Why Don’t More People Talk about Mrs. Goddard?

So to be honest, I never really thought about Mrs. Goddard, from Emma, other than she was the woman who ran the home/school that Harriet lives and attends.

Emma 1996 AKA the Gwyneth Paltrow version.

In fact, I never gave her a second thought until a while back I read the book A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma.

But when you think of it, Mrs. Goddard is a pretty amazing woman. She is a widow who has managed to not struggle in poverty but become a mistress of a school-not a college or upper education, but a really pleasant place for kids to learn some skills and live and grow.

“Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a School-not a seminary, or an establishment…where young ladies for enormous pay might be screwed out of health and into vanity-but a real, honest, old-fashioned Boarding-school, where a reasonable quantity of accomplishments were sold at a reasonable price.”

She has a house and garden, feeds the children good food (that in itself is an amazing kindness-think of Jane Eyre and the slop they eat), let them have freedom to play in  the summer, etc. All I could think when reading this was all the horrible girls schools you read in fiction-Jane Eyre’s terrifying experiences, the way everyone bullies and looks down on Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair, the mean Miss Minchin in A Little Princess, etc. I would much rather go to Mrs. Goddard’s than any of those other ones.

I mean Becky is treated horribly for having a mother who was a dancer/actress (often a codeword for prostitute), but her parents were known and married. With Harriet, she doesn’t know who her father is-but she isn’t treated badly or excluded like Becky, at Mrs. Goddard’s Harriet and any girl there can have a happy and pleasant time.

I also think that for Mrs. Goddard this school isn’t just financial security, but for someone who never had children of her own, she can enjoy mothering all these girls.

I just love how in all of Austen’s stories creates all these wonderful characters and makes them so alive. She’s not in the book a lot, but in it enough to appreciate her.

For more Emma, go to Achy Breaky Heart: Austentatious (2015)

For more on Mrs. Goddard, go to A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma

For more character studies, go to Right Away I Know I Won’t Like You

My Week With Jane

When I was in elementary school, my brother was in the army and stationed in Hawaii. We took a trip to visit him, but problems with the plane arose and the flight was delayed for a few hours. This was two years after 9/11 so we didn’t want to leave the airport and instead had to wait.

While we were waiting I noticed a lady across the way waiting with a big paper something. Of course being a curious child, I moved closer to look and saw it was a paper boy. Not a cardboard cutout, but like someone traced a boy and decorated it. I was trying to figure it out, when the lady noticed me looking and told me that it was Flat Stanley. A group of teachers had been reading Flat Stanley and passing him around taking pictures and when one had a friend going to Hawaii she asked if she could take him with her.

Wow!

I thought that was the coolest thing. For those of you who don’t know Flat Stanley is a book in which a boy, Stanley, is flattened by a bulletin board, becoming flat, and goes on a series of adventures. One of them is visiting his pen pal by being mailed in a giant envelope.

All I could think was what a great idea and how cool and fun to be a part of something like that.

Well…

Fast forward to Summer of 2020, everyone is glum about restrictions and most of us are not having fun.

When I saw that the Jane Austen Society of North America: East Washington and North Idaho (JASNA EWANID) was doing a Flat Jane.

Look at that!

After all:

They decided for the summer they would be sending Flat Jane about, she staying with the person who signed up for a week and then moving them onto the next home to visit. They then asked people on instagram if they wanted to sign up and I was like, yes please!

This actually became so popular they made several of them. My turn arrived and I was so excited and couldn’t wait to take her out on adventures.

Tea first!

 

Day 1) Sunday, January 3rd

What a Jane of a day! Today my friend gave me the Jane Austen adaption, Jane in Love by Rachel Givney, and then when I got home I checked my mail and inside was Flat Jane. I am so excited to start all our adventures.

It was great reading the Jane Austen Travel Log and getting to see all the adventures and things people had done. I couldn’t wait to add my own. Sunday I had my niece so I didn’t get a chance to do anything with Jane until later that day.

That night my sister and I did our usual #perioddramasaturdays It was my sister’s turn to pick and she chose Outlander, which I had read the first book but had not seen the TV show. For the occasion I made Blueberry Oat Scones (I’ll share the recipe later), that I had adapted from Plum Deluxe and we had Lavender Flowering Tea.

