Is Emma Jane Austen’s Only Mystery?

Mystery, you say?

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

What??

At first I was what? Emma?

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

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

Let’s spill the tea.

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

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

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

Hmmm…

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

It,

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

Hmm…

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

Time to get on the case!

So the definition of mystery is:

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

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

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

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

Hmm…

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

Hmm…?

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

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

Hmm…

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

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

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

Mystery, you say?

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

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

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

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

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

The Conclusion to the Griggs Mystery…Or Is It?

Mystery, you say?

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow and ideally connecting it to Jane Austen.

Time to get on the case!

In January, I wasn’t sure what to do when I received a goblin in my mailbox.

It turned out to be a a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

Hmm…

So the first package seemed to be saying that there is something wrong with 27 East Heath Road. The architect, Henry Griggs, had been going crazy trying to finish building his house after his wife died-using all his money. He even felt as if something was there making him continue, something altering his plans, something controlling him. The house was almost complete, but Griggs had descended into some kind of madness. He ends up putting his daughter in an orphanage and Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Hmm…

Then in the second package, the house is sold to Dr. Elliot, a physician who likes to experiment on himself with his tinctures.

He has a strange patient, Beth Siggers (could it be ElizaBeth Griggs?) who acts off  in his home. He also starts seeing something in his mirror. He died from overdose…or murder?

Hmm…from The Wolfman

Then the house was bought by magician’s assistant, Héléne Ashworth and her magician husband The Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear. Helene loves the house, espechially the conservatory as she can grow all her plants. But then strange things happen-other plants are being planted, she starts having trouble remembering, she feels a presence in the house, and she thinks she sees something. She starts searching her home and dies of fright…or was she murdered?

Hmmm…

In the third package I received a demon mask that I instantly boxed up to never see again. Elizabeth Griggs has come into her inheritance and has bought 27 East Heath Road revealing that she created multiple identities: Beth Spriggs, Lilibet, the “psychic” Mrs. Alizbeta Divak. She loved the house, but she didn’t stay there long. A madman in a mask came out of a secret passage in the house and tried to kill her, both dying and it was revealed the crazed man was her father,

He was never dead but just hiding in the house.

I was also able to decode all the secret messages in everything.

I thought the story was over, but then I received another package.

This one has:

  • An article on “The Black Moon Tragedy” from This Mortal Recoils
  • A pamphlet for Griggs Manor
  • A letter from the people who sent the package

 

The article “The Black Moon Tragedy” from This Mortal Recoils tells of a Goth sounding band, Spiritus Lost, renting the house for its creepy reputation to do a spooky show. They left everything as it was, creepy, scary, gothic, etc. for aesthetic.

Creepy…

But what was supposed to be an amazing night went extremely wrong. There is something in the house, something dark. Flower scents where there are no flowers, pools of blood, the doors locked, people dying trying to get into the mirror (that’s where the secret passage is), people going crazy, ghostly figures seen in the mirror, one woman died of fright, and more.

I would stay far away from that house or just knock it down to be honest. It really needs to be destroyed. Salt and burn that thing.

Salt and burn it

The pamphlet says that they have redone the Mansion and converted it into 20 ultra deluxe suites. It sounds really nice with a library, garden, conservatory, underground parking, a marble fireplace-the pictures are beautiful, but there is no way I’d ever live in a demon house.

Not okay.

The final note is from The Mysterious Package Company with a link to type and see who sent it, and it turned out to be a group of my friends, exactly who I suspected it would be.

I have to say this whole experience was a ton a fun. It is expensive, but worth the amount of effort that goes into it. I mean you can definitely see the worth in it.

I recommend trying it out if you are interested in receiving fun mail, espechially with shelter in place coming into effect again.

For more from The Mysterious Package Company, go to Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

For more mysteries, go to Murder She Hoped: Raising Hope (2013)

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

This Village is Full of Strange People: Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Endless Night (2013)

Hey everybody, for this year we are doing something special: Sleuthing Sundays. Each Sunday I’ll post a film with a super sleuth! Our second film is:

So technically this is an episode, but as it is the same length as an actual film-I’m including it with the films. I did the same thing my first year with Agatha Christe’s Poirot: Halloween Party.

So I am a huge fan of Victoria (when will the next season be coming?) and reading through rticles about the show and the actors, one thing that was recommended was Tom Hughes’ (Prince Albert in Victoria), portrayal of Michael Rogers in Miss Marple’s Endless Night.

So when I had my free trial of AcornTV to watch the Miss Fisher movie, it included the Miss Marple TV Show. I had seen it before when it was included in Netflix and Amazon, and while I love Miss Marple I noticed that the show took more liberties with the stories than they did with the Poirot TV show. I think it is because there are less stories and she’s a different type of sleuth as she is an elderly lady who isn’t as active in her sleuthing as Poirot.

Even though I haven’t really liked the recent adaptions, I decided to check it out.

This is one of the weirdest portrayals of an Agatha Christie novel I have ever seen.

from Jamaica Inn

Like, what is THIS?

So we start off with Mike (Tom Hughes) talking abut his life. The first important memory is when he tried to save his friend, Rudolf Santonix’s, brother who fell through the ice. He didn’t save him, but as his Rudolf was unable to do anything he vows to do anything for Mike if he asks it. Mike does’t take him too seriously. The boys grow up and go on separate paths. Mike ultimately becomes a chauffeur, but dreams of more. He wants a big piece of land with woods, a house, etc. There is a spot he dreams of, Gipsy’s Acres, but he doesn’t have the money for it. There he meets Miss Marple and they talk about the land, and that it has a “curse” on it.

Dark forest, from Death Comes to Pemberley.

Mike runs into Rudolf who is now an architect. He’s suffering from tuberculosis and wants to pay Mike back for trying to save his brother. He designs him a beautiful house, as he knows Mike better than anyone else. Mike loves it, but has no money to buy land or build the house.

He goes now and then to Gipsey’s Acres to dream, running into Miss Marple again.

This, this was pretty weird. Miss Marple keeps wanting to see him, searching him out, she’s like obsessed with him. There is no other reason why she keeps randomly popping up.

It is such a weird direction to go in.

One day at the Gipsey’s Acres he runs into Fenella “Ellie” Guteman. Ellie is an heiress who is lonely and not normal. She just acts weird.

You know what, EVERYBODY in this is weird. They act completly strange and not normal, it’s pretty creepy. In fact Mike is the only one who is normal. He and Ellie are going to get married and she wants to bring her companion to live with them as she can’t live without her.

What??

Mike is like no he dosen’t want the companion to live with them when they get married and Ellie gets really upset about it. Why would you want your friend to live with you when you just got married? Espechially, as you go on and on about how beautiful she is…it almost seems as if there is something between them, but if that’s the case why marry Mike?

