Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

I was reorganizing the library’s young adult graphic novels and came across this book. It has a gothic and spooky old house, a secret society, a mysteriously hidden treasure, and teens being trained to be a part of a thieving ring.

Of course it sounded right up my alley.

And not just perfect for me, but for someone else…Catherine Morland. Yep, another book for Catherine Morland’s Reading List.

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, (and I still do), I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

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

Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala

We start off with Katherine “K” Westree dressed in all black with a mask, running at night from a wild boar.

We then go back three weeks earlier…K is a orphan who was placed in an orphanage run by a woman called Mother Claude, who was using the orphanage to create a ring of cat burglars, thieves, and pickpockets.

She forced the kids to do it, threatening and abusing them if they didn’t. If they tried to run away, she would hunt them down and force them back.

The were eventually found out and all the children sent to reform school. After K served her time she stayed on as a live-in counselor for the younger children. She was then located by her aunt who had been searching for her, and her aunt invited her to live with her at Bellsong Academy, a spooky gothic mansion.

Haunted house!

When she arrives at the Academy things are not as she expected. Apparently the school has lost funding and there are only three students there at this time, orphans who have nowhere else to go: Dory, Morrow and Zel. And it turns out that she can’t see her aunt as she is deathly ill and fully covered in bandages.

Now this made my radar go off. Anytime people are all covered up in bandages like that, it means they aren’t who they really say they are. That’s not her aunt, something must have happened to her.

Hmm…

The people running the academy are  the headmistress Mrs. Turtledove, teacher Dr. Kuvac, teacher Mr. Dell, and teacher Mr. Fahr. There also is a very creepy handyman who goes by Stump and the housekeeper Ms. Mund.

Everything seems off with the other girls and the faculty. And then K hears a voice in the wall warning her that she is being watched. Definitely creepy!

SUPER creeped

That night K sneaks out of her room ad uses all her training to try to get in her Aunt’s room, but is caught by the other girls as they have been watching her. It turns out the school is another thief ring,  but an “old, established” one called The Obtainers. Her mother and father were a part of it, and her aunt as well.

K’s father chose to leave the group when she was little and took K with him, that’s why she was never a part of it until now. The rest of the ring are glad she is here as she is incredibly talented and they need her help. Bellsong Academy originally belonged to the Quinn family. When Anodyne Quinn inherited the house she discovered that her family fortune came from pirating, she was deeply ashamed she had been benefiting from stealing from others. She decided to give back by opening the Bellsong Academy, the first woman’s college west of the Rockies. After she passed she left provisions so that it would continue on. There is a rumor of treasure hidden somewhere on campus and no on has ever found it.

Hmm…treasure?

The other thing she left behind was three paintings-one in her youth, one in middle age, and the third as an older woman posing with the graduation class. Each painting was given to a separate family in the neighboring village, they were given a large sum every year-and all they have to do is put their painting on display. The map to the treasure is rumored to be found within those three paintings.

Rebecca (1940)

K finds this extremely odd that they need her to “borrow” them, and I agree. Like if they are this all important and amazing league of thieves why haven’t they done it already?

I mean for real!

K isn’t interested but they insist they need it to keep the academy going and to pay for her aunt’s care. The other girls try to convince her as they give her the grand tour of the property-old time fountains, a sun dial, a “haunted cabin”, a prehistoric sinkhole, and share the stories of the serial killer, “The Moon Killer”, who was rumored to run around the woods.

Spooky…

K decides to train with them, as why not what else has she to do, and they have a practice room right out of a superhero comic. K outshines them all and that night joins them as they break into the first house.

Each house is eccentric and when they leave they are missing a girl. Did they decide to take off and get their freedom? Were they captured? Is The Moon Killer back? Is there something nefarious going on in those houses?

Hmm…

K manages to score every painting and starts putting the clues together. But finding hidden treasure isn’t the only surprise she will discover.

This was really interesting mystery/gothic tale and I liked the character K and the twist ending at the end. I had figured out half of it, but the other half surprised me.

Wow!

The only thing I don’t like is that we never find out what happened to the other girls. I searched but it doesn’t appear that Sala wrote a sequel. I guess it will be an unsolved mystery.

We’ll never know.

I really enjoyed the the style of it too, it has an Edward Gorey feel to it, and I just love Edward Gorey. I recommend reading it even if it has a few loose ends.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Poison Diaries

For more mysteries, go to Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

For more Gothic fiction, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Poison Diaries

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

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

The next book I’m reviewing is…

The Poison Diaries by The Duchess of Northumberland

Weed is an orphan boy who is taken in by a drunk apothecary who delights in hurting, beating, and making Weed’s life horrible.

Aw, that’s sad.

One day this horrible man shows Weed a secret garden he found that was supposed to be destroyed. This garden is full of poisonous plants and after it’s creator died it was supposed to be wiped from the earth. …But for some reason it wasn’t destroyed (because evil can’t die)

It now becomes Weed’s duty to come every day and care for them. Weed of course has to follow the instructions, or else he will receive a beating.

When he goes to the garden to care for them, the plants speak to him.

At first Weed thinks that he is crazy, but as he continues in the garden he listens to them, as each plants calls out to him and share their secrets with him-how they can heal, help, and destroy…

Hmmm…

Every plant-Belladonna, Opium, Tobacco, etc. -have a tale to share. Some are on how they helped people, but most end in death or madness…some in worse ways than others.

Going mad!

Every day the plants encourage Weed to use them against his master, to get his freedom. At first Weed completely refuses, as it is morally wrong…but as each visit continues he becomes intoxicated with the power they have.

Will he give in to their poisonous power?

Hmmm…

This book wasn’t that long, but while the book may be short in pages, it is most defintely not a light read. These gothic tales are sad and macabre-very reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe.

And this book has absolutely beautiful illustrations, look at belladonna. It is definitely worth reading just to look at them.

I also learned a lot about plants as it was very informative on what they looked like, grew, latin names, etc.

Wow!

It is not a book that I find myself wanting to read over and over, but I did enjoy it and recommend it to other gothic fans.

For more books from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

For more gothic fiction, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

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

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

The next book I think Catherine Morland would read is…

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

So when this book passed my desk at the library, I immediately had to read it. The title, cover, fairy tale foundation, all tied up with a Gothic bow…you know me!

So the foundation of the story is The 12 Dancing Princesses, one of my favorites. In the original tale a King has 12 daughters who he locks up in his house every night, but every morning they are tired and their dancing shoes worn out. The king decrees that any man who finds out where they go each night and how, can marry any of the girls, and be King. However, if he does not figure it out in three days-the man will be killed. A soldier wounded from war and at a loss of what to do, is wandering through the woods were he mets an older lady. Some versions he helps her, others she sees his heart, but either way she gives him advice not to drink the wine served by the princesses and gives him an invisible cape.

That night, the soldier is almost convinced to drink the wine by the pretty princesses, but remembers the warning. He pretends and after he falls asleep, a trapdoor opens up in the floor and the girls get dressed, grab their shoes, get in a gondola, and pass silver, gold, and jewel encrusted trees to a ball in the underworld. There all the girls dance with dead princes, clearly under a spell. In the version I like, these princes want the girls as their brides to rule the underworld with them, and as the girls sleep less and less they are knocking on death’s door. The soldier goes reveals the truth, marrying one of the princesses. I have always been interested in the macabre tale, you know me and Gothic tales, so I was excited to see what Craig was going to do in her adaption.

