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Pardon delay in announcing the winner of the giveaway of The Introduction of  Gentleman by Heather Brothers – I was trying to get in touch with the winner before I announced it on the blog and have now heard back – Fran Politi of our own JASNA-Vermont group wins the honors this time around! – Congratulations Fran! – very happy to have you win. Heather will send off the book to you pronto … I think you will enjoy it very much! And thank you Heather for the interview and offering a copy to us – the best of luck to you in your first publishing venture!

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c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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Gentle Readers:  I welcome today one of our very own JASNA-Vermont members, Heather Brothers, to talk to us about her very own, just published, novel! – The Introduction of a Gentleman.  A long-time Jane Austen fan, Heather has been coming to our meetings for the past several years – she loves the Regency period and this is her first go at a Regency historical romance – it is a great read, full of all the things you expect from the genre – good guys, bad guys, a naïve heroine, an estate in jeopardy, a bit of a mystery, and a fine Scottish setting both in the country and in Glasgow. Heather has graciously offered to tell us a little bit about herself and how she came to write this first book, and she will provide a free copy for a giveaway -  see below for the giveaway details. 

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Deb: Welcome Heather!  All of us in Vermont are very excited for you, about this, your first published book! Tell us something about The Introduction of a Gentleman and what set you on the path to writing it… 

Heather: The seed that grew into my love of the Regency Era was planted – as many others may have experienced themselves – when I saw the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. I lived in Australia at the time and was visiting my best friend’s family. Being proper members of the Commonwealth, they were shocked that I had not seen P&P. The first day at their house we sat and watched it from beginning to end – I was so enraptured by it, I didn’t want to leave my seat for anything!

Being your typical enthusiast, I proceeded to throw a Pride and Prejudice New Year’s Eve party the following year – complete with country dance jammed into a most decidedly un-Pemberleyan dance hall (i.e. the living room of a cape house.) I had movie-viewing parties, read through each novel, connected with other Janeites, and after a trip to Scotland in 2008 for a friend’s wedding, I began the story that is The Introduction of a Gentleman.

Inspired by names such as Carrick and Strathclyde (both of which my husband has refused to name any future children), I began thinking and working on who these characters would be. And being fairly recently graduated from that tumultuous match-making time of life myself, I wanted to create that time and those feelings in Laura’s life.

After two years, I had created a rough draft and then fell victim to the precursor to the most glorious blessing one can possibly experience in life. Morning sickness led to hospitalization. Thank heaven for anti-nausea medication. And incidentally, if you throw up in the waiting room, you’ll get a hospital bed really fast. Keep that in mind.

My daughter being born was so amazing and during the nursing phase I was able to read a ton of books – the first being re-reading Emma. I learned so much about writing from that intense reading-filled timeframe.

I found that self-publishing really relies on your network of friends and family members. I got three critical reviews from friends – one who is a published writer, one who is an award-winning writer and Regency Era subject matter expert, and one who has a PhD in the Classics and is qualified to teach writing at the college level. My husband was also an invaluable help since, in self-publishing, you have to do all the formatting yourself (i.e. become a software expert.) I would really recommend Createspace, though. They have a lot of tools and all the channels set up for you.

And this is how I come to be where I am now. I really hope you enjoy The Introduction of a Gentleman.  It doesn’t compare to the works of Jane Austen, but I think it’s a good read if you like that era.

Deb: What sort of reading have you done to prepare you to write a Regency historical novel?

Heather: Reading Jane Austen’s novels are in themselves a tutorial on many levels. I have also read some great books about the era – most recently The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret Sullivan. I have done online research as well as learned a lot from the JASNA-Vermont meetings.

Deb: How long have you been reading Jane Austen? And what is your favorite book? Your favorite thing about her?

Heather: Interestingly, I ordered Sense and Sensibility from the Scholastic Book Club when I was in 9th grade. I tried to read it butcover-persuasion-oxford couldn’t understand who everyone was, so gave up. Fortunately, through increased brain development and a more keen interest, since that time, I have been able to enjoy each novel.

My favorite book is Persuasion. What I love about Jane Austen is how funny she is and how brilliant she was in weaving everything together in these books. I’ve written an essay on the book Persuasion called “Might I Persuade You?” which I hope to record in an audio format. After listening to the audio version so wonderfully performed by Juliet Stevenson, I was struck by just how hilariously and wonderfully Jane Austen wrote. The other aspect of Persuasion that is so great is the theme of redeemed love and second chances – which is just irresistible.

Deb: Are you working on another novel? And if so will it be set in the same time period as The Introduction of a Gentleman? Will you continue with any of the characters?

Heather: I am working on another novel – but it is a present-day story set in Vermont about a 10-year old girl who wants to figure out a family mystery amidst her quirky aunts, uncles and grandparents:  Your typical Vermont family.

Deb: Sounds like Cold Comfort Farm in Vermont! Can’t wait! What other kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Heather:  My favorite books right now are Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series and the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.

Deb: You mention a trip to Scotland and the reason why it is the setting for your book, but have you travelled to other places in the UK as well, specifically to Jane Austen country in England?