They decide to get married and Mike tells his mom who freaks out. They fight and she screeches at him that she is the only one who knows who he really is.

They then meet up with Ellie’s family who are strange, dysfunctional, and don’t want to lose control of her or her money. And they all go on about her companion Greta. Like why is everyone is obsessed about her?

They then meet Rudolf to tell him and he’s furious. He wanted Mike to make money not marry it. Nevertheless he agrees to build the house and starts acting strange too. He goes on about how he is very sick, in fact he is terminal. He talks about what power his impeding death gives him-he could go anywhere he wants to and kill anyone he wanted to.

SUPER creeped

Weird. Really weird. Everyone is just so strange and creepy and weird except Mike. Mike is the only normal one. You know what that means, he must be the bad guy.

So Mike and Ellie go to Italy for their honeymoon and guess who they run into: Miss Marple.

Where is everyone?

Okay, NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

I have read almost every single Miss Marple book and short story. She is on a fixed income, and the only times she goes anywhere is in England is to visit or help friends, and or once to Bertram’s Hotel when her nephew gave her money to go on a trip. There is no way she is going on holiday to Italy, she only knows people who don’t have a lot of money.

Miss Marple is soooo obsessed with Mike that she went all the way to Italy to casually bump into him? I think she is the killer. I mean we all know the rich heiress is going to be murdered. Its obvious. I think she killed his wife to make room for her.

Just kidding, I know that isn’t the answer. Anyways, Greta comes and they move into the house Mike and Greta just can’t stand each other.

An old woman is harassing them for taking the Gipsey Wood away from the gypsies, etc. Ellie has been suffering from the damp air and starts taking pills which she shares with a fellow equestrian rider.

Hmm…

One day Ellie never comes home, and they look for her and, surprise surprise-she is found dead, fallen off her horse. Her horse riding friend dies too. They think the old lady harassing them did it, but they find her dead too.

SPLAT!

Mike and Greta grow close together, while Miss Marple is on the case.

So it is obvious that the only “normal” character turns out to be the “psycho” and all the “psycho” characters are “normal”. I don’t know what they were doing with this episode, it’s a mess.

Ugh…

This actually legit sets up Jane Maple to be a potential killer. I mean she is always “happening” to come across Mike. If Miss Marple was a boy and Mike was a girl-this would be a Lifetime movie.

Seriously!

So this is obviously not like how it was in the novel, I’m sure. In fact…I don’t recall Miss Marple ever being in anything called Endless Night now that I think about it.

Hmmm…

So I googled it and it turns out this was just a mystery novel by her, not a Miss Marple mystery, they decided to rewrite it as a vehicle for her, probably because there aren’t as may Miss Marple stories as there are Poirot, and let me say it DID NOT work!

HARD PASS!!!

For more Agatha Christie, go to Miss Marple and Jane Austen: You Can See Human Nature From Anywhere in a Small Village

For more Miss Marple, go to A Whole Lot of Fanfare

For more detectives, go to The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario: Ellery Queen (1976)

For more female detectives, go to Why Miss Fisher the Movie Flopped for Me: Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020)

Miss Marple and Jane Austen: You Can See Human Nature From Anywhere in a Small Village

So today marks the birthday of a very important writer:

I first was introduced to Agatha Christie when my nana noticed me reading Sherlock Holmes. As she was a lover of mysteries herself, she gave me a few Agatha Christie novels and then that was it, I was an utter fangirl.

Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors. She revolutionized the way mysteries are written, and created a wonderful collection of characters. Not only are her plots amazing, but I like how she presents all the information to you that she gives her detective characters, putting the two of you on equal footing, although, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot tend to always be smarter.

This year I have been honoring her and her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, turning 100-by reviewing a mystery every month. But as I was rereading The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems and it got me thinking about some similarities to Jane Austen.

What??

I know you are probably confused, but hear me out.

Mystery, you say?

So one of Agatha Christie’s detectives is Miss Marple. Miss Marple is an elderly spinster aunt, always watching and observing. People overlook her because of her age, her inexperience (she has lived in a small village), but she is extremely intelligent and has amazing powers of deductions.

When asked how she knows and can figure these things out, she always remarks it is because of her village life. She shares that being in the village she has learned a lot about human nature, and as people are alike all over there is always someone from “back home” that reminds her of others and the clue that reveals the ending-the solution.

In a lot of her books, not just Miss Marple, we see how the characters, their motives, their reasons for why they do what they do are relatable-often many characters you find yourself sympathetic. Agatha Christie knew how to write people so that you connect to them.

Reading that made me think of Jane Austen immediately. Here is a woman who spent a majority of her life in a small village, but yet with what most people would say are limited experiences and a lack of human knowledge-she was still able to write characters that are relatable to people all over the world, 200 years later.

I mean that is one thing I love about her books, how the stories and characters transcend Regency England so that the motifs, personalities, and points raised in her books are still relevant today. Who hasn’t meet a social climber like Caroline Bingley? A schemer like Lucy Steele?  Manipulators like Isabella and John Thorpe? Had a regret like Anne Elliot? Met a flirt like Henry Crawford? Known a person who wanted so badly to have a friend they did whatever someone asked of them like Harriet Smith? Haven’t we all been accused of being an ice queen like Elinor Dashwood? Let our heart rule our actions like Marianne Dashwood? Misjudged someone and actively disliked a person when they insulted you like Elizabeth Bennet? Had to make a choice whether to stick to what we believe in, even if it meant losing something you hold dear like Fanny Price? Disliked someone because they were better than you at some things like Emma Woodhouse? Let our imagination run away with us like Catherine Morland? Lost someone we love like Anne Elliot?

I mean it is just so easy to connect to her work.

If you haven’t read Agatha Christie, I definitely recommend checking her works out, and of course:

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

For more Jane Austen, go to The History of England By a Partial Prejudiced and Ignorant Historian or is Jane Austen a Precursor to Drunk History?

For more comparison posts, go to You Ever Notice That The Gossip Girl TV Show is a Lot Like Persuasion?

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

Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow and ideally connecting it to Jane Austen.

Mystery, you say?

In January, I wasn’t sure what to do when I received a goblin in my mailbox.

It turned out to be a a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

Ah, mysterious

So the first package seemed to be saying that there is something wrong with 27 East Heath Road. The architect, Henry Griggs, had been going crazy trying to finish building the house, after his wife died-using all his money. He even felt as if something was there making him continue, something altering his plans, something controlling him. The house was almost complete, but Griggs has descended into some kind of madness. He ends up putting his daughter in an orphanage and Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Then in the second package, the house is sold to Dr. Elliot, a physician who likes to experiment on himself with his tinctures.

