears in Scene 5: Chapter Five. In the Wilderness. It was originally worn by Anne de Bourgh in the Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. I tried to get a good picture, but this was all I got.

She also loved the Navy suit that Edmund wears as she made it.

Part IV: Q & A

Doiel ended the session by answering questions and talking about Regency wear. Breeches were standard menswear. Pants, or pantaloons as they were called, were not to be worn by the upperclass. They were said to cause a scandal because they showed everything too well-even though in reality breeches showed more. But you know how I feel about that!

This should say breeches instead of pants, but I didn’t write this so it gets a pass. It was an instagram answer from a question I asked my followers.

She said that pants were worn only by the lower class workers, so wearing them was seen as trashy.

Someone asked about the muslin we have today versus then, and she said it is different. The muslin sold in stores today is mostly white and work wear, instead of dress wear. Back in the Regency period it would be block printed, decorated, different colors, and came from India. The muslin was semi-sheer and lightweight, like cotton. Of course whenever I think of Muslin I think of:

India greatly influenced what people wore-in colors, patterns, and of course ladies adopting the use of a pashmina. I had noticed that when I was trying to find something to wear to Jane Con.

From Emma (1996)

Women and men always wore gloves when going out of the house. Doiel mentioned how they weren’t doing that in the Opera as it was too difficult with all the clothing changes. That means that that hand clench scene in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice never should have happened as both Darcy and Elizabeth should have been wearing gloves.

One woman asked about lace, and lace was very in fashion. It came from India or France (probably not as much from France at this time as England and France had been fighting) and was used on hemlines and sleeves.

My book club + sister really enjoyed this discussion. We wished that Doiel had judged the costumes a bit more, (as who doesn’t like a good rip ?), but understood that she was trying to be fair.

We loved that she stayed on topic-discussing only the clothes instead of the actual films. We would have liked to hear her thoughts on more films or more on costuming the show, but understood we only had an hour and had to be a bit limited to have enough time to cover everything.

DeSchane did a great job moderating the workshop, with her interesting questions and keeping an eye on how much time we had.

We loved it and learned a lot. In fact, later we watched the 1983 Mansfield Park and discussed what we learned in this when we looked at the costumes.

This workshop.

For more on Regency clothes, go to Muslin: The Fabric of Jane’s Life

For more Mansfield Park, go to Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

For more on Jane Austen, go to Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen

Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen

Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers if Jane Austen by Rachel Dodge

So two years ago in October, my book club and I went to an author Meet & Greet to meet Paula Scott, the author of the California Rising series. There were other authors there, but we spent almost all the time talking to her and picking up the last book of the series, Chasing the Wind, which we were going to read in January 2019.

My friend, and fellow book club member, saw the Praying with Jane booth and pointed it out to me as she knows I love Jane Austen.

I had just seen it on instagram, and put it on my to-read shelf and was very excited about it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy it as I had no extra money, besides buying the Chasing the Wind, as I had a lot of things I had to take care of from my ex-husband.

I was bummed, and just stopped by quickly saying hello to Ms. Dodge, and then taking a bookmark to hold on to. I was planning on buying it after my finances cleared. But…it turned out that I didn’t need to. My friend bought me this book and Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe.  

She knows me very well.

I resolved to read it, February 1st-March 3rd 2019. I started off strong, but fell behind in the middle of it.

I tried a few more times and each time failed:

Uh oh

So in October, I resolved to try in November. This time I would just keep going, even if I failed to read one day-I would just keep moving forward.

I started off badly-beginning on November 3rd-and ended on December 23rd. Yes, as you can see it took me longer to read this.

But it was worth it. This book was fantastic! You can read it anytime, but I found it perfect in the holiday season as it allowed me time to pause, focus on God, and prepare my heart.

So some people are not religious and will not be interested in going through the prayers, but no matter your beliefs, all will appreciate the value and research that Dodge went through in writing this book. Not only did she study Jane Austen’s family, life, and background; but she has read and researched the novels of Jane Austen-highlighting moments from her popular books to the ones that aren’t always mentioned or talked about-Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey.

So if you go on my instagram, you can see day by day the parts of each passage that I liked, but on here I am going to mention the ones that really touched me.

Or years.

Day 7

“…Jane had much for which to be thankful. Thus, the last few words of this line reveal an important truth: Discontentment and indifference are two prime enemies of thankfulness. Discontentment is wishing things were different. It’s common when we face trials, compare our lives to the lives of others, or start to think what we have isn’t enough. Indifference is the state of being unmoved by blessings that surround us…Discontentment and indifference are both founded in a lack of thankfulness because when we grumble about out ‘lot’, we’re really grumbling against God.”

“Jane’s prayer reminds us to make thanksgiving an integral part of our prayers lives as a powerful antidote against discontentment and indifference. When you fill your mouth with praise, it has less room for grumbling. Thanking God for what He has done and has promised to do shifts your focus from what you don’t have to what you do.”