Chatsworth-wp

Chatsworth House and Bridge [Wikimedia Commons ]

Heather: My travels in Scotland helped me decide the general areas that I wanted things to take place. Sir William Blair’s country home, for instance, is based on a castle that my husband and I visited. Other scenes were inspired by a prior trip to England. One of my aunts used to live in Nottingham. When visiting her, she took me to some amazing sites like Chatsworth, but this was before I became an Austen fan – so I didn’t realize what I missing out on! I actually had no idea what Chatsworth was prior to her taking me there. I was 18 at the time – with so much to learn! So another trip to England is definitely a hope.

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Hope Greenberg

Deb:  You dedicate the book to your sister, and also “To my husband, who came with me to my first Jane Austen Society meeting…on fashion.”  Was that at a JASNA-Vermont meeting, or another meeting somewhere else? 

Heather: Yes – the dedication refers to my first JASNA meeting – the one where Hope Greenberg spoke in Montpelier at the Vermont College of Fine Arts! I loved it and actually mentioned it to Hope at the Christmas tea when she wore her wonderful dress and hat to that meeting. I have been coming to JASNA meetings – when I could (i.e. not when Claire was tiny…) – since that meeting. [Ed. This meeting was on June 7, 2009 – with our very own regency fashionista Hope Greenberg on “Fashion in Jane Austen’s World” and a great intro to JASNA-Vermont for Heather! (and her husband!)] 

Thanks so much for having me here Deb!

 Deb: Thank you Heather! – and wishing you a great deal of luck with your first publishing endeavor.

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Plot synopsis: In 1797 Laura McCay searches for her path and a husband in the Scottish gentry. When the intriguing Mr. Strathclyde arrives at the May Ball, Laura is captivated by both his stature and his status. Her close friend, Carrick, deplores both the change he sees in Laura and Mr. Strathclyde’s growing influence over her. Heedless of the ramifications, Laura follows after Mr. Strathclyde, leaving family responsibilities and friends behind in the country. Laura disregards Carrick’s admonitions and throws herself into the city life of concerts, dresses and fashionable balls, only to find that not everything is as it seems….

The Introduction of a Gentleman at Amazon
ISBN: 978-1492725480
$8.99
[there is one online on Amazon for $999.11 – don’t buy that one… :)] 

About the Author:

Heather and Claire2

Heather Brothers and daughter Claire

What Amazon says: Heather Brothers is an avid Jane Austen fan and has had the pleasure of visiting Scotland several times. She lives in Vermont with her family.

More detail from Heather:  I was born and raised mostly in Vermont, with three years of my childhood spent in Germany. I went to McGill University in Montreal, and spent one year in Australia. I studied Political Science, German and French, and like many with a liberal arts degree, my job doesn’t reflect my studies. I work as a loan analyst at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, where I have worked for eight and a half years.

I love going to Shelburne Farms in the summer with my daughter and husband. My favorite restaurant is Mirabelle’s downtown – which has the best hot chocolate. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s become an addiction, seeing as I stop there every Sunday before church and am on a first name basis with the staff…

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Book Giveaway 

Please leave a comment or a question for Heather at the end of this post and you will be entered into a random drawing for a copy of The Introduction of a Gentleman.  Deadline is Tuesday January 21, 2014, 11:59 pm.  I will announce the winner on Wednesday January 22nd.  US entries only please. [sorry about that – postage rates are sky-high to everywhere else…]

C2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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Another book to be added to your wish list, due out early December!

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Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony
Edited by Natasha Duquette and Elisabeth Lenckos.
Lehigh U P / Rowman & Littlefield, 2013

What makes this book so special to JASNA-Vermont is that one of the chapters is by our founding member Kelly McDonald! – see chapter 2 in the table of contents below, and her blog post on it here. Congratulations Kelly!

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About the book, from the Rowman & Littlefield website:

Contributions by Jessica Brown; Diane N. Capitani; Christine Colón; Alice Davenport; Deborah Kennedy; Kathryn L. Libin; Kelly McDonald; Belisa Monteiro; Jeffrey Nigro; J. Russell Perkin; Erin J. Smith; Vivasvan Soni; Melora G. Vandersluis and Frederick A. Duquette.

The essays collected in Jane Austen and the Arts; Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony examine Austen’s understanding of the arts, her aesthetic philosophy, and her role as artist. Together, they explore Austen’s connections with Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Madame de Staël, Joanna Baillie, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck, and other writers engaged in debates on the sensuous experience and the intellectual judgment of art. Our contributors look at Austen’s engagement with diverse art forms, painting, ballet, drama, poetry, and music, investigating our topic within historically grounded and theoretically nuanced essays. They represent Austen as a writer-thinker reflecting on the nature and practice of artistic creation and considering the social, moral, psychological, and theological functions of art in her fiction. We suggest that Austen knew, modified, and transformed the dominant aesthetic discourses of her era, at times ironically, to her own artistic ends. As a result, a new, and compelling image of Austen emerges, a “portrait of a lady artist” confidently promoting her own distinctly post-enlightenment aesthetic system.