He has a strange patient, Beth Siggers (could it be ElizaBeth Griggs?) who acts off in his home. He also starts seeing something in his mirror. He died from overdose…or murder?

Hmm…

Then the house was bought by magician’s assistant, Héléne Ashworth and her magician husband The Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear. They found out about it from her friend, Lilibeth. Helene loves the house, espechially the conservatory as she can grow all her plants. But then strange things happen-other plants are being planted, she starts having trouble remembering, she feels a presence in the house, and she thinks she sees something. She starts searching and dies of fright…or was she murdered?

Hmm…

So now for the third package.

This didn’t come with too many things:

  • A wooden box that says Elise Face Cosmetiques (the company Héléne Ashworth ordered her stage makeup from)
  • A demon mask
  • An article “Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horror!” from Grime News
  • A letter from Elizabeth Griggs
  • A “bloody” hatpin
  • Three photographs
  • The blueprints to Griggs’ Estate

So when I got this package the first thing I had to look at was what was in the box-the big thing under the letter and photographs. It was this big, creepy, demon mask thing.

Since then I have put it back in its box as I have no clue what to do with it. It is teriffying.

SUPER creeped

Like 1/4 of me wanted to put it on, but the other 3/4 was terrified that if I did my face would change like in that one Twilight Zone episode, “The Masks”.

So creepy. Put it back in the box!

The letter is from Elizabeth Griggs written to her dead father July 29, 1897

Elizabeth Griggs has finally come into her inheritance and has purchased the one thing she has always wanted, the Griggs Estate. It turns out my suspicions were right! She admits that she created these other personas-Beth Spriggs, Lilibet, the “psychic” Mrs. Alizbeta Divak to protect herself. Now Elizabeth is finally herself and has her home.

Elizabeth shares that she was the one who saw the goblin first and received a letter from it, but her father figured out the clues to decoding it. (So the thing must have already been there-the thing that possessed her father.)

Elizabeth loves being in the house although there were a ton of changes made to it after she was sent to the orphanage and she enjoys every minute of rediscovering “her old friend”.

Haunted house!

The newspaper is an article about another murder in the Griggs estate. It was published September 13, 1987.

Last month London was scandalized by two mysterious and bloody deaths, Miss Elizabeth Griggs (24) was putting on her evening dress when a hideous man in a devilish mask and tattered nightshirt came crashing through the mirror.

Elizabeth had been in the middle of setting her hat and instinctively took the hatpin (that’s where the hatpin comes from!!!) and stabbed him in the throat, but even though she attacked him his body falling forward caused her to crash into the fireplace mantle and she died.

As Henry Griggs lay dying he croaked out “Lizzy! It is you!” (So I Was right, he was hiding in the house all along.)

But even though the two are dead and gone there are still some strange noises, banging, ghastly cries, etc. (It lives!)

Ghosts? Demons?

The blueprints are fascinating as the estate is huge with all kinds of secret hatches and passageways, and the secret language I need to decode.

Wow!

The first photograph is of a man in the mask I now own-Henry Griggs. With more secret writing on the back.

Hmm…what does it say?

The second is of a man dead in a car-the doctor, Dr Elliot! On the back it says:

“His last dose

Friday, February, 12 1892”

The third photograph is of a woman on the bed and a figure in the mirror. But if Griggs is taking the photograph-who’s in the mirror?

On the back it says:
She’ll snoop no more

Monday, January 18, 1897″

It’s Héléne, oh poor Héléne.

Okay, so at this point it is time to decode these messages. I must know the truth!

Mystery, you say?

I just spent three hours decoding this when I realize I did’t read all of Elizabeth’s letter. She has the decoder on the back! Ugh.

AAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHH!!!!!!

I feel so dumb-no I feel like Julie when she didn’t read all the instructions in Jumanji. 

Well at least I feel like an awesome decoder person.

DECODING

So I put the quote of what came before the secret message, and then under in bold the decoded message.

PACKAGE ONE

Forfeiture Notice

“This property was transferred to City Bank, Threadneedle Street, Corner of Finch Lane to be liquidated forthwith.”

YOU CANNOT TAKE ONE AND NOT THE OTHER

Orphanage Records

NO. 324   Surname: Griggs   Christian Name: Elizabeth  Age: 7

School Attendance: Yes

Pecuniary Circumstances: Inheritance  £250 donated as Fees

Date of Admittance: May 1881 Remarks: Trunk, Impertinent

SHE IS SAFE NOW IT CANNOT GET HER

Photograph of Elizabeth and her Father

“Last Day Together”

LAST DAY FOR THIS FACE (That must be referring to Mr. Griggs as he must have started wearing the mask after this.)

PACKAGE TWO

Deed of Land

“Received in full satisfaction by John W. Peterborough, City Bank Partner from Dr. W. Elliot Fifth day of November in the year of our Lord 1888 does give, grant, bargain, sell, and confirm the property of house, gardens, and environs of the entity of Lot 27 East Heath Road, Hampstead Heath, London, United Kingdom—unto the said Dr. Elliot.”

MY HOUSE, NONE OTHER WILL KEEP IT LONG (Uh, oh-that is not good.)

Baldwin’s Physician’s Guide

Extreme Desespoir Eufferfte Verzweifftung

HAVE I SEEN THIS FACE IN THE MIRROR?

The Chimes by Charles Dickens

“Monsters uncouth and wild, arise in premature, imperfect resurrection; the several parts and shapes of different things are joined and mixed by chance..”

“Haunt and hunt him…”

“Bleak his slumbers…”

“he saw this WITH Goblin sight…”

“…saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but waking also…”

I SEE MYSELF EVERYWHERE

Dr. Elliot’s Tincture

You’ve got the right bottle, Doctor.

SWITCHED THEM (Oh, no! That’s how the doctor died!)

Arsenic Poison

Are You Sure?

DONE

Elise Cosmetiques Label

You think to hide yourself from me?

THEIR LAST PERFORMANCE WILL BE MY GREATEST WORK (He must be talking about when he storms in their psychic reading and scares everyone.)

PACKAGE THREE

Griggs’ Estate Blueprints

There are a huge message and then a bunch of little ones. The big message:

THIS HOUSE TOOK MY WIFE, IT TOOK MY DAUGHTER, IT ENTRAPPED MY SOUL. WILL IT EVER LET ME REST?

