So if you have been following me, you know I have been super excited about Modesto Jane Con. The past eight years I have seen pictures from different Jane Cons and festivals and wishing I could go-but they were not possible for me to attend as it always came down to a problem of time, money, work, etc. Instead I had to be content with seeing pictures on social media.
But then Modesto Jane Con was created!
From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!
Your $30 ticket allowed you to attend the workshops (BOTH DAYS) and see one showing of Mansfield Park Opera (your choice of Saturday or Sunday).
That was it, I was going! And I convinced my book club + my sister to join me. I scrounged around for a costume (I’ll post on that later) and made sure to bring a notebook to take copious notes on the workshop and opera to-of course post on them later (as I am now).
So the first workshop of the day was Gowns & Groans. After that you had your choice of The Definitive Darcy or Start You Own Book Club. The third workshop was your choice of Dressing the Regency Lady or Are You a Long-Lost Austen? Searching Your Family Tree.
Our group decided against the genealogy as we knew we were not related to Jane Austen. My mom’s side of the family is Mexican with a little bit of Chilean and Chumash Native American. On my father’s side we are Danish and Sicilian Italian. Besides that, I was extremely interested in knowing everything that goes into the outfit of the Regency Lady, so for when I get a costume made I will know what I need. I had thrown something together (more on that later) for the event, but eventually I want to get an accurate costume made.
This workshop was led by Elizabeth Layton:
There’s a lot going on beneath those deceptively simple Regency gowns. Stays long and short, chemises, petticoats, and more. Costume College graduate and Costume Society member, Layton will walk us through the layers that make a lady.
Elizabeth Layton is a Costume Historian with nearly 20 years of historical garment research. She has a degree in history and is a costume College attendee.
By the elementary school age, women would be proficient in sewing. They learned it young, and unless they were very wealthy-continued to sew their whole life. The sewing machine was invented in 1790, but a widely used model was not patented until 1830. So Regency women had to do everything by hand. Can you imagine how long that would take?
So the first thing that comes in dressing is the chemise. A chemise was your underwear, basically, and would be washed often. Most women would have a minimum of seven chemises, one for each day of the week, to last them until washday. Chemises had a gathered neckline that come close to the chest and completed the stays. Chemises had to be worn under the stays as the stays were never washed.
Women made their own chemises, unless they were very wealthy and could pay someone else to do it. The women would also make the men’s shirts. Women of the Regemcy era were very thrifty, using every bit of material. Husband’s shirt gets messed up? Turned into a Chemise. Lose or gain weight? Reuse the material to create something else. Eventually as an item became too worn they were made into smaller and smaller things-until they went into the scrap container.
“And pray, sir, what do you think of Miss Morland’s gown?”
“It is very pretty, madam,” said he, gravely examining it; “but I do not think it will wash well; I am afraid it will fray.”
“How can you,” said Catherine, laughing, “be so—” She had almost said “strange.”
“I am quite of your opinion, sir,” replied Mrs. Allen; “and so I told Miss Morland when she bought it.”
But then you know, madam, muslin always turns to some account or other; Miss Morland will get enough out of it for a handkerchief, or a cap, or a cloak. Muslin can never be said to be wasted. I have heard my sister say so forty times, when she has been extravagant in buying more than she wanted, or careless in cutting it to pieces.” –Northanger Abbey
After the chemise, the stockings and boots would go next. It is easier to put the boots on first, as after the stays were put on, bending down would be extremely uncomfortable. Stockings would have embroidery, called clocking, over the ankle and seam to hide it.
The stays would go on next and had a busk that went down the middle, the breastbone area. It is called a divorce stay, as it lifts and separates the breast-showing two instead of creating one like the previous dresses did.
After the stays, went on a “petticoat”, which was essentially a slip. The top layer dress would be sheer, so this was on for modesty. The slip might be colored, fancy, simple and depending on the weather would be cotton or wool. The slip and dress would be buttoned up the back. The buttons would be handmade with thread and were called dorset buttons.
Layton mentioned that prostitutes wouldn’t have used a slip and girls who were on the wilder, wanting-to-show-off-their-bodies side would moisten the slip with water to show their legs. In the book, Victoria and the Rogue, Victoria gets engaged to Lord Hugo Rothschild, Earl of Malfrey and he throws a party for her. In the book, here we get a glance that maybe the Earl isn’t the best person for Victoria as we see that he throws the party not only on Victoria’s dime, but that the people aren’t the most moral and had very loose behavior. I remember Victoria commenting on one of the ladies having a wet skirt and finding it odd. I thought it was weird too, but now I really understand why that lady was making hr legs wet-trying to show off to the guys.
After the slip, essentially to bags were tied on, that would be the pockets. The gown that would go on over would have big slits in the side so every dress would have pockets. The pockets she should is were quite large and it made me wonder-how come we don’t have pockets like that today.
After the pockets came the dress. The dress was kind of like a bib overall, or apron, with a fitted top that they would pin together. The dress would be patterned muslin, as mentioned in Gowns and Groans.
From Emma (1996)
Yes, that was how the dress stayed together-it was pinned, not sewed, but pinned in the front.