Flat Jane joined us for tea but declined watching Outlander. She was tired from her long journey from East to West and retired early. She espechially liked seeing the flower created from the tea leaves.

Day 2) Monday, January 4th

Ever since COVID19 Monday night has become Game Night! Jane and I played my new Pride and Prejudice game that I had received for Christmas. She won as I just couldn’t get the exact number to make my remaining half of the couple get to the church. I kept rolling over or under. I was planning to try playing Marrying Mr. Darcy with her, but I didn’t end up getting a chance to. I do plan to review this Pride and Prejudice game soon.

Afterwards, we played a singing board game with my sister, a sort of creating a song to a tune like in Who’s Line is it Anyway? When my turn came up I felt a lot like when Lady Catherine demanded Elizabeth play, as I don’t sing.

It was a fun game and hilarious as the game came with “lyrics” that were just too goofy.

Day 3) Tuesday, January 5th

Tuesday night Jane and I had pizza and watched Strong Woman Bong Soon, a K-Drama I recommend for any Jane Austen fan as it has elements that make me think of Jane Austen’s works.

Sooooo Mrs. Bennet

Jane loved the pizza (she definitely wishes they had that back in Regency England) and I think I swayed her to my line of thinking about the K-Drama…but she might have been humoring me.

Well…

Day 4) Wednesday, January 5th

Flat Jane joined us for our weekly Tea Party/Book Club/Bible Study on The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think she enjoyed it, although it was unlike any bible study she has ever been a part of.

For these chapters we visited the beavers and had: Chami Winter Apple Spice Tea, a loaf of Dutch Crust Bread, trout, chicken (for the non-seafood eaters [me]), boiled potatoes, and marmalade rolls. Of course I had to explain to her the joke about boiled potatoes.

I will be sharing the recipes as soon as I catch up with The Magician’s Nephew posts. 

Day 5) Thursday, January 6th

After the Book Club/Tea Party/Bible Study I thought Jane would be interested in going to a regular bible study. She enjoyed it and marveled at my cat pen, amazed at how it looked and wishing they had such easy things to use when she was writing her novels. I plan to show her an Austen adaption tonight, but am still trying to decide which one…should I show her one I love or one I hate so we can both make fun of it? Decisions, decisions…

Hmmm…

I finally decided to show her one I hate, Austentatious (2015)

This is the worst Jane Austen adaption I have ever seen. We started with the first one and then she caught up to me with the second to last episode. After we watched the whole thing she was very confused about the whole thing and how it even matched up with what she wrote. Same Jane, same. If interested, you can watch it on tubi or you can read my past reviews: We Are Family: Austentatious, Episode 1 (2015), Big Girls Don’t Cry: Austentatious, Episode 2 (2015), I’ll Be Watching You: Austentatious, Episode 3 (2015), Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Austentatious, Episode 4 (2015), Call Me, Maybe: Austentatious, Episode 5 (2015), Drive Me Crazy: Austentatious, Episode 6 (2015), Make Me a Match: Austentatious, Episode 7 (2015), Take a Chance on Me: Austentatious, Episode 8 (2015), and Achy Breaky Heart: Austentatious Episode 9 (2015). 

After we watched the series, we had a cup of tea before bed. I had purchased two Jane Austen inspired teas from NovelTea TinsPride and Peppermint and Sense and Senchability. I had run out of Pride and Peppermint as I had used the last of it in the tea advent calendar swap I made for a friend, so we drank Sense and Senchability. Jane loved it and was amazed at all the different Jane Austen inspired products that we can purchase today.

Day 6) Friday, January 7th

Today was a shopping day as Jane went with me to visit a local Vintage/resale shop as I was on the hunt for a purple teacup for my friend’s birthday this month. I found this adorable claw-footed one under $10.

We then stopped off at the grocery store to pick up a few items and Jane was amazed at all the food for purchase and the prices! Plus we came upon many things she had never heard of before protein powder, lactose free milk, Greek yogurt, every kind of chocolate you could imagine, and more.

Day 7) Saturday, January 8th

Saturday turned out to be a shopping day as well, as my sister needed to visit Jo-Anns and Hobby Lobby in the next city over (we have a small Jo-Anns and we do not have a Hobby Lobby). I agreed as long as we stop at one of my favorite restaurants, the Tea Bar and Fusion Cafe. They have the best foods and teas. Jane loved the HoneyTea Latte I bought for her.