Now to start with the rooms

Conservatory

PLUCK THEM OUT. POISON 

Kitchen

THEY ENCROACH LIKE WEEDS

Dining

INTERLOPERS

Bed room

I AM WATCHING

Hallway/stairs

MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE 

Secret Room in Library

WHO IS THE ARCHITECT OF THIS MADNESS

Bedroom

NO ROOM

Bedroom

IN THE WALLS, UNDER THE FLOOR, IN THE BETWEEN, BETWEEN THE SOUL AND THE STAIRCASE

Sunroom

THEY MUST NEVER FIND

Another Secret Room

SANCTUARY

Reading Room

DRIVE THEM OUT 

The photograph of Henry Griggs

WHY DO THEY COME

You must act, again

I’VE WATCHED THEM ALL COME AND MADE THEM ALL GO

You have done well.

AM I A GHOST

Only you know what you are

I HAVE MADE MY OWN FACE

You are what you have become

AM I DANGEROUS

Dangerous? Oh Yes

I AM GRIGGS THE GRINNING GOBLIN THE LOATHSOME FIEND THE GRUESOME PHANTOM YOU AND I ARE ONE

Always

THE ONE WHO COMES AND GOES IS IT MY DAUGHTER

She is the last

IF HER FACE LIES SHE WILL DIE LIKE THE REST

One way or the other, I will be free

And it is time to bring out the Demon mask again, *shudders*.

THEY SEE ME THROUGH YOU

If I was a Winchester I know what I would do with all this stuff:

Salt and burn it

But I on the hand will keep everything, because they are cool. Except for the demon mask, I need to find a new home for it.

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

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

For more haunted houses, go to They’re Coming for Me Now…And Then They’ll Come for You: House on Haunted Hill (1959)

 

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

Ready for any case

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow and ideally connecting it to Jane Austen.

Mystery, you say?

In January, I wasn’t sure what to do when I received a goblin in my mailbox.

It turned out to be a a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

Ah, mysterious

So the last package seemed to be saying that there is something wrong with 27 East Heath Road

Haunted house!

The architect, Henry Griggs, had been going crazy trying to finish building the house, after his wife died-using all his money. He even felt as if something was there making him continue, something altering his plans, something controlling him.

The house was almost complete, but Griggs has descended into some kind of madness.

“The madness in the walls must not escape…I fear I shall be gone altogether…I fear harm may come to her [Lizzy]  if she is not sent to safety.”

He ends up putting his daughter in an orphanage and Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Or is it?!

This package contained a lot of items and goes on a bit:

  • 1 Deed
  • 1 Letter from Dr. Jack S. Aigner
  • 4 Small Memorandum/ Doctor’s notes from Dr. William Elliot
  • Arsenic Druggist Note
  • A Page from Baldwin’s Physician’s Guide
  • 1 Large Memorandum/ Doctor’s notes from Dr. William Elliot
  • Dr. Elliott’s Tincture Receipt
  • 1 Poster for The Great Goodyear
  • 1 Great Goodyear flip book that showcases two of his illusions
  • Garden Diary of Héléne Ashworth
  • Elise Face Cosmetiques Label
  • Newspaper Clipping
  • A page from Charles Dickens’ The Chimes

So first of all, I saw Dr. Walter Elliott on the letters:

And as a Jane Austen fan my mind went:

This is 1888, I am going to believe this is Mr. Elliot’s great or great-great grandson, named after Sir Walter. I mean I don’t know if he married Mrs. Clay, but I do know that eventually he would have to secure his family line and inheritance.

So Dr. Walter Elliot, descendent of Mr. Elliot, has purchased 27 East Heath Road and everything inside the building for £420 sterling. I think he will regret this…

So Dr. Elliot has a conservatory and grows herbs but according to his former instructor Dr. Jack S. Aigner, Dr. Elliot is sensitive, insecure of whether or not he is a good doctor, creates different tonics and medicines; AND medicates/tests himself. Uh, oh. Oh no, that does not sound good.

Dr. Aiger mentions the room he is using to treat patients and that it holds a mirror, but it is placed strange on the wrong wall. It should be behind the patient, not in front, but it will be good if he wants to try self-hypnosis. There is a young girl he is trying to help that is an interesting case. Hmm…could it be Elizabeth Griggs?

Then we have Dr. Elliot’s notes on the patient, although not all of them. He mysteriously chose to remove the notes in his patient from September 1889-October 1891, us picking it up in October 1891.

His patient is interesting…she wants to be in the room alone and when he stepped out as she said she heard footfalls in hallway, she moved the flowers in the office, why?

She likes the tincture he gave her, which pleases him as he is really getting the use out of his conservatory.

The next notes are from February 1889, and we are given that the name is on Beth Siggers 15 years old. The DOB is inked out, but we know it is 1874. Could this be Elizabeth Griggs? Just her name changed so the Doctor doesn’t connect it to the architect if the house?

Hmm…

Beth comes to see Dr. Elliot because she is suffering headaches and shortness of breath, but when she came in she would not sit, instead touching and knocking into everything-walls, tables, the mirror, etc. Searching…but for what? He thinks she faked the illness but why? He gives her some tincture and she leaves.

Weird…

March 1889

Beth continues to return to the Doctor’s office, but every time she has a different ailment. Obviously she is suffering from a mental issue rather than a physical ones, but what and why?

She returns another time and says she left her bag behind, but when he finds her he sees she isn’t in the reception area but on the main staircase as she got “turned around”. Strange behavior, the doctor prescribes tonic.

Hmmm…

April 1889

She seems much better, although she is fixated on the mirror. The doctor looked at it and thought he saw a face in it, but that is just nonsense. He gives her 1/2 bottle of tonic.

She returns later complaining the tonic is too strong, and Dr. Elliot watered it down and 1/2 the dose-1/4 tonic. It’s strange, he notices the hallway door is ajar. That keeps happening every time Beth comes to his office.

Spooky…

May 1889

Beth returns, upset and acting strange: pulse elevated and pupils dilated. Dr. Elliot thinks it is just “spring fever” and gives previous mixture and dosage.

Hmm…strange

June 1889

Beth has been by again and Dr. Eliot thinks he saw a figure in the mirror, again. He has always hated the way the mirror was fixed in the wall. He searches, but there is nothing there. Dr. Elliot begins to worry that maybe the tincture he took and tested on himself might be giving him hallucinations.

July 1889

Dr. Elliot has decided to no longer see Beth. He tells her and later that evening he discovers she has hid in the parlour…weird why? She begs him to let her come back and he agrees for one more time.

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!! Something is wrong with this girl-you need to get way from her.

January 1892

Dr. Elliot feels watched and puzzles over the patient. Maybe he should stop seeing her, nothing seems to be changing.

YES!!! STOP SEEING HER SOMETHING ISN’T RIGHT!! But of course he won’t listen. He will continue and things are going to go wrong.

February 1892

Things are getting worse. After Beth comes poking on walls, knocking here and there, looking in corners, seeing things that aren’t there, Dr. Elliot too starts to feel as if there are spirits, ghosts, or something in the house. He tries to talk himself out of it but wonders.