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Table of Contents:

Preface: Jane Austen’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment by Vivasvan Soni
Introduction by Natasha Duquette and Elisabeth Lenckos

I.  The Fine Arts in Austen’s World: Music, Dance, and Portraiture

Ch 1. “Daily Practice, Musical Accomplishment, and the Example of Jane Austen”  – Kathryn Libin
Ch 2.”A ‘Reputation for Accomplishment’: Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse as Artistic Performers” –  Kelly McDonald
Ch 3. “Miss Bingley’s Walk: The Aesthetics of Movement in Pride and Prejudice” – Erin Smith
Ch 4. “The Sister Artist: Cassandra Austen’s Portraits of Jane Austen in Art-Historical Context” – Jeffrey Nigro

II. Austen and Romanticism: Female Genius, Gothicism, and Sublimity

Ch 5 – “Portrait of a Lady (Artist): Jane Austen’s Anne Elliot, Madame de Staël’s Corrine, and the Woman of Genius Novel” – Elisabeth Lenckos
Ch 6 – “Jane Austen’s Comic Heroines and the Controversial Pleasures of Wit” – Belisa Monteiro
Ch 7 – “An Adaptable Aesthetic: Eighteenth-Century Landscapes, Ann Radcliffe, and Jane Austen” – Alice Davenport
Ch 8. “Exploring the Transformative Power of Literature: Joanna Baillie, Jane Austen and the Aesthetics of Moral Reform” – Christine Colón
Ch 9. “Jane Austen’s Influence on Stephenie Meyer” – Deborah Kennedy

III. Austen in Political, Social, and Theological Context

Ch 10. “Aesthetics, Politics, and the Interpretation of Mansfield Park” – Russell Perkin
Ch 11. “Reflections on Mirrors: Austen, Rousseau, and Socio-Politics” – Melora Vandersluis
Ch 12. “‘So much novelty and beauty!’: Spacious Reception through an Aesthetic of Restraint in Persuasion” – Jessica Brown
Ch 13. “Augustinian Aesthetics in Jane Austen’s World: God as Artist” – Diane Capitani
Ch 14. “‘Delicacy of Taste’ Redeemed: The Aesthetic Judgments of Austen’s Clergymen Heroes” – Fred and Natasha Duquette

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Due out in December, you can pre-order the book here – the ebook will be available this month for a penny less!

978-1-61146-137-4 • Hardback -December 2013 • $80.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-61146-138-1 • eBook – November 2013 • $79.99 • (£49.95)

You can also pre-order it here for a little less at Amazon.

[Text and image from the Rowman website]

C2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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I welcome today JASNA member Janeite Bonnie, as she offers us the tale of her time-travel adventure at Jane Austen Summer Camp, sponsored by the JASNA-Connecticut Region on July 26-28, 2013. Bonnie was, alas! without a working camera, and it is with thanks that I use fellow camper Tess Quinn’s photographs!  [Tess is the author most recently of Pride Revisited.]

Enjoy all – so sorry I was not there – hopefully next year! [I was at the Middletown Inn a few years ago for a wedding, and I can attest to it being the perfect setting for anything to do with Jane Austen!]

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I was a last-minute registrant for the Jane Austen Summer Camp, and registered for only the second half of the weekend, taking a miss on the workshops on Saturday morning because I had either attended similar workshops before or had skills that did not require workshops such as were offered. I drove down from VT to Middletown, CT on Saturday afternoon wondering what to expect in terms of the area in which the event took place, since such things do tend to color my experience. As I turned onto Main Street, I spied a row of 18th century clapboard houses across the street, and I thrilled to the sight. When I pulled up to the gate of the Inn at Middletown, I was immediately favorably impressed. The Inn at Middletown has the look of an early 19th century manor house, with wings, snubby portico, and miniature curved drive. When I walked inside, the Inn continued to enchant me with its central curved staircase, immense chandelier, fireplace, and patterned marble floor. The room I shared with my friend Shari was tasteful, but I barely had time to enjoy it before I had to begin my transformation into a Regency lady.

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 Middletown Inn [Wikipedia]

Our Saturday evening began with gathering in the second floor lobby, where alcoholic beverages were dispensed to those willing with shillings. Some faces were familiar; we have crossed paths at other JASNA, time-travel, and dance events. Most of us, I am gratified to report, were dressed in period outfits, and we exchanged compliments and admiring looks.

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Dinner before the Ball!

When we entered the conference room for dinner, I was pleasantly surprised to see it looking period-appropriate, too, with nicely painted woodwork, wallpaper, double-hung windows dressed up in patterned draperies, wall sconces, a boarded-up fireplace (well, it *is* summer) with a mantel and mirror above, and a sideboard in a recess with a mirror overhanging it.  Of course, I made my way to the center table so that I could have a great seat for the lecture after dinner by Irene Urban, who is known to me through Regency dance. She is a maven of Regency cookery, but more of her soon.

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 Table setting

The table was dressed up with a sweet urn of colorful flowers, and everyone had gifts of a sandalwood fan and chocolates in front of her place setting. Lovely chocolates, by the way: They looked like cameos, with a milk chocolate base and a silhouette Jane Austen silhouetted in white chocolate. We started off dinner with a delicious cold soup of Lord-knows-what, but the ingredient I do remember is champagne.  More alcohol — terrific for loosening the joints and inhibitions for dancing! Everyone enjoyed their main course, too. I had already heard praise of the Inn at Middletown’s cuisine, but tasting was believing.  The presentation was also quite lovely.  Well done!