Afterwards we went to Hobby Lobby where we looked for fabric for a book sleeve I’m having made.

I was looking for a dark fabric, but Jane spotted this beautiful china blue vase printed one that I just couldn’t say no to.

We only visited a quarter of the store and Jane was amazed at everything they had there.

Afterwards we went to Jo-Anns and looked around the different fabrics and of course I had to show Jane all the muslin they had.

Mr. Tilney mentions purchasing muslin for 5 shillings a yard in Northanger Abbey and that was a good deal, but Jane was amazed that today she could purchase muslin for half the price he paid (converting how much 1800s shillings would be worth in our money).

Day 8) Sunday, January 9th

It was time to say goodbye to Flat Jane as I had her for the week and she is about to journey on to stay with another friend. I helped her pack up and will drop her off tomorrow for her journey to the East Coast.

As Jane is going to visit another Jane Austen fan I couldn’t resist sending one of my Quill Ink Jane Austen Inspired Magazine Cover Cards. If you are interested in getting some for yourself check out her Etsy shop.

If interested in having Flat Jane visit you then contact JASNA EWANID to signup. I recommend it as it is a lot of fun.

For more Jane Austen, go to Is Emma Jane Austen’s Only Mystery?

 

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

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

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

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

This comes from With Spice

Tea first!

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

And food to go with.

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

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

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

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

Man, She Sure Looks Great in Clothes

“Man, she sure looks great in clothes

-Steve Burkett, Move Over, Darling (1963)

So Doris Day passed away!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

I love Doris Day, I grew up watching her movies with my mom and listening to her sing.

Noo!

Noo!

She was amazing-sweet, kind, adorable, a fantastic singer. I can’t believe she is gone.

So I couldn’t let her death pass by and not honor her. Yes, I am going to list off ten of my favorite films.

The quote and title, you all are probably wondering about, and it took me quite some time to settle on one. I didn’t want to go the “Que sera, que sera” route and started looking through her films to try and find the perfect quote. I choose this one because whenever my friend and I watch her films, we are always like-she is so beautiful, and we love her clothes.

Seriously, Doris Day is one of the best dressed ladies in film. Gorgeous outfits.

YEEEEES!!!!!!

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10) Beverly Boyer from The Thrill of it All (1963)

Doris Day plays wife of famous gynecologist (James Garner) and is used to long nights by herself and missing her husband. When she calls a company to tell them how much her children enjoyed their “Happy Soap”, she ends up becoming the spokesperson and a HUGE star. Now the roles are reversed as her hubby finds himself missing his wife, nights alone, and getting to hear everyone talk about how great his spouse is.

So I have issues with this movie as I don’t like how her husband is zero supportive of her, from the getgo. Geez, you need to hangout with Jason Seaver from Growing Pains and learn how to be there for your wife. So this would be a meh except that it works because of Day and Garner. Day is fun as she starts off innocent, unsure, and blossoms into a fantastic star. She and Garner sizzle with chemistry and comedy, making this film work. An as a star and face of “Happy Soap” she gets gorgeous gowns.

9) Ruth Etting from Love Me or Leave Me (1955)

So this film is extremely different from her other films and sooo sad. The story is a fictionalized account of Ruth Etting, dance hall girl turned singer-a woman who kicked, clawed, and climbed her way to the top. And she didn’t do it herself, it all started with the gangster Martin “Moe the Gimp” Synder. He intimidates lots of people to move her ahead, although eventually she makes it on her own. Their relationship is extremely abusive…with lots of ups and downs.

Doris Day wasn’t sure about making this film as it was so different from the other films she made, and darker content. But Doris Day shines in singing, dancing, and really becomes the character-astonishing as she is nothing you’d expect. I mean I was just like-huh? Wha? Watching it as it is just beyond the realm of what I thought Doris Day would do. It was amazing, and she has gorgeous Roaring Twenties clothes, just like that dress (which incidentally I have one just like that my sister made for me.

8) Calamity Jane from Calamity Jane (1953)

Doris Day is Calamity Jane-a sharpshooter who wears men’s clothing, fights Native Americans, spends time in the saloon, gambles, saves damsels in distress, etc. In a series of comedic events she is given the task of bringing actress Adelaid Adams from Chicago to Deadwood, but accidentally mistakes Adelaid’s maid, Katie Brown, for the singer. She and Calamity room together, and Katie tries to change Calamity’s ways, attempting to feminize her. Katie has also has attracted the attentions of “Wild Bill” Hickok and Lt. Daniel Martin, the latter being the man Calamity is in love with. Uh, oh! The fight is on!