He continues his experiments and taking the tincture. Oh no Dr. Elliot, don’t test on yourself!

In another set of letters from February 1892 to Jack, Dr. Elliot mentions a page with ciphers from Baldwin’s Physcian’s Guide. The page is included with these lines underlined:

“…what can be gained from inclusive speculation on the subject?”

“…physiognomy is mere judgement, assumption, and, in some cases, coincidence.”

On the back is an image that looks out of the Grimm texts and has some strange ciphers on it.

In his letter he has figured out what two of the symbols mean, an E & R.

Meanwhile, Griggs’ daughter, Beth, continues to see the doctor and every visit something odd happens. The flowers espechially always seem to be moved.

Beth keeps talking about something she sees under hypnosis so Dr. Elliot decides to test it and takes extra tincture.

Don’t Do it!!! Stop!!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

There is a receipt for his tincture and on the back it says:

“You’ve got the right bottle, doctor.” With a bunch of symbols.

DON’T DO IT!!!!!

Dr. Elliot gets some cramps but about 30 mins in, he sees a figure in the mirror, or looking to come out of the mirror…

He leans toward the mirror and the figure was gone. He searched the house for it and found the dispensary unlocked, even though he always locks it.

He decides to increase the dose and do it again, adding to his letter later-he does and it says:

“I see it! It comes…”

And that is the end of Dr. Elliot. I’m assuming he died. Poor guy, you shouldn’t have tested on yourself-you shouldn’t have delved into the unknown, espechially on your own.

You’re crazy!
Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

There is no more correspondence, we then switch to the second half of the package.

Time to get on the case!

The next item in the package is the garden diary of Héléne Ashworth.

June 1892

The house has been sold to the Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear, and his muse, assistant, and wife Héléne Ashworth. The name sounds familiar, but I’m not sure why.

Where have I read or seen that name before?

Their friend, Lilibeth, let them know about 27 East Heath Road becoming available after the doctor died. It seems he accidentally took too much of his medicine, although some whisper it was a suicide.

Claude loves the room with the mirror in it, as it can help him to practice his tricks and Héléne loves having the conservatory as she is a gardener. She has taken inventory about the plants and discovered hemlock. Hemlock? Why would a doctor need that?

Strange…

Claude jokes about ghosts in the walls as the house does make noise, but Héléne is not afraid. She loves her new house.

Ghosts?

July 1893

Héléne’s garden is doing well except for the calla lilies and forget-me-nots she planted. Instead the hyacinth, lavender, and dragonwort are doing extremely well-even though she did not plant them. There is no way Claude did so where did they come from?

At 27 East Heath Road.

Héléne believes in the language of flowers and these ones that mysteriously appeared mean constancy, devotion, and twice twisted. Hmm…maybe it means something twice twisted in the house? Devoted to it?

Hmm…

Let’s see-hemlock was poisonous, are these too? Let me look…yes, hyacinth bulbs are poisonous and touching them causes skin irritation. So lavender is used in food and perfumes so it is okay to take, but it can cause constipation, headache, and skin irritation in some people. Dragonwort is used to stop bleeding. So again, doesn’t seem too bad.

Hmmm…

There are a lot of strange herbs Héléne doesn’t know growing as well. She also discovers two more letters of the cipher-M & Y.

Another entry:

Claude is doing extremely well and even gets to perform at the famous Egyptian Hall. Héléne is so excited to perform, but Claude wants her to quit now that they are married. Hmmm…

Meanwhile, Héléne feels watched in the house. She wants to mention it to her husband, but decides not to worry him before a big show. On a sad note all the Calla lilies died, just like their hopes for a baby.

May 1895

Héléne is no longer allowed to perform, Claude thinking that is what caused them to have a miscarriage. Try as she might the yellow hyacinth (jealousy) keeps growing, and Héléne is convinced there is a curse on this house-a curse keeping a cild from being born, her nice and kind flowers from growing, and the hyacinth strong.

Later entry:

Héléne finds more and more deadly plants-nightshade and monkshood. She also sees the gruesome figure from her nightmares. She tries to tell her husband but he doesn’t listen, saying the illusions have turned her head.

June 1895

Claude has refused two engagements and is very upset. He is convinced spies are coming into the halls and watching/copying his ideas. He continues to practice in the room with the mirror and won’t let anyone into it, not even Héléne.

Héléne is very hurt and upset as she and Claude grow farther and farther apart. Sometimes Héléne pus on the old costumes and performs in front of the plants-wishing she could still be on the stage.

Lilibet has grown worried about Héléne and has taken up spiritualism and becoming a very famous medium. Lilibet and Héléne have known each other since girlhood and Héléne decides to throw a get together and help Lilibet. I’m starting to think Lilibet is Elizabeth “Beth” Griggs. Maybe Héléne was in the orphanage? I’ll check. The records say she is, ah “…the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life” (A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) is Elizabeth Griggs.

And it is “…our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” (A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Mystery, you say?

September 1895

Liliibet otherwise known as Mrs. Alizbeta Divak has asked Hélene to join in. Helene has created the character Madame Solandra, wears black bombazine, and pale makeup that comes from the Elise makeup company. There is a label from Elise Cosmetiques and it has a message on the back:

“YOU THINK TO HIDE YOURSELF FROM ME?”

Followed by the ciphers.

Claude does not approve of spiritualism, Helene has to hide it from him.

November 1896

They held the seance but things did not go as planned, A real spirit came from the mirror shouting at them “interlopers! Be gone!”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

When Héléne did the automatic writing it was if someone else was controlling her. Helene faints and when she awakens, it is Lilibet giving her smelling salts.

Oh no, the smelling salts were poisoned with the Doctor’s medicine.

Nooo

Lilibet preetends it didn’t happen, but Héléne knows it was real. She however feels very sick.

December 1896

Helene is still sick and supposed to be in bed, but has found a strange hidden doorway and secret hidden rooms in the house  But is it real? She is fading in and out and unsure.

But no! She found it! She has found a secret door in the conservatory, as soon as she is stronger she will investigate it!

Time to get on the case!

January 1897

Helene’s passage is a strange one. She believes the phantom is walking the house and Claude has all but disappeared. Is there a spirit in her home? A man? Or is her husband gaslighting her?

Gaslight (1944)

And all her flowers were ripped up? Why would the phantom want to do that?Why put dirt on her hands after?

Claude is yelling and locking Helene in her room refusing Lilibet to come in. But she has found a way out. She will follow the wallpaper and escape that way…

That is the last entry in the journal.

This felt a lot like The Yellow Wallpaper, the short story where the lady goes mad and her husband locks her up (or did her husband lock her up and then she went mad?)