Yes, my thought was that is weird that everything is sewn, except for the last part of the outfit we will just pin it. We will pin the part that covers the breasts. That seems so immodest and all I can think is what if it falls open?
That’s not good.
My second thought? OMG that’s why Mrs. Allen had the pin!!! I thought it was in the dress and she had forgotten to remove it or overlooked it, you know like back when you bought a new button up shirt and it had the pins in it and you had to remove it. No, she had the pins because that is how her dress was held together!
“They were interrupted by Mrs. Allen: “My dear Catherine,” said she, “do take this pin out of my sleeve; I am afraid it has torn a hole already; I shall be quite sorry if it has, for this is a favourite gown, though it cost but nine shillings a yard.”
“That is exactly what I should have guessed it, madam,” said Mr. Tilney, looking at the muslin.
“Do you understand muslins, sir?”
“Particularly well; I always buy my own cravats, and am allowed to be an excellent judge; and my sister has often trusted me in the choice of a gown. I bought one for her the other day, and it was pronounced to be a prodigious bargain by every lady who saw it. I gave but five shillings a yard for it, and a true Indian muslin.” –Northanger Abbey
After the gown a ribbon would be put on to tie in the back.
During the day the chest was covered with a fichu or chemise that went up to the neck. Thinking back to Gowns and Groans, there were quite a few movies who don’t follow this, especially Mansfield Park (2007), that we had watched right before Modesto Jane Con. In the evening the chemise was changed to a lower one or the fichu removed.
Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility (1995)
After that would be a long wool coat:
Death Comes to Pemberley
Or a Spencer Jacket. The spencer jacket is a short jacket that the Earl of Spencer had named after him. Supposedly, he was too close to the fire when his tails burned up-creating the jacket.
After that a hat, or Chapeau, would go next and it would have big plumes.
Mansfield Park Opera
Then that they would put on gloves and grab their fan and a reticule.
Emma 1996 AKA the Gwyneth Paltrow version.
Northanger Abbey (2007)
The reticule wouldn’t carry much, maybe a little pin money, but usually a letter of credit from the male relative or guardian that controls their money. Some families, guardians, or husbands wouldn’t give them anything and they would have nothing.
So we enjoyed the workshop and how Layton dressed her assistant as she discussed each layer, but this workshop wasn’t as enjoyable as the others. Layton often went off subject and spoke a lot about Victorian Era clothing and herself. At the beginning of the workshop she shared that she very nervous, and I’m sure that it was led to her going off topic. With the Victorian era I’m not sure if she kept talking about because that is her favorite time period, or if she wanted people to understand the difference between the time periods.
She mentioned that she is a substitute teacher, so I know she is used to speaking in front of a group, but maybe this was her first talk on Regency clothing. She probably just needs to practice and she will be fine. We still learned a lot and I have ideas for next year.
So Modesto Jane Con was this past weekend. From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!
I, unfortunately, could only go on Saturday, but I had so much fun and I can’t wait until the next one! If there is a next one…
So your $30 ticket allowed you to attend the workshops (BOTH DAYS) and see one showing of Mansfield Park Opera (your choice of Saturday or Sunday).
I dressed up for the event (I’ll post on that later) and brought a reticule my sister made. Reticules are tiny, so I couldn’t pack everything in my bag-just the essentials. Debit card, credit card, ID, fan, gloves, pens, glasses (as I was wearing contacts) and a handkerchief. I wasn’t too worried about the size of the reticule though, as I had planned on purchasing one of their cute tote bags.
I also brought my notebook, as I planned on taking notes and later posting them (as I am now).
Our group was traveling from 1.5-2 hours away (depending on that CA traffic) and left around seven and arrived a little after 8:30. We actually headed to the theater as I was looking at the wrong event. You know me and navigating, I always get lost!
I then redirected our group, and we went to the library. We easily checked in and finished just as they announced the first workshop: Gowns & Groans
So of course, we were excited about this workshop. We wanted to learn more about the Regency gowns and who can resist the chance to snark about costumes?
Let the snark begin!
This workshop was run by Kristine Doiel and Hillari DeSchane
“Costumes have a coded language all their own. They can transport us back to Austen’s time and speak volumes about the characters, or they can be a constant distraction and prevent us from losing ourselves in the unfolding drama. Join veteran costumer Kristine Doiel on a lively, and likely to be controversial, stroll through this Regency costume Hall of Fame and Shame.”
Kristine Doiel is a costume designer and theater educator with over 50 theater and dance productions to her credit. A lecturer at Fresno State since 2017, she has taught costume and theater classes and mentored student designers. Awards include the UC Davis Provost’s Fellowship in Arts, the Princess Grace Foundation Theater Grant and a Dramalogue Award for costume design for The Rivals in Santa Barbara.
HillariDeSchane is a JASNA life member and a board member of Opera Modesto. Her pre-show opera talks have become audience favorites. DeSchane’s first Regency pet cozy: A Christmas Tail: A Regency Holiday Mystery received a Certificate of Merit from the Cat Writers Association hillarideschane.com
Picture by Arnold Chavez
So Doiel started off the workshop talking about her background; moved onto the judging of the film depictions, finished with her experiences in costuming the Mansfield Park Opera, and concluded with a Q&A.
