Midnight in Austenland

Day 10) J is for Jane Austen: Choose a book based on, a sequel to, or a retelling of one of Jane Austen’s works

So I know I said I wasn’t going to review one of Austen’s works as that isn’t really fair as I talk about her books all the time.

reading Jane Austen

But I never said anything about a retelling!

Go on...

Go on…

So I’m going to review my absolute favorite out of all the books I have read so far.

Austenland

Midnight in Austenland (Austenland #2) by Shannon Hale

So I one day I was going through Goodreads and looking at if any authors I liked had published anything new. I really enjoyed reading Shannon Hale, and thought Austenland was pretty good except for a few things, so when I saw that she did a sequel I decided to check it out.

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I got the book and started reading it…but then I couldn’t stop.

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I became so invested, I actually snuck it into my History of American Music class and read it instead of listening to the jazz music.

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This book was AMAZING!!!!!

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It had Austen and mystery, both things I love!

Put my crime-solving cap on.

Putting on my crime-solving cap on.

I just adored every page of it and didn’t want it to end.

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So the book is a sequel, but you don’t have to read them together or in sequence. While the place they visit, Pembrook Park, is the same; the characters and story lines are new and different.

While the other book focused on Pride and Prejudice this one went more Northanger Abbey; something I appreciate as it just doesn’t get enough love.

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Charlotte Constance Kinder is a nice woman. So nice no one thought she would live an interesting or adventurous life. But you know what Austen says about that.

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Charlotte went to school, met a nice man named James, married him and had two kids; and then did the unexpected. She created a website, sold it for an outrageous profit, and started another one.

Wow

Wow

She bought nice things for her, her husband, their kids. Everything seemed fine, but then it turned out her husband was cheating on her and wanted to leave her for another woman.

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Fast-forward, he is remarried and living with his new wife receiving alimony from Charlotte. And Charlotte is alone, left to pick up the pieces of her life.wantYoutoStay

She starts dating A LOT!. Anyone and everyone her friends and friends’ husbands toss her way; but nothing feels good or right.

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Besides being worried about her own self and issues, she starts to worry about her daughter. Will she make all kinds of horrible mistakes, have “Daddy issues,” or go looking for love in all the wrong places?

Not good

Not good

She makes a really bad decision to have a private investigator follow her daughter’s boyfriend around, and even tries it herself; convinced that he is going to hurt her. After her daughter says she she doesn’t remember what it was like being her age, Charlotte decides that her daughter is right.

I'm crazy

I’m crazy

That Easter she goes home and digs through her old items that her mom saved and tries to look into her teenage mind. She finds a diary and on the first page is a list she made.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE I’M 30

  • Get married [✓]
  • Have a baby [✓✓]
  • Walk in high heels without wobbling [✓]
  • Climb Kilimanjaro…
  • Understand Physics [✓ish]
  • Help save the whales or other animals in danger [✓]
  • Read Jane Austen…?

Charlotte couldn’t remember why she wanted to read Jane Austen, but the next weekend the kids are with their father, and Charlotte devotes the weekend to reading

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And she reads and reads and reads. And before you know it, she is a hardcore fan.

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And caught in the Austen cycle like us all.

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Charlotte’s sister-in-law Shelby convinces her to take a vacation when the kids are with their dad for the summer. The only place Charlotte wants to go is into Austen’s books

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And luckily we have just the thing…Austenland.

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Yes, for a few weeks Charlotte will leave, breathe, and be Regency woman. And at the end of her time there is a big ball.

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And possibly a proposal…

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Charlotte is sold on it, packs up her stuff, and flies out ready to dive into her fantasy.

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As Charlotte is a “quality guest”, i.e. rich, she gets the best treatment and the gold standard in clothes, transportation, etc. Charlotte takes on the character “Mrs. Charlotte Cordial”, a widow with two kids. In this story, Charlotte doesn’t have to go it alone but has a “brother”, Edmund Grey.

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Besides him there are two other ladies, Miss Elizabeth Charming (from the previous book) and Miss Lydia Gardenside. And then there are two other men who will come to call on them: Colonel Andrews and Mr. Thomas Mallery who is…

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Charlotte meets the ladies and enjoys Miss Charming, but is shocked to see that Miss Gardenside is none other than the famous pop sensation, Alisha. What is she doing here?

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So their days at Austenland begin and one of the reasons I like Charlotte better than Jane Hayes, the heroine of the last book, is that Charlotte embraces her love of Austen and goes full force into it.

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That day the Colonel has a surprise, they are going on a trip to an old crumbling abbey! What mysteries await them?

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As they journey in twos, the phaeton holds only that umber, with Charlotte with Mr. Mallery. Mr. Mallery is very intense and lives and breathes being the Regency gentleman. When two backpackers come upon them he isn’t threatening but so forceful that he causes the pair to run off like frightened rabbits.

And run fast

And run fast

When they reach the Abbey it turns out there us a dark tale that goes with the old ruins:

Three hundred years ago (~1520) the abbey was home to twenty-one nuns, an abbess, and one novice. They worked in the kitchen garden, growing healing herbs, kept goats and chickens; everything was peaceful until one January night.

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The sisters made dinner as usual and sat down to eat. The abbess was getting older and not feeling well, so after she made the tea she blessed the meal and went to lie down. She rose an hour later to do chapel prayers, but found all the nuns dead!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The abbess went through trying to find one that was alive. There were no wounds on the body, but all’s pulses had ceased. All except Mary Francis, the novice.

The next morning, the abbess awoke to find that Mary Francis had cleaned up from dinner, and laid all the nuns out, covering them with blankets.

No one was ever hanged for the deaths…the bodies were buried, the abbey abandoned, and the abbess went to live with a niece and succumbed to dementia. But she was known to cry out: “Either she saw who did it or she did it herself.”

Mary Francis was an orphan and after the deaths wandered from house to house as a trying to work as a servant, but the suspicion around her past always pushed her on. Some believe ghosts still haunt the area….

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The last place she went she worked for a few years, and they say uncanny things happened. The place she worked? Pembroke Park.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At first they don’t believe the house is old enough for the story to be true, but Mr. Mallery corrects them. He is second cousin to the Wattlesbrooks and says that parts of the houses go back that far. Sadly he would have inherited the grand old house, but his grandfather lost it in a card game.

Aw, man.

Aw, man.

Colonel Andrews says that that isn’t the end of the story, he has an old text that they may read and reveal all.

I love it!

I love it!

Charlotte is enjoying Pembrooke Park because she doesn’t have the strain of having to do the work. As her “brother” Edmund pointed out, she is here to have fun and relax, Mr. Mallery and the others have to work to impress her. It is a nice feeling after all those blind dates and trying to put on a show that you are okay; all you have to be is yourself or your character and the others have to do the real work.

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The group has a picnic in which Colonel Andrews reads from the diary of Mrs. Kerchief, the housekeeper three hundred years ago, and supervisor of the newly arrived servant, Mary Francis.

(I’m just going to paraphrase as it would take to long to write word for word)

“Hired the new scullery maid, Mary. No one else will hire her because what happened. I don’t care what happened in her past as long as she is ready to work.

Coal is running low and they seem to be burning more and more these past weeks. Simon says that it is Mary, she bring the cold with her. Nonsense. Still…she sleeps in the room next to mine and at night I hear noises I have never heard before. It wakes me up”

Gilmore girls creep

Mr. Mallery “Regency” flirts with her and Charlotte finds herself surprisingly enjoying every minute of it.

When they return to the house, Miss Gardenside retires as she is suffering from “consumption” (is it really or something else? Maybe withdrawal?). Miss Charming and Charlotte are still psyched from the mystery and decide to search the house.

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However, the only thing they stumble upon is a maid dressing. No clues, no bodies, no nothing.

Before Divorce: When Charlotte first started her website it was just to be a hobby. She liked growing plants, she often helped others, and decides that it would be nice to have a place people could go for inexpensive custom residential landscaping. They weren’t as grand as those who would visit the place and see it, but her designs based off a questionnaire they answered were cheaper and still beautiful. People loved it. She had to hire employees, and revenue increased crazily, and she made her first million.