I love holidays and celebrating, but when the holiday season comes it can also bring some discontent with bills, holiday celebrations, seeing how others seem happy and together-comparing it to yourself. Reading this in November was perfect as this book helped redirect me from any of those pratfalls and help prepare my heart on thankfulness and being grateful for all I had.

Day 9

“Jane’s prayer reminds us that though we cannot comfort every widow, orphan, and prisoner, we can reach out to one lonely man, woman, or child with the love of Christ. And no matter our age, health, or financial circumstances, we can pray for those in need.”

This chapter was perfect with the holiday season as that is the perfect time to think about others-

And I love how Dodge says that we can help others not just financially-but by spending time with them or praying for them.

Day 13

“Jane’s prayer reminds us to ask God if anything is ‘amiss’ in our lives and priorities. Many of us try to fit God into our lives, instead of making God the centerpiece of our lives. Giving our first fruit to God isn’t just about money; it’s also about our time. One beneficial daily habit is to begin each day with prayer and Bible reading…Ask you seek God first, you will experience steady growth in your relationship with him.”

Ouch, I think we all fall victim to this and Dodge is right. The best way to correct and fix our lives is focus on the one who made us.

Day 14

“Guarding our hearts is essential in the face of temptation. Just as Jane prayed for God’s mercy on ‘Creatures so formed’, we can ask for God’s help in our weak spots.”

This always makes me think of the Johnny Cash song, as we need to keep a close eye on our heart and not allow it to lead is down the wrong path. There is nothing wrong with passion, but unbridled can cause one to make not the best choices, i.e.:

I love Wuthering Heights but let’s be honest-there are no good relationships in there. We have passionate people consumed by passion and not caring who is hurt or damaged.

Day 17

“Yet Fanny Price closely embodies the kind of patience under affliction Jane writes about in her prayer. Despite her troubles, Fanny has an inner strength and fortitude that never lags. Though she is mistreated and suffers in mind, body, and soul at times, she finds solace in her little attic room and in quiet reflection. She doesn’t lash out or become bitter. Even in the face of disappointment and anxiety, she quietly waits and hopes.”

“In this broken world we face illness, danger, grief, but in everything, God is with us.”

So first of all I love that Rachel Dodge discusses every heroine of the Jane Austen novels in this book and that Fanny Dashwood has gotten some love as she deserves it. She may not be as witty as Elizabeth, as self-assured as Emma, or as passionate as Marianne-but would we love Jane Austen’s books if every character was exactly the same? Fanny has a lot of great qualities-patience, kindness, perseverance, courage-I mean she is brave enough to stick to her guns. Fanny has qualities that we should all strive for.

I also loved her part about living in a broken world. Unfortunately bad things will always happen, but at least we have someone we can lean on who understands pain and loss.

Chapter 26

“Mrs. Bennet’s problem is two-fold: She’s dissatisfied with her current situation and worried about her future. She’s done nothing to deserve the life she has, and yet she is unhappy. She lives in a comfortable home, has five daughters, plenty of friends, and dines with ‘four and twenty families,’ but it’s not enough. As long as she thinks she might someday have to live on a small income with five daughters, that none of her five girls will ever marry, and that her husband might die before she does, she’s insufferable.”

“In Jane’s prayer, she prays ‘for a continuance of all these Mercies,’ asking for God’s provision and protection; however, her words also express an underlying sense of contentment. As children of God, we’ve already been ‘blessed far beyond any thing we have deserved.’ Our inheritance, our reward, is kept for us in heaven.”

I liked this chapter as often we get caught up in the worries if the day and future. I know I do.

Chapter 28

“You, too, preach a sermon with your life. What you do with your time, talent, and treasure says a lot about you. The things that make you angry and the things you work the hardest to get reveal what you value most. What values are you preaching to your family, friends, children, and colleagues?”

Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I knew what it was like to be in the “fishbowl”-people watching you and what you do. I thought I would eventually leave that behind, but the truth is people are always watching you. Your friends, relatives, coworkers-all see how you act and react, what you strive for and desire, etc-and what you do and the way you act tells a lot about who you are.

I thought this was an amazing book, and just like Jane Austen’s works you can read it over and over again.

It’s great when you have a writer who loves Jane Austen’s work and really tries to capture it.

“However, her [Jane Austen’s] gift could not, would not be hidden. Her writing outlasts her now by over 200 years, and yet it remains as remarkable today as it was when it was first printed.

We too can live extraordinary lives. Though we may not ever be famous, we all leave behind us a legacy. We will be remembered for who we are more than for what we do. Our friends and family will speak of us based on what they saw of our lives, the way we treated people, and the way we loved.”

If you love Jane Austen, you’ll love this book.