Hmmm…is there a phantom or just an evil husband?

Gaslight (1944)

Next we have a newspaper clipping “Murder at the Mad Magician’s Mansion”. 

The wife of The Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear, has been found dead in her home, found by her husband when he returned from performing.

Héléne’s face was frozen in terror and the inquest found that she had been poisoned-even though she was alone in the house and it was locked up tight. But by who? And how?

Of course authorities looked at the husband first, but it was impossible for him to slip away as he was performing and his every moment had witnesses.

Hmmm…

Her body was strangely found, it looked as if she was trying to crawl out of a small under-stairs cupboard with her face frozen, and hair turned white.

It appears Claude has lost his mind at his wife’s death. He warns people of a gruesome phantom moving in his house, warning people to stay far away.

After two incidents, one of him claiming a police constable to be a monster, he was relocated to the Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

Aw, that’s sad.

And last a page ripped out of Charles Dicken’s The Chimes with the following words underlined:

“Monsters uncouth and wild, arise in premature, imperfect resurrection; the several parts and shapes of different things are joined and mixed by chance..”

“Haunt and hunt him…”

“Bleak his slumbers…”

“he saw this WITH Goblin sight…”

“…saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but waking also…”

There are more marks of the secret language written in the margin.

Hmmm…

I have been working on decoding it, and I think I’ve figures out a few letters based on what they gave me and just common sense of filling in the blanks, but there are some I am just not sure of.

Hmm…

So I am getting a Phantom of the Opera vibe from this (I love The Phantom of the Opera)

So in the original story of The Phantom of the Opera, one of Erik’s (the phantom’s) many talents was architecture and he builds the opera house-creating his secret home and all the passages, using the mirror as a door to bring Christine to his lair.

I think Henry Griggs is alive! And living in the house he built, probably a secret passage in the mirror. I’m just not sure if he is killing people because he us possessed by something or because he thinks if he does he will have his house back. I’ll have to wait and see.

Hmmm…

A lot of stuff came in this package and I did my best to try and put it all in one picture:

For more from The Mysterious Package Company, go to A Goblin in My Mailbox

For more insane doctors, go to Mr. Hyde Versus the Werewolf: Dr. Jekyll Versus the Werewolf (1972)

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

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

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

Scottish Oat Scones

So at the end of last month, my book club met and discussed the book The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie. Typically we just have light snacks, but as I didn’t have to work due to the quarantine, I decided I would do a little tea party.

And eat scones!

We had egg salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, french fries (pommes pont neuf), Scottish Oat scones, lemon curd, lemon crinkle cookies, and meyer lemon poppyseed cake. Instead of putting all the recipes in one post and making it too long, I decided to break it up and share each recipe separately so that if interested, you can make your own and eat it with a cup of tea and some Jane Austen.

Today’s scone recipe I found on pinterest, but originally comes from Lisa’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 Cups of Flour
  • 2 Cups of Rolled or Steel Cut Oats
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 4 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/2 Cup of Unsalted Butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1/3 Cup of Milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and grease or line a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  4. In small bowl, beat the egg until frothy.
  5. Now add butter and milk to egg, and whisk to combine.
  6. Pour into dry ingredients and mix together until you have a soft dough.
  7. Shape and pat the dough into two 6-7 inch circles.
  8. Cut into 6-8 pie shaped wedges and bake 10-15 mins, or until golden brown.
  9. Let cool for a few minutes.
  10. Serve with butter and/or jam.

This were very good, but the dough was a little dry which made it hard to stick together, ad after they baked they crumbled. I think if I was to make them again I would add a little more milk.

Otherwise these were delicious! I could see making them again and again and enjoy them.

Or scones!

For more scone recipes, go to Irish Blueberry Scones

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

For more tea parties, go to Meyer Lemon Poppyseed Cake

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

Ginger Cardamom Meyer Lemon Crinkle Cookies

So the last week my book club met and discussed the book The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie. Typically we just have light snacks, but as I didn’t have to work due to the quarantine, I decided I would do a little tea party.

In the book, The Secret Adversary, the two main characters go to tea a few times at Lyons Tea Cafe. I originally wanted to try to make something like the tea shop would have, but then my coworker gave me a whole box of Meyer’s Lemons.

What am I going to do with all these?

So instead we had egg salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, french fries (pommes pont neuf), Scottish Oat scones, lemon curd, lemon crinkle cookies, and meyer lemon poppyseed cake. Instead of putting all the recipes in one post and making it too long, I decided to break it up and share each recipe separately so that if interested, you can make your own and eat it with a cup of tea and some Jane Austen.

And eat cookies!

This recipe comes from Pineapple & Coconut

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 2 Cups + 2 Tbsps of Flour
  • 1.5 Tsp of Ground Ginger
  • 1.5 Tsp of Cardamom
  • 2 Tsp of Baking Powder
  • 3/4 Tsp of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 4 Tbsp of Meyer Lemon’s Zest
  • 10 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
  • 2 Large Eggs, Room Temperature
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp of Meyer Lemon’s Juice

Topping:

  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Powdered Sugar (Confectioners Sugar)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cardamom, ginger, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest between your fingers until it is fully mixed in with the sugar.
  3. Cream butter and sugar-zest mixture together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 mins.
  4. Add eggs in one at a tim, mixing well.
  5. Add in vanilla extract and lemon juice, and mix again.
  6. Add flour and mix slowly until combined, do not over mix.
  7. Chill dough 3-4 hours.
  8. Preheat the oven 350 degrees F.
  9. Place the sugar in one bowl and powdered sugar in the other.
  10. Take the chilled dough and roll into 1.5 Tbsp sized balls.
  11. Roll in sugar first, then roll in powdered sugar-making sure it is completely covered.
  12. Place dough on prepared sheets about two inches apart.
  13. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are golden.

These cookies were delicious!

I could not stop eating them!

No, stop! Alright.

If you like lemon and cookies, you should defintely make these!

And proper quarantine masks.

For more cookie recipes, go to Crispy, Chewy, Matcha Green Tea Cookies

For more recipes, go to Meyer Lemon Poppyseed Cake

For more tea parties, go to Literary Tea Parties

I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

So a while back Cederberg Tea Company was doing a giveaway-you know me and free, I just can’t resist.

As I always say:

“Free is always good unless it is diseases.”

Anytime I see a giveaway I have to enter it.

So I commented I wanted Chai tea (as my entry) and won this package of Classic Red, Green Rooibos, Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla, Rooibos + Chai, and Rooibos + Ginger.

Now I didn’t pay close attention when I entered the giveaway and didn’t realize it contained Rooibos in it. I avoid Rooibos after I had the one by Tea Forté, and it did not agree with me. I resolved to not drink any again, until I saw that this was Rooibos.