We did not enjoy a last course of dessert because that was saved for the break during the ball.  However, Irene Urban’s lecture on Regency dining was a delicious treat for the mind, and I would have willingly gone back for seconds and thirds, but it was all too quickly over, with no Q and A session.  Irene dropped tantalizing tidbits such as what was stocked in a Regency larder, including all the dead animals, which she accompanied with an etching of the same.  I would imagine that if cruel Regency parents had wanted to punish their naughty little ones, they could have locked them in a dark pantry for an hour.  Irene is not an all-talk-and-no-action lady; if you have ever attended an event with which she is connected, you are treated to period delights created from recipes that she has adapted from vague original recipes in her collection of period cookbooks.

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Susan de Guardiola and her Soldiers

Next up was the ball, which was called by Susan de Guardiola, a Regency dance expert. The dances were simple to suit those who had never danced period dances before. The room was splendidly lit up, quite full of company, but not insufferably hot, so we were spared the trials of E. and M.  The crowd organized into two longways sets, and off we went, balancing, dos-a-dosing, slipping, turning, gazing, flirting, and attending.  I think we all acquitted ourselves rather well, and as a reward were treated to sumptuous desserts during the break, as well as the raffling off of two splendid gift baskets and several smaller gifts.

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Sunday’s activities began with a promenade to a local historical house museum [the General Mansfield House].  Many folks chose to dress up again, and I believe we looked fresh and charming in our day gowns, bonnets, reticules, and parasols. We gathered in the lobby, then strolled out through the front courtyard, crossed the street, and there we were.  The docent of the museum greeted us on the steps, then spent the next twenty minutes lecturing about the history of the house and its occupants while we stood, wilting.  An older woman required a chair, which my friend Shari borrowed and brought to her, and still the lecture continued!  We were finally allowed to tour the house and the grounds, which were not extensive but had a few suitable places for photo ops.

After the museum, we returned to the hotel to check out and have brunch: yummy cheese blintzes and vegetable quiche. After brunch, Dr. Mark Schenker, associate dean of Yale College, presented a lecture titled “The Richness of ‘Ordinary Life’ in Austen’s Novels”. While my author friends on either side of me scribbled away, I just sat in bliss. Dr. Schenker, while having ample notes, frequently put them down and wove witty and insightful incidental observations into his structured lecture. He is the type of speaker who leaves you glowing with happiness after you’ve been privileged to hear him.  I am embarrassed to admit that, although I

Dr. Schenker - "Is that all you can remember?!

Dr. Schenker – “Is that _really_ all you can remember?!

thoroughly enjoyed the lecture (and it made me wish that I had come for the full weekend so that I could have heard his other lecture Friday night), the only thing he said that I can quote was that he referred to Jane and Charles Bingley as the couple downstairs, the Mertzes of Jane Austen’s couples!  What a thing to remember.

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The weekend was capped with an ice cream social, the raffling off of two more marvelous gift baskets and smaller gifts, and the screening of the soon-to-be released film Austenland.  I do believe that this movie is haunting me.  I had already sat through the initial free preview for JASNA-NY members at the Sony screening room in New York and felt I had wasted two hours of my life.  I had even squeezed it into my tight schedule when it was offered because, of course, it was a one-time-only experience. However, two or three more free previews were offered after that to JASNA-NY members.  This past weekend, all the way up in mid-Connecticut I thought I could enjoy a good Austen movie with other Janeites, when, lo and behold, Austenland again popped up and put a pin in my Austen euphoria. N.B. I just received an e-mail from JASNA-NY about yet one more free preview of Austenland, to take place on Tuesday, July 30, in Manhattan!

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 Austenland company

I left very glad that I had made the effort to drive for four and one-quarter hours the 260 miles from my home to the Inn at Middletown. Everyone with whom I spoke was positive about all aspects of the gathering, from the venue to the food, from the workshops to the lectures, from the ball to the gift baskets and the camp store, all were praised.  It is testament to the tremendous concerted efforts of all the organizers of this event, and I hope to see it repeated and expanded in two years.

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn? –Jane Austen

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[Note:  all pictures c2013 Tess Quinn, with thanks!, unless noted otherwise]

Further reading:

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Guest post by JASNA-Vermont member Lynne H.

Our JASNA Vermont reading group recently discussed Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.  A skeptical member asked the question: why should we read Heyer?  Georgette Heyer is a prolific 20th century novelist known for writing Historical Fiction, Regency Romances, and Mysteries.  Frederica is one of the Regency Romances. (Think Harlequin not Hawthorne….)   So, why should a thoughtful group of Austen devotees choose a Heyer Romance?    Below are some of the answers from our group’s discussion.

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Reason # 7: It’s summer.  Let’s face it, we don’t have to read Tolstoy, Dickens, or even Austen all year.  Go to the beach and relax!

Reason #6: Heyer, as mentioned above, is prolific.  If you like one of her Regency Romances, you have 33 more to choose from.

Reason #5: Heyer researched and included wonderful Regency detail.  She described the carriages, dress, and food, for example, in specific detail.   You can read about phaetons and curricles, neck-cloths and laces, and jellies and sauces.  If you have any interest in the Regency period, it is both fun and informative to have such specifics included in the novels.

Reason #4: Ditto for Regency language, cant, lingo, etc.  Heyer used Regency cant in all of her Romances.  What does it mean if someone is a “nodcock”  or a “ninnyhammer”?  What about if someone is trying to “gammon” another person?  Usually the meanings of the expressions are clear from the context; however, members of our group also mentioned further Regency reading to fill in more information about the period.  Two of the books were Jennifer Kloester’s Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, and Carolly Erickson’s Our Tempestuous Day. 