If you want to improve your spiritual life or are looking for a new devotional, you’ll love this book.

Please, oh please!

And if you are a fan of both, you need to check it out.

Its not a want, it’s a need!

For more on Jane Austen, go to Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Holiday Mix Tape

For more Bible Verses, go to Book Club Picks: Chasing the Wind

The Mysterious Affair at Jane Austen Runs My Life

Happy New Year!

It’s 2020, you know what that means! 1920s style is coming back!

So throw on your glad rags and let’s go putting on the ritz!

Love Me or Leave Me

So the past few years, I have done “theme” years. 2015 was Back to the Future, 2016 Star Trek: The Original Series, 2017 Star Wars: A New Hope, 2018 Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, and 2019 Dystopian future with The Running Man and Blade Runner. This year I’m all about the 1920s, especially one particular thing that came out:

For those of you who don’t know, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the first mystery that Agatha Christie wrote and introduced one of the greatest detectives: Hercule Poirot.

So that is where this post’s title comes from, I will be reviewing a Poirot or other Agatha Christie movie for Horrorfest IX, and will attempt to work in mysteries somehow and sometime throughout the year.

You know how I love mysteries!

Mystery, you say?

But enough of that. Let’s move on to the year in review!

Let’s get started!

The Views

 

This year I had over 74.700 views!

Wow!

The most viewed day of the year was August 12th with 752 views! That was the day I posted I Wrote Mr. Darcy a Letter

 

Although the number one post viewed that day was from Horrorfest VII Which Husband Ran Off With Addie Ross?: A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

The Top Five Posts

Here are the top five most viewed posts of the year, although strangely none were posted this year-and amazingly my number one post for the past six years was knocked down to number 2. I know why too, the number one post is a confusing movie that I and my friend googled to figure it out-so I’m sure that’s what bumped the numbers.

5) A Real Man from 2014

4) Tea Time from 2015

 

3)Which Husband Ran Off With Addie Ross?: A Letter to Three Wives (1949) from Horrorfest VII, 31 Days of Horror Films from Halloween 2018

I don’t know who to trust!

2) Fulfilling the List: A Walk to Remember (2002), from Romance is in the Air14 days of my favorite romantic moments (2013)

1)What Happened to Ally Palmer?: The Good Student (2006)from Horrorfest VII, 31 Days of Horror Films from Halloween 2018

The Followers!

So this community has really grown in numbers and I can not describe how pleased I am about that. We have gone from 14 followers in 2012, to 439 in 2015, to 1021 in 2017, and now 1,647 in 2019.

Book Club Picks

My book club read:

I am actually 11 books behind, but I will catch up in this new year…at least I hope!

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers

So in 2018 I started a series on books to read after you have read all the Jane Austen novels and want elements of Jane Austen, but something fresher than another adaption or retelling. The following books I recommended for Austen fans last year are:

Dangerous to Know

So I was given the book Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues edited by Christina Boyd, in exchange for an honest review, and started reviewing it in 2018-but as I broke it up into multiple posts I didn’t finish it until 2019. We had:

Jane Austen

So of course there will be Jane Austen posts, that’s the name of the blog! I reviewed the following:

On Jane Austen & her works:

Sense and Sensibility:

 

Pride and Prejudice:

 

Mansfield Park:

 

Emma:

 

Northanger Abbey:

 

Persuasion:

 

Lady Susan:

Recipes

As C.S. Lewis says

Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.”

And sometimes you want something to nibble on when you read Jane Austen or watch the films. This year we had the following recipes:

Books, Books, Books!

I love books and reading:

Holiday, Celebrate, Holiday, Celebrate…

I LOVE holidays, and love to celebrate. Here are the holiday posts:

Tea Time

What goes better with Jane Austen than tea? I love tea and we have the following posts on it:

Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans

So as I enjoyed doing the Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, that I decided to expand to another series- Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans. This has films that are not based on Jane Austen, but have elements we love from the films in a fresher source. I recommend Austen fans to watch:

Desire & Decorum 

So Jane Austen has entered the 21st Century with Pixelberry creating a video game based on Jane Austen’s works and set in the Regency time period. I started playing in 2018 year and continued last year:

Catherine Morland’s Reading List

Another series? Yes…I know, I just can’t help it. Yes, this series will be on gothic novels that Catherine Morland would totally love to read, if she existed:

Painted Portrayals of Christ

For Easter I discussed different artworks of Christ, (have to put that Art History degree to work). Last year I chose:

Jane Austen Stuff

Last year I reviewed a few companies’ Jane Austen stuff:

Austentatious (2015)

Last year I decided to review one episode from Austentatious (2015) every monthAfter I finish it, I’ll be picking another one to do this to. I really, really, really hate this show-so be prepared for the sarcasm and the hate.

Giveaways!