Part I: Doiel’s Background
Doiel shared that didn’t have a background in Regency wear, and had to do research on it-being an archeologist, literary analyst, and art historian all in one. I enjoyed this aspect of her talk as you don’t really think about that when watching a film or performance, that not only do the clothes have to be accurate-but they have to reflect the action of the scene, the context of the characters, and the literature of the piece.
That’s a lot
It reminded me of when I studied art history and how you looked at the art and what it was saying, but at the same time also looked into what was happening at the time and how that influenced it. There are many layers you have to work through-such as a self portrait of an artist wearing red, blue, and white takes on a different meaning when it was created post-French revolution, such as to show liberty, fraternity, that is one of the new citizens, etc.
Part II: Gowns & Groans
The next part of the discussion was Doiel reviewing the clothing choices in Mansfield Park (1999), Mansfield Park (2007), and Pride and Prejudice (1940).
So to start with, I do not like Mainsfield Park (1999).
Not for me..
Eventually I will review it, but as for now-we will get back to the clothes.
Doiel felt that quite a bit of the costumes in here were accurate. Lady Bertram wore flimsy, lacy gowns that looked like something the wealthy class would wear, but older-late 1700s and post-French Revolution. It fits as Lady Bertram wouldn’t be at the height of fashion, but wearing something more her time. Maria, Julia, and the men were all accurate.
So here is the good part, let’s start talking trash! J/K, Doiel was very kind in her remarks, trying to not be too judgmental and try to reason why a certain outfit would have been picked.
The first offender: Fanny Price played by Frances O’Conner
So in this Fanny wears a lot of what looks like a jumper or vest over a shirt. This is not accurate at all. Instead the film, which is one reason why I can’t stand it, doesn’t follow the book at all when it comes to Fanny’s character. Instead, they turn Fanny into Jane Austen, and emphasize the writing aspect, dressing her in this more masculine, “writing type” outfit. I call it a “writing type” outfit as when I saw this the first time it made me think of Jo in the 1933 version and she was a writer. It also is similar to what Jo wears in the 2019 version of Little Women.
The other offender: Mary Crawford.
All of Mary’s clothes were too contemporary. I mean look at the dress above, it is something that we were wearing at the start of the millennium, rather than 185 years earlier. I remember wearing sleeves like that on my clothes.
She also has an outfit with a giant collar, that is just what? Doiel pointed out that the person in charge of wardrobe would have the resources and done the research on what was accurate and somebody (whether them, the studio, actor, or the director) picked this for a purpose. Doiel didn’t know why, but guessed that either the director or actor wanted something more modern to relate to audiences.
Mary’s outfits definitely were the worst.
So Mansfield Park (2007) is not the most accurate of films, as they cut a lot out to keep it at standard movie time length-however I am apparently one of the few that actually enjoys it.
She didn’t talk about any she liked as it was time to move onto the next section.
The offender here was Billie Piper as Fanny Price.
So Doil noticed that Piper wore a wide range of styles and thought maybe it was so varied as the production wanted her to be wearing hand-me-down gowns. There is a diamond dress that she wears that is completely inaccurate to the time period. Also her hair is one hundred percent wrong, as it is too modern, and she would have had it pinned up as she isn’t a young child. I think that is an interesting comment in light of the EmmaVogue photo shoot.
The other outfit that Doiel pointed out as wrong was the white wedding dress Fanny wears at the end of the film. White wedding dresses only became popular after Queen Victoria, prior to that they were colored dresses. I disagreed with this as I thought the white dress was more a comment on Fanny’s innocence, sweetness, and morality versus being white to be in with what is in fashion today. I mean, after all this takes place after an affair, a love proved false, and all the manipulations by the Crawfords. Plus, it is a foil to Maria’s dress who had opulence (check out that hat) and color, Fanny’s being plain not because of what she was forced to wear (as I am sure Sir Thomas would have bought her a different dress), but a testament to her character. But that’s just my thoughts…
The last one we looked at was Pride and Prejudice (1940) a film I love, but apparently a lot do not.
Nothing was accurate.
The film was set in the 1830s instead of the Regency period and no one quite knows why. Some say it was because Gone With the Wind was so popular and they wanted to use costumes like that. Others say it was because the Regency gowns seemed too plain. Others believe it was more cost effective to use these gowns than create new ones. Doiel thought that they might have picked such extravagant costumes as England was having to o with sparse materials, “mend and make do” as the slogan goes, and seeing such fun fabric and opulence would raise spirits. I don’t know if we will ever know…
Doiel said that she felt that this style works for Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, and Lydia as it is extravagant, frivolous, oversized, and fits their characters.
However, with Elizabeth, it works against her.
*Sigh* Laurence Olivier looks great, but he is wearing pants instead of breeches (as are the other men (see below on the view of pants) and Colonel Fitzwilliam wears a kilt (?).
That’s where we ended, although I wished they had discussed Mansfield Park (1983) as that one has some doozies in choices. I mean look at their hair.
From left to right: Edmund Bertram, Mary Crawford, and Mr. Yates
Part III: Costuming Mansfield Park, the Opera
So Doiel said that when costuming something that takes place in the past, buying the right type of fabric can be a problem. You need something that looks right on stage, fits together as a whole (in color and style), and needs to be accurate as to something they would wear.