Reason #3: Heyer’s dialogue.  She used dialogue extensively. Her dialogue is witty, but it is also artfully constructed to expose and develop character.

Reason #2: Heyer’s characterization.  While her main characters are usually from the aristocracy (these are Romances after all!), they are not two dimensional ladies and gentlemen.  Within the structure of the Romance, Heyer adeptly fills in the motivations, foibles, and flaws, of her main characters.  Her writing usually depends on the characters to move the books forward.  In the following excerpt, you can see both the characterization and dialogue at work.  This is from an early episode of Frederica in which Frederica and Lord Alverstoke have their first meeting.  Frederica begins by responding to him:

            “I see. You don’t wish to recognize us, do you?  Then there isn’t the least occasion for me to explain our situation to you.  I beg your pardon for having put you to the trouble of visiting me.”

            At these words, the Marquis, who had every intention of bringing the interview to a summary end, irrationally chose to prolong it.  Whether he relented because Miss Merriville amused him, or because the novelty of having one of his rebuffs accepted without demur intrigued him remained undecided, even in his own mind.  But however it may have been he laughed suddenly, and said, quizzing her: “Oh, so high!  No, no, don’t hold up your nose at me: it don’t become you!”

Reason #1: Her books provide both escape and solace.  One of our members mentioned that she read Heyer while she was undergoing chemotherapy.  She said that during this difficult time in her life, Heyer made her laugh and gave her a place to retreat to for comfort and solace.  For Janeites this is very familiar ground!

So…if your interest has been piqued by our reasons to read Heyer, we’d suggest that you start with Frederica.  Just about all of our group members enjoyed it.    And remember, unlike Austen, there are many, many more novels to choose from for those lazy summer days or for times when you just need to escape.  Don’t be a ninnyhammer, try one.

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Frederica
Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2008
ISBN:  1402214766
[originally published 1965]


Further reading:

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book cover-Frederica1st

[Image: 1st edition cover, Bodley Head, 1965 - Wikipedia] – I love this cover!

What is your favorite Georgette Heyer? – i.e, after starting with Frederica, which Heyer would you recommend to our book group to read next?

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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In my ongoing posts on the variety of summer events featuring Jane Austen, here are two upcoming events this June, both sponsored by JASNA regions in New York State.

Here are the details: please visit the websites for more information on how to register…

JASNA-Rochester's Jane Austen Weekend

JASNA-Rochester’s Jane Austen Weekend

War of 1812 Bicentennial and Jane Austen Weekend

Mumford, New York – June 22 & 23, 2013 – Both war and civility of the early 19th century come alive at Genesee Country Village & Museum June 22 & 23, from 10am to 4pm. Details are here: http://www.gcv.org/EventCalendar/EventDetails.aspx?eid=15

A verity of period activities have been planned to celebrate both the 200 anniversary of the War of 1812 and the publishing of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

The 23rd US Regiment of Infantry will read the Declaration of War and recruit men and women to fight for our young nation against the tyranny of King George III.  See target shooting, military uniform displays, and tactical demonstrations to better understand the way war was waged in upstate New York.

The Jane Austen Society of North America: Rochester Chapter  will attempt a marathon reading of Miss Austen’s most famous work, Pride and Prejudice.  There will also be lectures and demonstrations of Social Etiquette, the Secret Language of the Fan, and an 1812 Fashion show.

The Country Dancers of Rochester (CDR) will demonstrate English Country Dancing and encourage visitor to participate in a few easy dances on the village Square.  On Saturday, June 22nd from 6pm to 9pm, CDR will also play host at a Netherfield Ball.  Open to the public, this ball is a chance to be Miss Bennet or Mr. Darcy and dance an evening away as Miss Austen herself would have done.  Enjoy live music, lively dancing, and light refreshments.  Space is limited; purchase tickets by contacting events@gcv.org.

Walk through the village to see life in a small town on the brink of war.  Visit the merchants; maybe buy a bonnet or take a carriage ride.  Drop in on the Militia Camp, or try your hand at quill pen writing.  There is so much to do for all ages.  Find out more at www.gcv.org.

  • The Jane Austen Society of North America is dedicated to the enjoyment and appreciation of Jane Austen and her writing.
  • Country Dancers of Rochester sponsors traditional New England Contra Dances and English country dances.
  • The 23rd US Regiment of Infantry is dedicated to learning about history by recreating it.
  • The Genesee Country Village & Museum was founded with the goal of preserving prime examples of architecture from upstate New York to provide historical context for the telling of the history of New York State and America in the 19th century.
23rd US Regiment of Infantry

23rd US Regiment of Infantry

View flyer for the event here: War of 1812 Weekend Press Release 13-06-22

Contact: Lisa Brown
Co-Coordinator of the Rochester Region
Jane Austen Society of North America
Jasnaroc [at ] mail [dot] com

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JASNA-NY Capital Region’s 2nd Annual Retreat

Next up is the Jane Austen Society of North America-New York Capital Region’s 2nd Annual Retreat, this year on Jane Austen’s Persuasion

When: June 30-July 1, 2013

Where: Wiawaka Holiday House in Lake George, New York

Wiawaka Holiday House on Lake George

Wiawaka Holiday House on Lake George

Join the Jane Austen Society North America-New York Capital Region for the 2nd Annual Jane Austen Retreat at Wiawaka on Lake George. Participants of the weekend will join scholars and enthusiasts in exploring Austen’s world through facilitated discussions of Persuasion, viewing and discussion of filmed adaptations of the novel, display of period dress, and presentations from well-known Austen speaker Lisa Brown and local author Marilyn Rothstein. The retreat will conclude with a picnic tea on the grounds. (Bring a lawn chair!)