That’s not good.

Well I won it and needed to review it, so I decided to stop wasting time and start drinking some tea.

I drank some…and loved it!

The other one I had must have had something wrong with it or something, because these were fantastic. I expected to like the Chai, but was just blown away by the Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla. I drank it and drank it, until I realized I only had one teabag left.

I mean you know how I feel about Earl Grey Tea:

But I was just drinking Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla, at least until it was all gone.

The others were good too, but that one was the best!

Delicious!!!! I know I will definitely be ordering from them in the future.

For more giveaway posts, go to I Won the Madsen Creations Giveaway

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

So a few years back I was given a collection of five teas, A World of Teas. As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes together better than a good book and a delicious tea.

And eat scones!

Since then I try my best to repeat it whenever I try out new teas. 🙂 As this is Chai teas and Rooibos, I tried to do my best to connect it with books that are set in Africa or India.

Tea #1: Classic Red

This Classic Red was a wonderful tea. It had everything you wanted in it and I enjoyed it so much I finished it before I realized it-picking up the cup to drink some more and finding it empty.

You can tell at first sip why it is a “classic”.

Around the World in 80 Days is one of my favorite books and an amazing classic. It is the story of mysterious, wealthy Phileas Fogg being bet to travel around the world in 80 days. It was to be an interesting challenge-made more so when he is mistaken to be a bank robber and followed by a detective; along with having some people try to sabotage him from winning. It has action, adventure, romance-everything you could want and more! It is a real page turner and keeps you on the edge of your seat to see if Phileas is going to make it or not!

One of my favorite parts is when they go to India and the group rescue Aouda, an Indian princess, from her dead husband’s evil relatives trying to sacrifice her so they can inherit everything. This is a great scene because in it we see Phileas change from his “mechanical” way of being (everything planned and thought out) as he steps out to help, becoming a “classic” hero. I love him and Aouda together-you know me and biracial relationships. A great book and great tea.

For more on Around the World in 80 Days, go to Happiness is Having a Library Card: Another 13 of the Best Fictional Libraries

Tea #2: Green Rooibos

This tea was exactly how I expected green tea to taste, no surprises-but I mean that in a good way. It’s nice to have something and know you are going to get exactly what you want to get.

This tea made me think of Death on the Nile. Death on the Nile isn’t my favorite Agatha Christie novel as to me there wasn’t any big surprises or truly innovative or amazing characters (except Cornelia Ruth Robson). But like this tea, sometimes you want the predictable, to get exactly as you expect.

The story is of Linnet, a wealthy woman, who marries her best friend’s boyfriend, Simon Doyle. For their honeymoon they go on a trip through the Nile, and of course run into Hercule Poirot (he never gets a vacation). He sees the former best friend, Jacqueline, threaten them and they ask Poirot for help. He declines, but warns Jacqueline to stop or else she will open herself to evil. She refuses and follows the Doyles on their boat trip on the Nile, joined by 11 other interesting characters. Linnet is found dead (of course), and everything points to the two characters who could not have done it. Who could the murderer be? Poirot is on the case.

For more on Agatha Christie, go to Shame Book Tag

Tea #3: Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla

So I thought I would like this tea, as who doesn’t love vanilla? But OMGoodness I was not prepared for how amazing this tea was. It was so delicious I just drank it and drank it and before I knew it, I had drank it all up. It was sweet, wonderful, and smelled so good.

What I felt for the tea, I felt the same way about this book. When I saw the art deco style cover, I thought I would enjoy this mystery, but I didn’t realize how much I would love it. The story is of Perveen Mistry, female Indian lawyer, in the 1920s. She is sent out to a small princely state to speak to the Dowager Maharani (grandmother) and Maharani (mother) about the young Maharaja’s schooling. She is the only one who can as the ladies are observing purdah (and cannot speak to any men not related to them). Preveen travels out there and finds things are not well in the palace. The Dowager Maharani and the Maharani are both fighting for control, the circumstances of the older brother’s death are very suspicious, and Perveen believes the young prince might be next-especially after a monkey eats her bread and dies. Will Perveen be able to figure out who is responsible in time to save the prince, or will she be next?

Not only is this an intriguing mystery, but Perveen has an interesting and heartbreaking backstory. It was fantastic and so easy to have your attention captured-and keep flipping pages to find out what happens next.

Tea #4: Rooibos + Chai

This was absolutely delicious and just what I wanted in my chai tea-spicy but not too much, sweet but the right amount-i.e everything I wanted. It was so good that after I finished the bourbon one, the chai was gone just like that “snap”.

Like the tea, The Sign of the Four has everything you could want in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. You have a beautiful woman in need (Watson notes she is very attractive [he’s in love with her]), a disappeared father, jewels, a mysterious note, a secret treasure, a peculiar mansion, a villain with a wooden leg, a puzzling death, a bloodhound, and the sign of the four.

It is an amazing mystery, Holmes and Doyle at their finest, and like I said gives you everything your could want. It also is what I believe The Great Mouse Detective was based on, so if you love that movie-you’ll love this book.

For more on Sherlock Holmes, go to Your Cases Have Indeed Been of the Greatest Interest to Me: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Tea #5: Rooibos + Ginger

So I didn’t think I would like this tea as ginger tea is often too strong, but this was not overpowering but the right amount. It was enjoyable but still had a bit of a kick to it. It’s not something that I would drink all the time, but is perfect for every now and then or if I have a stomachache.

I felt this book was perfect to pair with it as it is a good story but the sam time has a “kick” to it that gets you thinking…I will actually discuss the book fully below.

So it has been over three months since I did a book club book review, I was only a few behind but then things happened and I fell behind.

 

I am 13 books behind…

I know, I know-stop looking at me like that. I just will have to try harder to catch up.

Hmmm…

Anyways…so quick recap for those who haven’t heard of my book club.

So as you all know I started a book club a few years ago, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books and need to be around others who feel the same.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time our member chose:

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken

So as I read this book 13 months ago, I was hoping to reread it as it had been a while and I wanted to make sure I got the timeline right. So I went to the book from the library…but it turns out the person who checked it out never returned it. Called (I work in the library) and sent notices but the book has not been returned.

Seriously??????!!!!!!!!!!!

I HATE when people do that!!!!!!

I then thought I would ask the other book club member, (one member had borrowed my library book) but she lent it to a friend who never gave it back.

So I’m doing this all based on what I remember from reading this 13 months ago, hopefully this go well. Right now I apologize for anything I write that is wrong.

So the first thing that struck me about this book, was the title. “Insanity of God”? What does that mean? Why did he choose that title?

The story starts off with Nik Ripken (a pseudonym) sharing how he came to know Christ. He was a kid that loved baseball, but God took a hold of his life and set him out on a new path.