Doiel did say that she was fortunate in this Opera to be able to reuse costumes from an earlier production, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley that had been done in December 2019.
She brought swatches in of the different fabrics for each characters costumes, and me and my group really liked that. We all enjoyed the closeup look and when we watched the performance later in the day, looked at the costumes and remembered what we had seen earlier in the workshop. We also loved that her mom, who helped her sew and cut things out, was there. It was so sweet how she helped hand out the swatches and supported her. I had tried to take a picture of the one for Fanny, but the people in my row wanted me to pass it along and the pic came out blurry.
But Lynne Marcus, one of the organizers from Modesto Jane Con, sent me a pic a friend of hers took.
Doiel’s favorite dress of the production was the gray number that Mary Crawford wears in Scene 5: Chapter Five. In the Wilderness. It was originally worn by Anne de Bourgh in the Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. I tried to get a good picture, but this was all I got.
She also loved the Navy suit that Edmund wears as she made it.
Part IV: Q & A
Doiel ended the session by answering questions and talking about Regency wear. Breeches were standard menswear. Pants, or pantaloons as they were called, were not to be worn by the upperclass. They were said to cause a scandal because they showed everything too well-even though in reality breeches showed more. But you know how I feel about that!
This should say breeches instead of pants, but I didn’t write this so it gets a pass. It was an instagram answer from a question I asked my followers.
She said that pants were worn only by the lower class workers, so wearing them was seen as trashy.
Someone asked about the muslin we have today versus then, and she said it is different. The muslin sold in stores today is mostly white and work wear, instead of dress wear. Back in the Regency period it would be block printed, decorated, different colors, and came from India. The muslin was semi-sheer and lightweight, like cotton. Of course whenever I think of Muslin I think of:
India greatly influenced what people wore-in colors, patterns, and of course ladies adopting the use of a pashmina. I had noticed that when I was trying to find something to wear to Jane Con.
From Emma (1996)
Women and men always wore gloves when going out of the house. Doiel mentioned how they weren’t doing that in the Opera as it was too difficult with all the clothing changes. That means that that hand clench scene in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice never should have happened as both Darcy and Elizabeth should have been wearing gloves.
One woman asked about lace, and lace was very in fashion. It came from India or France (probably not as much from France at this time as England and France had been fighting) and was used on hemlines and sleeves.
My book club + sister really enjoyed this discussion. We wished that Doiel had judged the costumes a bit more, (as who doesn’t like a good rip ?), but understood that she was trying to be fair.
We loved that she stayed on topic-discussing only the clothes instead of the actual films. We would have liked to hear her thoughts on more films or more on costuming the show, but understood we only had an hour and had to be a bit limited to have enough time to cover everything.
DeSchane did a great job moderating the workshop, with her interesting questions and keeping an eye on how much time we had.
We loved it and learned a lot. In fact, later we watched the 1983 Mansfield Park and discussed what we learned in this when we looked at the costumes.
So this was on my list of Pride & Prejudice-inspired books/films/etc and I have to say it was much better than I expected. I liked how it wasn’t trying to retell the story of Pride & Prejudice, but express the author’s love of the books and films.It is very similar to the film I Want to Marry Ryan Banks, so if you’ve seen that movie and liked it you’ll like this book.
The story starts off with 39 year old, mother of one, divorceé, Chloe Parker. Chloe loves Jane Austen. In fact her motto is:
Anyways, so she enters a contest to compete in a documentary about Janeites. Each contestant will live in a Regency-esque world where they will compete in answering Austen Trivia, the winner receiving $100,000. Chloe really needs the money as her old-fashioned letterpress business is starting to tank and she might end up having to foreclose on her house.
Chloe figures that this contest is in the bag as she knows oodles about Jane Austen, her books, and Regency trivia. This whole contest is supposed to a throwback to how life used to be. No phones, computers, texting, tweeting, facebooking, myspacing, etc. She can’t wait.
When Chloe arrives on the set she finds out that the show isn’t a documentary about Janeites, but is in reality a dating show, a sort of Bachelor-esque one.
Chloe is in shock and utter disbelief. She decides that she is through with it as a reality show is something she never wanted to EVER be on. She is utterly mortified that she was almost on a Flavor of Love or Farmer Takes a Wife show.
George the producer and director convinces her to stay as he promises that this is vastly different from those other shows as it is all about Regency courtship. No hot tubs, none of those outlandish ways to try and win the guy; but all about proper Regency courtship; no touching, no drinking, no alone time (everything is chaperoned), and to win special outings/events with the bachelor, the contestants had to participate in Regency-esque activities, racking up points. The bachelor is Mr. Wrightman, a wealthy individual who is tired of women being after his money and is looking for love the old-fashioned way. All Chloe has to do is play the part of a down on her luck American heiress who is eager to win a man with title and wealth. It seems so easy, and how can she say no to an Janeite experience with a hot guy and a chance at a ton of money?
So now Chloe is dressed in a 19th century style muslin dress, wearing lemon deodorant, and has a reticule full of vinaigrette (to avoid nasty smells), a fan, calling cards, gloves, and a bonnet.