In addition to planned events, the retreat will allow time for you to enjoy the splendors of the beautiful Lake George setting by exploring the cottages and grounds, the gardens, the docks and the lakes.

Schedule of Retreat Events  

Sunday, June 30

  • Morning Registration
  • Afternoon Lunch
  • Introductions and opening discussion
  • Presentation: Introduction to the Regency Era (Marilyn Rothstein)
  • Presentation: Period Navy uniforms and regalia (Lisa Brown)
  • Evening Dinner
  • View Persuasion film and discuss

Monday, July 1

  • Morning Breakfast and discussion of novel
  • Presentation: “How Captain Wentworth Made His Fortune” (Lisa Brown)
  • Afternoon Picnic Tea

Registration and Costs  

  • Members of JASNA: $15
  • Non-members: $25* [If you join JASNA before the Retreat, you will pay the member price]

View flyer for the event here: Retreat Flyer New Draft

See The Wiawaka Holiday House website   for information about costs for lodging and meals and to make your reservation.

To learn more about the Retreat or the JASNA-New York Capital Region, contact:

Pat Friesen, Regional Coordinator at:  mcfriesen2 [at] gmail [dot] com

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Hurray, this one is not so very far from me and I am planning on going – who can resist 2 days of learning, viewing, and discussing Persuasion! Anyone want to join me?

Persuasion (1995) - The Cobb

Persuasion (1995) – The Cobb

Other events posted about:

Stay tuned – more to come!

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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In need of a summer Regency Ball or a quiet Tea or how about a whole weekend listening to various talks about Jane Austen and her Times? – well the summer of 2012 has much on offer!  A previous post outlined the summer program at the University of North Carolina.

JASNA-CT summercamp-logo

Today I write about the Jane Austen Summer Camp offered by the JASNA-Connecticut Region, July 26-28, 2013 (and see below for options to participate in some of the events if you cannot give up a whole weekend to Jane):

The historic Inn at Middletown, in Middletown, CT—built in 1810—is the setting for a weekend of learning about and practicing the activities that made up Jane Austen’s daily routine, and that of her contemporaries. During the weekend of July 26 – 28, 2013, you’ll experience balls, parties, and promenades in Regency style, and write letters with a quill and ink, as Jane would have written her daily letters and her novels. Ladies and gentlemen will learn how to draw silhouettes of family and friends, to dress their hair in true Regency fashion, and to sew pretty and useful accessories. Plus, we’ll visit the Middlesex County Historical Society in its headquarters, the General Mansfield House. Period dress is encouraged and appreciated, but not required.

Inn_at_Middletown-WP

Inn at Middletown [image: Wikipedia]

 Throughout the weekend, Jane Austen scholars and experts on Regency life will speak on various topics, and local dance expert Susan de Guardiola will teach an English contra dance workshop Saturday evening and will call the dances at the ball that night. Join fellow Austen fans for a weekend of fun and “Random Acts of Regency Naughtiness” (the retreat’s theme), whether it’s dancing more than two dances with the same partner, enjoying one of the beverages created in honor of Austen’s 6 heroes, or besting everyone else in Friday night’s “Who Wants to Be a Duchess?” game.
[from the flyer: http://www.jasnact.org/summercamp.pdf]

Dancers0001

Dance image from Vintage Dancers.org

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 A quick outline of the weekend:

1. Lectures on Austen’s cultural impact from Yale Professor Dr. Mark Schenker:

* “Sensibility and Sense: How the 18th Century Meets the 19th in Jane Austen’s Novels” (Friday night)

* “The Richness of ‘Ordinary Life’ in Jane Austen’s Novels” (Sunday)

2.  Hands-on workshops that will let you personally experience Jane Austen’s world

  • Regency Silhouettes
  • Reticules & Wallet making
  • Regency Hairstyles
  • Penmanship

1857reticule

Reticule: capacious hold-all blog

3.  Friday night reception, all meals Saturday including breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner, and Sunday brunch. 

4.  Saturday night Dance Workshop followed by a Regency Dinner & Ball 

5.  Sunday morning costume promenade and excursion to the Middlesex County Historical Society house and gardens 

6.  Regency Naughtiness! Play our ‘Who Wants to be a Duchess game?” Friday night or stay for our optional Ice Cream Sundays event and an Austen movie

artifacts mansfield house

 Artifacts at the General Mansfield House – from their website

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Can’t devote a whole weekend to Jane? – then beginning June 1, tickets will be available for Saturday’s events (rather than the complete weekend) until spaces are sold out. Ball-only tickets will be $30; tickets for the ball + dinner + afternoon dance lesson will be $70; and the Saturday-only tickets (breakfast not included) will be $165.