Annaleigh lives in a beautiful castle, Highmoor, on an island in the sea. She is sixth of 12 daughters, having a happy childhood until her mother passed in the last daughter’s childbirth.

Since then, life has turned grim. Not too long after their mother’s death, the eldest sister, Ava, passed away when plague slipped through the island. Ava was followed by Octavia when she fell off a tall library ladder and broke her neck. Then Elizabeth, who always suffered from bouts of melancholia died by suicide. Annaleigh and her sisters follow the custom of wearing black for six months, followed by six months of gray. The girls have been wearing mourning colors for the last few years, secluded in their home, not allowed to take part in balls and festivities, etc.

Life is grey…

Their father, Duke of Salann Islands, has been free to travel, attend to business, etc. He remarried a young woman he met on the mainland, Morella, a woman young enough that many assume she is one of his 12 daughters.

Wow…

Not too long after the marriage, another sister died, Eulalie…but this death feels different, wrong. Ava’s death was easily explained, all saw the pustules and knew of the fever. Octavia was always clumsy and falling or bumping into things. And Elizabeth, she had a long history of depression. But Eulalie was nothing like any of them. She was healthy and strong, she was graceful and never awkward or off balance, and above all she loved life. She wasn’t interested in inheriting the Duchy and becoming the Duchess of Salann, but she loved being a lady of the island and she loved men. She was the most gorgeous of the 12 and had so many admirers.

So why did she fall off the cliff? What was she even doing out at night? Was she meeting someone? Was she murdered?

Hmm…

No one believes Annaleigh, but she feels something is not right at all and starts investigating the death of her sister, against her father’s wishes.

However, life takes a far different turn when Morella announces in the middle of Eulalie’s funeral that she is pregnant, and with a son. Morella also refuses to follow the customs of the island and wants a ball to celebrate her pregnancy and combine it with a party to celebrate the younger girl’s reaching womanhood.

Annaleigh is against this whole thing, as it looks and feels like no one cares about Eulalie, but she is outvoted and a ball is set with each sister getting their own set of “fairie slippers” dancing shoes.

Annaleigh begins investigating on the sly and visits with the fishermen who found Eulalie’s body. They found her with a locket, the chain smashed, but they could read the inscription on the piece. It was from a lover…a lover she planned to run away with, but was stopped? Or a lover that murdered her?

Hmmm…

She also meets a mysterious, handsome stranger, Cassius, who is on the island to take care of his sickly father. Cassius has otherworldly beauty and Annaleigh immediately falls for him.

All I can think is this stranger to be trusted, or is he going to bring more ruin on the household?

Hmm…

The ball comes, but it turns out to be a gloomy event. No one dances with the girls as they believe the house is cursed, that the girls carry death with them, people find it shocking that they aren’t even observing the proper grief rituals, etc. The ladies are sad, disheartened, lonely, and feel they will never escape grief, death, and gloom.

The house is full of grief, death, gloom, and tension. Verity, the youngest, starts feeling spirits and seeing things. Annaleigh starts to feel it too, seeing monsters. Are they full of grief and pain, or going crazy and cursed? Or could someone be trying to destroy the girls? Destroy their family?

Hmm…

An old family friend, Fisher, returns from being the lighthouse keeper and aids Annaleigh as her soundboard. He doesn’t offer much help, but does express a wish they could leave the island and the gossip of the curse. Annaleigh wishes the same thing, but knows her father will never let them go anywhere, they are in “mourning”. Fisher tells her stories of the gods, that there are “magic doors”, ones that allow them to go from their world to our world, easily transporting from island to capital, etc. If only, right?

Annaligh continues her investigations and finds a watch that Eulalie had. Inside was a lock of hair, a lock of blonde hair that matches Edgar Morris, the clock worker. He tells her they planned to run away that night, but when he got to their meeting place in the boat-someone, or something, knocked Eulalie over. So who, or what killed Eulalie? Or is Edgar lying and he is the murder?

Hmm…

No on believes him, but Annaleigh. The house grows darker and more depressed as the remaining girls realize the deaths of their older sisters have tainted them and they will never be able to escape…

Annaleigh wants raise their spirits and proposes searching for one of these “doors” Fisher mentioned earlier. They search the whole house and grounds but find nothing.

They decide to check the mausoleum, and when they get to the statue of the girl’s mother, they discover a door behid her. Fisher goes in first, followed by Annaleigh’s sisters Ligeia and Rosalie. After what seems like forever, the two return with an invitation to a masked ball. Uh oh, masked ball? Masked balls in Gothic stories don’t go so great.

Erik: [at the Bal Masque as “The Red Death”] Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men! Thus does The Red Death rebuke your merriment!

All the girls are excited for the ball, for a chance to be free from gloom and doom. The theme is nightmares and daydreams, each sister excitedly coming up with beautiful costumes after beautiful costume-again so pleased to wear something other than black or gray.

The girls continue to dance night after night, except for Annaleigh, and start changing from the girls she knew. Fisher tells Annaleigh he loves her, but when she refuses him, he disappears and so does her help. Edgar passes away, and with him Annaleigh’s link to finding more about Eulalie. And then some more of her sisters pass away.

What else?

Annaleigh continues to see, smell, and hear things-things no one else does. Is the house haunted by ghosts, by one of her sisters? Are they cursed? Is someone trying to make her go insane, or did they bargain with a trickster to drive them all insane?

Annaleigh is running out of time. She must find out who or what the culprit is.

I really enjoyed this story as it blended many things I love-gothic fiction, fairy tales, etc. It was a compelling story and a good mystery, one that I enjoyed and tried to guess who was behind it all. I figured it out who was doing it and why, but not the how.

Hmm…

I liked how Craig built the doom and gloom which explained why they wanted to go out and party, even at the risk of death for others and the change of who they are from the drinking and partying in the god’s world.

Pleasure Garden from Metropolis 

The only thing I didn’t like was that there was a character I really liked and he ended up passing away. Darn.

But otherwise, very good. Even my niece enjoyed it. She was drawn to the cover, like me, and sucked into the Gothic tale.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

For more on Gothic Novels, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Inn at Half Moon Bay

For more mysteries, go to An Insane Doctor, A Hysterical Herbalist, and Murder in a Magician’s Mansion + A Possible Persuasion Reference?

For more Fairy Tale retellings, go to Why I Still Love My Fair Godmother

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

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

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

The next book I think Catherine Morland would read is…

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow!

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

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

Wow!

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

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

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

Huh?

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

What the heck?

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

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

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

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

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

Aw, that’s sad.

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

Hmmm…

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

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

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

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

Wow!

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

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

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

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

For more stories set in WWII, go to The Colonel

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

So let me state that this is a review of the film, not the book. I harbor no ill will to the book as I have not read it yet. But do not like this movie. I have watched it multiple times and I like pieces of it, but not it as a whole.

So if you do like the movie, you should probably pass on this review-as you probably won’t like it.

So the film is about five woman and one man starting a book club, a Jane Austen Book Club.

Four of the women are very close, the other two members being strangers they ask to join…and they treat them pretty badly actually.

So we will go person by person for the storyline, Book by Book.

Febraury: Emma lead by Jocelyn

Jocelyn (Maria Bello) is a control freak who also enjoys matching people up. It’s no surprise that she is a dog trainer and breeder-as she treats people the same way. She lives alone, feeling fully content to be with her animals rather than people.