She is given a fake bio about her family, with the writer’s trying to keep it as close to her reality as possible. As she has English blood on her maternal side they wrote that her mother is English while her father is American, making her daughter Abigail her sister for the bio.
This is another thing I felt was a bit odd. If the whole dating show is supposed to take place in 1812 why have an American contestant? Would she have even been able to travel over with the blockades? Wouldn’t it have looked like her family was partial to the American side? Wouldn’t it make the English dislike/distrust her? Why not set it in 1811 or late 1815? And being the only American, man that’s going to be hard on her.
They give the contestants carriage rides to the house, Bridgesbridge, where the women are staying, and as they are riding there, Chloe hears a gunshot and the carriage stops dead in its tracks. Lady Grace of the d’Agrgent family, another contestant, has a pistol and was shooting, “accidentally” hitting the carriage. Chloe has a freakout and faints dead away.
She awakens in her new bedroom under Mr. Wrightman MD’s care. In fact he carried her in from the carriage area (just like Colonel Brandon in Sense & Sensibility)
While even though being unconscious and thinking she’d been shot (when her carriage really had just turned a wheel) made her feel like an idiot, she does love the idea of Mr. Wrightman having carried her. While Mr. Wrightman isn’t exactly what she pictured (a handsome, blond, spectacle wearing, kind looking man rather than the tall, dark, and brooding Darcy-esque man that she was expecting) she is happy to have made his acquaintance.
Chloe also meets her chaperone (as her character is unmarried she has to have one), Mrs. Crescent, who is very pregnant and ready to give birth anytime soon. Chloe also gets another dose of Lady Grace, the most annoying, vile, and irritating woman: a perfect villain.
Chloe isn’t one to stand idly by, but manages to put in quite a few of her own barbs, such as telling Grace that perhaps she will get bullet pudding tonight. She also one ups Grace by stating her father always called her a princess, a rank higher than Lady.
Don’t mess with me!
She also finds out that all the other girls in the house have been there for three weeks already and she was chosen to replace a girl who had to go home due to a family emergency. Chloe feels soooo far behind and doesn’t know how she will ever catch up.
She also finds out that Regency England is lacking in quite a few ways. Besides the lemon deodorant there is weak tea because of the “Napoleonic Wars“, micro amounts of butter, no salt, no pepper, etc. They get a small cake of soap a week, a bath a week, etc.
That would be the hardest thing for me. I was actually surprised that they were able to find as many people who would be willing to give up such niceties. Deodorant, toothpaste, food with taste, soap, indoor plumbing, etc; I know that there are some things I cannot live without and I don’t know if I could go weeks without them: I NEED my indoor plumbing. I also couldn’t do a bath only on Sundays. And I’m half-Mexican, I need spice in my food! I can’t live on bland.
To make matters worse, any thought of bowing out was quickly destroyed when she hears that her chaperone Mrs. Crescent is eager to win because her child, William, has a tumor and needs an expensive operation. If Chloe wins Mr. Wrightman than Mrs. Crescent gets money too.
Chloe’s having a slight meltdown and all she wants to do is take a shower. Unfortunately as those don’t happen until Sunday, and today is Monday. She can’t handle not getting cleaned up and just happens to look out her window and see a pond. As every true Austenite has seen Pride & Prejudice (1995) she gets the idea of taking a bath in the pond. While she can’t dive in completely like Colin Firth, she is still able to clean a majority of her body.
Just like Mr. Darcy, Chloe is also caught, but by two attractive men. The first is this tall, dark, handsome, Darcy-ian man. He tries to talk to her, but she is so embarrassed that he caught her she is rude to him. He warns her that she is on Darthworth property which is grounds for termination. As she is gathering her belongings and leaving, she runs into Mr. Wrightman. As Chloe tries to explain what was happening, Mr. Wrightman makes a reference to P&P (1995) telling her that he was hoping she would emerge in a white shirt. Chloe is all:
The two have a great conversation together and Chloe is amazed at how well they seem to click. In fact, Chloe is starting to think maybe this won’t be so stupid, but perhaps fun as Henry, Mr. Wrightman seems like a really great guy. More Henry Tilney than Darcy, but Tilney isn’t that bad. (In my opinion he’s amazing)
On her way back she meets the rest of the contestants who all seem to be much, much younger and more carefree than her. There is Miss Julia Tripp who is very exuberant and full of energy, Miss Kate Harrignton who suffers from allergies, Miss Becky Carver who is African-English and just turned 21, Miss Gillian Potts who is a bit of a whiner, and Miss Olive Silverton who is a tad critical.
Let’s check out the competition.
When dressing for dinner, Chloe asks Fiona, her maid, who the tall, dark, stranger might have been with Fiona responding that it is Mr. Wrightman.
Chloe is confused as the blond doctor is Mr. Wrightman. That is when she finds out there are two Mr. Wrightmans. Sebastian is the brunette and the eldest so he is the one to inherit, the one the contest is all about. Henry, the blond doctor, is the youngest and has to marry wealthy as he won’t have a large inheritance (Very Mr. Tilney indeed). Chloe is horrified that she might have just lost her chance at Mr. Wrightman since she yelled and was rude to him. Uber embarrassed.
The next day the competition begins as the girls are taught archery and dance. None is allowed to move to the next task until they have finished their first assignment and gained their points for the day. Chloe is far behind the other girls in everything as they have been there for weeks.