Last year I won five giveaways. The ones I have reviewed:

Rational Creatures

So like Dangerous to Know, this book was given to me by Christina Boyd in exchange for a honest review. Rational Creatures has stories by Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams-all on the women of Jane Austen:

 

Horrorfest VIII

25 Films of Christmas

Christmas is hard to do posts on as it is so busy! However, in 2018 I watched a Christmas film every day and posted it on Instagram. Last year I decided to do it again (and ended up watching 29 films). Here are the 25:

The Thin Man (1934)

Somewhere in Dreamland (1936)

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970)

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) (In my family it counts as a Christmas movie)

Jack Frost (1979)

Babes in Toyland (1986)

A Garfield Christmas (1987)

Die Hard (1988)

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1988)

Die Hard II (1990)

Home Alone (1990) I watched it twice!

Batman Returns (1992) It was my Friday the 13th pick

Jumanji (1995)

Jingle All the Way (1996)

The Christmas Card (2006)

The Christmas Candle (2013) I watched it twice!

Christmas in the City (2013)

Dashing Through the Snow (2015)

The Mistletoe Promise (2016)

Once Upon a Christmas Miracle (2018) Recommended to me by martha.leith on instagram

Klaus (2019)

Other Posts:

Other posts that don’t fit a theme:

For 2018 in review, go to The Future is Bulletproof

For 2017 in review, go to Life Seems But a Quick Succession of Busy Nothings

For 2016 in review, go to A New Hope

For 2015 in review, go to To Boldy Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

For 2014 in review, go to Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

For 2013 in review, go to Looking at the Past, Focusing on the Future

For 2012 in review, go to Looking Back, Moving Forward

YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories

So I had planned to review the film version of Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe but after reading the book, I really was in a bah humbug mood, and needed something to lift my spirits.

I had Holiday Mix Tape, which I will be reviewing soon, but I was in the mood for Pride and Prejudice and Holiday Mix Tape is a modern adaption of Persuasion. Too bad no Jane Austen film adaptions don’t show more of Christmas, or I could include them in my watching a Christmas film every day.

Aw, man!

But then, I realized-I had the next best thing! The YULETIDE audiobook narrated by Harry Frost, and edited by Christina Boyd.

Christina Boyd has worked with several writers to create many different Jane Austen anthologies. The first I read was The Darcy Monologues. It contained stories from Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams. These stories were all told from Darcy’s point of view with half the book set in the Regency Era and the other half set in different time periods (from 1880s Western to modern times). I really loved it! Just like the movies, there are many different forms of Darcy, so you have your pick of Darcy-being sure to find one, two, or more to love.

After that project, Christina Boyd teamed up with Karen M. Cox: J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Katie Oliver, Sophia Ros, Joana Starnes, and Brooke West for a new book. This book is Dangerous to Know Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, on the rogues and rakes of the Austen books-Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Captain Tilney, General Tilney, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Thorpe, and more. This book was a lot of fun as we got a chance to see things from the bad boys point of view.

The next one was Rational Creatures, with stories by Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams. Each story was on a different woman of Jane Austen novels-our heroines along with supporting characters and a few bad girls.

So the book was published last November, and this year they came out with the Audiobook.

So audiobooks, I like but my problem is that the people read too slow. I get into the story and then I need to find out what happens NOW…so I usually get the book and read it, and stop listening to the audiobook. That did not happen with this one. Harry Frost is amazing! I could listen to him over and over again, and while I am writing this I am on my third go round with this book.

Or in this case Audiobook, and I could never hate it.

Harry Frost is a marvel at doing the different tones of voice and accents of the different characters. This book has Regency and Modern Darcys and even though both are done in a British accent, there is a big difference between the two.

He also does an amazing job at the female voices by giving them a higher tone, but not doing that thing most narrators do when they make the ladies talk really high pitch, you know a voice that sounds so unrealistic and annoying. Instead, he changed his tone so you knew it was a woman speaking and not in an annoying way. And with each character he made subtle changes so not all sounded the same.

I love it!

He also did a great job with the American accents, especially the one when Mr. Collins sounds like a total bonehead (many of you are thinking which one doesn’t he sound like that in everything?), and his voice was spot on what I would have imagined he sounded like.

And listening to him didn’t make me want to leave the audiobook and get the book to read. When Harry Frost narrated he wasn’t just reading it, he really put in emotion and captured the spirit of the characters and the stories that it was all together a fantastic experience. How fantastic my you ask? Well, I’m on my third listen…listen through? I don’t know what the term for it would be but every time I finish the audiobook I just start it back from the beginning.

Audiobook

So Harry Frost is amazing, now that we have talked about him it is time to talk about the stories themselves. I LOVED ALL OF THEM!

Like when I said that Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe made me lose my Christmas spirit and put me in a Scrooge mood-I’m dead serious. It is an awful book, that made me feel awful.