Jocelyn’s best friend, Slyvia, was one of the people she matched up, who unfortunately her husband cheated on her and left her for another woman. This coupled with the death of one of Jocelyn’s dogs gives mutual friend Bernadette the idea to start a Jane Austen Book Club.

However, the heartbreak of Sylvie doesn’t faze Jocelyn. She immediately decides to set her friend up with a random guy she meets at a convention, and not even a random guy from her dog breeder’s convention, but a guy from the Science Fiction and Fantasy convention.

Huh?

Really?

Jocelyn is a horrible friend!!!! First of all, your friend hasn’t even gotten divorced and secodly you are setting her up with a stranger? Someone you know zero about? You suck, Jocelyn. At least take time to find someone with the same interests as your friend or someone you actually know!!!

And then it is so freaking obvious that the guy, Grigg, is head over heels for Jocelyn. OMGosh it made me so angry that Jocelyn kept pressuring him to go with Slyvia, promising to do things with him if he did that, manipulating him, leading him on, etc.

He gives her books to read and she says she will-but completely refuses to do it, making fun of it to her friends. Like what a jerk, even though when she asked him to join book club he did.

And not once is she there for her friend to hear her problems, or be there. There is one scene when she goes over and massages Sylvia’s feet-but Jocelyn talks more than listens. All Jocelyn seems to care about is making her do something else. I really don’t like her.

Ugh.

Like I know they were trying to make her like Emma, but there is a big difference between a young girl who is bored because all she has for friendship are older people and a 40 year old professional woman who is playing with her friends as if they were dolls. She treats everyone horrible, and as one of the more focused characters of the film it really weakens it.

Like look at Confessions of a Shopaholic: Rebecca was selfish at times, believed she knew best and instructed others when she was the one that needed it, wasn’t always there for her friends-but even with all these character flaws she had a good heart. She apologized, she tried to help her friends, she tried to do better, she was likable. Jocelyn was nothing like that.

Ugh!

Jocelyn is also so rude to Prudie. I mean excuse me! You are the one who asked her to be a part-she doesn’t know you people and you treat her like crap. Ugh. I hate Jocelyn.

March: Mansfield Park lead by Sylvia

Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) is in her 40s and a librarian. She and Jocelyn have been friends forever, and she was introduced to her husband by Jocelyn. Beyond that, her character isn’t that strongly developed.

Who are you?

She mostly is a pawn for Jocelyn to try and move around in her dollhouse with Grigg. I really wish there would have been more development over who she is and I hate how she is cheated on by her husband for six months and gets over it just like that. Coming from someone who is divorced and knowing others who have been, even if you have the worst husband in the world it’s not that easy. I think she really got the short straw in all this.

And in the end, she and her husband are reunited like that. We hardly get anything from Sylvia and her storyline is over before it even really begun.

I guess she was supposed to be like Fanny-holding on to love, but she really never showed any similarities. It doesn’t help that they don’t even spend a lot of time discussing the book as Sylvia breaks down crying.

***Side note***-I do think it was cute how her husband tries to win her back and reads Persuasion,even coming to the book club meeting and is all into Jane Austen. That was actually adorable.

April: Northanger Abbey lead by Grigg

Grigg (Hugh Dancy) is the best part of this movie. I could just watch the parts with him again and again. Grigg is in his 30s, ten years younger than Jocelyn and Sylvie. He is a tech genius who sold his business for a ton of money and now works in tech support. He loves science fiction, books, reading, biking, and just is an all out adorable person.

Jocelyn is crazy, if I had a Grigg interested in me I’d hold onto him. He is just so fun-and from the beginning he makes his interest to Jocelyn known, but she keeps passing him on to her friend.

They are rude and make fun of him, even though they invited HIM to join. Like jeez-

He agrees to join the book club to spend time with Jocelyn, but whole heartedly embraces it. He buys the seven novels of Jane Austen, he gets into the book discussions (he brings notecards full of his speaking points), AND when it is his turn to do Northanger Abbey, he also reads The Mysteries of Udolpho and decorates his house to be like the haunted Abbey.

Like Grigg

OMGosh I LOVE it! Grigg is a keeper. And I think he deserves better than Jocelyn. They should have ended it with him falling in love with someone else.

I think Grigg actually fits his book as he has the imagination of Catherine and the openness + good humor of Mr. Tilney.

We also get a lot of development to his character as the film focuses on him and his love of SciFi, family, etc. He is just so dang lovable, I mean he compares Jane Austen to Star Wars (my two favorite things), how can you not love him?

May –Pride & Prejudice lead by Bernadette

Like Sylvia, Bernadette (Kathy Baker) is hardly developed at all besides she has been married multiple times.

That’s it?

She is also immortal as some of the names she drops are impossible. At one point she mentions Fred Astaire being in a movie and liking her so much he gave her jewelry, but his last film was in 1968, she would have been 11.

Bernadette is worried about Sylvia and Jocelyn and when she goes to see a showing of Mansfield Park (1999) and spots Prudie having a breakdown-the idea for a Jane Austen book club forms in her mind and she invites Prudie to join them. However, Bernadette sucks as a friend too. She’s horrible.

She invites Prudie to join her club but takes no other interest in her other than to round out their numbers. She spends no time with her other than the meetings, makes fun of her with her *real* friends, and when Prudie needs help and horribly spiraling out of control-reaching out to Bernadette about how she is having issues with her marriage, grieving for her mother, and contemplating sleeping with a student, Bernadette tells her:

Prudie Drummond: I’m in love with one of my students. I mean, nothing’s happened, much. It could if I let it… I fantasize about him constantly.

Bernadette: Sweetie, your mother died. This is grief.

Prudie Drummond: He looks at me like he’s the spoon, and I’m this dish of ice cream.

Bernadette: It’s a good thing we’re reading Sense and Sensibility next.

WOOOWW???? Really?

Why don’t you say, hey Prudie let’s go out for coffee and talk, or Prudie you need to go see a therapist as you need help. You are thinking of getting with this student because you don’t want to face what your issues with your marriage and husband. You are very vulnrable right now. Not, “good thing we are reading Sense and Sensibility”. What are you doing keeping quiet while you know that if Prudie does that she will ruin her career, marriage, lose everything. etc.

She’s just awful.

I can’t find any connection to her book as there is so little shown of her. Who is she?

June: Sense and Sensibility lead by Allegra

This is another storyline I hated as it is so underdeveloped and really not necessary. So Allegra (Maggie Grace) is in her 20s, likes to do dangerous stuff, creates jewelry, and is a lesbian. That’s basically all she is-there is no other development. She moves in with her mother to care for her, but gets really bored over it and after a skydiving accident, starts dating and instantly moves in with one of the other skydivers there.

She then shares some horrible stories, one of her being mean to an autistic kid (like it is beyond horrible), and all of the stories are stolen by her barely known girlfriend for her writing submissions (and it is also implied that her girlfriend is cheating on her). She then moves home and gets in another accident rock climbing, which brings her parents back together. She then dates her doctor, but at the end of the movie is alone. That’s it, no character development, still running head first into lots of thing and getting injured.

I guess they wanted to make her like Marianne-but Marianne had more substance. She felt strongly for what was happening around her, she was reckless but in a young girl sort of way, and at the end she learned from her experience. Allegra doesn’t seem to care-whatever girlfriend stole from me, whatever dad with another lady, whatever I’m in another accident. Kind of like whoever wrote her character didn’t seem to care about her.