He ends up going to a Christian college and meets and marries a pastor’s daughter. After both graduate, they both feel the strong call of the mission field and when they ask to be sent out, they are asked for their qualifications. For Nik, he quotes the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:19-20

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

That part made me laugh so hard.

As Nik hadn’t been raised in church he didn’t know what exactly was being asked. They want to know his education, spiritual journey, youth mission trips, background, etc-but Nik is confident in that the Great Commission tells you to go all throughout the world and he wants to answer the call.

If he was on his own he would have been denied, but his wife knows the lingo and what is being said so they are able to be sent out. They both have a heart for Africa and get sent to Somalia in 1992.

Nik and his wife aren’t able to have a “church” but are sent with an aid group, of which they try and preach to people but find it extremely difficult. Christianity is illegal and having a church is illegal, and anyone who becomes a Christian is often taken away and never seen again. Nik and his wife really struggle with questioning what they are they doing there, is it right being here? Are they helping people?

Things get more unsettled in the country, and the Somali Civil War breaks out. His charity group requests the UN to come take action, and when they do send help, he is one of the people that helps map out the unknown areas of Somalia. I remember him describing the villages and the horror-but one really sticks in my mind. There was a village that was full of kids and had no parents and one of parents with no children, so they went and took the kids to the adults.

Also it was really hard to get the people in need the supplies as the leaders and soldiers would steal them and sell them or use them, and the people would continue to go hungry and without. War is sad and hard.

Ripken’s father didn’t care for him becoming a minister, but when Black Hawk Down came out, he was suddenly proud of his son telling all his friends that Ripken made that happen-the military going in.

The first part of the book was on his mission trip and they later were moved out of Somalia into South Africa, but were moved again. A big milestone in their life and faith was when their son grew ill and because the conditions of their home they lived in aggravated it, their son died. After this, they became heartbroken and returned to the states.

They return to the United States and teach at a bible college to young adults going out into the missions but feel really mixed up. Did they help anyone? Going through trials and tribulations every day was hard and wore them out-how do they keep people going? How do they bloom, survive, and keep going when everything is bleak, when it would be easier to give up and go home?

Ripken then goes on a quest to get this information, to speak to people who have had to go to trials and survived still praising God.

There were two incidents in the quest that really struck me, and I can’t remember their names exactly-but I remember pieces.

The first one took place in Russia. This man was jailed during the communist reign, when Christianity was outlawed and the only religion allowed was the worship of the state. He was thrown in jail-often in isolation, but the thing that kept him going was writing down the word of God. He wrote verse after verse that he remembers, helping to lock it in his brain. The beatings, isolation, lack of food, cold, etc-it was all bearable when he could get a scrap and write something down. That is what got him through.

Ripken later goes to China and their he mets several secret churches, as the church is illegal there. These Christians actually delight in getting thrown in jail or having tribulations, as they feel that is a real marker of being a Christian and consider that is when they go to “school” and recieve their “theological education”. Before anyone can be a pastor they have to have been thrown in prison.

When Ripken leaves he asks what they need and all they want is bibles, a bible. He gives them his and they take the pieces apart and hand them off to different people so they have a book to memorize, and it reminded of how they memorized books in Fahrenheit 451.

It also makes me think of how lucky we are in the United States, how many bibles are available in my home, in my parent’s home, for free, online, in a phone app, etc-and here are people begging for a page.

Wow!

The rest of the book has different stories-and I enjoyed it. It defintely made you realize how lucky you are to be in the United States and how grateful we should be for everything we have, even in the midst of COVID-19.

At the end of the book, I concluded that the insanity was not in reference to God, him being insane, but how we feel as humans. We can only comprehend so much of what God’s plan is with our tiny human brain-it seems insane, but God has a plan for us-a bigger picture.

Hmmm…

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

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

For more nonfiction, go to The History of England By a Partial Prejudiced and Ignorant Historian or is Jane Austen a Precursor to Drunk History?

For more bible verses, go to Literary Tea Parties

A Goblin in My Mailbox

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow.

Mystery, you say?

So I had wanted to start the year off posting my review of the next Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mystery/ Jane Austen mystery, but didn’t get time to edit it.

My life motto right there…

I wasn’t sure what to do-when the problem was solved for me…with a mysterious package.

Ready for any case

I went to my mailbox and had a large envelope from a company I hadn’t heard of. I thought it was odd, but realized it might be a gift from a friend and they sent it from the company they purchased it from.

I opened the package and was freaked out!!!!!!!!!!! What the heck?????!!!!!!!!!

G is for goblin who lives in the mirror, when I am quiet it sneaks even nearer

I then screamed internally for like five minutes.

I then continued to open the package and relaxed. It is a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

I received a “notice” from a bank that they have been cleaning records and discovered a safe deposit box from a client that wants to remain anonymous. If they did not collect their items in a certain amount of time it was to be forwarded to me.

The items from 27 East Heath Road included:

  • 1 Set of Personal Notes
  • 1 Set of Letters
  • 1 Mourning Card
  • 1 Child’s Drawing and Poem
  • 1 Page from an Orphanage’s Records
  • 1 Notice of Foreclosure Upon a London House
  • 1 Photograph

The note also has a warning:

“When I was growing up in London, the property at 27 East Heath Road was known as ‘The House of Death’. No one was ever sure of exactly what happened there, but it was infamous as  dark and dangerous place.”

That house sounds like this one:

The story is set in 1873 where amazing architect Henry Griggs happily designs his dream house for him, his wife, and his family. But all did not go well…

Griggs starts building his dream home, but things are…strange. Unexplained things happen, items moved, a spooky feeling is over all the workers, his foreman leaves frightened, and even his wife is saying there is a evil spirit.

Laura Griggs passes away and Griggs starts to go off the deep end-his notes/memorandum gets crazier and harder to read.

Something is going wrong. The plans change from what Griggs wrote to someone else modifying them, but if not him-then who?

Hmm…

The house is almost complete, but Griggs has descended into some kind of madness.

“The madness in the walls must not escape…I fear I shall be gone altogether…I fear harm may come to her [Lizzy]  if she is not sent to safety.”

You’re crazy!
Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

So he fires Coldfield, and sets up his daughter in an orphanage with a trust when she is of age. Coldfield is against this as he would like to take Lizzy if Griggs is unable, but alas he does not and Lizzy goes into the orphanage, (as shown on the list). Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Or is it?!

There are also some marks, like some kind of cipher. But I need more clues to figure it out.

I’m on the case!

Here is everything together.

For more wonderful mail, go to Northanger Soapworks Review

For more mysteries, go to The Last Puzzle: The Last Christmas, Shadow Island Mysteries (2010)