DAY PASSES REGISTRATION FEES

  • Saturday pass 9:30 a.m. to midnight (includes valet parking, workshops, lunch, tea, dance workshop, dinner, Regency food lecture, Regency ball): $165.
  • Saturday BALL PLUS pass 5:45 p.m. to midnight (includes valet parking, dance workshop, dinner, Regency food lecture, Regency ball): $70.
  • Saturday BALL ONLY pass 9 p.m. to midnight (includes valet parking, Regency ball, dessert) – Cash bar available. $30.
  • Sunday pass 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (includes visit to Middlesex County historical society, brunch, keynote lecture, Sunday ice cream social and Austen movie): $65.

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dance-JASNA-CTblog[from the JASNA-CT Summer Camp Blog]

For more information on the weekend and how to register: 

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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The AGM in Brooklyn brought many pleasures, and one of the most pleasurable was meeting and talking with Susannah Fullerton.  I have long been an admirer – she is the President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia and a quick perusal of their website shows the extent of what she and her organization do, from annual meetings to conferences and the JASA publications Sensibilities and The JASA Chronicle.  Susannah also leads a number of literary tours for ASA Cultural Tours  [Australians Studying Abroad], and lectures on Austen around the world. And I must add that she was perfectly cast as the close-to-hysterical Marianne in the “Austen Assizes” script by Diana Birchall and Syrie James staged in Brooklyn!

Susannah has written many articles and a few books, one on which remains an all-time favorite, Jane Austen and Crime (Jones Books, 2004), wherein Ms. Fullerton gives us the real world that Jane Austen alludes to in all her works, the realities of such pieces in the narrative as Willoughby as serial seducer, Lydia’s “elopement,” and even the gypsies in Emma.  In her newest work, A Dance with Jane Austen: How a Novelist and her Characters went to the Ball (London: Frances Lincoln, 2012), Fullerton offers up the same detailed analysis of what Austen so off-handedly tells us, most of which we don’t quite “get” as 21st-century readers – the dressing for the dance, getting to the Ball, the various types of balls, proper etiquette, the music, the conversation, the Men! – all of it to enhance our understanding of Austen’s time and therefore her stories…

I have asked Susannah to join us today to tell us a little about her book, and her publisher has generously offered a copy for a giveaway – please see the information below on entering to win!

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SF:  Some years ago I was having dinner with Joan Strasbaugh of Jones Books, the publishing firm which had brought out the American edition of my book Jane Austen and Crime, when Joan suggested that a book that really needed to be written was a book about Jane Austen and Dance. I was taken aback for a moment! Surely, with dances playing such a vital role in Jane Austen’s fiction, that subject had already been covered. But when I stopped to think, I realised it had not. Many Austen scholars have written about her dance scenes as part of other works, but there was no one book devoted entirely to that subject, a book that explored the social etiquette of the ballroom, the vital role dance played in courtship, the suppers served and the music played. Would I be interested, Joan asked, because if so, she could recommend the project to Frances Lincoln UK Ltd. And so I started writing.

image: Republic of Pemberley

What I wanted to do, I decided, was to follow Jane Austen’s characters to a ball. Had I been Jane or Elizabeth Bennet, what would the whole process of going to a dance have involved? How did a heroine get to a ball in the first place if her family had no carriage (the case for Emma Watson), how did she dress for the occasion, what rules governed her behaviour while there, and what differences did she find between assembly balls and private balls? When she stood up with a young man, what were the possibilities for flirtation and courtship, and how does Jane Austen show this happening with Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, Emma and Mr Knightley, Catherine and Henry, Marianne and Willoughby, when they are dancing with each other? Poor Fanny Price suffers the day after the Mansfield ball when she has no suitable confidante with whom to talk it all over, but for luckier young ladies often the ‘post-ball discussion’ was almost as much fun as the event itself.

Jane Austen loved to put on her satin slippers and go off to dance. In my book I wanted to provide information about the balls she attended, from the Basingstoke assemblies of her youth when she danced happily with neighbours and family friends, to the later balls where she chaperoned nieces and preferred to sit by the fire with a glass of wine rather than dance. She too enjoyed courtship in a ballroom when she danced with Tom Lefroy; she too knew the excitement of being asked by the right man, and the challenges of avoiding the wrong one.

As I wrote my book I discovered patterns in Jane Austen’s use of dances in her fiction. Several of the novels have one informal dance and one more formal one, and she uses each to progress her themes, characterisation and relationships. In some novels what happens is romantic, as is the case when Darcy and Elizabeth are partners and you can almost see the sparks between them, but in Mansfield Park everyone always seems to be dancing with the wrong person and balls in that novel illustrate selfishness, not romance. Jane Austen makes a great deal happen at a ball!

image: Brock illus Mansfield Park, Mollands

A Dance with Jane Austen is beautifully illustrated with contemporary pictures or illustrations from the novels. I include a brief chapter about dances in the film versions, but decided not to make this extensive because so often film-makers get it wrong and put in a dance, such as Mr Beveridge’s Maggot, which Jane Austen would not have danced. However, there are some lovely pictures from some of the movies that I chose to include.

For the past 17 years I have served as President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia. In that time I have lectured extensively about Jane Austen and her works, and have seen the joy that her books give to readers around the world. I hope that my book will increase the enjoyment of those readers by taking them into the ballrooms to discover that there is “nothing like dancing after all.”

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JAIV: One question I would ask Susannah is ‘What is your favorite dance scene in a Jane Austen novel and why?’