Or plot!

July: Persuasion lead by Prudie Drummond

Besides Grigg, Prudie (Emily Blunt) is the only rounded character in this film. We first meet her as she is excited to be going to Paris with her husband, as she is a high school French teacher and has always dreamed of it.

Majorly

Unfortunately, her husband is no longer going to take her to Paris but is instead going on a trip with a sports star for his job. Prudie is heartbroken as Dean doesn’t see what the big deal is and then turns to watch sports-ignoring her. Immediately we know their relationship is in serious trouble, although I couldn’t get why they were even together. She’s so intellectual, Jan Austen, wine, gourmet cheese, etc. He’s all sports, video games, beer, funyans, etc.

Huhhhhhhh

Her husband, Dean, suggests calling her mom to stay with her so she isn’t alone, and we see that is the issue with Prudie-she is alone. She is emotionally and physically alone as she and her husband and her are existing in different atmospheres, and she has no friends. She has absolutely no one.

Life seems grey…

Every scene with her we get another layer. She throws a breakdown at the showing of Mansfield Park (1999) and Bernadette invites her to be a part of the club, telling her is just for her and Prudie thinks she finally has some friends, but then they treat her horribly-making fun of her. Prudie might not be the friendliest person, she has a lot of emotional walls, but you should really give her grace as she is joining a group of people she doesn’t know.

When her mom comes, oh boy do we get more layers! Her mom was a hippie, always forgetting her, carting her around place to place, getting high-it was amazing she didn’t burn where ever they were living (as she almost does to Prudie’s house) and that Prudie even graduated anything. Her mom treats her horribly-making fun of her and her choices, calling her name as she isn’t a free-spirt like her. She ends up yelling at her mom and telling her to leave.

The dysfunction makes it so clear why she wanted to be with someone like Dean who is so normal. He is the quintessential all american boy-I bet he played football, celebrated every hoilday, had his parents come to all his games, etc. She wanted to be with him for stability, normalcy, and love.

No wonder she is all about her education and intellectualism, the way her mom treats her she probably only got validation at school and from her teachers. No wonder she became one.

It all makes sense!

Her student Trey (played by the guy who was Woody in It’s a Boy Girl Thing and Damian in Gossip Girl) starts trying to seduce her and as her husband hasn’t been treating her like she is anything special so she responds to it. It’s so painful to watch as this is the worst thing you could do right now, you need to go to therapy.

Then her mom dies and Prudie has so much guilt, unresolved anger, etc swirling around in her head. She and her husband go to the funeral and when Prudie sees a mean girl from her high school flirting with her husband she becomes more angry, hurt, and in pain.

She starts unloading on her husband, and even berates and belittles him at the library gala.

The book club ladies, “her friends”, but they don’t really care. Bernadette says poor Prudie but does she do anything, or reach out to her, or see how she is doing? Check up on her? NO and when she did try to get help from Bernadette, you saw the response.

Poor Prudie. Everything comes to a head when its her turn to share on Persuasion, and she heads out to sleep with Trey, but at the last minute changes her mind and instead decides to go home and be with her husband. This part I loved as Prudie convinces him to read Persuasion with her and he does.

The Jane Austen Book Club

And then Dean reads the rest of Jane Austen and even fanboys at the end. So romantic!

Hers storyline has some similarities to the book. Prudie is alone, like Anne is-relationship with her only remaining parent is not good at all. In the book, the Elliots have to the let the house-her father and sister leave for Bath, while Anne has to stay behind at her sisters-just like Prudie has to stay behind when her husband changes their vacation plans.

In the end both Anne and Prudie are reunited with their lost loves-Anne’s being a physical loss (he left to go in the military) and Prudie’s an emotional loss.

This Jane Austen Book Club doesn’t really make sense to me as none of these characters are really friends with each other: just three of the members (but they sure don’t act like friends should). It kind of reminded me of Daring Chloe, but that book was better as the book club members were actually friends with each other! All knew each other, cared about each other, and wanted to be there for each other!

So in conclusion:

Jocelyn- AWFUL

Sylvia- Underdevloped

Grigg- I LOVED

Bernadette- Underdeveloped and AWFUL

Allegra- Underdeveloped

Prudie- I Loved her character, poor girl

So yeah, I did NOT like this film.

Other thoughts:

Slyvia’s husband is played by Jimmy Smits, and he and the actress who played his wife Amy Brenneman were both on NYPD Blue together and their characters dated. I guess we could imagine that they both left the NYPD and moved to Sacramento where she became a librarian and he a cheating butthead.

When Prudie rails on about all the things she hates about Mansfield Park (1999) and I agree. I think that is my least favorite adaption.

That movie

What kind ofd name is Grigg? I wonder why the author picked that. Is it a family name? Did she know someone with that name? Did she make it up?

Hmmm…

There is very little Jane Austen discussed in the movie, with Northanger Abbey getting the least of all. Why is that? For a movie in which “Jane Austen” is half the title, why isn’t there more of it in there?

I hated the line ”There was something appealing in thinking of a character with a secret life that her author knew nothing about.” She wrote the character-she knows it better than you. This is something you can only get away with a dead author. If she had written that about a living author they would be so angry.

So yeah, I did not like this film. If you do I’m glad you do-but it was not for me.

For the thousandth time

For more on The Jane Austen Book Club, go to Reading One Page Turns Into the Whole Book: Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more Austen screen adaptions, go to Drive Me Crazy: Austentatious (2015)

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

For more Mansfield Park, go to Modesto Jane Con: Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

For more Northanger Abbey, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to The Colonel

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

For more Persuasion, go to Holiday Mix Tape

North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

So a while back I told Christina Boyd this regency story idea I had to pass onto her writers. A regency group of ladies and gentlemen, maybe make them married or related so they could be together, traveling by coach and solving mysteries. A regency Scooby-Doo.

She politely declined and suggested that I should check out the Carrie Bebris’ Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series. I told her I would think about it, but I wasn’t too keen on the idea.

You see I had read the first book Pride and Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged) and loved it.

It was a fantastic mystery that left you wondering, was something supernatural going on? Or was Caroline Bingley’s new husband gaslighting her?

The next book, however, left me extremely disappointed.

Suspense and Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited) right away told you it was going to be the supernatural taking all the suspense out of it. Also the Dashwood sisters were hardly in the book, which strongly disappointed me.

I then decided to take a break, and went on reading and reviewing other things.

In July, every other day I asked a question on Instagram about Jane Austen characters and themes, such as what fashion from the Regency Era do wish we would be brought back, who had the best fashion, etc. One question I asked was what book adaption do you wish would be turned into a movie or a TV show? On thing I suggested was this series, even though I had only read two books, as I think the idea behind it was very strong.

After that I wanted to read the next book, especially as it is Northanger Abbey, but was busy with Rational Creatures and my rule is never read another Jane Austen adaption until you finish reviewing one. After that it was time to get ready for Horrorfest VIIIthen November was gone in a flash, and December was taken up with Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe, YULETIDE, and Holiday Mix Tape

But I resolved this year that I would somehow factor in reviewing a mystery every month, so there is no time like the present to review this.

Mystery, you say?

So here we go.

North by Northanger (Or the Shades of Pemberley) [Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery #3] by Carrie Bebris

So in the last book, Elizabeth found out she was pregnant and it is nearing her time. This is a joyous and strained situation, as the Darcys are pleased but at the same time Mr. Darcy is scared out of his mind as his mother died in childbirth.