Chloe even finds out that many of the girls know only a little about Jane Austen; such as Grace saying that her favorite Austen is P&P, the Keira Knightley version. Obviously not only does she have no idea that P&P wasn’t published until 1813, Sense and Sensibility was the only book out at the moment. Chloe’s reaction to this statement is exactly how I would respond.
“Chloe cringed. Not her favorite adaption. It was historically inaccurate, for one thing…Chloe looked at her in askance…” (Pg. 81)
Chloe thoroughly enjoys Regency dances, but Grace tries to throw a wrench in her plan to learn, saying she can’t dance with a girl who has ink all over her fingers. “She might catch it” Hmmph…what a pansy. Instead Chloe has to dance with Cook, Cook who she relies on and always tries to help her.
Grace and Chloe trade barbs once again, with Chloe being the victor. However, her win rings hollow when Grace runs off to meet with Mr. Wrightman, having garnered the most points and won time with him.
As Chloe looks outside the window to watch Grace, her spying quickly ends when Mrs. Crescent’s dog Fifi runs off and Chloe runs after him to get him. She runs smack dab into Sebastian and has another awkward conversation with him.
But by now she’s hooked. He is so dashing, charming, and always knows the right thing to say. Chloe is in this thing totally and completely.
Something that puts a whole damper on the situation is a call from Chloe’s daughter, Abigail. Apparently Chloe’s ex, Winthrop, has met somebody, and is getting married, and wants to change the custody arrangement. He got a promotion so he won’t be traveling as much anymore. Chloe is freaking out over it, but can’t really get involved as she is away in England.
What else could go wrong?
Also to Chloe’s surprise there is a new guest, Miss Imogen Wells. Apparently she was there the whole time but had to be apart from the others as she was on her period. In olden times women had to be separated while they had their cycle. Chloe is freaked out that there is another girl to contend with, but quickly gets over that as she finds Imogen to be one of the friendliest girls ever.The two become fast friends. The two both love painting, drawing, and Jane Austen.
I couldn’t imagine being in Regency times on my period, that would be awful. Back then they didn’t have underwear, and you just bleed through your clothes. Ew! Being on your period is bad enough but without pads, tampons, and in a chamber pot?
However, things take a turn for the better, Chloe gets an invitation to meet up with Sebastian (Mrs. Crescent has to come too) to see castle ruins! And they will all be having diner at Dartworth Hall the next day too.
Later that day Chloe is out gathering ingredients to make ink, Sebastian comes bounding by on a white horse. A man on a white horse?
Chloe is in deep, and she isn’t looking for a way out.
Later she runs into the other Wrightman brother. He comes upon her as she is painting and compliments her work. (Very reminiscent of Emma, except Henry isn’t the creepy Mr. Elton.)
Imogen and Chloe discuss the two brothers, their merits and qualities. Imogen brings up her partiality to Henry, as he is honest and forthright, while Sebastian is more of an enigma.
Chloe goes off with Sebastian and Mrs. Crescent and has a truly romantic time. He even gives her a set of paint, painting papers, and a pink cabbage rose. Chloe is just drowning in her crush.
She also finds out that Grace is not only after the money, but wants to get her family’s land back. They been lost to the Wrigtmans for centuries and she is still carrying anger for it.
Hmmm…I think you need to watch her.
That night is the ball and when the girls get there Chloe immediately checks out the library. Same here, as I I love libraries, I mean I would rather gush over a library than a man. But hey, that’s just me.
But before the girls can continue to dinner they do the invitation ceremony (much like the rose ceremony in the Bachelor or the picture one in America’s Next Top Model.) Imogen, Becky, and Olive end up being sent home. Grace is so annoying and everyone wishes she was sent home, but she makes great TV.
Ugh, hate her.
Since Chloe is lower than the other girls, she enters last but she does have Henry to guide her in, and he is also placed next to her. Chloe makes a Persuasion reference about lotion, and while Kate Harrington doesn’t get it, Henry does.
Okay everybody, Henry is perfect. After all, he has clearly read Jane Austen.
After the conversation the two have, I would far rather have Henry than to risk getting Sebastian, who one knows nothing about. All are having a wonderful time until Grace pops out a boob in order to get the focus on her.
Sebastian makes plans to have a faux fox hunt for the girls. Everyone is exclaiming over it when Mrs. Crescent screams out that
The BABY’S HERE!
Immediately Chloe goes to help. It turns out to be a false alarm, but Henry seems more interested in her than ever.
Chloe goes out the next day and runs into Henry with falcons. The two share some tender moments, but it is ruined ended when she also runs into Sebastian who gives her a message with clues in it to find a great prize.
Instead of trying to make ink to get her accomplishment points, Chloe goes into the kitchen to make strawberry tarts. She isn’t supposed to be in the kitchen as she is a lady, but Chloe finds it so hard to be proper all the time, (blame it on her American upbringing).
Afterwards Sebastian come to take her silhouette. She finds out that he knows more about Chloe as he has had the opportunity of watching her audition video, check her facebook, twitter, and research her through the internet. He tells her they have a lot in common and he also takes a lock of her hair. Taking someone’s lock of hair meant you were very interested in them and were planning on courting or possibly proposing. Most would turn them into rings or place them in lockets.