These stories, they were perfect! They fulfilled my need for Jane Austen Christmas!!! They filled me with Christmas joy! They were exactly what I needed to help get me in the Christmas mood after reading Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe. Listening to them brought back my Christmas spirit faster than the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

They were so enjoyable, they made me think of that song from Jack Frost:

“It’s just what I always wanted, it’s perfectly right! It’s just what I always wanted, a Christmas delight!!”

This book

So usually I save the praise after I’ve gone over each story, but I don’t know I felt like doing it first. I mean I have said I keep listening to it over and over again, so I don’t think anyone was in suspense whether I thought this was good or not. But each writer deserves their due, so we need to go through the individual stories.

The Forfeit by Caitlin Williams

So this is my favorite of all the stories. It made me laugh, it had me in suspense, it made my heart go all fuzzy in feelings.

I love it!

This is a Regency story and takes place in Christmas after Mr. Bingley came and left. Charlotte is engaged to Mr. Collins, and the Bennets are getting ready for the holidays-even though not everyone in the family is happy (Jane brokenhearted, Mrs. Bennet angry at Elizabeth, and Elizabeth upset at Darcy). Elizabeth is walking home after visiting Charlotte and runs into Mr. Darcy!

He came for some business but oh no, his carriage is stuck in the snow, a storm is coming, and he’s stuck at the Bennet’s home for Christmas. Will this be a Christmas to remember? Or the worst Christmas of their lives?

It was great, as I said already it was my favorite. The story was fantastic, the language and the writing amazing, I loved this line “their elbows bumping as frequently as their intellect…” Oh and the story-not only do we have Darcy trapped in the Bennet home, but oh-no then Wickham comes on the scene, and Elizabeth and Darcy make a bet, and they plan a Christmas scavenger hunt, and oh I loved it. I would talk about it more but I’m afraid I’ll give away the ending.

Oops! Wrong book!

For more by Caitlin Williams, go to “In Good Hands” from Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

And Evermore Be Merry by Joanna Starnes

This is also a Regency story told from the point of view of Georgiana Darcy. It has been a few years since the end of Pride and Prejudice with Georgiana having been married and visiting Pemberley for Christmas.

This is a cute story that starts in the present festivities, Pemberley filled with family again and children laughing, but then takes us back in time as Georgiana remembers the Christmas when Darcy and Elizabeth fought over who she wanted to marry. That moment that did start with fighting, was also a great lesson to Georgiana on love, marriage, forgiveness, and family.

I loved seeing the events from her point of view and it was a cute tale that showed the bonds that formed between this family.

For more by Joana Starnes, go to “Charlotte’s Comfort” from Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

The Wishing Ball by Amy D’Orazio

This is a modern Pride and Prejudice tale, set in 2014, with Mr. Darcy in New York with Georgiana. She gave him a christmas gift, a wishing ball ornament that you place a wish in when you hang it on the tree. In a Twilight Zone-esque twist the ornament has his initials on it and a wish inside-even though Georgiana didn’t get it monogrammed and it was sealed.

Spooky…

The strangeness of the evening, doesn’t end there as that night insomniac Darcy goes on facebook to kill time and sees that even though he hasn’t been on facebook since he joined everything is different! He’s married, has children, and when he looks at the most recent date it says 2018!

In a reverse Christmas Eve Darcy sees what his life could be like, but after the night ends will it be enough to change his ways, or will he continue on the path he is on?

I LOVED it, it totally appealed to my love of Twilight Zone-esque plots and kept me on the edge of my seat! What was going to happen next?!

For more by Amy D’Orazio, go to “Happiness in Marriage” from Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

By a Lady by Lona Manning

This takes place in the Regency Era, a few years after Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth and Darcy have a little boy and a baby girl, and are headed to spend Christmas with Lady Catherine.

She still doesn’t like Elizabeth, but likes the children so that’s what mended fences between them. This trip Elizabeth is on a mission as she wants to befriend Anne. She takes with her as many books as she can possibly fit in the carriage, hoping they can be a great conversation starter…hopefully?

This was such a cute story as Anne does open up about her secret hobby of writing and Elizabeth tries to help her secretly get published. But will anyone be interested in the story? Will Lady Catherine discover the truth?

So heart melting! We need more Anne stories anyway, I really liked the way many of the authors portrayed her in The Darcy Monologues and she definitely deserves more attention.

For more by Lona Maning, go to “The Art of Pleasing” from Rational Creatures: Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, & Louisa Musgrove

Homespun for the Holidays by J. Marie Croft

Mr. Darcy was in America for business and is stopping by a shop called Homespun to get the jumper, sweater, that his sister wants for Christmas. He is in an extremely bad mood, made even blacker when he gets there and discovers that the sweater he asked to be held for him was purchased by someone else.