I have mixed feelings on this film as Calamity does silly things, such as being frightened by a cigar Indian and thinking wigs are scalps; but at the same time Calamity still remains an independent, strong-willed character who refrains from changing herself for anyone. She is strong, tough, and does all the cowboy heroics that men usually were given to do instead of women.

7) Josie Minick from The Ballad of Josie (1967)

So I haven’t seen this movie in a looooong time, but it stuck hard in my mind. Josie is a widow who is taking a different stand with her land. Instead of raising cattle-in the cattle run area-and is raising sheep! Cattle vs. Sheep was a huge battle in the West-blood was spilled! The cowman and the sheepherder are not friends! Josie also takes things further when she starts pushing women’s suffrage, getting the wives and daughters stirred up about their rights, and WEARS PANTS!

I loved this as I loved Western films and though Josie was awesome! My favorite scene I remember is the pants wearing scene. I couldn’t find any video clips or anything, but it cracked me up! I know this wasn’t one of Day’s favorite, but I loved it.

6) Janet Harper from Do Not Disturb (1965)

Janet and her devastatingly handsome husband, played by Rod Taylor, move to London as he takes over a fashion company. She wants to live in the country (he in the city) and works on restoring an old house and befriending woodland creatures like the Disney Princess she is. Her husband is too preoccupied with work to give her any attention, and him being surrounded by beautiful models makes Day feel queasy. She decides to get his attention by using the attentions of the interior decorator to make him jealous. Things go too far when her husband knocks the decorator out, and storms off to another country. In order to make things up to him, she sneaks into a party as a mistress and things seem to get better, only to fall apart again. Will the Harpers finally be able to get it together, or will the ensuing comedy continue to separate.

So the plot isn’t that original, in fact it is very similar to Please Don’t Eat the Daises, but this movie rocks as it is just plain hilarious. I love Day and Taylor together, they just work so well with the slapstick and the lines. Day does the outward comedy and slapstick, while Tatlor does it with his facial expressions and sarcasm-they are just fantastic. I think if it were anyone else paired up, it wouldn’t be as good. And that dance scene is hilarious! And of course with a husband in the fashion industry, her clothes are amazing.

5) Kate Robinson MacKay from Please Don’t Eat the Daises (1960)

So this film is so high up on my list because of nostalgia-I used to watch this all the time growing up and had the titular song memorized. Professor Laurence MacKay (David Niven) is leaving the academic world to become a drama critic. His wife, Kate (Doris Day), is at first thrilled for him, but as he becomes more sought after and being invited to parties nearly every night; she starts to wonder if the fame will go to his head and that he will change for the worse. When the lease comes up on their apartment, and they find themselves going to homeless, they decide to live their dream of being in the country. However, Laurence finds it hard adjusting to country life and the constant repairs of the house. Kate sends him back to New York to finish his book, while she completes the house. Throw in the mix a Broadway writer angry at his bad review plotting revenge on the MacKays and a starlet setting out to seduce Laurence; and you have one highjink-filled film.

So the Professor acts like a major jerk through most of the film, while Day is awesome as she smart, funny, independent, artistic/crafty. I love how she works on the house, cares for the children, helps out at the school, taking care of the animals-and remains energetic, warm, and a breath of sunshine. Her husband does barely anything, and is all-I’m bushed, wah. I love how they have this awful play they are trying to put it on, and even though you recognize it as bad-she still makes it look good.

For more on Please Don’t Eat the Daises, go to With a Little Luck of the Irish: 17 More Irish Heroes 

4) Elizabeth Wagstaff Arden from Move Over Darling (1963)

Nick and his wife Elizabeth were on a boat that crashed in a storm. Elizabeth (or her body) wasn’t found and five years of constant searching has revealed nothing. Nick has decided to have her declared legally dead and has remarried. The very same day as his second wedding, Elizabeth has finally been discovered on her desert island she washed up on, and returned home. Now Nick finds himself in a tough predicament-married to two wives!

