Category Archives: Jane Austen

Secondary Character Saturday: Aunt Winnie (Murder at Longbourn)

[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]

WHO: Aunt Winnie

FROM: Murder at Longbourn, Murder on the Bride’s Side, Murder Most Persuasive. (She is in Murder Most Austen too, but I haven’t read that yet)

BY: Tracy Kiely


[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]

PROS: Aunt Winnie is feisty, smart, and she knows her mind. Since I am now eligible for an AARP card I really appreciate heroines (and heroes) who have a few  years on them. Aunt Winnie has me beat by several decades, but she still knows how to have fun (even if she doesn’t always know how to dress.) She’s her own woman and I like that. She’s devoted to her niece, which an aunt ought to be if she can. And she loves Jane Austen.

CONS: She’s stubborn, and her “throw caution to the wind” attitude some times gets her in trouble.

[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]

MOST SHINING MOMENT:  Murder at Longbourn takes place at Winnie’s B&B, so she is most intricately involved in that plot, but I think her most shining moment comes in Murder Most Persuasive when she puts her sister-in-law, a Scarlett O’Hara wannabe, in place on several occasions.

WHY I CHOSE AUNT WINNIE: Well I couldn’t choose Elizabeth, because she’s the MAIN character   …and I would have chosen Peter, but Peter is  a stand in for Darcy — and if I was going to pick Darcy I would have PICKED DARCY! So Aunt Winnie was a good next choice. She’s the type of gal I hope to be when I grow up.

[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]

In this book series Tracy Kiely manages to channel Austen and Agatha Christie at the same time. I’m not a big fan of the Mystery genre, but Kiely throws in plenty of Austen references and an abundance of self deprecating humor and manages to make each of these books a fun, easy read. I’m looking forward the fourth novel, Murder Most Austen.

[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]


Related Sites:

Ahhh the Regency Life for me.


Hold on to your bonnets ladies, Austenland is almost here. The film, which stars Keri  Russell as an uber  Jane Austen fan who travels to England for the vacation of a lifetime — a chance to live the Regency experience — won high marks at the Sundance Festival  and enjoyed a strong limited release this weekend. While the rest of us wait with bated breath for the film to come to our local movie house I thought I’d take a closer look at what life was really like in Jane’s day.  I was inspired by the August 15 article by Roy and Lesley Adkins which list 13 Reason You Wouldn’t Want to Live In Jane Austen’s England.

  1. Forced Marriage
  2. Infant Mortality
  3. Fetching Water
  4. Dangers of Fire
  5. Child Labor
  6. Chimney Sweeps
  7. Dubious Medicines
  8. Dodgy Dentistry
  9. Shocking Surgery
  10. Press Gangs
  11. The Bloody Code (Criminal Courts)
  12. Punishment After Death
  13. Injustice After Death

I’d like to humbly add my own warnings to coveting a life in an Empire dress.

An 1833 engraving of a scene from Chapter 59 o...

An 1833 engraving of a scene from Chapter 59 of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Bennet is on the left, Elizabeth on the right. This, along with File:Pickering – Greatbatch – Jane Austen – Pride_and_Prejudice – This is not to be borne, Miss Bennet.jpg, are the first published illustrations of Pride and Prejudice. Janet M. Todd (2005), Jane Austen in Context, Cambridge University Press p. 127 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First… forget about Darcy. If you are like me  (solidly in the middle class)  you’ve got about as much chance as marrying the Master of Pemberley (or  Donwell or Delaford or Mansfield) as you do of winning PowerBall. As Austen makes perfectly clear MONEY likes MONEY, and if you don’t have it you’re not likely to attract it. Maybe, if you are very, very pretty you might temp an unwary man (assuming there’s not an eagle-eyed sister, mother or aunt looking out for just your sort). However, with out the aid of modern dentistry and plastic surgery I hope that your beauty is God-given.

Be prepared to get sick. The food is going to totally suck. With out the benefit of an Amana French Door stainless steel refrigerator — the Regency cook’s best method  for preserving food is salt. Yum. The water is unfiltered and filled with lovely microbes and the milk is unpasteurized.