But childbirth isn’t what is foremost on Elizabeth’s mind. You see Elizabeth is sensitive to the supernatural and is convinced that Pemberley has a ghost, and not just any ghost…Anne Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s mother.

Elizabeth doesn’t feel as if Anne is vindictive or angry, but feels her presence nonetheless. She has lived the year with everything exactly how it was, but has decided that the time has com to start doing things how she wants it.

She decides to shift the writing desk from its corner so that she can look out the window. After some hemming and hawing with the footmen they do, and a letter falls out. A letter from Anne Darcy to Elizabeth!

{An excerpt]

Pemberley

20 January 1796

Dear Mrs. Darcy,

Should this letter reach your eyes, it is because I no longer live to deliver its message in person. I know not who you are-what name you bore before taking that of Darcy. I know only that by addressing this letter to you, I write the woman who has wed my son. For that reason alone I entrust to you the stewardship of something most precious…I had at Fitzwilliam’s birth a…an heirloom from my own mother-I want it now, but it has become lost. If only I could find it, I would trust that I will be safely delivered. But I hid it too well, beyond my own reach. You-you must look if I cannot, for I want you to have it when…If you are my niece, my namesake Anne, know that I guarded myself from my sister, not from you-…Search for me…My daughter, the only one I may ever have, start with the knowledge that love conquers all. I am-

Your mother, 

Anne Darcy

Unfortunately, this letter, dated on Georgiana’s birthday and Lady Anne’s death day, only strengthens Darcy’s fears. It, however, baits Elizabeth’s curiosity. What was the object? Why couldn’t Lady Anne find it? Where is it?

Suspicious

We move along a few weeks where Elizabeth and Darcy have been visiting the Bingley’s for their youngest’s christening. However, they are in a hurry to leave as Lydia and Wickham have dropped by unexpectedly.

Elizabeth shares the contents of the letter she found with Jane, and Lydia overhears them mention a treasure, which Elizabeth strongly dissuades her of.

That’s not good.

The talk then turns to babies, of which Lydia is bored of. Of course, I don’t expect Lydia to ever have children, as if she has a baby she won’t be the baby anymore.

They are headed home by way of Bath, to meet the famous Dr. Severn, the man Darcy wants to have assist Elizabeth in her birth. He supposedly is the best in the nation, and very hard to get. They reach Bath and as they are about to take in the sights they run into an unexpected visitor. Lady Catherine.

Lady Catherine and Anne are there to take the healing waters for Anne. Lady Catherine is more civil as Elizabeth is carrying the future heir to Pemberley, but still bossy, judgemental, and of course loves to give advice and hear her own voice.

Blah, blah

They also receive a note from a Mr. Tilney.

No, not that Mr. Tilney- Captain Frederick Tilney.

I know. I was so disappointed. I want MY Mr. Tilney!

I want MY Mr. Tilney!

Anyways…

Edgar’s Buildings

Bath, 6 October

Dear Mr. Darcy,

My discovery of your name in the Pump Room book prompts me to write. Though we are strangers to each other, I believe our families are acquainted. My late mother, Mrs. Victor Tilney, enjoyed the friendship of one Lady Ann Darcy, whom I believe to be your mother.

Though I understand Lady Anne has also passed away, I would take great pleasure in meeting her son. Unfortunately, my military duties obligate me to depart Bath this very day. However, I plan to return to my country home in Gloucestershire by 18 October, and shall remain there for some time. I would consider myself honored to receive you and Mrs. Darcy at Northanger Abbey as my guests for a se’nnight whenever you make your return to Derbyshire.

I hope your response names the date upon which I will enjoy the pleasure of your company. I am

Yours most sincerely,

Captain Fredrick Tilney

I still want my Mr. Tilney Carrie Bebris. I am intrigued, but wil be sorely disppointed and unhappy if MY Mr. Tilney doesn’t show up.

Hmm…

Anyways, the Darcys are also intrigued and decide to go visit on their way home.

Elizabeth visits with Lady Catherine and does not have a good time, it made even more when Lady Catherine tries to send Darcy to France to go after his troublesome cousin. He sends his solicitor and the Darcys visit with Dr. Severn which should be called Dr. Severe or Dr. Ima Rude Jerk. He is an awful misogynist and just all around horrible and we all should hate him-except Darcy is still wowed by his education and success rate, getting him to agree to come to Derbyshire instead of Elizabeth giving birth in London.

[Sarcastic] Big whoop

Eventually they leave Bath, and head to Gloucestershire but find it not as impressive as Catherine did.

The weather is cold, gray, dismal, and stormy. The servants are strange and act like no servant they have ever known. They are given the late Mrs. Tilney’s rooms which haven’t been used in ages and there is jewelry and all her stuff in it. Their servants have disappeared and the housekeeper has no knowledge where they are, the food gross, their host never appears, the halls are cold and drafty, and the Darcys want to leave but are forced to stay the night.

After dinner, the housekeeper takes them to their host and the Darcy’s see a very bandaged, fat man, with only one eye and his mouth are exposed.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Okay, I know that wealthy people gained weight with the food they eat-but a narcissist like Fredrick Tilney? There is no way you can convince me he is fat. I’m sorry but I don’t believe it. This can’t be him. Something is afoot in this Abbey, I just don’t know what…

Hmm…

Tilney, (if he is Tilney which I remain unconvinced), apologizes for not being able to greet them or sit at dinner. He has no qualms that the rooms are full of things and thoroughly questions grills them about Lady Anne, her friendship with Mrs. Tilney, and if they have any correspondence.

Huh?

The Darcy’s are completely flummoxed as they didn’t even know of the friendship let alone bring anything with them.

Captain Tilney talks really weird. I mean he is only in the book Northanger Abbey for a little bit, but this feels all wrong. I’m not the only one who feels it, as Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves feeling extremely weirded out by everything and they decide to leave ASAP.

The next morning they leave, carefully maneuvering themselves out of any faux pas. They find their servants-who had taken ill (sounds like were slipped a Regency mickey)-and then a trunk disappears and it takes forever for it to be located. Finally they leave, Mr. Darcy with his cane and off they go without another thought of this strange side trip, sure to be a weird story to be shared with friends.

Or is it?!

They stop for the night and then are com upon by a constable, as they were sent an anonymous note that the Darcy’s stole jewelry and riches fom the Tilneys. They then are both arrested for theft.

What???!!!!!!!! But he’s Mr. Darcy??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What?

OMGoodness what is happening right now?

Th constable searches Mr. Darcy’s cane and finds it opens up and reveals that it has the Tilney jewels in it.

First of all-that is so cool. I want a cane or umbrella with a secret compartment, or one where you take it apart and it is a sword that would be so cool. With a wolf’s head on it like in The Wolf Man (1941).

And second WHAT THE HECK? ARRESTED? JAIL? THE DARCYS??!!!

Darcy tries to convince them it isn’t his cane but one that looks like it as his cane has an imperfection in the grain-this one does’t it is a replica, but they don’t believe him.

They then return to Northanger Abbey to speak to Captain Tilney about everything and when they reach the Abbey they see that Captain Tilney is not there but Mr. Tilney arrives, the Henry Tilney, MY Mr. Tinley.

And we get the giant bomb…you see the Darcy’s want Captain Tilney to share what happened that night, but eh can’t. He’s dead.

WHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTT?????!!!!!!!!!

And that’s not all. Fredrick’s been dead for a while.

WHAT??!!

And that housekeeper they met? She doesn’t exist. She matches no description of any housekeeper that has ever been employed there and the most recent housekeeper was fired six weeks ago.

Huh?

WHAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT?????

And the house has been shut up for a while.

WHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTT!!!!!!!?????

What is going on???

Okay, here I was undeniably hooked. I had to finish this story. Not only has Mr. Tilney entered the picture but we are in a serious web.

Ghosts?

Ghosts?

Or is there a human trying to frame the Darcys?

Hmmm…

And sidenote, is it horrible that after I got over the shock of Captain Tilney being dead, I kind of thought it was cool that Mr. Tilney would have Northanger Abbey. Does that make me a horrible person? I mean, I didn’t think that right away…it was after.

The local magistrate is being a bit of a jerk, enjoying the power he has over someone like Darcy and won’t release him. Darcy sends word to his solicitor, who unfortunately has been sent to France to take care of his cousin, but Elizabeth does the only thing they can do to free Darcy. Call the one person who no one could ever be able to go against.

No, no, no, no, no, not her.

Oh no!

Lady Catherine.

Lady Catherine comes, throws her weight around, and this guy is no match for her. She gets Darcy released and he’ll be back later for the trial. But unfortunately, Darcy isn’t just released he is released into Lady Catherine’s care and she is coming to Pemberley with them.

They are about to head home when Mr. Tilney comes back, yay! I was worried that he was only going to be in there for a moment. He apologizes for his behavior, and said that he let his grief, anger, and hurt get the best of him. He thought over what they said and realized that he does remember the Darcy name, as his mother was friends with a Mrs. Darcy and she provided great comfort in her life with his tyrannical and vampirish father.

He remembers meeting her once and knowing what he does of her and their estate, he can’t imagine that Darcy wold act this way and steal. He also found the “true” walking stick of Darcy’s.

Darcy shows them the letter they received from Captain Tilney and it is dated the day before he died in his own hand. However, when Tilney questions the Darcy’s the man could not be Fredrick (as he was dead on that date) but also the eye was the wrong color.

So who did this and why? What was their scheme? If they wanted the jewels why hide them in the walking stick? What could they have gained from delaying the Darcy’s and getting them caught up in this? Just trying to ruin their good name?

What is going on?

Tilney tried to get the lawsuit dropped, but the magistrate is just salivating over this and he will not do so. Ugh.

The Darcys leave for Pemberley, while Mr. Tilney plans on remaining at Northanger and continuing the investigation there and getting the estate handled. The two plan to keep in constant contact.

What? What? Where is Catherine? Why are they leaving? How come Tilney isn’t in the book more? NOOOO, why are we leaving Northanger…will we ever see him again?

BUt BUt BUt I Want more Mr. Tilney Wah, wah, wah…

Sorry I’m over it now. So Lizzy, Darcy, and Lady Catherine return to Pemberley and find it polluted. Yes a pest infestation has taken root since they have been away. A giant rat called Wickham.

What the HECK??!! Why would he even think to do that. I don’t know if Wickham is brave, audacious, or just plain stupid.

This guy,

Lydia immediately accosts Elizabeth for money, and Darcy catches Wickham with a servant girl, Jenny.  Not the welcome home they had wished for. Although, their presence does make Lady Catherine disappear to her bedroom. LOL.

Elizabth finds living with Lady Catherine to be extremely difficult, no surprise there, and tries to find ways of coping that do not include her starting a regency fight club or throwing her hot tea at Lady Catherine. She instead goes for walks, visiting Lady Anne’s garden, Our Lady’s Garden.

The next morning is All Hallow’s Eve and the gardner always leaves flowers on the graves. Elizabeth sees his shadow and head down to the collect the bouquets, dropping them off, only to discover that after she completes the task that the gardner had never made the bouquets, he was just about to. He laughs it off that it must be an assistant who readied them, but it gets Elizabeth thinking. Was it an assistant? Or a GHOST??

Meanwhile, Elizabeth has been curious over the correspondence with Mrs. Tilney and thought maybe there would be a clue to help find the missing heirloom. She asks for the correspondence to come downstairs from the attic, and discovers that there are NINE trunks!

OMGoodness, I have one “memory box” my grandma gave me, and when it gets too full I go through it and recycle the cards or toss them out. It is a small box I can’t imagine having nine!!

Elizabeth reads the letters and finds the ones of Lady Anne and the late Mr. Darcy’s courtship “Love conquers all” being their phrase.

Hmm…

They have the yearly Harvest Feast, and Elizabeth develops a slight nosebleed. The local midwife helps her, and talks to her about Lady’s Anne’s last pregnancy. She reveals that the object Elizabeth is looking for is a small Madonna and Child ivory statuette.

A clue!

Darcy finds her and becomes so worried about the blood, calling for the horrible doctor. Dr. Severn’s arrival makes Elizabeth have to clean up her room, and all the trunks are removed without her being able to finish going through them.

The doctor arrives angry that he was called in for a nosebleed and is a pompus jerk who doesn’t care a thing about what Elizabeth thinks, feels, or says.

Later Elizabeth has even more fun talking to Lady Catherine and finds out that the statuette was from back in the day when the family was Catholic. Lady Catherine wants it back, but Elizabeth refuses to give it to her if she finds it, intending to keep it. It is a battle of wits as both are searching high and low, in and out, and all over Pemberley.

Fight, fight, fight!

Elizabeth wants to read Lady Anne’s letter again but it has disappeared. Only later to reappear. That isn’t he only thing that is strange-is Elizabeth just having the pregnancy forgetfulness, is someone sabotaging her, or is there a spirit at play here?

At Pemberley.

Elizabeth then continues to go through the letters, finding the ones between Mrs. Tilney and Lady Anne. Those were so cute that they almost, ALMOST, but not quite, make up for the fact that there is no Catherine in this book so far. I am sorely disappointed.

Anyways, the letters are just adorable! It turns out that the statuette came from Northanger Abbey. There was a set of ten,  but they were hidden when the Church of England came into power. Mrs. Tilney encourages her to visit, and Lady Anne does, bringing the statue. Mrs. Tilney gives Lady Anne a strongbox to put the statue in, but General Tilney is not a happy camper. He does not like that Lady Anne has one, and he wants it, along with the other nine.

That’s not good.

Elizabeth shares her intel with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Darcy has seen the box before. He and Wickham found it years ago, in fact on the day Georgina was born. A box with a key that opens when you move the dials to create the right “password”. Wickham egged him on and they tried to unlock it. They search the fountain where it was years ago, but nothing is there.

They believe that Wickham might have come after it and that means Mr. Darcy must take a journey. Elizabeth stays behind with she and Georgiana comedically hiding the fact that Mr. Darcy has disappeared from Pemberley from Lady Catherine.

So Elizabeth continues to read the letters and learns more on the friendship, intent on finding where could this figurine be? Darcy heads off to find Wickham and still is trying to discover the truth of what happened in Northanger Abbey. Meanwhile, in Northanger Abbey Tilney is trying to solve the case too. When Darcy heads to Newcastle he finds the truth to everything and in a surprise twist, the villains are someone Austen readers should know.

Meanwhile, things continue to be strange in Pemberley. Is there a malicious person? Another member of the scheme? Or an evil spirit?