The next day is the fox hunt and Chloe is ready to give it her all.
The first to reach the area where the faux fox is wins the challenge and accomplishment points. Chloe is in the lead, but as she is going Henry falls off his horse.
Apparently his horse was injured. Chloe stops to help him even though she is sacrificing her chance of winning. Henry strips off his shirt so that he could use it to help the horse, but seeing all the blood, makes Chloe faint again.
Henry wakes her up and kisses her.
Yes, like in Sleeping Beauty
Everyone returns indoors after the hunt. Chloe is certain she will be the next to go home as she never made it to the tree. But to her surprise she wins all the points as the real test was to see who would stop. To add to Chloe’s joy is that she is chosen to host the after hunt tea. Before they can enter though, they all have to have their reticule’s examined to make sure that no contraband has been carried through. Chloe is sure that she will pass but then they find a condom in her purse.
Chloe is shocked at how that got in there. She argues that it is obviously a plant as why would she even chance it at her own tea party. They let her continue, but tell her that she is on probation until they get to the bottom of it.
What starts out as a normal tea party ends up becoming a a full fledged food fight. Somehow Chloe manages to make it through to the next invitation ceremony.
However she feels awful about some of the things she said about Henry when she and Grace were arguing (what escalated into the food fight). So Chloe does the only reasonable thing and dresses up like a messenger boy so she can tell Henry how sorry she is.
I can be a dude. I’m a dude.
This Shakespearean twist isn’t completely crazy. There is no way Chloe could send him a letter, note, or talk to him privately about how she feels. Women could only do that if they were engaged.
The next day everyone is going to the maze for an outing, but both Grace and Chloe are on probation for their outlandish tendencies. Fifi the dog takes off into the maze and Chloe follows, and then it begins to pour (hey it’s England). Instead of turning back she takes off after him to save him, with Henry also going. Fifi gets in a fight with a weasel and Henry runs off with Fifi to help with his wounds leaving Chloe behind. She gets lost and Sebastian goes in there to get her-carrying her out Colonel Brandon style.
He puts her down and as Chloe is making her way to the house she realizes that while she is falling for both men, she needs to put her eyes back on the goal and win Sebastian and the $100,000.
Even though she had just had Sebastian’s arms around her, Chloe is depressed as she looks like a wet dishrag in comparison to the others.
Elinor Dashwood: Marianne, you must change. You will catch a cold. Marianne: What care I for colds when there is such a man. Elinor Dashwood: You will care very much when your nose swells up.
She has to return home, quite sad that she couldn’t stay longer at the event longer.
That night Chloe is able to take a bath, but finds out that she has to take it after all the other girls because she is lower than them. EWWWWW! She has to use USED BATHWATER!!!! NFM! I could not handle that. I’d be in that pond. To make matters worse she finds a mouse in her room. It’s just not her day.
What else could go wrong?
Chloe gets a letter from home and becomes extremely stressed out. Without a gym or kitchen to be able to go in and destress, she skips an accomplishment task to take a walk. The cook agrees to cover for her, and Chloe takes off-running right into Henry and feelings about him that she doesn’t want to think about. The two enjoy a bit of birdwatching and she tells Henry that she has a mouse.
She returns home and cook starts grilling her about her about where she has been. She questions whether Chloe is throwing away her opportunity on the penniless brother. This gets Chloe all riled up, but makes her wonder…She finds out that she missed Sebastian calling and Grace won the next outing with Sebastian. Then she ends up fainting. That makes it the third time.
The next day Chloe gets a present from Mr. Wrightman. It’s a cat!
Why isn’t this guy real?
Ah, he’s perfect! He got her a mouser. Now Chloe thinks that Henry told Sebastian, and Sebastian sent it but it is obvious that Henry sent it. I mean the guy is totally in love with her. And I feel that he is a much better guy than Sebastian as he is real. Sebastian is too oily, and too perfect.
I’m all about that Henry!
Chloe has a moment upstairs when she really wishes she could just chill out to some tunes. Since she can’t she just sings her heart out and does a Sweet Charity number. And to her embarrassment, she spots Sebastian watching her through her window outside.
Next up is the archery tournament and one has to get four bulls eyes. Chloe is not on the top of her game and manages to shoot very badly.
Henry loans her his glasses so that she can make her bullseye and proceed to the ball. All is going well until Grace steps on her foot and causes her to miss, sending the arrow right at Henry. Grace faints and Chloe thinks she has just killed him. Henry is alright and Chloe thinks she’s out of the contest. ;(
Chloe ends up getting another shot and gets a bullseye.
Grace gets first place and the first dance with Sebastian. Chloe has second but has to sit out as her arrow went awry. Julia has third. When Chloe returns to her room she finds that her cat has got the mouse and an invite to the Grecian temples with Mr. Wrightman.
Chloe is so excited about her date she bribes a footman to get her a razor and shaves her legs.
The date isn’t all as she hopes it would be. Sebastian has a toothache and has to suck on cloves as they are “in the 1800s”. Chloe tries to discuss things with him, but garners no response at all. To further ruin the moment, Chloe has to pee and there is no chamberpot in site. Lucky for her, Henry’s lab is nearby and Sebastian tells her that he has a water closet. She has more moments with Henry and gets something to help Sebastian’s toothache. She gives him a drop of laudanum. After taking it, Sebastian really cuts loose. He starts saying all kinds of things and starts trying to get all over her. Charlotte ends up decking him as he as he tries to pull her dress off, with Henry arriving just in time to cart him off.
Now here I would have completely jumped off the Sebastian train and gone Henry all the way. Sebastian is a loser.
So Chloe still wants to win, she needs the money, and is set on trying to prove that Grace is doing all kinds of illegal activities. She finds all kinds of things to support that and even gets caught by Grace as Grace is trying to get down with a footman.
Chloe goes to get her new dress finished for the ball and finds that she has lost weight. (Due to her hating and refusing to eat the food offered at the areas). She also spots Grace (through her window) putting the moves on Henry and becomes livid, though she can’t imagine why. She also gets a note from Sebastian to meet up during the ball in the icehouse. She is extremely worried as she hopes that they don’t have a repeat of the Grecian temple.
They have the final invitation ceremony and Julie is sent home; only Grace and Julia are left. Since Mrs. Crescent is about ready to pop she can’t go, so the cook accompanies and chaperones Chloe, rescuing her from the evil clutches of Grace & Co. It turns out the cook is actually Mrs. Wrightman, the Mr. Wrightmans’ mother.
Henry takes her to the library and gives her a first edition of Sense and Sensibility.
Henry really knows how to win a girl over. I’d propose to him.
Anyways, while they are there, Henry reveals his feelings for her quoting P&P
I love it!
Chloe gets the second dance with Sebastian and gets to do the dance Darcy and Elizabeth do in the ’95 adaption.
She also makes a great Darcy reference, but one that Sebastian does not get. To cause further frowns she spots a girl making the moves on Henry. Then when she is about to dance the very risqué waltz with Sebastian she gets a message from Fiona that Mrs.C just went into labor. She steals a horse and is off to help.
However when she gets back to the house she discovers Mrs. C is perfectly fine. Mrs. C is not having a baby. FIONA LIED!!!!!
She tries to run back to the party and totally messes up her outfit and runs into Henry. He tries to console her and she enjoys it, but then that she recognizes she is in the icehouse. When she tries to get rid of Henry as Sebastian is coming, Henry is disappointed (even worse than angry) and takes off.
NO!! I want them to get back together.
When she meets up with Sebastian she realizes that this isn’t what she really wants. He admits to flirting with Fiona, he pulls out a knife and plays with it (what a psycho), and then tries to strip her. She freaks out-I would too-and Sebastian proposes. The footman enters and tells them Mrs. C is having the baby. As Chloe tries to leave Sebastian pulls her back.
Now I don’t know why Chloe says yes, Sebastian is crazy. And this dude clearly doesn’t take no for an answer.
Sebastian lets Chloe take his horse and she goes off. There she helps Henry deliver the baby.
She has a fight with Fiona and goes back to her room. She looks out the window and sees Sebastian and Fiona finishing the “horizontal tango”. This man is definitely not Mr. Darcy, Tilney, Knightly, Brandon, Wentworth, Bingley, Ferras, or Bertram.
He’s nothing but a Wickham, Elliot, Willoughby, and Crawford.
The then have a huge fake wedding to end the show. They even bring Chloe’s mom and dad over. Chloe has a huge freakout as she marches down the alley and dumps Sebastian taking off to find Henry. Henry who Chloe has has announced that she loves.
As she tries to go to town to get home to her daughter and find Henry. She runs into some people who tell her that Sebastian isn’t the heir to Dartworth Hall, but Henry is.
Henry comes after her on a white horse. A WHITE HORSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Henry takes her out and explains everything. Henry is a forty year old man who is heir to the Dartworth estate and a very large fortune. He works as a doctor because he loves helping others. He loves art, architecture, Jane Austen,
Women have been after him for his name and fortune so he hasn’t been able to settle down. His friend George came up with the idea, and Henry was hoping he would find his “Anne Elliot”. Sebastian is his cousin, and an aspiring actor, and Lady Anne (the cook) is actually his mother. He hated Grace but had to keep her on for ratings. Henry tells her he loves her, but Chloe is just so angry she refuses the money and goes home.
So Chloe goes home. All she keeps is the cat.
I would have kept the money and Henry. Chloe is crazy.
So Chloe is back in the states. She has given up in trying to find a fairy tale guy and she instead dates regular guys. The only Austen thing she does is watch the show she was on, Dating Mr. Darcy.
In the last episode she sees that they did exit interviews with everyone but her. Grace went back to her trading firm and is dating a politician. Fiona set a date with her fiancée who is back from fighting in Afghanistan (the guy she was porking about behind his back). Mrs. Crescent’s son had a successful operation and the lump is benign. Sebastian was given a leading role in a TV series and is currently dating one of the milkmaids from the show. Henry ends with a heartwarming plea telling Chloe that she pierce’s his soul and asking her to contact him.
The book ends with Chloe emailing Henry. Hoping to start a new beginning.
So both guys were definitely not Mr. Darcy, but Henry turned out to be one great guy.