He throws a bit of a fit, I love all the English slang in this although I wasn’t always 100% sure what he was saying, but after talking to Elizabeth he calms down and apologizes. Unfortunately, to make things even worse-a giant storm stops him from being able to leave, there’s no room for him at the local inn, and he has to stay on a loft in the barn.

Yes, he joins the Bennet family for dinner and her cousins keep thinking he’s Jesus, lol (not in a sacrilegious way, but a way that kid’s make connections). This is the one that has the serious bonehead Mr. Collins, but is a story of bad first impressions and trying to set them right again. A hilarious and fun tale, I particularly love Elizabeth’s retorts, oooh Mr. Darcy…

For more by Lona Maning, go to “The Simple Things” from Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

The Season for Friendly Meetings by Anngela Schroeder

This story takes place in the Regency era and takes place in the same time as the first story-the Christmas after Mr. Bingley came and left. Mrs. Bennet is unhappy and when an opportunity comes for Jane and Elizabeth to visit York and be in the presence of eligible young men-she sends them off to stay with the Longs, Mrs. Bennet’s sister.

There the girls attend a ball and their cousins hear some not so happy things about Mr. Wickham. She also meets Colonel Fitzwilliam, who talks to her and starts to raise some serious questions about the truth of Wickham.

If that’s not enough Darcy and Bingley are headed to the same party! Whoo, it’s going to be some type of party!

This was another cute story and it brought up a lot of points that Elizabeth and we overlook in Wickham when we first meet him as we are still smarting from Darcy’s remark about being “tolerable”. I loved it! Plus Colonel Fitzwilliam as a matchmaker?

For more by Anngela Schroeder, go to “Knightley Discourses” from Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

Mistletoe Mismanagement by Elizabeth Adams

Darcy and Elizabeth have only been married a month and are having Christmas with the Fitzwilliam family. Colonel, his older brother, along with his mother and father are all attending.

Along with them we have a Miss Wheeler and two Miss Becheems. Colonel Fitzwilliam is interested in Miss Wheeler, and Elizabeth is trying to help him and her get together.

But that has to take a backseat to some other Christmas shenanigans, as Captain Watson comes interested in Colonel Fitzwilliam’s brother’s wife and they have another guest who the Earl is trying to swing with.

They don’t want that happening in their home, and the evening becomes an unhappy game of musical chairs to outwit these couples.

For more by Elizabeth Adams, go to “An Unnatural Beginning” from Rational Creatures: Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, & Louisa Musgrove

I LOVED this and it is going to become a yearly tradition for me. And if that isn’t enough to get you interested, all proceeds from buying the book go to benefit Chawton Great House in Hampshire, former manor house of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight and now the Centre for the Study of Early Women’s Writing, 1600-1830.

This has been the best Christmas gift so far!

At first I was sad that I didn’t get this review out when I wanted to, but then I realized that not posting on Friday lead the next post to be on December 16th, which is none other than Jane Austen’s birthday!

Happy 244th Birthday!

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

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney, & Lady Susan

For more Christmas posts, go to I Don’t Want a Lot for Christmas, There is Just One Thing I Need

May the Odds Be in Your Favor

So back in July I celebrated my 7th blogiversary!

I wanted to do something special-but I wasn’t sure what to do…

Hmmm

So I asked you all, and you responded with “do a giveaway”. A giveaway?!!

I have done a giveaway twice before and I swore to never do one again. Why? Well the first giveway–I received zero entries.

But I rallied, I regrouped-instead of one item I decided I would include three.

And I included it on rafflecopter!

And how many entries did I receive? ZERO!

I know I was so sad I swore NEVER, EVER again.

Yes, here we are three years later and I’m trying to do another giveaway. I have worked hard to get a group of items that will hopefully be irresistible to you all. Please, just one person enter or else I’m going to sit in a corner and cry.

Please, oh please!

So you will win:

  • Tea of Life White Tea Pomegranate 50 Tea Bag Tin
  • July 2019 to December 2020 Planner
  • Cranberry Spice Dionis Goat Milk Lotion
  • Jane Austen Notebook
  • Wooden Box
  • Sense and Sensibility Upcycled Bracelets
  • 4 Mini Chesapeake Bay Candles
  • Sense and Sensibility Upcycled Ornaments
  • 1 Wool Multicolored Scarf
  • 1 Upcycled Library Book Checkout Slip Bookmark
  • Flower Earrings

So I am sharing this here on my blog, on facebook, instagram, twitter. To enter to win on each platform, follow the instructions below!

On My Blog:

  • Like this post
  1. EXTRA ENTRY: Reblog this post
  2. EXTRA ENTRY: Follow me
  3. EXTRA ENTRY: Comment below

On Facebook:

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On Instagram

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On Twitter

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Drive Me Crazy: Austentatious (2015)

OH NO!

It’s Back!!!