Hmmm…

This was extremely enjoyable and a very good mystery. I loved it.

The only thing that would be better would be if Catherine was in it and if there was more Mr. Tilney!

For more by Carrie Bebris, go to Five Jane Austen Adaptations That Should be Turned Into a Film or TV Show

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to You Are My Fantasy: Austenland (2013)

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to Modesto Jane Con: Dressing the Regency Lady

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

For more Northanger Abbey variations, go to Rational Creatures: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney, & Lady Susan

For more mysteries, go to A Goblin in My Mailbox

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

 

Modesto Jane Con: Dressing the Regency Lady

So if you have been following me, you know I have been super excited about Modesto Jane Con. The past eight years I have seen pictures from different Jane Cons and festivals and wishing I could go-but they were not possible for me to attend as it always came down to a problem of time, money, work, etc. Instead I had to be content with seeing pictures on social media.

But then Modesto Jane Con was created!

From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!

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).

That was it, I was going! And I convinced my book club + my sister to join me. I scrounged around for a costume (I’ll post on that later) and made sure to bring a notebook to take copious notes on the workshop and opera to-of course post on them later (as I am now).

So the first workshop of the day was Gowns & GroansAfter that you had your choice of The Definitive Darcy or Start You Own Book Club. The third workshop was your choice of Dressing the Regency Lady or Are You a Long-Lost Austen? Searching Your Family Tree.

Our group decided against the genealogy as we knew we were not related to Jane Austen. My mom’s side of the family is Mexican with a little bit of Chilean and Chumash Native American. On my father’s side we are Danish and Sicilian Italian. Besides that, I was extremely interested in knowing everything that goes into the outfit of the Regency Lady, so for when I get a costume made I will know what I need. I had thrown something together (more on that later) for the event, but eventually I want to get an accurate costume made.

This workshop was led by Elizabeth Layton:

There’s a lot going on beneath those deceptively simple Regency gowns. Stays long and short, chemises, petticoats, and more. Costume College graduate and Costume Society member, Layton will walk us through the layers that make a lady.

Elizabeth Layton is a Costume Historian with nearly 20 years of historical garment research. She has a degree in history and is a costume College attendee.

By the elementary school age, women would be proficient in sewing. They learned it young, and unless they were very wealthy-continued to sew their whole life. The sewing machine was invented in 1790, but a widely used model was not patented until 1830. So Regency women had to do everything by hand. Can you imagine how long that would take?

So the first thing that comes in dressing is the chemise. A chemise was your underwear, basically, and would be washed often. Most women would have a minimum of seven chemises, one for each day of the week, to last them until washday. Chemises had a gathered neckline that come close to the chest and completed the stays. Chemises had to be worn under the stays as the stays were never washed.

Women made their own chemises, unless they were very wealthy and could pay someone else to do it. The women would also make the men’s shirts. Women of the Regemcy era were very thrifty, using every bit of material. Husband’s shirt gets messed up? Turned into a Chemise. Lose or gain weight? Reuse the material to create something else. Eventually as an item became too worn they were made into smaller and smaller things-until they went into the scrap container.

“And pray, sir, what do you think of Miss Morland’s gown?”

“It is very pretty, madam,” said he, gravely examining it; “but I do not think it will wash well; I am afraid it will fray.”

“How can you,” said Catherine, laughing, “be so—” She had almost said “strange.”

“I am quite of your opinion, sir,” replied Mrs. Allen; “and so I told Miss Morland when she bought it.”

But then you know, madam, muslin always turns to some account or other; Miss Morland will get enough out of it for a handkerchief, or a cap, or a cloak. Muslin can never be said to be wasted. I have heard my sister say so forty times, when she has been extravagant in buying more than she wanted, or careless in cutting it to pieces.” –Northanger Abbey

After the chemise, the stockings and boots would go next. It is easier to put the boots on first, as after the stays were put on, bending down would be extremely uncomfortable. Stockings would have embroidery, called clocking, over the ankle and seam to hide it.

The stays would go on next and had a busk that went down the middle, the breastbone area. It is called a divorce stay, as it lifts and separates the breast-showing two instead of creating one like the previous dresses did.

After the stays, went on a “petticoat”, which was essentially a slip. The top layer dress would be sheer, so this was on for modesty. The slip might be colored, fancy, simple and depending on the weather would be cotton or wool. The slip and dress would be buttoned up the back. The buttons would be handmade with thread and were called dorset buttons.

Layton mentioned that prostitutes wouldn’t have used a slip and girls who were on the wilder, wanting-to-show-off-their-bodies side would moisten the slip with water to show their legs. In the book, Victoria and the Rogue, Victoria gets engaged to Lord Hugo Rothschild, Earl of Malfrey and he throws a party for her. In the book, here we get a glance that maybe the Earl isn’t the best person for Victoria as we see that he throws the party not only on Victoria’s dime, but that the people aren’t the most moral and had very loose behavior. I remember Victoria commenting on one of the ladies having a wet skirt and finding it odd. I thought it was weird too, but now I really understand why that lady was making hr legs wet-trying to show off to the guys.

After the slip, essentially to bags were tied on, that would be the pockets. The gown that would go on over would have big slits in the side so every dress would have pockets. The pockets she should is were quite large and it made me wonder-how come we don’t have pockets like that today.

After the pockets came the dress. The dress was kind of like a bib overall, or apron,  with a fitted top that they would pin together. The dress would be patterned muslin, as mentioned in Gowns and Groans.

From Emma (1996)

Yes, that was how the dress stayed together-it was pinned, not sewed, but pinned in the front.

Huh?

I know!

Yes, my thought was that is weird that everything is sewn, except for the last part of the outfit we will just pin it. We will pin the part that covers the breasts. That seems so immodest and all I can think is what if it falls open?

That’s not good.

My second thought? OMG that’s why Mrs. Allen had the pin!!! I thought it was in the dress and she had forgotten to remove it or overlooked it, you know like back when you bought a new button up shirt and it had the pins in it and you had to remove it. No, she had the pins because that is how her dress was held together!

“They were interrupted by Mrs. Allen: “My dear Catherine,” said she, “do take this pin out of my sleeve; I am afraid it has torn a hole already; I shall be quite sorry if it has, for this is a favourite gown, though it cost but nine shillings a yard.”

“That is exactly what I should have guessed it, madam,” said Mr. Tilney, looking at the muslin.

“Do you understand muslins, sir?”

“Particularly well; I always buy my own cravats, and am allowed to be an excellent judge; and my sister has often trusted me in the choice of a gown. I bought one for her the other day, and it was pronounced to be a prodigious bargain by every lady who saw it. I gave but five shillings a yard for it, and a true Indian muslin.”   –Northanger Abbey

After the gown a ribbon would be put on to tie in the back.

During the day the chest was covered with a fichu or chemise that went up to the neck. Thinking back to Gowns and Groans, there were quite a few movies who don’t follow this, especially Mansfield Park (2007), that we had watched right before Modesto Jane Con. In the evening the chemise was changed to a lower one or the fichu removed.

Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility (1995)

After that would be a long wool coat:

Death Comes to Pemberley

Or a Spencer Jacket. The spencer jacket is a short jacket that the Earl of Spencer had named after him. Supposedly, he was too close to the fire when his tails burned up-creating the jacket.

After that a hat, or Chapeau, would go next and it would have big plumes.