That night they are having dinner toasting to each other when who should walk in, Sir John.

That guy!

That guy!

This is the only thing that enhances if you read the previous book, but like I said it is not necessary. You quickly learn why we hate this guy. Sir John is Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s husband and he doesn’t care about the park or their home. All he does is drink, gamble, and take any of Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s money away. He also tries to hit on the women, and doesn’t take no for an answer. In the last book, they had to cart him off as he was causing problems.

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This time he goes by Mr. Wattlesbrook instead of Sir John, and is dressed in modern day clothing instead of Regency wear. It unsettles everyone, but Colonel Andrews tries to bring them back to 1820.

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That night they are interrupted of their sleep. As they go outside they see firetrucks and that Pembrooke Cottage, (the one Miss Amelia Heartwright stayed in, in the last book) has been burned. Mr. Wattlesbrook has no remorse even though he started the fire.

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Mr. Mallery has a bucket by his feet, as he was trying to put out the fires. He is furious that the cottage went as it was his inheritance. Now that is the character’s motivation, but he seems as if he is really upset, the man behind the character.

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The next day Charlotte continues her search of the house. She really has become invested in the mystery and wants to find clues.  After a finding nothing and a game of croquet, she goes to Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s office to call her children.

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This does not go well at all. Her daughter finds out she had hired a private detective to follow her boyfriend.

ouch Hermione

Her son doesn’t want to talk to her.

Not good

Not good

She finds out from Justice, the new wife, that her son called her mom.

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Not a good call at all.

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Charlotte decides to snoop through the office and discovers that Windy Nook and Bertram Hall properties were sold off, foreclosed, and contained a series list of debts. She sees the former casts and notices that Mr. Mallery used to be in all of them. Mrs. Wattlesbrook is a very smart businesswoman, so it is clear that the one who caused the trouble is Mr. Wattlesbrook.

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The next day rained all night and morning. The group play charades and a card game that involves running about.

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But after the men leave to do whatever they do, maybe a break room, the women are embroidering.

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They are interrupted by the return of Mr. Wattlesbrook, who once again is dressed in modern clothes and tries to get in with Charlotte.

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The men come and try to carry him off. Miss Charming thinks it is a part of the “experience”, but Charlotte doesn’t think that Mrs. Wattlesbrook would do such a “messy” plot.

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Hmm…

That night is stormy, spooky, gray…

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Just perfect for reading more about the mystery of the nuns, the diary of Mrs. Kerchief!

I hear sounds in Mary’s room at night. It sounds like a pacing or scraping. It is unnerving and I want to talk to her, but in the morning Mary Francis is so tired I can’t say a word. The girl Betsy who used to room with her took off and never came back to get her money. The cook says she feels a cold wind around her…

The lights go out and all they have are firelight. They decide to play a game called Bloody Murder, with Mrs. Wattlesbrook going off to bed.

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They decide to play the game: the murderer has to hide in the house somewhere, after a count of fifty the rest hunt him out. The first to discover the murderer shouts, “bloody murder”, and all run after him. After that they all run off, and the murderer chases them. If he catches them, they fall down and the last one to “die” is the next murderer.

They draw straws and the short one leads Mr. Mallery to be the murderer.

One of the characters I love is Charlotte’s “brother”, Edmund. He is just so fun and fantastic, a real Mr. Tilney.

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Charlotte finds Mr. Mallery and ends up being the only one who has been touched. Now she is the next murderer.

She doesn’t want to walk and go around the house on her own. She is extremely scared and as she roams the dark halls she accidentally goes into a secret room. As she is searching the room for a way out, she finds a person laying on a chaise. She goes to touch them, feels the hand…they are dead!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She goes running out and finds the group telling them everything. They don’t believe her and can’t find the room. Charlotte is so incredibly freaked out, that Miss Charming can see that she needs a little care and asks if she wants to sleep in her bed for comfort.

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The next day, she starts questioning people trying to find out who the dead person was. Eddie goes to help her and they find the room but nothing but a fencing foil.

They leave for breakfast and run into Mary, Charlotte’s maid. Mary is really strange, always jumpy, and acting weird.

strange things are afoot at the circle k

She tries to tell Mrs. Wattlesbrook about the dead body, but she doesn’t believe her. She thinks it is just part of a game.

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Charlotte deduces that the dead body must be Miss Gardenside’s nurse or Mr. Wattlesbrook as they are the only two missing; and that it must be a part of the Colonel Andrews mystery as no one seems to care.

Eddie, Edmund, doesn’t believe that the murder is real, but helps Charlotte investigate. He is hilarious and I just love him. Forget Mr. Mallery with his brooding, smirking is so much better.

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After Divorce: Justice, James’ mistress, sends Charlotte an invite, can you believe that? An invite!!!

Charlotte worries about how the divorce affects the kids but James doesn’t care. He says that 50% of marriage end in divorce. Here are statistics that matter to Charlotte.

-James saw the children 75% less than before

-He missed 85% of their afterschool woes

-He was absent for 99% of their family dinners

-100% of Charlotte’s marriage ended

That night they read the diary:

Mary and I were shelling peas. Mary has been here for three months and doesn’t seem as if she can settle down. All the other hands treat her horribly but all Mary does is pray. Why does she pray so much? For other or her own soul?

The next day Charlotte picks up her search with Eddie. They go back to the room, but find nothing but a glove, a washing dishes type of glove. Is that part of it?

suspicious Hmm

Charlotte drops it as she thinks it is nothing. Eddie picks up fencing foils and the two duel before lunch.

You're so cute

Even though everyone has forgotten the game, Charlotte still thinks that someone might be after her, but who?

Gilmore girls creep

The next day Charlotte goes riding with Mr. Mallery. They stop a while so Charlotte can call her kids, but no answer. She tries her husband, no answer. Charlotte spends the rest of the night worried about them and that something happened. The next day she finds out their phones were dead.

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The next day Charlotte decides to write her kids a letter. Eddie joins her and consoles her over her missing her kids. He shares about his daughter and that he misses her as he hardly gets to see her. They start writing and Charlotte wonders if Julia exists, but Eddie is writing a long letter to someone.

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After the letter writing, Eddie goes over the dances, as “their mother” was a dance instructor. They have such fun, with Mallery interrupts them. They go for a walk, but are found by Colonel Andrews who tells them he has a great passage for tonight.

Everyone is mean to Mary. They start chanting “What do you know of our Mary? Twenty-one nuns did she bury.” We were working outside when there was a howl and they saw something white and filmy, floating. It had a horrible screeching voice that shouted “Leave innocent Mary alone. The nuns cannot rest when folk stain Mary’s name with lies.” Mary was the only one who wasn’t afraid, but continued her work.

Right after they read that, they see a ghost outside!

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They all run after it and try to find it, but the ghosts disappear.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

Charlotte is the only one who notices tire tracks on the ground, as if someone drove their car.

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The next morning, Charlotte takes Miss Charming and Miss Gardenside aside and tries to have them help her find the missing clue. They come across a painting of Saint Francis. Miss Charming spots it as a fake and they rip it open, finding a note written in lemon juice:

Among the dusty tomes stands

The work of the saint

And one girl’s confessions

Penned without constraints

They run to the library and find a book on St. Francis, in it is Mary’s tale. The nuns died accidentally. The abbess eyesight and memory was failing and she accidentally boiled yew, poisoning them.

OMG gasp

That answers one question, but what about everything else? What about the secomd mystery with the dead body? Then Charlotte gets a few more realizations:

  1. The Murderer approached the victim and had to lure them into that room, with an intent to kill.
  2. The victim was killed in a secret room and the body abandoned on the sofa, as whoever had to leave, and then return to move the body at a more convenient time.
  3. Charlotte finds the body in the room. The body was not smelly; so they were killed recently.
  4. Charlotte announces the find, but all claim to know zero about the room.
  5. Charlotte hears a thud in the middle of the night, below the secret room. Maybe someone tossed the body out the window?
  6. The next morning the body was gone.