The dreaded TV show I can’t stand:

Ugh-Austentatious (2015)

Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

Yes, I really, really do not like this show or how they portray the characters. 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. In the last episode Marianne was trying to find a job, but kind of sucked, although she did manage to be a smoothie barista.

Elizabeth went on a date with a guy and was crazily obsessing over it:

Going mad!

And they held a Girl’s Night/Mouse Killing Night:

I know…I have no clue what the writer’s were thinking.

I just…This is dumb! This is a dumb show!! Who wrote this? Who??? What were they thinking???!! Argh! Why did I ever watch this??!! NOw I have to finish!!!

AAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHH!!!!!!

This episode is called Drive Me Crazy and Amazon says the air date is DECEMBER 30TH 1899. 1899? Did we just time travel?

Time to go back…

This show does drive me crazy, like Norman Bates crazy.

We all go a little mad sometimes.

Is that too mean? I’m not trying to be a jerk but I hate this show. I can’t believe the episodes are only 22 mins, they feel so much longer. It feels like hours of my life is being sucked away in watching this.

Ugh! Really!

Anyways here we go-ready or not.

Pass on it!

We start off with a tired Marianne making a mess in the kitchen-food is everywhere but Elinor doesn’t care.

Crazy control freak Monk level of obsession Elinor does’t care about the messy hours-OMG she’s been abducted by aliens, joined a cult, is a zombie!!!! It has to be one of those things…or love. She could be in love as that is the extremely cliche way most TV will depict “love”.

Thats not right!

Yep, Edward is meeting with her-her dream man.

With her books

Collin approaches Elinor trying to reach Lizzie as he wants to date her. Elinor tries to dissuade him, but no dice. He’s after his prey.

In the lobby of their apartment I can’t help but see a GIANT sign that says no lifeguard on duty. Like what? Even if the apartment has a pool there is no way they would have that posted in the foyer unless there is a pool in the foyer. Like that is one of the weirdest randomest things in this show.

What the heck?

Lizzie goes to see Emma and is trying to avoid Darcy as he keeps calling and texting and emailing her about houses. Darcy is a total jerk in this, telling her what to do. Ugh I hate him.

I know what I said=BELIEVE ME you would understand if you watched this show. They make him utterly terrible!!!! I hate this!!!!!!

Elinor and Edward are traveling to the country to visit with an old lady who hasn’t filed her taxes for the last few years. Like the background is weird as it ranges from lush green to dry desert. Where are they? Behind them is green, but the sides are all arid and dry. I kinda tuned out what Elinor and Edward were saying as I couldn’t stop looking at the background. I don’t know. Does it really matter?

Darcy stalks Elizabeth down the street and calls her name. He’s a jerk and buys her a hotdog when she tries to explain that she is in the middle of closing a house. UGH!!!!!

Elinor and Edward are driving for a long time and talking. Elinor tells Edward how she decided on accounting because it was a safe choice- but then they get a flat and have to pull over.

They are in lush fields and trees, where are they? What happened to the dry and arid area?

This is ELINOR!! Don’t tell me the way they have been building Elinor’s character yeah right-she’d have five spare tires!

Darcy stops being quite so jerky and admits that the house he’s looking for is a gift for a certain woman who plays piano-not mom or girlfriend. Obviously Georgiana.

Flashback to Elinor and Edward-they have to walk to the city they passed-so where were they and where were they going if they were passing through another city?

Hmmm…

Elinor goes on and on about how nice Edward is-He shares a little about his company and that his family has a company in telecommunications, interesting choice.

Hmm…

Darcy and Elizabeth make some headway but are interrupted by Collin who sits right between them on the bench to try and ask Lizzie out. How did he find her? She’s not at home? Or at work? She’s in a random park! Creepy!!

Colin creepily hits on her and tries to feel her up, but Darcy interjects and walks off with Elizabeth. It stops Collin…for now.

Flash to E& E walking and talking and being boring. Bleh-IRS, Accountant, IRS, accountant, IRS, accountant, statistics, bills, blah blah blah blah blah.

Blah, blah

I need to mop my floors. Like that is legit more interesting to me than this.

Elizabeth meets with Emma at the smoothie shop and tells her about what happened. Darcy gets a kick out of Collin asking her out and can’t stop teasing her. Darcy drops that the house is a birthday gift for a girl next month so the house needs to be picked like NOW!

Darcy offers to pay the commission earlier, but Elizabeth gets offended and angry. She becomes extremely upset and shares her feelings with Emma. I don’t think what Darcy did was that bad, I think she’s overreacting.

I’m done

What’s Marianne been up to-she’s been out of the game this whole episode except the cereal eating.

Hmmm

Elizabeth keeps talking about Darcy and how he’s being rude or is he being nice? Meh!