This movie is a remake of a favorite of mine, My Favorite Wife-starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunn. Now you all know I’m not a fan of remakes, but I love this movie. It is fun, hilarious, and once again-Garner and Day do spectacular in the physical comedy. I love when he can’t bring himself to say what happened, and pretends he injured his back. Or when he is calling for Mrs. Arden, and the clerk is all which one? Paging for Mrs. Arden-which one? Hilarious!

For more Move Over, Darling, go to You’re My Wife and the Mother of My Children: Move Over Darling (1963)

3) Jennifer Nelson from The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)

Jennifer Nelson is a widow who works for NASA during the week and on the weekends swims dressed up as a mermaid for her dad’s glass bottom boat business. Bruce Templeton, NASA’s genius working on top secret inventions, spots her and learns all he can to win her-lying about a few things. He tries to pursue her, but the government is leery as they fear she is a spy. When Jennifer finds out about Bruce’s duplicitous behavior, she decides to get back at him and ends up caught in a spy ring!

As stated above, Day and Taylor work amazing together. They have great energy and chemistry. I love them. And this movie is just so funny, like I can’t describe how much-you NEED to watch it. I love when she decides to get back at him, better not be playing her-she’s gonna get you back. I LOVE it!

For more on The Glass Bottom Boat, go to Mata Hari Stops At Nothing. Nothing Comes Between Mata Hari and What She Wants: The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)

2) Cathy Timberlake from That Touch of Mink (1962)

Cary Grant is a handsome billionaire that is trying to romance the everyday girl-Cathy (Doris Day). Grant just wants an affair, while Day’s character wants marriage. He tries to take her on a weekend away-which goes comedically awry, same when Day tries to go after him. A crazed opy machine, a scheming brother trying to marry off Grant, and a plan to reunite the lovers that is probably the worst thought one ever made.

This movie is just so funny. Day plays the comedic part so well, while Grant is the straight man. She is limbs, raised voices, stumbling around-while he is cool, collected, and sarcastic. Just so many funny scenes like her getting drunk to be with Grant and falling out the window, her making too many copies-filing the room, Grant’s brother trying to get them together, etc. I LOVE it!

1) Georgia Garrett from Romance on the High Seas (1948)

This is Day’s first film, and it is amazing! A husband and wife are extremely jealous and suspect each other of cheating. The wife plans a cruise to Rio, and hires Georgia (Day) to go in her place, while she remains in town to spy on her husband. Her husband is suspicious that she might be trying to met up with a man, so he sends a P.I. to watch her, Peter Virgil. The two fall for each other, but finds themselves in a moral quandary as Georgia is “married”, and Peter is working. Will everything work out, or get even more muddled?

OMG this film is so funny and so much fun. I LOVED it, it is probably my favorite as it has everything-romance, comedy, music, and just all around fun. FANTASTIC! And of course this was the film that got her noticed, and signed!

So there we go, 10 fabulous films starring one amazing person. And if you noticed all of her movies-amazing clothes.

No, but on a serious note-we are sorry to see you go, were amazing actress, singer, humanitarian, and person.

Book Club Picks: Julie

So Happy Mother’s Day All!

I have never done a mother’s day post before, why? I don’t know. I must have been too busy celebrating my mom.

I had wanted to review The Mother Keeper on Mother’s Day, I thought it would be cute-but I didn’t want to put off my book club pick reviews that long. I thought I would have them all finished and be caught up by now.

I knooooooooooooow!!! I am so behind. I don’t know what happened. I have no excuse.

What’s happening?

So I decided that I would kill two birds with one stone. For Mother’s Day I will honor my mother with a review of one of her favorite books, which is also the next Book Club Pick up for review-her choice of course. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, book club reviews? Never fear-I can give a brief recap.

So as you all know I started a book club, 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.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time, as I mentioned above, the book club member-my mother chose:

Julie by Catherine Marshall

I would also recommend this as a Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers

So this book was written by Catherine Marshall, of the Christy fame. She based the book on her own life, including the poetry she wrote when she was a young girl, and the Johnstown Flood.

Julie comes from a family of five, the Wallaces-mother, father, Julie, a sister Anne-Marie, and a younger brother, Tim. Her father was a Minster in the South, but for some reason unknown to her and her siblings, has quit the ministry and a stable good-paying job to in Depression ridden American to use his wife’s small inheritance to purchase a newspaper,The Sentinel, in Alderton, Pennsylvania.