Mansfield Park Opera

Then that they would put on gloves and grab their fan and a reticule.

Emma 1996 AKA the Gwyneth Paltrow version.

Austenland (2013)

Northanger Abbey (2007)

The reticule wouldn’t carry much, maybe a little pin money, but usually a letter of credit from the male relative or guardian that controls their money. Some families, guardians, or husbands wouldn’t give them anything and they would have nothing.

So we enjoyed the workshop and how Layton dressed her assistant as she discussed each layer, but this workshop wasn’t as enjoyable as the others. Layton often went off subject and spoke a lot about Victorian Era clothing and herself. At the beginning of the workshop she shared that she very nervous, and I’m sure that it was led to her going off topic. With the Victorian era I’m not sure if she kept talking about because that is her favorite time period, or if she wanted people to understand the difference between the time periods.

She mentioned that she is a substitute teacher, so I know she is used to speaking in front of a group, but maybe this was her first talk on Regency clothing. She probably just needs to practice and she will be fine. We still learned a lot and I have ideas for next year.

I like Catherine Morland’s outfits.

For more on Modesto Jane Con, go to Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie

For more Mr. Tilney, go to Jane Austen Chinese Zodiac

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

Let That Catherine Morland Flag Fly Free

So Horrorfest started I couldn’t tell you exactly when. I’ve always been a fan of horror, thriller, suspense, mystery, film-noir, etc. I would watch them all the time, but every day in October.

When I went to college, I continued and my roommates were thrown into my 31 Days of Horror films celebration.

Who knows?!

So when I started blogging in 2012 I decided to include it and officially create “Horrorfest”-blogging about a film every day. That way it would save my friends/roommates from something they weren’t as interested in.

Yay!!!

Over the years I have established a set of rules and annual films categories. Every year I have enjoyed doing it although sometimes I have fallen behind because of life getting in the way. Usually I have the posts written, like this year I had all 31 done extremely early-the best I have ever been, it is just the editing that slowed me down. If you have someone willing to edit your work-give them a lot of love, because it takes a LOT of time to do.

So last year I received quite a few comments questioning Horrorfest as it has nothing to do with Jane Austen. They felt that there was no reason to do it and didn’t want me to continue.

Hmmm

Well, they are right it does have nothing to do with Jane Austen.

Even though Horrorfest doesn’t really have anything to do with Jane Austen, I have tried to input anything Jane Austen related-I’ve reviewed Death Comes to PemberleyDeath by Persuasion-or things with Austen actors in it like Ruby in the Smoke and Dead Again. I’ve even reviewed some films that while not Jane Austen-are films that Austen fans will love.

But even if I don’t review something Jane Austen, I think its okay to include Horrorfest as there is one character who would love this:

Yep the Regency spooky girl:

So if you aren’t interested, feel free to skip reading me this October and join us back in November. For the rest of you, next October I’ll be back with more horror, mystery, film-noir, suspense, thrillers, etc.

So for this year’s review: how I do Horrorfest VIII is that I watch whatever, and review it. I mean I usually plan the first and last film-and of course I planned The Planet of the Apes series review after someone donated the set to the library-yet it always amazes me how many match up themewise.

This year we had gothic films with the Horror of Dracula and Rebecca.

We also had a multicultural Horrorfest VIII as my Jane Austen profile pic was inspired from my Mexican culture, we had Horror of Dracula from England, High Seas AKA Alta Mar from Spain, Spirited Away from Japan, and Strong Woman Bong Soon from Korea.

We had dystopian futures with Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for Planet of the Apes, Logan’s Run, and The Running Man.

We had Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans with Alta Mar AKA High Seas,Death By Persuasion” from Midsomer Murders, Rebecca, and Strong Woman Bong Soon.

We had superheroes with Batman, Strong Woman Bong Soon, and Unbreakable. 

Ghosts with The Fog, R.I.P.D., Spirited Away, and 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.

And apes with the Planet of the Apes series and King Kong.

And of course our Annual films:

  • A movie or TV episode from every decade of 1930s-2010s
  • Doubledose of Alfred Hitchcock with Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Rebecca
  • Animated Film with Spirited Away, 
  • Disney with Spirited Away, 
  • Doubledose of Lifetime with Death of a Cheerleader and Psycho Mother-in-Law,
  • Stephen King with The Running Man
  • Tim Burton with Batman
  • Vincent Price with 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo

The full list of films, TV episodes, and video game reviewed for Horrorfest VIII:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

King Kong (1933)

Rebecca (1940)

Lamb to the Slaughter” from Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1958)

Horror of Dracula (1958)

The Notorious Landlady (1962)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Escape from Planet of the Apes (1971)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Battle for Planet of the Apes (1973)

Logan’s Run (1976)

The Fog (1980)

Dark Crystal (1982)

To All the Ghouls I’ve Loved Before” from 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985)

The Running Man (1987)

Batman (1989)

Dead Again (1991)

Leprechaun (1993)

Death of a Cheerleader (1994)

“The Puppet Show” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)

Unbreakable (2000)

Spirited Away (2001)

The Stepfather (2009)

The Last Christmas: Shadow Island Mysteries (2010)

R.I.P.D. (2013)

Death By Persuasion” from Midsomer Murders (2017)

Strong Woman Bong Soon (2017)

Veil of Secrets (2018)

High Seas (2019)

Psycho Mother-in-Law (2019)

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

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

So this is the final post:

Like seriously! Where did the time go?

Oh yeah…

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmm

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

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

The Strength of Their Attachment by Sophia Rose

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

***Spoiler Alert!***

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

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

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

That is not good,

Oh no! What if he’s been kidnapped?

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

Mystery, you say?

I’m ready!

Ready for any case

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

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

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

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

Time to get on the case!

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

Hmm…

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

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

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

And Mr. Tilney and Catherine are so cute together!

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

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

For more on Catherine Morland go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

A Nominal Mistress by Karen M. Cox

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

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

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

He’s a no

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

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

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

She apologizes to him, but inside is seething:

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

Hey, that reminds me of something…

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

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

Scarlett: Oh! You sir are no gentlemen.

Rhett Butler: And you Ms. are no lady.

Book lovers too.

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

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

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

Like The Little Mermaid

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to it!

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

So on to the final story: Lady Susan.

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

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

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

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

The Edification of Lady Susan by Jessie Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow!

An excellent story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Tell-Tale Heart

 

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

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

And of course if you like Gothic fiction, one of the best is Edgar Allan Poe

This story The Tell-Tale Heart has been used/referenced a thousand times in literature and film. It is an amazing part of literature that if you haven’t read, you need to read it.

“The Tell-Tale Heart” from The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allen Poe

This is one of those stories, no matter how many times you read it, it will always be as creepy and thrilling as the first time you read it.

Spooky…

One of things that makes it so spine-tingling is that it is told in first person, allowing the reader to become the character, and our hearts to beat in unison.

I can’t review it with proper justice, I swear it is one you have to read to get the full:

A man rents out a room from an older man and is intent on stealing from him. Every day the old man watches him and eventually the lodger decides to kill him.

“It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees –very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.”

When he goes in to kill him, he hears the heart beat get louder and louder, a crescendo.

After he kills him, he cuts the body up and chops it into pieces and buries him under the floorboards.

But is it that easy? The heart, he can hear it-it calls to him.

Horrifying!

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

For more gothic tales, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Inn at Half Moon Bay