Marianne enters and goes on break with Elinor coming in to share what happened and how great it was with Edward although their conversations are super boring.

Elinor does offer to make him her homemade lasagna. She then shares part of her power bar that she keeps in her purse! She-Miss Always Prepared has a power bar in her bag-she’d have more stuff in her car to fix the tire.

Edward notices that she has a blister and puts a band-aid on her foot. Cute, but all I can think is her feet probably smell.

Someone is running in the park? Oh it is Darcy and Collin just happened to find him?! What? HOw? Weird.

Collin is super super creepy-like psychopath horror film creepy. Watch out Lizzie-“we are meant to be together”-he wants to be like creepy Ted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and enslave you in his home or something.

Yay! That’s the end of the episode. Although that was a super creepy ending.

He’s watching her…

How many more will I have to watch until it is over???? Let me check…

Yay!!!! Only four more left!! Woohoo!!! I’ve been doing an episode a month but skipped September, October, and now we are in November-so if I catch up with those and the do one for December I should hopefully finish before the new year!!!

But then if I do that, what Austen TV show should I review every month? Hmm….? I guess I’ll have to think about it. All I an say is YAY!!!!! Almost done!!! Woohooo!!!

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

For more Jane Austen film retellings, go to Mrs. Darcy Wants to Know the Truth!: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode Three (2013)

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

For more Pride & Prejudice, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

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

Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper

Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper by Manuela Santoni

So we added this at the library and I was jazzed for it-Jane Austen biography? In graphic novel?

It seems like a win win to me!

But it wasn’t-I did not like it.

I’ve read several Jane Austen biographies, books and online, and I really enjoyed read Just Jane last year. I do not know everything about Jane, but I feel enough to know that this had quite a bit of historical inaccuracies it.

Hmmm

It also felt like they wanted to make her “ahead of her times” but it just feels like something we have seen before and not as if the author really was trying to show Jane, who this book is supposed to be about. Like how Nostalgia Critic words it in the Alice in Wonderland review.

It starts off with Jane sick at the end of her life writing a letter and thinking back on her life.

Hmm…

We go back to them as girls and Jane hates the piano playing:

But in reality, she enjoyed piano playing. From The Jane Austen Centre:

“Jane, studied with the respected composer and organist, William Chard well into her twenties, long after most girls would have given up their lessons. After that point, it was up to the student to progress if she wished, on her own. Jane owned a small piano at various times during her life and, when this was not an option, rented one. She played for her own enjoyment and would rise an hour before the rest of the family in order to get her practicing done.”

And Santoni has her hate doing embroidery:

But she was extremely talented at it, most likely loved it. From Jane Austen’s House Museum:

“Like all women of her time and class, Jane Austen learnt to sew in childhood and gained a life-long skill. Sewing was something she was particularly good at. In 1796 Austen wrote in a letter that she was “the neatest worker” of a group making shirts for one of her brothers. Edward Austen-Knight remembered of his aunt that “Her needlework both plain and ornamental was excellent, and might almost have put a sewing machine to shame. She was considered especially great in satin stitch.”

And I am currently reading Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen by Rachel Dodge and she shares this in Day 5:

“From this description, we see that while Jane sat and worked (needlework) quietly, lines, descriptions, and plot ideas for her novels came to her in delightful bursts.”

“She [Jane Austen] could have declared needlework a boring, repetitive task and herself too intelligent for such menial jobs. Instead she appears to have spent the time in happy reflection.”

I am so sick and tired of authors being like, oh I want my historical character to be modern and powerful so she will hate embroidery. Why? Why is music revered, painting treated as a superpower, sewing something to be proud of-but embroidery is treated like dirt. Embroidery is a lot of hard work, amazing art, and takes blood, sweat, and sometimes tears to create.

Santoni gives Jane unruly curled hair that just seems to show again that she is “modern” eschewing society’s idea of how women should be.

So the story has Jane proposed to twice and she turns them both down, but in real life she only officially ever received one formal proposal, when she was 27, from Harris Bigg-Wither-but the next day refuses him.

Santoni also has Jane fall in love with Tom Lefoy, he propose, she accepts, and then turn him down as she can’t be a wife and mother but has decided to be a writer. Now there is a bit of leeway here as Cassandra Austen destroyed a lot of Jane’s letters, but she seems to ignore what history we do know.

Thats not right!

It even says at the end of the book “many suitors asked for my hand…” I found this hard to believe as there is no historical proof to confirm this, along with the fact that she had no dowry and very little to entice someone to marriage. I felt like did Santoni do any research? She says she is a Jane Austen fan, but it seems she was making up her own story and characters.

Yeah, not as good as Just Jane

For more Jane Austen biographies, go to Just Jane

For more Jane Austen inspired books, go to Rational Creatures: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney, & Lady Susan

For more Jane Austen inspired work, go to Northanger Soapworks Review