Ladies hush your mouth. If children were meant to be seen and not heard, members of the fairer sex weren’t expected to say much more. Certainly they weren’t expected to say anything that contradicted with the men around them. That may make Elizabeth Bennet all the more extraordinary, but don’t you go trying it.

Lady Catherine confronts Elizabeth about Darcy...

Lady Catherine confronts Elizabeth about Darcy, on the title page of the first illustrated edition. This is the other of the first two illustrations of the novel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Granted, it’s fun to don a Regency dress, long gloves and hat every once in a while, but I can’t imagine doing it every day. Summers must have been brutal (and aromatic) with all that fabric and no air conditioning.

Then again…I guess fantasy is part of the appeal of Austen’s novels. And every time I pick up one of Jane’s six novels (or one of the many Austen inspired books on my shelf) I’m a very willing participant in that fantasy…. As I will be when I go to see Austenland… if it ever makes it to a screen near me.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday Fiction: “When a Woman Remembers”

August 9, 1813, Somersetshire, England

Anne closed the attic door behind her. It was hot up there on the top floor of Kellynch Hall, but that was to be expected, given that it was the second week of August. She went to the small octagonal window and pushed it open.

A stir of a breeze kissed her face. She stayed there for a few seconds watching the carriage that transported her father and Elizabeth toward town. They were off to visit Lady Russell — the only person of worth this “scanty neighbourhood afforded.”

An invitation had been extended to Anne too, of course, but she claimed a headache.  The headache was real, she could feel the tension radiating across her forehead. Her father, Sir Walter — always quick to recognize a flaw in his second daughter’s complexion  — allowed that she did look more pasty and pinched than usual. And, as her remaining at home did not cause him any inconvenience,  he was quiet ready to allow it.

Anne felt a few moments of guilty discomfort over the deception as she walk through the house. Yes, her head was pounding, but, no, that’s not the reason she wanted to stay home.

Kellynch Hall was in disarray and she was not surprised that her father had fled for the calmer environs of Lady Russell’s manor. Every room Anne passed seemed to have at least one servant inside who was busy with preparations for the family’s upcoming exodus to Bath.

Thus far the Main Floor- save Sir Walter’s Private Study with its copy of the Baronetage and full length looking glass — were in the full swing of transition. The contents of the Parlour, the Library, the Sitting Room… were either being packed for the move or catalogued  and readied for the next inhabitants of the house.

The Second Floor was quieter. Anne had already packed most of her belongings. She had placed yellow cards on the boxes going to Bath and pale blue cards on the smaller number boxes that would be send ahead to the Musgroves for her visit to her youngest sister Mary this summer.  Anne had little expectation that either her father or Elizabeth had begun to sort through their rooms. Indeed the task would likely fall to her when the it could no longer be avoided. But THAT was a chore better off delayed.

As she climbed the skinnier stairs past the servant’s quarters to the attic she knew that no one had had time to get to this top floor yet.

That was good.

There were treasures here that could not be catalogued by a servant’s pen.

It was funny, Anne thought, how the heat and the dust of this place never bothered her as a child. It has been her favorite hiding place. It was here that she would come to read away an afternoon, or play adventure games with Mary.

Now — as she turned from the relative coolness of the window and faced the dim, hot interior — she was almost overwhelmed by the temperature, the staleness, the dust.

It had been nearly seven years since she had climbed those stairs and stepped onto the rough wooden floor of the attic. She had taken Lady Russell’s advice — again — and had decided to put away her remembrances of a certain young man. “Out of sight, out of mind.” Lady Russell had gently urged. And so Anne had brought her small box of treasures up to the attic and put them in a medium-sized trunk that no one seemed to care about. She’d put a broken birdcage on top of the trunk to keep a kind of sentry.

She had cried that day — the day she had finally, truly gave up Frederick. — Great gasps of tears accompanied each letter as she put it inside that box. And when they were all inside and she closed the box and tied it up with a blue ribbon she found she was not capable of additional tears. Her eyes ached  for want of crying, but her tears had turned to dust just like everything else in the attic.