What’s going on?

Have any of you seen North and South? I love that miniseries (and plan on reviewing it sometime). But the reason I bring it up is that in that series the Dad quits the church and moves them from the South to the factory-filled North. And we are all on the edge of our seat trying to figure out what happened, and it takes quite some time until they reveal it.

It’s the same here. The left the beautiful South to go to North, the town of Alderton, controlled by Yoder Iron and Steel (based on Carnegie Steel). They are shocked when they see the cut up land and the haze and soot.  And boy when they reveal what happened to make the dad leave, it’s a doozy. Worth reading defintely.

Wow

Julie was hurt and upset that they left her senior year to start all over again somewhere new, and completely confused as to why. The trip doesn’t start off with the best of origins as their car overheats and they get covered in mud.

They are rescued by Randolph Munro Wilkerson, English Aristocrat, here in America to run the Hunting and Fishing Club. I know that might sound a little strange, but this is he 1930s when limited income royals were marrying the “gilded” heiresses.

Julie is completely mortified that she has this handsome stranger meeting a muddy mess.

When they get to their home and office, the family is shocked to discover that they are all to be the newspaper staff. Writing, editing, cleaning, collecting subscriptions, collecting ad space, etc. The hardest thing will be having to convince people who are already “trimming the fat” that a newspaper is something they need to spend money on.

This will not be easy

One day, a man, Dean Fleming, comes in to ask them to print some handbills for him and offers his services, free, everyday. Julie doesn’t like him as he knew that her father left the ministry and spoke to him about God and faith. She thinks he is going to use his volunteer time to try and force his philosophy on her father and them.

For the thousandth time

Julie starts school and makes some friends. She even likes the minister, Reverend Spencer Meloy, who I don’t like. He cares about social change and is avid about helping the steelworkers, unionizing, aiding the new immigrants by getting them better housing-etc. But to me it rings false. I think he is concerned about these issues, but I feel like he does it for the glory of himself, a complete contrast to Dean who cares about a lot of the same things but has a humble spirit. Dean continuously is there for the family, winning over everyone and becoming a part of the Wallaces.

So the Hunting and Fishing Club has this giant earthen dam, and from the very first moment Julie saw it she has felt weird about it. There is something dark and ominous about it. Now some of you might remember when there was that big scare with the Oroville Dam two years ago and everybody had to evacuate? My family had to be evacuated as we were in the potential danger zone and we went to Las Vegas to wait it out. Before that, I never knew that the Oroville Dam was an earthen dam either. When reading this book, it made me view things differently and brought back all the emotion and things we went through then.

So the Wallace family tries to adapt to their new surroundings and life. Julie helps out with the newspaper, along with navigating normal teenage issues-dating, school, etc. She still has a crush on Randolph, but doesn’t really see anything happening there.

Times get tougher and tougher, as Yoder steel lays people off and it looks like the newspaper is going to go bankrupt, and then what will the Wallaces do?

But thankfully, Dean comes through and the Wallace’s hang on. But times are tough and more and more people lose their jobs, which means less subscriptions. Mr. Wallace has been hit with bouts of depression, Mrs. Wallace saying that it was a malaria attack rising up again from when he spent a few months in the South. On these days, Dean always comes. He doesn’t call or get called, he just knows and comes to help him.

Dean is a powerful character who’s has an amazing relationship with Christ. He comes to help the Wallaces, praying for them nonstop and aiding them both spiritually and physically. Too bad the Hales didn’t have a Dean to aid them.

Flooding happens and the Wallace’s get scared, but the rest if the town is unfazed as it happens every season. The water is a little higher than normal, but flooding is just a part of Alderton. It is so horrible the National Guard is called in and keeps people from going into Alderton. Mr. Wallace is hit hard and becomes bed bound again as he worries about damage to the newspaper office.

When the water recedes and they can get to the town, they discover that the newspaper office is safe, the printing press ad paper managed to be just barely out of harms way. With her dad too ill, Julie picks up the slack and loves it.  Her stories get published, and even her poems later on.

Wow!

While writing the flood story Julie wonders about the Dam. She calls to interview them, but no dice.

I got this!