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Before Divorce: Late nights “working”, phone calls from unlisted numbers, caller hangups, James never touching her, James staying out of town but spotted by a friend, lingerie in the closet not her size…etc. It is easier to solve someone else’s mystery than your own. Sometimes we see only what we want to see.

They only have three more days, only three more days to solve the case. Charlotte sees that Mrs. Hatchet, Miss Gardenside’s nurse, has returns and deduces that Mr. Wattlesbrook must be the murdered one. She questions the men about the night they removed him and they say that they put him in a room out of the way as he was incredibly wasted, Edmund punched him after he spoke nastily about the women, and the next day he was gone.

suspicious Hmm

Later Charlotte looks after Miss Charming as she seems out of sorts. Miss Charming was unhappy thinking of her former husband. She had married and helped her husband build up the business into millions, as she was the brains of the operation. She found him with a salesclerk, divorced him, and took off with the staggering alimony. She’s been running as she can’t go home and and face that she was dumped.

Broken Heart

Afterwards, Charlotte decides that with the limited time left, she can’t be messing around. She has searched everywhere for the body and there is only one place left, She and Eddie, the Watson to her Sherlock, head to the pond. She goes swimming to see what it may hold and finds a car submerged.

OMG gasp

They convince Mrs. Wattlesbrook to call the police and it turns out that Mr. Wattlesbrook is dead. Now the question is, which one of the guests is a killer!

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Could Mrs. Wattlesbrook have done it? Eddie? Colonel Andrews? Thomas Mallery? Miss Charming? Miss Gardenside? One of the staff?

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Charlotte realizes she doesn’t really know any of these people and any one of them could be a killer. And they may be after her next!

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So I won’t reveal the ending, as it was amazing. Shannon Hale just did a fantastic job.

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And that through the rest of her trip Charlotte learns her own worthiness.

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And is able to pick up to the strong person she used to be.

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I also just loved Eddie and thought he was just an amazing character. A real Mr. Tilney!

find mr.tilney

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

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For more by Shannon Hale, go to Austenland

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to Candy Girls

For more Northanger Abbey variations, go to Definitely Not Mr. Darcy

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

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

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As this is a book that goes to the past but is also modern, I thought the best carol would be What Child is This?

In 1865, William Chatterton Dix was an insurance company manager and became seriously ill. During this time he gave his life to Christ, writing this carol. He set it to the song Greensleeves which has been registered in 1580 by Richard Jones.

I have never been a fan of this song, I’m not sure why, until I heard the Josh Groban version, so that’s the one I went with.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted

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Austenland

So this isn’t part of our 30 Day challenge. I just felt I needed to post it as I wanted to review the sequel for the 30 Day challenge and I couldn’t do the second without the first! After this we will continue the 30 Day challenge.

Austenland

Austenland (Austenland #1) by Shannon Hale

I first read this book back in high school, I was a freshman or sophomore at the time. I really loved the premise of the book and most of the characters and thought the story was fantastic. I only had one issue, and that was with the main character Jane. I hadn’t really been in a relationship before I read this and I thought the main character was a bit…bonkers. She seemed to throw herself into “relationships” without them even dating, like Gigi in He’s Just NOT That Into You.

I then went on to read the sequel as soon as it was printed, Midnight in Austenland, and just fell in love with it. I thought it was amazing!

I love it

Then the film trailer came out for Austenland and it looked like it was to be mostly this first book, but have a few traits of the sequel that I loved. I was so excited.

FangirledWhenSeeingPreviewI tracked that film and when the release dates were changed, waited. And waited. And then when it wasn’t released in any theater near me, I waited some more for it to come out on DVD.

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I rented it as soon as it was out, watched it, and adored it from beginning to end!I thought it was sooo much better than the book.

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But then I began thinking…what if the book wasn’t as bad as I had thought it was? Maybe as an adult my perspective would change then when I was a teenager? It has been almost ten years (time flies!) since I last read it and decided it would be the perfect time to reread and review it (especially as I want to review the sequel but can’t until I review this one!)

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Austenland

Jane Hayes is obsessed with Jane Austen.

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She reads all of Austen’s books and watches the 1995 miniseries again and again.

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But unlike most fangirls, Jane is ashamed of her love. I don’t know why, I embrace mine.

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It goes for the rest of her work as well.

Anyways…Jane’s mom comes to visit with her great aunt Carolyn. Carolyn is super rich and her mother is trying to get her into the will. She hides her Austen items and DVD disc, (I proudly display mine), but Carolyn finds it.

clueless mybad oops

Carolyn waits until Jane’s mother goes to the restroom and warns her about Darcy, letting him in and taking over.

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Hey, I don’t see anything wrong for striving for a guy like that or any other Austen man. I don’t want to settle. I want someone special.

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Six months later, Aunt Carolyn dies and leaves something for Jane. She gets all excited dreaming about what she could buy or do with the money:

Good job screenwriters.

But it turns out she is not rich.

Reality Sucks

Instead she gets a three week paid vacation to go to Pembrook Park in England. There she is in a Regency Westworld (except no killer robots), dressing, talking, and acting as it it is 1816. There is no scripts or written endings, but there is a ball and you might meet your dream man there.

see cute guy look

Now they make it seem as if wanting to be with an equivalent of Darcy is a bad thing and that that love is to blame for her bad relationships but that’s not true she is crazy when it comes to relationships. She thinks every guy she has ever been with is her “boyfriend”, even when they haven’t even dated! Even when she just talks to them or thinks about dating them.

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She goes to the Park reading about all the rules they have to follow in that time period. In fact there are a lot of rules with the park as to what they can and cannot do.

She meets Mrs. Wattlesbrook who introduces her to what she will wear and introductory rules. She is now to go by the name Jane Erstwhile, instead of Hayes, and although they were supposed to change their ages and create this fake cover story; Jane wants to be real.

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So Jane finds out that she isn’t the usual type of client. Most of the time, like in Westworld, they have a ton of money. Unfortunately, Jane is not rich so she will not be treated special like the other two guests: Miss Elizabeth Charming and Miss Amelia Heartwright.

Really?

Really?

Jane has to get rid of all her modern items, although she secretly holds back her cell phone, and dress only in Regency wear.

AnatomyofaJaneite

She meets Theodore, the undergardener, who helps her learn the dances she’ll need to know for the ball.

under capricorn ball

Jane is ready and determined that this vacation is going to be great and she will conquer.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #1 Alex Ripley, 4 yrs

She was four years old, he kissed her, and he moved to Minnesota that summer, never to be seen again.

The next day is day one of Jane’s trip to Pembrook Park. She meets her “aunt” Saffronia and “uncle” Sir John Templeton who she will be staying with during her time there.

She meets Miss Elizabeth Charming who is a very wealthy, buxom, and “twenty-two” (fifty). She is extremely wealthy, recently divorced, and looking for a book happily ever after ending.

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The two then meet the men, the reason they are here. The first is the fair-haired, roguish, open man Colonel Andrews.

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And then we have Mr. Nobley: tall, dark, and brooding.

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You know how I like them!

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And Jane likes what she sees.

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Sir Templeton is pretty much just drunk all the time and not interesting. Colonel Andrews is a  lot of fun, and Nobley? Well…

DancingNotforme Darcy Pride and prejudice

Elizabeth Charming really wants one of the men and throws herself at both of them, making for some fun and interesting adventures.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #1 Justin Kimble, 12 yrs

They started “going out” in 4th grade when they shared Pixy Stix, scored each other as 1os, and gave each other Valentines. But then he chose another girl for the folk dance and it was over.

So this is a big part of my problem with Jane (Hayes). Those aren’t real relationships, she shouldn’t count them. She was just a child!

The next day she goes out for a walk and runs into Theodore. Even though they aren’t supposed to talk, as he is a servant, they do anyway. Theodore hates the Regency story and gives up on it, revealing his name is really Martin Jasper. Even though it is against the rules, Jane actually starts to like it. It is a secret, “bad”, and Martin is a nice connection to the real world.

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Jane starts to feel strange about this whole “fake Regency” thing, as if she can’t do it. Mr. Nobley and the Colonel see her grow pale and Nobley urges the Colonel to get her some water. There Jane and Nobley have a private conversation, where Jane tries to figure out how Mr. Nobley can pretend like this. Mr Nobley misunderstands her and becomes upset.  He tells her that she can’t play games and try to trap him.

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Later while the men are out doing their manly things, the women wait for Amelia Heartwright to call. They hope she won’t be attractive as it seems there isn’t enough men for everyone. She comes in, and you know how we girls are.

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Unfortunately, she is absolutely beautiful; but along with that she is very kind and hard to dislike. But Jane’s earlier dismay proves to be true as Mr. Nobley and Miss Heartwright appear to have had a history. With those two paired and the Colonel for Miss Charming; Jane is left alone with no one.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #2 Rudy Liev, 15 yrs

Rudy was hilarious and always cracking jokes, ones that were extremely harmful and unfunny. After four months of dating he told everyone when Jane kisses, she licks like a cat. He continued to make fun of her, the moniker “tiger tongue” staying with her even at her ten-year reunion.

After they break up, she reads Pride & Prejudice for the first time.

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Miss Charming won’t let herself be dominated or destroyed, and immediately snags both gentlemen for Whist after dinner. Miss Amelia makes up the fourth, leaving Jane out in the cold again.

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Which unfortunately sets her in Sir John’s drunken sights. He passes out, and tired of overhearing the lively conversation from the whist table, Jane decides to go out for a walk, major Austenland and Regency no no.

clueless mybad oops

Jane hears a TV and goes to it, being Martin’s  trailer. She overhears the Knick game and is invited inside. Things ensue, and before you know it they are making out. Jane leaves after their session and heads back to sneak into the house.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #3 Dave Atters, 16 yrs

Star of the high school basketball team and Jane was extremely infatuated with him. One night he tried to put his hand up her skirt, she refused, he dumped her.

Instead of blaming Dave she blamed Mr. Darcy for her high expectations of men.

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Dave was a jerk. High expectations have nothing her other than you fell for a guy who thought he was the best and didn’t want to take no for an answer.

You should have high expectations. You shouldn’t have been dating a jerk like him. Any guy who won’t respect you isn’t worth it.

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Every night she goes to see Martin and they make out, eat junk food, etc. She is bored with Regency things as she can’t stand to do any more of them.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

Uh, embroidery is not boring or easy. It is hard work and fun. I”ll have to post some of the things I’ve done.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #4 Ray Riboldi, 17 yrs

Ray was nice, and Jane decided after the last two boyfriends she wanted a nice guy. After a few months, two guys who’d been longtime friends played a prank involving Ray’s jeep and dog poop, telling him to stay away from pretty girls. He then retaliated to Jane believing she was the one to put them up to it.

Jane has horrible taste in me, but she can’t blame Austen for it. The men she are picking are the problem. Maybe you should befriend and get to know them instead of going into “dating” them.

She gets bored of relaxing during the day, which I don’t get. Two weeks in England, relaxing? Sounds good to me.

Let's go now!

Let’s go now!

She runs to see Martin, but he ends that, being offended that she is “one of those women” interested in Austen stuff and that she was with the other two men this morning. He’s a total jerk and Jane is upset as she came all this way, just for more disappointment.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #5 Rahim, 35 or 40 yrs

She meet him while working the perfume counter at age 19. He dates her for three weeks taking her to expensive restaurants, buying her gift; Jane almost fulfilling a cliché of being a “shopgirl”. I say almost because when he took her to her apartment and tried to sleep with her, she laughs and it ends.

Jane is depressed. She has no one, made a fool of herself going after Martin, and is still the fifth wheel. That night she turns down a game of whist and heads outside to walk again.

Saint Elmo's Fire Love sucks

Mr. Nobley surprises her, having come to check on her. He warns her about Martin, his protectiveness getting her all upset. Later she comes back in the house and sees the book Mr. Nobley always reads with a pay stub made out to a Henry Jenkins. Hmm? Could that be his real name?

Thinking Hmm

As she starts for her room, she comes upon a drunk Sir John who hits on her.

Uh no.

Uh no.

He tries to get with her, but she knees him in the groin and stops him.

No thank youhowaboutno

Mr. Nobley comes upon them, and lends a hand. Here he shows his other side, no longer brooding and distant, but actually charming funny, and dare I say…a delight.

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Jane is thoroughly disappointed in all that happened and decides no more nice-Jane. She is going to rock Austenland and be the best Regency lady ever.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #6 Josh Lake, 20 yrs

Met at a college carnival fundraiser when two groups of friends merged together. They get stuck in a ride and the fear and adrenaline make them start a relationship, but after three months they both know there is no pop to the relationship and break up.

Not Austen’s fault but Jane’s for letting the situation’s emotions create a false relationship and love. Like in Bones when Booth and Hannah get together.

The next morning, Jane pulls out her smuggled cell phone and emails a friend for info on Martin Jasper and Henry Jenkins, hoping to unearth the real person under the mask.

That morning the men are out of town, which upsets Miss Charming. She didn’t dole out the big bucks to be ignored or play second fiddle to Miss Heartwright.. She goes to speak to Mrs. Wattlesbrook and straighten out what her vision of Austenland is.

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Jane, bored, goes to visit Miss Heartwright. She doesn’t really want to, but as this is something Emma would do, she’s in the game.

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When the two ladies return to the park, they have an unexpected visitor! Miss Heartright’s jilted lover has returned, a Mr. George East who has recently become Captain. Miss Heartwright takes off, and Jane rings for a maid to show Captain East to his room.

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Hmm…so now we have three ladies and three men. But who goes with who? And will Jane get the dream proposal promised?

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #6.5 Paul Diaz, 20

She meet him in a watercolor class, sort of talked believing they clicked, but when she asked him out; he didn’t even know who she was.

At dinner Jane flirts as widely as she can, staying in Regency fashion. She throws Mr. Nobley out as it seems Miss Charming and Miss Heartwright care for him. Instead she tries to kill the Captain and the Colonel with her charm.

Emma

That night Jane, the Captain, and Colonel stay out of cards and tease Mr. Nobley. The teasing goes a little too far with Jane giving a short rant on the men of the day:

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And Mr. Nobley has a longer rant about women. Clearly he has some wounds.

ouch Hermione

They then dance with East taking Heartwright and the Colonel paired with Miss Charming. Jane is left all alone until Mr. Nobley steps up and asks her for a dance.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND 7 Juan Inskeep, 25 yrs

Gay.

The next morning the men are out “shooting”, Miss Charming is upset and heads out to see Miss Heartwright, so Jane goes upstairs to check her email. Nothing on Martin Jasper but she hit the motherlode on Henry Jenkins. He studied theater and history at Cambridge, and four years ago was in a crazy divorce. He was very calm but recounted how when his wife cheated on him with a neighbor, he forgave her; when she sold his car to pay for a wild weekend in Monaco, he forgave her; but when she shish-kabobed his fish because he said he wanted kids: that’s when he decided the relationship needed to end. Sounds like a modern-day Mr. Rochester with a crazy, cruel wife.

She is crazy!

She is crazy!

Later in the library, she overhears the Colonel’s proposal to Miss Charming. One man down and two left to go. The game is on!

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #8 Bobby Winkle, 23 yrs

They started as friends and moved on to dating. The relationship lasted six months and then he left for an internship Guatemala. He returned six months later and never called.

The next day they play croquet. Andrews and Miss Charming, Nobley and Miss Heartwright, & Jane and Captain East. Jane doesn’t mind being with Captain East as he is not only attractive but as bad at croquet as she is.

However, she notices that Mr. Nobley keeps staring and watching her. And even more she realizes that she cares what Mr. Nobley thinks about her.

OMG gasp

The game is interrupted when Mrs. Wattlesbrook drives up. They found Jane’s cellphone and she is to be kicked out of Austenland.

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She goes to get in the carriage upset that the men didn’t stand up for her. Before she gets in, they are interrupted by Miss Heartwright. She claims that it is her phone, she accidentally brought it, and that Jane was holding it for her. Because Miss Heartwright is so wealthy, they let her pass.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #9 Kevin Hyde, 27 yrs

She loved him. They dated for almost two years, Jane even went wedding dress shopping, but one day he told her he wanted to end it. He said it was too hard and that he wasn’t having fun.

The next day Miss Heartwright and Mr. Nobley are going horseback riding. They invite Jane, who determined not to be a third wheel, invites Mr. East. As they ride she tries to have intimate time to flirt, but Mr. Nobley keeps messing things up when he separates them. He eventually makes up Jane looking poorly, and sends the other two on ahead.

That guy!

That guy!

Jane is angry with Nobley for messing things up, but then he relays that Miss Hearwright asked him to intervene and give them a few minutes alone to talk about their past.

clueless mybad oops

She and Nobley start talking and he manages to trick her into revealing something personal, her love of painting and her old dream. They are interrupted by East, but later that evening she finds a package for her. When she opens it, it is oil paints, an easel, and canvas.

How sweet!

How sweet!

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #10 Peter Sosa, 29 yrs

She met Peter in the work elevator. They dated for five weeks and he was perfect. She started to dream only to have that crash down when he revealed that he was already dating someone. His girlfriend bet him he couldn’t make the next girl fall in love with him, and the little game went too far.

The next day is rainy and Jane spends the morning painting. She’d rather not tear herself away, but does as she knows she needs human contact after all that time alone.

She goes to the library to read and is met by Mr. Nobley. He reads the book to her, but it is too boring they cannot continue.

The Colonel wants to do a play, but they would need Mr. Nobley and he refuses. However, after Martin approaches and tries to re-romance Jane, Mr. Nobley tries to warn Jane against him once again. Jane finds herself falling for him, and promises to stay away from Martin if Mr. Nobley performs in the play.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #11 Clark Barnyard, 23 yrs

He was a younger man and someone she worked with. They joked and flirted for months when he asked her out finally. They start kissing when he tries to get her clothes off. She had to tell him no four times before he stopped, confused as to why they weren’t going to have sex.

This wasn’t even a real boyfriend! They went on one date! Jane is a tad delusional.

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Mr. Nobley continues to look and watch Jane. They run off together to practice their parts, and actually break a few Regency rules with proximity.

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Jane feels secure in having Mr. Nobley at her ending. But as they talk she remembers the ball is in two days and the vacation ends in three. It will all be over soon. 😦

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They come upon a tender moment of Captain East and Miss Heartwright. While they talk about love and whether it can be done under fiction; Mr. Nobley reveals he had a “friend” who was heartbroken but if you asked him now, “he” might be opening his heart again to another.

Is it a "friend" or him?

Is it a “friend” or him?

They perform two hours later, badly, but something happens with Mr. Nobley. They way he looks at her, kissed her cheek…it seems more than just a part. But that’s silly it can’t be…real?

Could it?

Could it?

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #12 Tad Harrison, 35 yrs

They were engaged after a year, adopted a dog, and picked out baby names. But he wouldn’t set a date. A year later, they take a break and Tad starts sleeping around. He kept the dog.

The next day, Jane paints all morning. After spending the whole morning alone, she goes out looking for the men. There are only two days left!

She sees the Colonel talking to someone out of sight  and overhears that the Colonel has to get back to work, only to see it is her! Disgusted Jane goes back to her room and starts painting again.

Men?

Men

Later that evening, Mr. Nobley takes her aside and asks her about her painting. They spend a long time as Jane shares her feelings of painting, the things she has been doing; just going on and on. Mr. Nobley smiles through the whole thing and asks to see her paintings.

How sweet!

How sweet!

He compliments her work and then leaves. But then returns to ask her to reserve the first two dances for him.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #12.5 Jake Zeiger, 30ish yrs

Her neighbor that she saw every time she gets her mail. She tries to ask him out, but he turns her down as he never saw her as anything but neighbor.

This was not her boyfriend either! Just in her head!

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The ball comes and Jane is dressed elegantly. She is approached by Martin, dressed up as an extra, who tries to get the first two dances, but Nobley interferes, whirling her away.

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Eventually they break way from the group and Mr. Nobley asks for her hand in marriage. Jane is upset at the faux love and walks away, deciding Mr. Darcy is not for her but she needs a “real man.”

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She runs off to find Martin, as he is “real”.

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They make plans to meet up the next day and for Jane to rearrange her schedule and get a few extra days in England.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #13 Jimmy Rimer, 38 yrs

They walked the same path every day in central park for five months. Then Jimmy snorted when laughing, and Jane avoided him.

The next day she says good-bye to Miss Charming and she and Miss Heartwright head out. It turns out Miss Heartwright is not British as they thought. She is a rich wife who comes out annually to have some fun. She shares that it was Mr. Nobley’s idea to save Jane from being thrown out, asking her to pretend it was her phone.

OMG gasp

After Jane dresses in her old clothes returning her Regency wear, Mrs. Wattlesbrook lets her know that Martin is an actor. He was picked for her but had to be taken out if circulation when thinks got too heated.

What jerks

What jerks

Jane is so angry at them making a fool of her, picking a gardner as her match instead of any gentleman because she’s poor and not an “ideal” client.

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Jane lies about her magazine, pretending she is a staff writer, threatening Mrs. Wattlesbrook and having a ton of fun making her sweat.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #14 Martin of Sheffield, 29 yrs

An actor posing as a gardener, who posed as a gentleman on the Austenland estate.

Jane heads to the airport: angry, sad, and feeling foolish. As she is thinking to herself, she hears in the airport:

Paging Miss Jane Erstwhile

Is it Mr. Nobley?! Did he comes after her?

Double double yay

No. It is Martin.

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He was sent by Mrs. Wattlesbrook to mend things. He tries a few lines, but Jane sees right through them all.

No thank youhowaboutno

But then the most surprising thing happens. A man dressed in Regency wear approaches! It is Mr. Nobley.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

He tell her that he loves her! He got caught up in the role and gave her the same old proposal he always does, the Darcy proposal. But he truly does love her. Being with her was different than being with anyone else.

lovedyou Persuasion

Martin and him fight, calling each other names; but Jane is just done with it all. She boards her plane saying good-bye.

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On the plane, she is surprised to see that Mr. Nobley has bought a ticket and will be joining her on her flight. She questions why Mrs. Wattlesbrook would go that far, but he tells her she didn’t send him. He came on his own, he Henry Jenkins. In fact, Mrs. Wattlesbrook never sent him to go after Jane, not at the park and not now.

Wow

He knows she has no money, he never heard the article rumor, and bought the ticket even though he is deeply afraid of flying to prove his love. He tells her that if it is too much he can wait, if they just start out slow and then see where it takes them.

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But then he says he lied.

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Ah snap, knew it. It was too perfect.

Reality Sucks

He tells her that he doesn’t want a fling. For him it is all or nothing and he is throwing himself at her feet.

How sweet!

How romantic!

And then this part, this is the best:

“But wait, stop, it’s not supposed to end this way! You’re the fantasy, you’re what I’m leaving behind. I can’t pack you up and take you with me.’

‘That was the most self-centered thing I’ve ever heard you say.’

Jane blinked. ‘It was?’

‘Miss Hayes, have you stopped to consider that you might hav this all backward? That in fact you are my fantasy?”

How sweet!

How sweet!

Present: Boyfriend #15 Henry

Jane is taking this relationship one day at a time and no longer seems to be ashamed of her Pride and Prejudice love.

In the end Jane does the one thing everyone dreams of, she gets a “real” Mr. Darcy.

Don't Stop Believing!

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So I liked the novel, the only issue I really had was Jane’s feeling ashamed at being an Austen fan. I just don’t get it and it made her less likeable. I also didn’t like how she complained about her vacation or blamed her horrible choices in men on Austen. Those things were corrected in the sequel and film which is why I liked them better.

But the end was just perfect. It was incredibly romantic and just the type of thing we dream of. Hale sure knows how to write

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For more by Shannon Hale, go to I Found this Blank Book of Stitched Together Pages…I’ll Record the Details of Our Confinement: Book of a Thousand Days

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to The Bend and Snap

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Meet Cute: Darcy & Elizabeth Style

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So even though this isn’t a part of our scheduled posting, as it is a post in the first 25 days of December I am going to add a Christmas Carol.

Today’s song is one that my sister loves and used to play all the time. It is On This Very Christmas Night or Christmas Canon by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

This song was published in 1998 and strayed from rock to being in the form of a children’s choir. It is a great song, but once played remains in your head forever.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to You Will Be Haunted By Three Spirits: A Christmas Carol

I Found this Blank Book of Stitched Together Pages…I’ll Record the Details of Our Confinement: Book of a Thousand Days

Day 4) D is for Diary: Choose a novel or memoir in Diary form

Now I’ve never really been a diary person, whether writing or reading. In fact I had a diary when I was younger and on every page the only thing I wrote was “I wish I had a cat,” then going on to describe what I wanted the cat to look like and then ending every entry with “I hope my sister doesn’t find my diary and read it.”

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So diaries, yeah were not all that interesting to me. I thought that I never did anything worth writing down or when I was older couldn’t find the right words to express what I was feeling or thinking. And the same goes for reading diaries. A lot of times I found them hard to get into.

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The only ones I really cared for were the Dear America or the Royal Diary book series; but even that only went so far. And besides, I only read them as I really liked history.

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So I started to think what book to use when I suddenly remembered a book in a diary format that I just adored:

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Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

I was first introduced to Shannon Hale when I stumbled onto her junior/young adult fiction book, The Princess Academy in the stacks at my local library years ago.

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I thought it was so good that I decided to read her other books as well (and purchase my own copy of the book, plus two for young ladies I know). I liked The Goose Girl, thought Austenland had some great parts to it (will be reviewing soon), but really fell in love with Midnight in Austenland and Book of a Thousand Days.

So Book of a Thousand Days is based on the fairy tale “Maid Maleen” by the Brothers Grimm. The story is that of “true bride”; one bride is false while the other was the one who was truly promised to the prince to be married, having to do tasks or try to prove her claim. Now while her work is based on this, the story is just so phenomenal. I don’t know how such a small tale could inspire her to create this amazing book.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

but that’s enough going on with how great the book is, let’s get into the story!

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Don't fall.

Part I: The Tower

So the story takes place in a world not unlike ours but really has no exactly recognizable Earthly location or time period.

The place is the Eight Realms, of which lords and ladies rule. Between the Norther Wastelands and the Southern desert we have Vera’s Blessing, Carthen’s Prayer, Pride of Nibus, Goda’s Second Gift, Thoughts of Under, Titor’s Garden, Song for Evela, and Beloved of Ris. All realms are named after the different gods and goddess in the pantheon the people worship.

In the middle of the realms is the Sacred Mountain and the Steppes, the place our main character comes from, but not exactly where the tale begins. As this is a diary format, we begin in the middle and have to stop to go back to the beginning.

So the book begins with Day 1; Dashti and Lady Saren are  being shut up in a tower for seven years.

What

What

I know, immediately you find yourself sucked in. What? Why?

what what'shappeningSupernatural

Lady Saren’s father is bricking them in and has placed guards outside to make sure the girls can’t leave. He has decided that this is the right punishment for Saren’s disobedience. He has left enough food in there to last seven years (hopefully), upon a certain date they will be allowed out once again.

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Lady Saren’s father is the ruler of Titon’s Garden and has turned an old lookout tower into their prison. Lady Saren just spends her time crying, shrieking, and always saying she is hungry. Dashti is Saren’s maid and after the last few years of harsh living on the Steppes she is amazed and grateful for the bounty that has been given to them, although saddened at losing the sky.

There is so much food in the tower, more than Dashti has ever seen in her life, with milk delivered everyday by the guards, and tons of parchment so Dashti can write her story.

Thinking Hmm

On Day 11 we are given the story of their predicament. Dashti was raised as a Mucker on the Steppes. Muckers are herders who live with the sheep, yaks, etc.; in harsh muddy and rocky conditions. Her father died when she was a baby and her brothers abandoned the family when she was eight. She and her mother did all they could the next seven years to survive; earning enough for food mostly by living on the outskirts of society and through the healing songs they sing.

After her mother died, Dashti came to the city to try and find work, being unable to survive without a clan in the Steppes. She was taken to be trained as a lady’a maid where she learned reading, writing, sums, etc. The day she graduates from this training, and takes the oath of servitude,  she goes to Lady’s Saren’s to be her maid and fins herself being taken along on this tower punishment.

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Lady Saren’s father wishes her to marry the Lord Khaser, ruler of Thoughts of Under, and was furious to find out that she had betrothed herself to Khan Tegus of Song for Evela. Wanting to crush his daughter’s will he decides to imprison her in the tower.

What jerks

What jerks

Dsahti tries to help her mistress, but none of the songs help. Everyday Saren lives in mortal fear of Lord Khaser? But why?

suspicious Hmm

One day Khan Tegus comes to see them. Dashti tries to get Saren to talk to him, but she refuses as she is too frightened. She sends Dashi in her place as it turns out not only have the two not seen each other since they were much younger, but have only conversed in letters.

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He’s never heard her voice really, so he won’t recognize Dashti as an impostor. They communicate through the flap the girls receive their milk in, but the way it is makes it impossible to be seen.

Dashti has no idea how gentry speak to each other as she has grown up on the Steppes, but just is herself. Never feeling special as she was born with red splotches along the side of her face and arm, nonetheless she has a beautiful and kind spirit:

TrueBeautyWhoYOuAre

She also has a fun nature which harmonizes with Tegus perfectly.

He wants to rescue the women but knows that if he did it would bring a war between the two,  and he’d rather not fight Saren’s father and brother. Instead, Khan Tegus stays for several days and speaks to Dashti at night when the guards are asleep.  Their relationship is so adorable I just love it. Ship is locked, loaded and has sailed.

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Both characters love to laugh, and as Tegus loves Dashti’s laugh he continues to try and bring it.

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Dashti can hear in Tegus’ voice that he has an old wound that ails him and sings him a mucker song. No one knows why, but these songs have a way of creating relief in others, a balm of deep healing for their wound or worry. Of course it doesn’t work for everyone as you have to both be open to the Mucker singing to you and be open about what your true wound is, whether it goes deeper than just a physical injury.

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Khan Tegus must return home, although he is extremely reluctant to do so, as he wants to not only stay, but free his love (which as you can guess is rapidly becoming Dashti over the true Lady Saren). He must go, but before he leaves, he gives Dashti a kitten; and in return Dashti gives him her shirt.

How cute

How cute

As they days go on, the girls talk about memories and history to amuse themselves. Dashti remembers when a shaman stayed with them once, and how he had he power to shape shift into a fox, while Saren counters with telling Dashti that once the realms were united under one Khan, who’s seat of power was Song for Evela. But now all are broken up with individual rulers, Khan Tegus being called Khan is a continuance of title from those days. This opens up Dashti’s mind as so little education into history is given on the Steppes.

The days pass with very little happening, until Day 158. Lord Khaser comes and threatens the girls; his voice and demeanor being truly terrifying. Here is an incredibly scary villain, one of the most frightening, sadistic, and cruel.

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On day 223 Lord Khaser returns. When Saren once again refuses to marry him he throws fiery chips. The girls have to run and try to put them out before they are cooked.

Not good

Not good

Lord Khaser tells them that Saren must agree to marry him now and leave with his troops or will have to wait out her six years in the tower. Instead of answering, Saren dumps her chamber pot out the flap and right into Lord Khaser’s face.

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But their laughter is short-lived as that night the guards are attacked by…something. It doesn’t sound like a battle but a living nightmare. When something tries to attack them, a wolf like creature, My Lord the cat jumps out to save the girls and isn’t seen again.

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With the cat gone the rats come back and try to get their food. No guards for help, they need to stretch their food as much as they can. Not to mention the biggest rat of all, Lady Saren is trying to eat everything she can.

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Dashti does all she can but Saren is completely set on the fact that they won’t make it much longer. Now being stuck in a tower with someone you may die with, means that you reveal all kinds of things about yourself. And here Hale is fantastic in creating these two complex and real characters. Dashti: humble, kind, serving, helpful, with a thirst for knowledge and a foundation of common sense. Saren on the other hand has been constantly belittled by her father, told she is an empty flower pot, had her dreams scoffed at, and told her only lot in life is to marry gentry and create more gentry.

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Day 928- Men come to the tower. The guards were killed but Saren’s family never sent anyone, strangely.

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The men come and talk about a beautiful lady in a tower, trying to get in there and get her. As they go around the tower trying to break in, Dashti  has a knife and is prepared to fight for her life and Lady Saren’s.

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The men don’t make it in, but Dashti decides with the food supply dwindling from heat, rats, and Saren; they need to get out. She checks the cellar for where the rats come in, finds a hole and decides to attack it with everything she has until they can finally get out.

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Part 2: The Adventure Thereafter

So the two don’t leave right away. After Dashti increases a crack in the cellar, they remain because of Saren’s “delicate nature”.

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Now being taken out of the tower she freaks out that they are going to be burnt up by the sun. It is a slow process but Dashti helps to motivate her to leave the tower.

But they find greater disappointment in the world. Everything has been destroyed, burned, and knocked down.

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The only thing they find is a yak, which Dashti names Mucker. The three then head out to Song for Evela to appeal to Khan Tegus for help.

After what seems like endless days of emptiness they end up finding other people on the outskirts of Song for Evela. They tell them the news of Lord Khaser who has wiped out Titor’s Garden and is currently making war with Goda’s Second Gift.

Not good

Not good

Dashti tries to get Saren to go to Khan Tegus, but nothing will convince her to. Finally Dashti is so tired and all she can think is her love for the yak who helped them survive. Instead of trading the yak, or tying to procure employment; she gifts the yak to Khan Tegus. As they turn to leave, they find themselves hired. And now they work in the kitchen palace not to far from the Khan that holds Dashti’s heart.

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The other girls in the kitchen don’t like Saren, now called Sar. She doesn’t know what she is doing and moves very slow. One girl, Gal, is thirteen and is from Goda’s Second Gift. She was sent out before Lord Khaser came and has no clue what has happened to her parents or whether they are alive. Qacha is the other kitchen girl, a mucker like Dashti, who had managed to escape Khaser with her father and brother.

Life in the castle is tiring, but Dashti is used to hard work. She tries time and time again to get Saren to go to the Khan, but she refuses.

No thank youhowaboutno

One day, Dashti has a free afternoon and goes out to see a traveling show. She hears the story of the skinwalkers who offer their spirits to become shapeshifters. Before they can gain the ability to transform and have the characteristics of the beast; they must kill a close relation, the more they love them the more powerful they are.

Not good

Not good

After that story she leaves to see Mucker in the stable.

One day Dashti just happens to see Khan Tegus and seeing his handsome face brings back all the memories of what they spent together and causes her to fall in love all over again.

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Dashti wonders what he thinks of her, or Lady Saren really, but then she gets the shock of her lifetime: Khan Tegus is to wed Lady Vachir, ruler of Beloved if Ris in order to crete strong allies against Lord Khaser.

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To make things even worse, Lord Khaser has defeated Goda’s Second Gift and will be coming for Song of Evela before long.

One day the housekeeper of the palace calls for a mucker girl to help the Khan who is feeling bad. All the girls want Dashti to go as her talent is better than others as she melds the different healing songs together to heal throughout the body and soul.

She is afraid to go to him, as he might recognize her voice or the songs; but he doesn’t. Sadly.

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She gets called again and does the healing song but recognizes the hurt isn’t in his leg like he said, but there is another pain in his body. At first Khan Tegus refuses this additional help, but calls her once again. She sings another song for healing and surprises the Khan with her ability to read and write.

Before you know it she is moved up from the kitchen and has her own room! She continues to work for Khan tegus, scribbling away and content.

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One day she is called to help heal the Khan’a best friend. He’s been badly wounded by an assassin and the shaman attending says there is nothing else to be done. At first Dashti gives up, as she is no real healer; but when Khan Tegus calls her again, she is going to do all she can to help him.

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Dashti uses the songs to help his friend, and his soul returns to his body, out of the danger zone. The two them talk with Tegus granting her the use of his untitled name.

How cute

How cute

Dashti gets the biggest surprise of her life when My Lord the cat returns to them!

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Lady Saren grows more and more unhappy, making Dashti tired and annoyed. But then Saren asks Dashti to kill her. All the pain Khaser has caused is bundled up inside her, as she feels guilty that she is to blame. Dashti does the only thing she can do, give the cat to Lady Saren.

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While the Khan has left days ago to fight and there is no news on that accord, Saren has done much better. Having someone to love her unconditionally and not be cruel to her has really changed her demeanor.

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But then bad news comes. Lady Vachir returns with her ladies and so does Khan Tegus, severely wounded. Dashti wants to help him, but the shaman’s try to get rid of her. Dashti won’t give up and continues. After days of singing, the Khan is finally better.

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While Dashti and Tegus continue to enjoy each other’s company. But bad news looms. Lady Vachir does not like Dashti and tries to discredit her, and Lord Khaser has arrived.

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As they try to figure out what to do, Dashti remembers some strange things Saren said about Khaser being a beast. She goes to see her and try to get the story out about him. When Saren was twelve she and her father visited Lord Khaser. One night he calls her saying that her father needed her and took off his clothes, being naked before her. In the moonlight, he changed from man to wolf.

Film Title: The Wolfman Claw

Dashti goes to the war council and it turns out that Lord Khaser is trying to make a deal. He will kill 100 villagers unless they give him Lady Saren or Khan Tegus. As they try and figure out what to do, Dashti speaks up. Months ago Saren made Dashti promise to tell Khan Tegus she was Saren, to protect her. Dashti refused, but as she swore the oath and believes it to be the only way to save her Khan, she says she is Lady Saren, and has been going by her maid’s name. At first they are confused, but as she knows all that transpired in the tower, they decide she must be who she says she is. Tegus is ecstatic that Dashti is his true bride.

Yes!

Yes!

Dashti is given a grand room, and Saren to be her maid; but Saren wants to go back to the kitchen where she feels safe and useful. Dashti, on the other hand, has to figure out what to do about Khaser. She has revealed to them his transformation powers, but how can they use that to stop him? Besides Khaser has seen Saren and knows she isn’t her.

I don't know what to do

That night Dashti gets an idea. She goes to Batu who doesn’t want to help her, but as Dashti won’t give up he quickly finds himself with no choice in the matter.

Dashti goes out to battle, naked and barefoot so that  Khaser knows she is a woman with no weapon.  Khaser thinks it is a trick, but then is convinced that she is all she says. Dashti tells him she will sing a song of submission, but instead sings the song of the wolf.

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Khaser then transforms in front of everyone.

The wolf goes to attack Dashti, breaking her leg when he pounces on her; but before he could attack her more, one of his men shoots an arrow at him. The wolf heads to his men and starts attacking them, ripping out the throats of two men. Soon everyone attacks him, and the wolf is killed, falling on Dashti and crushing her once again. Khaser’s right hand man tries to continue the battle, but without their wolf warrior all is over for now.

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After all that excitement there is the question who will marry Khan Tegus. Lady Vachir is the betrothed, and has the right to have killed any that would come between. However, if the chiefs decide that Saren’s betrothal was first, then she will get to wed him. Only problem with that, all think Dashti is Saren. And Sar is Dashti. Very big mess.

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The chief’s choose Saren, and Tegus sets the wedding for nine days hence as he wants to marry her NOW. Dashti calls Saren and tries to fix this tangled web, but Saren refuses to tell the truth. Dashti cannot wed him in another’s name. She leaves a note and this diary and decides to flee.

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Dashti stops at the kitchen to explain to the girls and  Saren why she must leave. But Lady Vachir has been watching and listening, and found out the lie, preparing to kill Dashti. Before that happens, Saren comes bringing Tegus. Dashti is thrown in a cell while they prepare to figure out what the truth is in the mess.

Not good

Not good

Tegus goes to see her but feels lost. Everything with Dashti seems right, yet she isn’t Saren and it seems Vachir’s claim is right, and she should die. Dashti gives him her diary and prepares for her end.

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Then comes the trial. The chief’s use all the entries in which Dashti complained about Saren and talked about her love for Tegus. They use it to prove Vachir’s right to kill her, but then Tegus speaks up.

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He reads all the times she didn’t want to be Saren but did as was commanded by her mistress. He then goes on to read how she destroyed Khaser. He also brings up the mucker way of doing things, such as offering a animal and if it is received by another family then they become part of that family. When she offered the yak and Tegus accepted, Dashti, under Mucker law, became part of Tegus’ family.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

That is not enough for Vachir, but then Tegus pulls out his secret weapon; Saren. Saren defends Dashti, calling her a sister and being powerful in her presence and defense. Tegus leads the way, and they find her innocent.

Prince Eric lose her

Vachir is unhappy, leaving as quicklyt as she can. Tegus and Saren are to be wed, but Saren passes her bethrothel on to her sister, Dashti.

Double double yay

The two are married and live happily ever after.

TheEnd_Title_2

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I loved this book as Dashti is an amazing character. All she can see is she is worthless because she was born with red splotches on her face and arm and thinks she will never be fit to marry anyone, never have true love. She is blinded by her physical features, but we see the amazing strong, phenomenal person she is.

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She is intelligent, able to care for herself and others, a good cook, brave, kind, compassionate, etc. The best person, amazing. But how often do we too have the same issue where we can’t see how amazing we are, instead only looking at our flaws or measuring our worth based on what our outside looks like instead of our hearts.

InnerBeauty

Besides the character of Dashti, I just adore this rest of the book and the relationship between all the characters. I read it again and again and again and again! I just can’t get enough if it.

OW

Thank you Shannon Hale.

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To start the 30 Day challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

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

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For more on Book of a Thousand Days, go to A World of Teas

For more retellings of Fairy Tales, go to The Story, We’re Living it. It’s Alive: The Brothers Grimm (2005)

For more shapesifters, go to Monster Movie: Supernatural (2008)

For more Virginia Woolf quotes, go to Six Degrees of Separation

For more Fred Rogers’ quotes, go to If Only You Could See

For more Oscar Wilde quotes, go to When You Least Expect It

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So I was trying to think of a Christmas Carol that goes with this book and settled on Go Tell it on the Mountain. It is an African-American spiritual song by John Wesley Work, Jr., written in 1865.

This song always makes me think of my childhood as I remember learning it when I was in Sunday school. It is a fun and great song.

I remember when I first heard it, it was sung by a woman but I couldn’t remember exactly who it was. I decided on Mahalia Jackson as she is a great singer and her rendition is one of the most famous.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to Harvest Pumpkin Scones

It Doesn’t Exist

Ever feel as if finding the right guy is impossible?

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It’s like every guy you know is a loser.

HOrrible guy Sabrina Teenage Witch

That is if you can even meet single men.

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They have the worst lines (I wrote a whole post on that). I mean one time I had the same guys in a corvette hit on me two days in a row. You’d think they’d get the point that I’m not interested and that they should really invest in some new lines.

No

Not to mention how guys seem to treat girls these days. The act like you are just a commodity and that you need to be giving of your whole self just because they’re willing to drop a couple bucks for food.

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And if you refuse they call you names and say that you are being a prude, poor sport, b*****, or worse.

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No wonder we girls are obsessed with fictional men.

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It sometimes feels as if you will never find anybody. As Marianne in Sense and Sensibility puts it:

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I mean aren’t there any good men anymore?

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But don’t give up.

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That dream guy is out there. It may take him a while, but eventually you two will meet up.

SomedayPrinceWillComeMostLikelyLost

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For more on Marianne Dashwood, go to Some Things Never Change

For more Sarah Dessen, go to The Final Chapter

For more on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, go to Food, Food, Food!

Happy Birthday Pride & Prejudice

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Pride and Prejudice was first published  in 1813, marking this year the 200th anniversary!

Now many there are many fandoms out there and in which the people convene, talk, dress as their favorite characters, creatre fanfiction tales, etc. Some of the more known ones are Star Wars, Star Trek, Supernatural, Sherlock, Lord of the Rings, and Doctor Who; but none of these are anywhere near as well known, talked as much about, continuously recreated in film, book, clothing, memes, etc as Jane Austen. Face it, us Austenites have been around a long time and we are all pretty crazy.

If Jane Austen were still alive today this would countless fans

If Jane Austen were still alive today this would be countless fans

And let’s face it, out of all of her amazing works which is the most loved, fantisized, recreated, inspirational to other films/books/movies?

You guessed it Pride & Prejudice

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I mean when someone mentions the name we all fangirl over it

This is so me

This is so me

When a group of us Austenites get together and start discussing the books and the movies and we hear that someone hasn’t read it, we all are shocked and disappointed.

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It is true testament to how awesome Jane Austen is that her work is congruent to today’s times. It is so easily relatable, and she has clearly stood the test of time.

Here's to another 200 years!

Here’s to another 200 years!

One of the biggest reasons for why is is the characters. Elizabeth and Darcy are so lovable, everyone wants to be Elizabeth and everyone wants a Darcy.

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I mean even in a culture where bad writing has become popular reads (for example Twilight and Fifty Shades of Simon GreyPride and Prejudice still reigns supreme.

So to celebrate Pride and Prejudice’s birthday, I am going to be doing a series of Pride and Prejudice posts honoring one of Jane’s greatest works.

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I also will be reviewing the books, films, musicals, etc that are based on Pride and Prejudice. So if you are a fan, I am pretty sure you will enjoy these posts, if not sorry but Jane Austen is in the web address.

For those of you who enjoy my non-Austen posts, never fear those will be coming as well. I just figured it was time to put the Austen back in janeaustenrunsmylife.

Here is the first of 30 works based on Pride & Prejudice that I plan to be reviewing. (As there are a LOT, I will be posting multiple lists. In fact, thus far my list is 83 items and I’m adding all the time.)

Books:

Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams

An Assembly Such as This (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman #1) by Pamela Aidan

Darcy’s Story: Pride & Prejudice Told From a Whole New Perspective by Janet Alymer

Pride & Prescience: Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged by Carrie Bebris

Suspense and Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited) by Carrie Bebris

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife (Darcy & Elizabeth #1) by Linda Berdoll

The Darcy Monolgues: Part I, The Regency edited by Christina Boyd and written by Various

The Darcy Monolgues: Part II, Other Eras edited by Christina Boyd and written by Various

The Butterfly and the Violin (A Hidden Masterpiece #1) by Kristy Cambron

Prude & Prejudice by Francine Carroll

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Fall for You (Jane Austen Academy #1) by Cecilia Gray

Too Pretty by Andrea Grigg

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

The Accidental Bride: A Romantic Comedy by Janice Harayda

Death Comes to Pemberly by P. D. James

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo

Pride and Prejudice Paper Dolls by Brenda Sneathen Mattox

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street

Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Austen Adventure

Film:

Pride & Prejudice (1940)

Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)

The 12 Men of Christmas (2009)

Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade (2012)

Death Comes to Pemberley: Episode One (2013)

Death Comes to Pemberley: Episode Two (2013)

Other:

First Impressions (1959)

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For an earlier  Pride and Prejudice post go to It’s Super Important