The birdcage was still in place. 7 years of dust assured Anne that no one had been inside the trunk. She moved the cage, lifted the lid of the trunk  and removed the box. She looked at the blue grosgrain ribbon. The sailors knot was still in place, untampered with.

Anne slipped the ribbon from the box careful not to touch the items inside.

It contained: 1 seagull feather, 6 inches long, 1 smooth river rock, the size of your fist, 1 button from a the uniform of a junior Naval Officer, silver, and  24 letters.

The feather, rock and button she left in the box. Her mission was to expunge evidence of her long ago romance, not to revel in it. These items could be from any one. They did not implicate her broken heart.

But as she reached into the box to retrieve the letters her hand brushed the delicate feather. The whisper tickle it gave as it brushed against her skin brought her back to the days of a different summer… of stolen moments… of a teasing feather on her cheek… of the innocent giggles of a 19-year-old in love.

“I am over him.” She said out loud, determined, master of her own mind.

But the feather joined the letters as she placed them in her reticule.

More carelessly now she returned the box to the trunk, closed the lid, replaced the cage, retraced her steps to the window, did the latch, and found her way down stairs to her room.

Despite the summer heat Miss Anne Elliot rang the bell and requested a small fire.

It was to help with her headache, no doubt. — She did look dreadful pale. Lucy, one of the maids obliged. She left Miss Anne with a cool pitcher of lemonade and the promise not to be disturbed until supper.

Anne let minutes slip past by the dozen as she kept vigil over the small pile of letters on her night stand. She should not — WOULD NOT — keep them. But… she was having difficulty moving her hand to the pile to pick one up and place it on the fire.

When the Hall clock struck 1:00  she moved from the bed.

It was necessary to do what was necessary. It was time.

She grabbed the letters and one by one tossed them into the small flame. It would flare up as it hungrily devoured the paper, the ink, the words, the passion of her past, but soon enough it calmed back to a flicker not much bigger than a candle’s flame.

Anne was methodical, patient. One by one the letters disappeared. 15. 16. 17. 18. Then when she got to the 19th piece of folded paper she hesitated. It wasn’t the last letter wrote her. It wasn’t the thickest one in the pile. It was the date that caught her eye.

This letter was addressed:


Her hands shook as she unfolded the paper.

“Dear Anne,” read his beautiful strong handwriting, “My time is not my own today. Lots to do to prepare for our new adventure. I’m so busy I can hardly write. But I could not let the day expire with out wishing you the happiest of birthdays my love! Yours always, Frederick.”

Anne smiled and fed the letter to the fire. It went up the same as the others. But it had stirred something in her.

Regardless of how correct or devastatingly incorrect her decision to listen to her father and Lady Russell had been all those years ago… the letter proved as a reminder that he had loved her. She had not imagined that.

With equally measured patience she finished her task. The remainder of the letters disappeared to smoke and ash. She no longer had any proof that she had been loved …except for that proof she carried in her heart.

As for the feather… well she could have gotten that anywhere. That meant nothing, except to her.

Anne unpacked one of her hat boxes and pulled out her favorite everyday hat. She spent the rest of the afternoon neatly working in the white and gray feather, making sure it was properly secure and would not fly off in a gust of adversity.

She would wear that hat often, she thought. Because, although she followed Lady Russell’s advice and had put away her remberances of Frederick Wentworth, she would never forget him.


Happy 226th Birthday Anne Elliot! My favorite Austen heroine!

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


As usual Friday’s blog is part of a writers prompt from  Today her prompt was “Women”

July Creative Challenge, day 20: Austen


Oh Jane, you clever, clever girl.

You write six novels and people love you for ever.

How is it even possible that a clergyman’s daughter who has been dead for nearly 200 years still has all of her major works in print?

OK,  Colin Firth explains a lot.

OK, Colin Firth explains a lot.

This weekend our local chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America held a summer meeting that explored some of the books that are based on Austen’s works. Our little “Flash Book Club” had 16 presenters reviewing volumes both fun and scholarly. Our members did a fabulous job letting us know which books were worth purchasing and which to leave behind on the book shelf.

Here’s the list of prequels, sequels, alternate perspective P.O.V. novels, and informative books we reviewed…Books reviewed for web

There, There Marianne

It’s Friday, and that means a short story based on a writing prompt by ViewFromTheSide’s Blog. This week’s theme is “Happiness.” To see more entries click HERE and visit ViewFromTheSide.


There, There Marianne

By Rita Baker-Schmidt

English: A photo of a small green Budgerigar f...

English: A photo of a small green Budgerigar feather  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“There, There. Maaaaarianne….There, There. Maaaaarianne….There, There. Maaaaarianne….”

Today is the day I am going to get up out of this bed, go over to that bird-cage and kill that stupid parrot.

“There, There. Maaaaarianne….”

He can not help it, I suppose. He is a PARROT after all. He is only doing what parrots do. But it is hard enough enduring the genuine compassion of my sister’s hushed alto 200 times a day. I really can not stand this squawking avian imitation.

“There, There. Maa–.”

Ah,ha! a well-aimed slipper has temporarily silenced the screecher. I take a sigh of relief.


For the record I do not wish to be consoled (neither by human nor bird).

I have been wronged and I intend to wallow in the depths of misery as gloriously as I revelled in the delights of the love that caused it.

That is my role in this little drama, after all. I am “the E M O T I O N I A L one.”  I wear my heart on my sleeve. My mood floats like feeling filled flotsam in a sea of angst.

If you want stability, strength, restraint? Pray… look to my sister. She will not disappoint.

But I am none of those things. I am weak… a wreck… a ruin. Love has turned her starry eyes else where and she shall never look my way again.

And now I cry, of course. Sighing… moaning… tears are soaking the bed-clothes.

“There, There. Maaaaarianne….”

There is a gentle knock on the door. “Go AWAY!”

Why do I bother to say it? Why do they even bother to knock? They’ll just come in any way — tempting me with their strawberries or olives or advice.

But this is some one new. some one I have never met before. Yet…there is something familiar about this small woman.

“Good morning Marianne.” She moves to the window and sits down at the small writing desk. She pulls a stack of paper from her satchel. Sharpens a quill. She opens the inkwell.

“But-what-who?” I say with incoherent surprise.

“There, there, Marianne.” She tells me, “Everything will be alright. You are going through a rough patch right now, but things will turn out just right in the end.”

She puts the nib of the quill into the inkwell then holds it at the ready over the paper. She stares at the middle distance and thinks.

English: Quill pen

English: Quill pen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The parrot fills the silence with his familiar refrain.

“There, There. Maaaaarianne….”

“Well, we can lose the bird for one thing. ” She leafs through the stack of papers and pulls out a sheet.

“There, There. Maaa—….”

As she crosses out something on the paper the bird goes silent. With a few scribbles she  transforms it from a medium-sized, multi-colored parrot to three bright green song birds.  She continues to write as she says out loud ” Song birds singing Q U I E T L Y–” their volume goes down several notches ” in the corner.”

She looks at me. “Better?”

I nod.

“Alright, my dear, you have been moping about on the page for quite a long time now — and you’ve been doing the same in my head for a good deal longer. What am I going to do with you?”

Belatedly I realized that she has shifted from the rhetorical, and now actually expects an answer. “Oh,” I sniffle, “I , uh, I want what everybody wants.” I tell her, “I want to be happy.”

She smiles shyly under her bonnet. “You WILL be happy, dearest.” She gives me a little wink, like she’s got that part worked out. “In the end, I promise you.”

“It doesn’t feel like it.” I say gloomily.

She shrugs, “Well, I have a few hundred more pages to go, but we’ll get there.”

It occurs to me that this woman might be touched in the head. Or maybe I am — am I hallucinating?

“Marianne, know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience–“

Here I interrupt her, “If you want patience you’ll have to see my sister Elinor.”

“Very well, give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.”  She smiles, “You can hope, can’t you?”

Hope. That sounds like an appropriately romantic notion. I can wrap my arms around that and hug it to my heart. “And you can really do it — make me happy in the end?”

She raises an eyebrow. “You saw what I did with the bird didn’t you?”

Women in Empire Gowns

Women in Empire Gowns (Photo credit: Lea Ann Belter Bridal)


To read my other entries from previous prompts click HERE to read Rabbit Hole Island or HERE to read The Handels a Saga or HERE to read Emergency Exit Strategy

Top 100 Books proves that Jane Austen is the Teacher’s Pet

CLASS lets get reading…

TES (Think, Educate, Share) a website dedicated to bringing the latest teaching news and strategies to educators and the public asked 500 primary and secondary teachers what their top 10 books were. They crunched the numbers and came up with the following list of 100 top books.

It is an interesting list and it ranges nicely from early-ish chapter books — the kind that got us all hooked on reading in the first place, like Dahl and Lewis — to more mature novels like Atonement.

I was glad to see that my girl Jane made the grade (#1, 32, 52, 58). And you’ll recognize lots of other Thought of the Day authors on here too (I put them in italics — if you  are interested in reading the bioBlogs go to the search box to the right and type in their name.)

1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

3. Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling

4. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

5. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

7. The Lord of the Rings (series) J.R.R. Tolkien

[Image courtesy Biography online

[Image courtesy Biography online

8. The Book Thief Markus Zusak9. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien10. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald11. The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini12. The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins13. The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger

14. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) C.S. Lewis

15. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

16. Birdsong Sebastian Faulks

17. His Dark Materials (series) Philip Pullman

18. The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

19. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

20. Life of Pi Yann Martel

21. Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

22. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier

23. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon

24. Lord of the Flies William Golding

25. Matilda Roald Dahl

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).  Surrounding Mr. Dahl and his pups are: at the top left are: The BFG, Sophie, Dahl with his pups, The Enormous Crocodile, Mr. Fox, James, the Grand High Witch, Willy Wonka, and Matilda.

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).


26. Catch-22 Joseph Heller

27. Millennium (series) Stieg Larsson

28. Animal Farm George Orwell

29. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

30. Persuasion Jane Austen

31. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

32. Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael Morpurgo

33. Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle Magorian

34. The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck

35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl

36. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

37. Little Women Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

38. One Day David Nicholls

39. We Need to Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver

40. The Twits Roald Dahl

41. Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel

42. A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini

43. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

44. Frankenstein Mary Shelley

45. Great Expectations Charles Dickens

46. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres

47. George’s Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl

48. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams

douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guid...

douglas adams inspired “Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy” H2G2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

49. Room Emma Donoghue

50. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

51. Atonement Ian McEwan

52. Emma Jane Austen

53. Middlemarch George Eliot

54. The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

55. The Color Purple Alice Walker

56. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle

57. Brave New World Aldous Huxley

58. Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen

59. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

60. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

61. Charlotte’s Web E.B. White

62. Dracula Bram Stoker

63. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

64. A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving

65. The Secret History Donna Tartt

66. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

67. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky

68. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

69. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

70. Skellig David Almond

71. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

72. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell

73. Game of Thrones (series) George R.R. Martin

74. David Copperfield Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

75. Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro

76. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

77. Twilight (series) Stephenie Meyer

78. Beloved Toni Morrison

79. The Help Kathryn Stockett

80. Sherlock Holmes (series) Arthur Conan Doyle

81. Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

82. Moneyball Michael Lewis

83. My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell

84. Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

85. On the Road Jack Kerouac

86. Cloud Atlas David Mitchell

87. Wild Swans Jung Chang

88. Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery

89. Les Miserables Victor Hugo

90. Room on the Broom Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

91. Private Peaceful Michael Morpurgo

92. Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman

93. Cider with Rosie Laurie Lee

94. Danny the Champion of the World Roald Dahl

95. Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the cor...

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the corner of Pond Street and South End Road, opposite the Royal Free Hospital. The bookshop has long gone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

96. The Magic Faraway Tree Enid Blyton

97. The Witches Roald Dahl

98. The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy

99. Holes Louis Sachar

100. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde.

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length por...

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length portrait, facing front, seated, leaning forward, left elbow resting on knee, hand to chin, holding walking stick in right hand, wearing coat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So… what do you think? Did the teachers get an A+ for their list?  Are there any other books that you treasure that didn’t make the top 100?

If you were asked to list your top 10 books what would you include?

Secondary Character Saturday Alan Rickman: Colonel Brandon

[Courtesy Fan Pop]

[Click on the image for animated Alan; Image Courtesy Fan Pop]

Who: Colonel Brandon


From: Sense and Sensibility


Title page from the first edition of Jane Aust...


By: Jane Austen 


Published: 1811


Pros: Kind, considerate, thoughtful, decent, patient, gentle, faithful, honorable, sensitive, generous, caring… and , oh, yeah, RICH.


Although reserved and not passionate, he has a very good heart and helps out those in distress. His charitable behavior toward Eliza Williams and Edward Ferrars makes him the unnoticed knight in shining armor. [Book]


Cons: Unromantic (on the surface at least), dull, remote, joyless, grave.  He appears stern and dour. especially when compared to Willoughby.


English: "when Colonel Brandon appeared i...

English: “when Colonel Brandon appeared it was too great a shock to be borne with calmness” – Marianne, expecting Willoughby, leaves after Colonel Brandon appears. Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. London: George Allen, 1899. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Most Shining Moment: Traveling from Cleveland to Barton Cottage overnight to fetch Mrs. Dashwood to Marianne’s sick-bed.


Not a moment was lost in delay of any kind. The horses arrived, even before they were expected, and Colonel Brandon only pressing her hand with a look of solemnity, and a few words spoken too low to reach her ear, hurried into the carriage. It was then about twelve o’clock, and she returned to her sister’s apartment to wait for the arrival of the apothecary, and to watch by her the rest of the night. [Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 43]


Least Shining Moment: [I love Brandon, don’t get me wrong. I don’t know that there is a bigger Brandon fan out there than yours truly. BUT … ]  Marianne (rightly) thinks Brandon too old for her. His attraction to her is largely based on a decades old attraction to another woman, Eliza Williams*, to whom he was separated from when he was shipped off to the Army. Essentially he is in love with a ghost from his past.   I know we live a different times but… crushing on some one who is nearly 20 years your junior because they remind you of lost love is a bit creepy, isn’t it? .

Brandon and Marianne (Kate Winslett) in the 1995 movie version of Sense and Sensibility [Image Courtesy: Fan Pop]

Brandon and Marianne (Kate Winslet) in the 1995 movie version of Sense and Sensibility [Image Courtesy: Fan Pop]

It is as good for him as it is for Marianne that it takes them the entire novel to get together. He’s a very patient man. And in the time it takes for her to realize that he is actually a wonderful guy, he has learned to appreciate her for who she really is (and not just as a substitute for his long-lost Eliza.) I think at the end of the novel Brandon really does love Marianne for herself. Perhaps that is the sweetest journey of all in the book.


He has clearly already had his heart-broken, and the romantic Marianne believes that everyone is fated to only love once; she prefers the young, handsome, and spontaneous Willoughby, who eventually jilts her. Proving that patience is a virtue, Brandon remains on the perimeter until Marianne gets over being jilted. Brandon’s character and temperament conform to Austen’s and Elinor’s idea of sense rather than sensibility. [Book]


Alan Rickman played as Colonel Brandon in the 1995 movie directed by Ang Lee, from a screenplay by Emma Thompson. It was “the first cinematic Jane Austen adaptation in 50 years” [IMDb Sense and Sensibility] I love the movie. Like most Austen adaptions it swings wildly away from the book at times, but, still, Ahhhhh… it is a delight. And Rickman’s pitch perfect Brandon is certainly a big part of why I’m so fond of the film. He’s soooo somber, and the poor guy never seems to get his timing right. He’s always walking in just as  Marianne is expecting the more pleasant company of Willoughby.

As Marianne languishes in the other room, Brandon begs for a commission from Elinore. She suggests he fetch her mother, Mrs. Dashwood to Cleveland. [Image Courtesy: Fan Pop]

As Marianne languishes in the other room, Brandon begs for a commission from Elinore. She suggests he fetch her mother, Mrs. Dashwood to Cleveland. [Image Courtesy: Fan Pop]

The comparison between the two men (sensible Brandon and sensual Willoughby) is a secondary theme  in the book (it echos the dichotomy of the sisters’ relationship) but  the movie gives it a wonderful treatment with almost identical scenes of the male character carrying Marianne to safety through the rain. Willoughby does so almost effortlessly towards the beginning of the movie. He puts her down on her mother’s couch as if she is light as a feather. The episode hardly cost him any effort and Marianne is instantly besotted with him.  For Brandon it is a different story. He falls to his knees when he makes to the main hall at Cleveland. He’s spent every ounce of his energy in the task of finding and rescuing Marianne.  But, as she is lifted out of his arms, she is too ill to notice, much less thank him. … SIGH… for those of us who like a tablespoon of  unrequited love in our fiction it is a lovely scene.




Brandon reads to a recovering Marianne (in the 1995 movie version of Sense and Sensibility) [Image Courtesy Fan Pop]

Brandon reads to a recovering Marianne (in the 1995 movie version of Sense and Sensibility) [Image Courtesy Fan Pop]

*BTW: The Brandon and Eliza back story would make such a lovely historically based novel. Some one get on that please.




Happy World Book Day! (What’s on your Night Stand?)

Super quick post to wish you all a Happy World Book Day!

So here’s my quick reader’s quiz for you…

  • What YOU are reading today (What’s on your night stand)?
  • Who is  your favorite author?
  • What is your favorite book of all time?
  • What’s your favorite series?
  • What was / is your favorite book as a child?
  • What genre of literature do you gravitate you?
  • Bound / paper or e-book? And why?
  • Where is your favorite place to read?
  • What’s the one thing that keeps you from reading?
  • AND… what / who do you wish some one would write a book about?

Here, in no particular order, are some of the books we’ve looked at over the last 9 months on ritaLOVEStoWRITE…

tolkien books

Tolkien’s perfect trilogy.

2006 edition of Brave New World published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics

2006 edition of Brave New World published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics

James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fourth edition of The American Language is still available on

The fourth edition of The American Language is still available on

The Shel Silverstein collection "borrowed" from the shelves of an obliging independent brick and mortar bookstore, Greetings and Readings in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

The Shel Silverstein collection “borrowed” from the shelves of an obliging independent brick and mortar bookstore, Greetings and Readings in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Cover of Wives and Daughters. [ Image courtesy:]

Cover of Wives and Daughters. [ Image courtesy:]

Anne Tyler 3 books

The Anne Tyler trifecta

Milne House at Pooh Corner1000

Classic Winnie the Pooh

Anansi Boys

I’m reading Gaiman’s Neverwhere now, but I blogged about Anansi Boys a little while ago.


Tweedeedle by Johnny Gruelle (of Raggedy Anne fame)

Dune cover art [Image courtesy: Book Wit]

Dune cover art [Image courtesy: Book Wit]

Complete set of the seven books of the Harry P...

Complete set of the seven books of the Harry Potter series. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]


Clearly I’ve got a thing for the classics and children literature. [Interesting I have no problem airing my eclectic musical taste for all the blogosphere to see, but when it comes to books I hide my paperbacks in the closest… what’s up with that? The fact is I don’t read ENOUGH, or at least — I don’t read as much as I’d like. Maybe I should take a pledge on this World Book Day to READ MORE! But would that mean I’d have to blog less? Hmmmm.]


Jane Austen at Goucher

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

Dear readers,

I’ve had an article on the Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and the amazing Jane Austen Collection at Goucher Library published in the March/April edition of Mason-Dixon ARRIVE magazine. Goucher has the largest collection of Austen related material (including several first editions of the books) in North America. It was a real treat to sit down with the ladies who shepherd this collection and talk about Jane.

Click here to go to the magazine’s website, then click on the cover to read a virtual copy of the magazine. The article is on page 22.

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

Reading Jane’s Letters [Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

While you are on-line… how about stopping by  “Mason-Dixon ARRIVE” on Facebook to learn more about the magazine and leaving a comment on the article.

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

Here’s a link to the Jane Austen Collection at Goucher.

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

[Image courtesy: Goucher Library. Photo by: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

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