Spencer creates an aid helping organization to try and help the workers in the Lowlands (immigrants, minorities, etc.) This book presents the hard issues as they discuss who should take the blame for he damage? Who’s responsibility is it to help the people? The church? The town? Yoder Steel? The Federal Government?

Hmmm

Julie joins the crusade and learns about how Yoder treats their employees. They have a baseball team, fire department, library, night classes for the workers, etc. But they also have high rents, a company store that is bought on credit, and essentially “own” their employees. If you have ever read The Jungle (one of my favorite books) it is pretty much the same thing.

Things continue and graduation is looming along with Julie’s senior economic project. She’s unsure what to do it on until she hears her dad is visiting Tom McKeever Jr, (the Senior being the one who owns it) and she tags along hoping to get some answers on the Dam.

Julie finds out that the Dam was bought by private businessmen, which means that since it is not government owned there is no one fact-checking up on it-but it is up to the owners to decide what to do with it and make sure repairs are done, etc. The lake covers 450 acres and has 500 million tons of water. The spillways were fenced off (not good!!!) as the lake above stocked with fish.

Julie writes her paper and her father writes an editorial, that while isn’t outright saying there is a problem, it isn’t going to be something Yoder Steel will love.

A little while after the story is published, Mr. Wallace gets invited out to Tom McKeever, Senior’s private railroad car, a high honor. He brings Julie along to the meeting full of rich food and belongings, extremely posh-a complete contrast to how everyone done below is living. McKeever didn’t like the story and wants the Wallace’s to back off.

julie writes a story on the labor issue but her father won’t print it as it is too one sided. She angrily sends it to The New York Times and forgets all about it as she becomes intangled in love trapizoid with Rev. Spencer Meloy, Randolph, and high schooler Graham Gilliam. But the NY Times calls her a they are publishing the article.

Now this is where the book gets really good. Once I started reading and hit this part, I could not stop.

They start writing articles in The Sentinel, and Yoder Steel does not like it. It’s the Wallace’a against everybody as Yoder Steel tries to destroy them by killing their dog, harassing them, attacking the presses, attacking Julie, threatening others so they drop their subscriptions, etc. Everyone has to make a moral choice on who they will side with. As for the Wallaces, will they stay firm in their beliefs, or fall under Yoder Steel?

Besides that storm, an actual rainstorm is coming their way. And then the real bomb of the book is released.

“Life and death for everyone in Alderton that day hung on such small decisions as to where they would be in the early afternoon.” pg. 324

BOOOM!!! When I got to that line I was crazed to find out how it all ended.

Then the Dam breaks and all hell breaks loose.

Reading this part is amazing, the total destruction only takes a few minutes and she counts them one by one as to what happens. It was so frightening to read that and think that could have been us two years ago if the water went over the lip of the dam. With all the heavy rain and full rivers, we are still jittery. I leave a week’s worth of clothes in my trunk just in case we have to evacuate again.

So what makes this an Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers?

First, the story is about a young romantic, reminiscent of Catherine from Northanger Abbey or Marianne Dashwood from Sense & Sensibility. She loves to read-along with writing poetry and stories. She dates some of her schoolmates, but they just don’t bring up that feeling of romance she’s encountered in books and wants in real life (partly has to do with the fact she fell hard for the English Lord). By the end of the book her life experiences have matured her-keeping some of the same romantic soul, but like Catherine and Marianne, has learned to temper it. 

Julie gets a proposal from the Reverend Spencer Meloy, who I don’t like, and it is an awful proposal. Basically “we think alike and like the same things, lets get married.” Not quite as bad as Mr. Collins or Mr. Darcy but still bad.

Like Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility the Wallace family goes through numerous changes that they have no real control over. While the Wallace family is much poorer than the Elliots and the Dashwoods, these girls can relate as they have to trim the fat, adjust their life, and have others see them as not marriageable material from their lack of finances. 

Rev. Spencer Meloy reminds me of Mr. Elton and Mr. Collins as to me I felt he wasn’t really being a minister for Godbut instead was looking to lift himself and his interests. Like these two men, he focuses on what he wants and believes, only. He also proposes badly as he reads women wrongly-thinking Julie is just as interested in him as he is in her because of a “look she gave”, ugh gag.

Ugh, this guy!

But like I said, this was a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it!

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Glassblower

For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

For more on The Great Depression, go to I Don’t Want the Money: It Happened One Night (1934)

For more bible verses, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives