Tag Archives: Jane Austen

March Madness, Jane Austen Style… Finis

Much like MARCH (the month) our little experiment in the madness of brackets has come to an end. The reader’s have voted and we have the winners!

Austen March Madness both sides6As  you can see the Colonel and Lizzie came in first in their respective categories.  Hat’s off to Miss Elizabeth, who garnered all the votes from the ladies final bracket. Brandon had some competition from Knightley, but he was the winner by a large, manly margin.

Brandon and LizzieThis March Madness, Jane Austen Style Bracket has always been a purely academic exercise. Austen never intended for characters from different books to get together.  But I couldn’t sleep last night, and as the hours began to trickle away and dawn refused to come I started to think about this impossible (dark) mash-up.

What if…

Marianne never recovers from her fever? Despite Elinor and Col. Brandon’s best attentions she dies at Cleveland?

David Morrisey played Brandon in 2008.

David Morrisey played Brandon in 2008.

  • Edward still becomes Rector at Delaford .
  • Lucy still marries his brother, leaving him to…
  • finally proclaim his love for Elinor.
Robert Swann played Brandon in 1981

Robert Swann played Brandon in 1981

They marry and the Colonel generously sets up Mrs. Dashwood and Margaret in a house closer to town and the newlyweds so the remaining family members can live in closer proximity. This leaves Barton cottage empty.

Richard Owens played Brandon in 1971

Richard Owens played Brandon in 1971

Which is good… because what if…

Kiera Knightly played Lizzie in 2005.

Kiera Knightly played Lizzie in 2005.

Lydia runs off with Wickham a week earlier than she did in the novel. Jane’s panicked letter to Elizabeth arrives at the Inn at Lampton BEFORE Lizzie and the Gardiners  have a chance to tour Pemberly.

Elizabeth Garvey played Lizzie in 1980.

Elizabeth Garvey played Lizzie in 1980.

She doesn’t see Darcy’s beautiful house, or, more importantly his altered behavior (or — as in the BBC version — his wet shirt.)  Darcy and Elizabeth’s friendship and romance doesn’t have a chance to kindle. And she and the Gardiners leave immediately for Longbourn. (Darcy doesn’t learn of the ‘elopement’ for weeks when the details have become grist for the rumor mill. By then it is too late for him to find the lovers.)

Greer Garson played Elizabeth in 1940.

Greer Garson played Elizabeth in 1940.

Mr. Bennet goes looking for Lydia and Wickham, which results in one of these possibilities…

  1.  He finds them, and as Mrs. Bennet sagely predicted, he duels with the rascal and dies.
  2.  He can’t find them and his frequent trips away from his man cave to London, Gretna Green and points north prove too strenuous for him. He dies of a heart attack.

This leaves Mrs. Bennet and the remaining girls in a very undesirable position.

  • Their reputation is ruined. (THANKS LYDIA!)
  • They must leave the Longbourn.
  • And they have very little money to live on.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 2005's Bride and Prejudice.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 2005’s Bride and Prejudice.

Of course the Gardiners take them in, but that proves a VERY temporary fix. (Can you imagine putting up with Mrs. Bennet’s flutterings?)   Mr. Gardiner uses his business connections to put out feelers for a reasonably priced home in the county, far enough away from town that their reputation might be over looked.

He finds a 3 bedroom cottage near Barton Village. It is a little less roomy than Longbourn, but the cottage would have much comfort and much elegance about it. The Bennets move in in the Spring.

Lizzie, who is fond of long walks, finds herself trespassing on the grounds of Delaford…




This blog post has been interrupted by the hostile take over by Pemberly Digital.

Because, really… everybody KNOWS Mr. Darcy should have won.

Daniel Vincent Gordh  and Ashley Clements  played Darcy and Lizzie in the Emmy Award Winning Lizzie Bennet Diaries  in 2013/14.

Daniel Vincent Gordh and Ashley Clements played Darcy and Lizzie in the Emmy Award Winning Lizzie Bennet Diaries in 2013/14.





March Madness: Jane Austen Style, round five– Men’s Semi-Finals

basketball court copyThe action was fast and furious on the court this week as the LADIES Darling Dozen bracket narrowed down to the favorite character for each Austen novel. As with the gentlemen, there were no real surprises in this bunch.  Here’s how we currently stand…

Austen March Madness both sides4

Now the competition gets REALLY hard as you have to get all inter-book and pick your fave between…

  • Brandon and Darcy (good luck there)
  • Edmund and Knightly (ugggghhhh!)
  • Henry and Benwick (hmmmm)

BAsketball hoop-- men

You have until Thursday at 6:00 pm EST to get in your votes.

Jane ball

March Madness: Jane Austen Style, round three– MEN’S Sweet Dozen

The results are in for the ladies in for round two.


We may have had a few surprises here (look at the first selection for Emma) but over all not too surprising.

Austen March Madness both sides

Now things get a little harder as we choose are top favorite for each book in the male category. Are you a Brandon fan or do you pledge your heart to Edward?

Jane ball

Get your picks to me by Sunday at 6:00 pm EST to be counted in the tally.

Austen Jersey[Wondering why I picked Austen 13? Brownie points to any one who can guess.)

March Madness JANE AUSTEN style Round two… the ladies

Austen JerseyAfter an exciting first round in the men’s division it is time to turn our attention to the ladies. Same deal, pick your favorite character from the pairings (you’ll come up with two characters from each book).

Below you’ll find the revised bracket showing the winners for the first round.

Austen M M both 2 [Frankly, we didn’t have a lot of participation on this, but I’m committed to going all the way to the final buzzer on this, so get those votes in. Jane — and I — are counting on you!]

Jane ballLastly… Maggie reminded me that Mansfield Park’s Pug was probably a female dog, but, as she had puppies and one of them was surely a male,  the bracket stands.


OHG (Obstinate Headstrong Girl)

I know this will be kind of a shocker for some of you… but I’m a big Jane Austen fan. And one of my favorite moments from her most popular book, Pride and Prejudice, is when Lady Catherine calls Elizabeth an “Obstinate headstrong girl.”

I suspect Jane was bit on the OHG side herself. (She’d have to be to remain single for her art until she well past her prime. Oh, she had offers, thank you very much. But in the end it was the romance of word on paper that won her heart.)

So today I’m dedicating ritaLOVEStoWRITE to the phrase and to the women, like Jane, who live(d) by it.


[Image courtesy: Redbubble.com]

Art work by Yardia [available on Etsy.com]

Art work by Yardia [available on Etsy.com]

Handmade note cards from Turtle Dove [available on Etsy.com]

Handmade note cards from Turtle Dove [available on Etsy.com]

Travel mug available on Cafe Press.

Travel mug available on Cafe Press.

Another sketch for sale by Yardia on Etsy.com

Another sketch for sale by Yardia on Etsy.com

Cover of "Pride and Prejudice (Graphic No...

Cover of Pride and Prejudice (Graphic Novel)

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)

Knitting with Jane Austen

Making Stockings

I love when  two  worlds collide.

So when I had the chance to organize a Jane Austen Knit Day with the good folks at Black Sheep Yarn Shop I jumped at  it.




What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday Afternoon!

In preparation for the day I did a little research into who would be knitting during the regency period. Which of Austen’s heroine’s would pick up a set of needles I wondered.

Lizzie, we know, picked up a little needle work  while stuck in the drawing-room at Neitherfield Park. Could she have been knitting? I can see her whipping up a scarf or stockings much more readily than I can see Caroline or Mrs. Hurst doing so.

lady knitting lace

Ladies who enjoyed a certain income would pay for their knit wear, so if Emma ever picked up a pair of needles it was for her enjoyment, or for charity. She never had to learn a Kitchener stitch or how to turn a heal. THAT is something I think Harriet could have taught HER.

Fanny Price on the other hand probably had a little knitting basket to keep her hands busy — when she wasn’t running errands  for  Aunt Norris or Aunt Bertram that is.

Elinor and Marianne might not have needed to knit at the beginning of Sense and Sensibility but you can bet their disposable income for knitwear was slashed (along with everything else) once they moved to Barton Cottage.

Catherine Moreland’s first knitting project might have been nappies  for her flock of younger brothers and sisters .

I suspect that Sir Walter would frown upon something as useful as knitting and would discourage his daughters from taking it up, but there are plenty of characters (Mrs. Smith comes to mind) in Persuasion who are sure to have knitted and purled their way through a garment or two.

Knitting with double pointed needles while watching a baby.

Knitting with double pointed needles while watching a baby.

The poor, both men and women, would have kept their fingers flying to keep the rich ladies in Austen’s world warm and fashionable. At the time of her death a poor family could make between 12 and 20 pounds annually just by knitting.

Knitting was an all age activity, and was done by both men and women.

Knitting was an all age activity, and was done by both men and women.

Today knitters can relive the Regency period through patterns found in such publications as Jane Austen Knits.


24/11/11 (Photo credit: fifikins)


You can even make yourself a pair of mittens emblazoned with Jane’s silhouette.

Chawton Mittens

Chawton Mittens (Photo credit: The Bees)


How divine.

Secondary Character Saturday: Aunt Winnie (Murder at Longbourn)

[Image Courtesy: Amazon.com]

[Image Courtesy: Amazon.com]

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: Amazon.com]

[Image Courtesy: Amazon.com]

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: Amazon.com]

[Image Courtesy: Amazon.com]

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: Amazon.com]

[Image Courtesy: Amazon.com]

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: Amazon.com]

[Image Courtesy: Amazon.com]


Related Sites: http://www.tracykielymysteries.com/

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 HuffingtonPost.com 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 http://viewfromtheside.wordpress.com/  Today her prompt was “Women”

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