SF:  My favorite dance scene is the Crown Inn ball in Emma. This is the evening when Emma first starts to view Mr. Knightley as an attractive male, rather than as an old friend and family connection. She watches his “erect” figure move about the room, sees him rescue Harriet Smith from the embarrassment of being rejected as a dance partner, prods him into asking her to dance with him, and can hardly take her eyes off him all night! Jane Austen achieves so much in all her dance scenes – she gives a sense of a full community of living people, progresses courtships, reveals character and shows faults and foibles – but this scene is particularly rich. The moment when Emma reminds Mr. Knightley that they are “not really so much brother and sister as to make (dancing together) at all improper” and he replies “Brother and sister! No, indeed!” is one of the most erotic moments in all of Jane Austen’s fiction. It thrills me every time!

image: theloiterer.org

Oh I agree – I love this scene! Thank you so much Susannah for sharing your love of Jane Austen and dance with us!

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Gentle Readers!  please ask any question you might have for Susannah Fullerton or post a comment here and you will be entered into the random drawing for a copy of A Dance with Jane Austen. Please do so by 11:59 pm, Sunday November 4th, 2012. Winner will be announced on Monday Nov. 5th - Worldwide eligibility!

For a review of the book, please visit:

About the author: 

Susannah Fullerton is President of JASA, and author of Jane Austen – Antipodean Views, Jane Austen and Crime and the forthcoming Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Masterpiece (due out Jan. 2013) – note that the UK title of this work is Happily Ever After: Celebrating Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

A Dance with Jane Austen
Frances Lincoln, October 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0711232457

Upcoming book: (Feb. 2013)

US edition title and cover

UK edition title and cover

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Dear Readers, 

As many of you as Jane Austen in Vermont blog readers know, The Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont offers Jane Austen weekends throughout the year (you can visit their website to see upcoming  events). This past August Innkeeper Suzanne B. held another of her annual Character Weekends, wherein participants are to choose an Austen character from any of her works [alas! only one of each character allowed – who could take an entire weekend with not only one but perhaps FIVE of a fawning Mr. Collins! And one chatty Miss Bates is certainly enough ….] and play the role all weekend, through all the various activities of reading, chatting, needlework, writing, eating, dancing, horse adventures, and sport [the likes of archery and fencing!] – perhaps only giving up the role for a few hours of contented sleep!

This year a full-weekend I could not do, so I went for several hours on the Saturday and had the pleasure of chatting with the various characters, practicing a bit of archery, watching fencing matches, eating a sumptuous Regency-era meal, and dancing the night away with Val and Tom of the Burlington Country Dancers.  I came home well-satisfied indeed, and in Jane’s own words,  “[I] smiled & whispered to [myself] ‘This [was] a day well spent.’” 

One of the guests was Tess Quinn, who recently wrote a post on this blog about her experience at the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville – Tess has kindly offered to write another post about her weekend here in Vermont, along with many fine pictures! Thank you Tess for sharing this with us! [and it was great to see you again!]

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A fair prospect

How often have Jane Austen readers wished they could experience Regency life as her protagonists do – at least the romanticized notion of it we derive from her books?  I can’t be the only one, or there would not be such a market for the myriad books published that deal with Austen fans, disillusioned with modern society, who suddenly find themselves transplanted in time and place to inhabit the body of an Elizabeth Bennet (e.g. Lost in Austen) or some other early 19th century character – for a day, a month or an eternity.  These books and films appeal because, for a little while, they take us away from mortgage payments and term papers and our children’s math homework; they sweep us off into a world our imaginations sketch as more genteel, more polite, less frenetic – more romantic.

Yes, literary time travel has huge appeal, no matter the book genre or historical era in question.  Readers well versed in Jane Austen’s society as depicted in her books must ‘experience’ the Regency in their imaginations; for as far as I know, a working time travel machine has not yet been perfected.  We cannot practically turn the clock back two hundred years… or can we?

I recently vacationed in Vermont where we came close to doing just that!  The Governor’s House at Hyde Park formed a distinguished setting for a gathering of ladies to come together and experience Jane Austen’s era for themselves—or rather, by adopting the personas of her characters for a few days.  The Governor’s House (formerly belonging to the gentleman who provided its name, and now a bed and breakfast inn) was built in the Victorian era but as a reproduction of a Colonial house.  As such, it reflects both periods in its ambience, yet gives one enough of the ‘feel’ of bygone days to transport one’s mindset to Regency England.

Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont,
the setting for a Jane Austen Character Weekend,
and the whole of the experience was delightful.

We gathered first on Friday evening for introductions, each participant in turn describing something of her background until correctly identified.  Most of the books were represented.  Present were Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt Mrs Gardiner, along with Miss Charlotte Lucas.  Anne Elliot attended in the company of her sister, Mary Musgrove and her friend, Lady Russell; as well as a recently-arrived tenant of Kellynch Hall, Mrs Croft.  Eleanor Tilney appeared quite affable in the absence of her father the General.  And Emma Woodhouse came, being in company with both her former governess, Mrs Weston and her nemesis, Mrs Elton; as well as a most entertaining trio – Miss Jane Fairfax, Miss Bates and the elder Mrs Bates, the latter making her presence felt all the weekend though she uttered not a word.

Lady Russell – Miss Tilney – Mrs Weston

Introductions accomplished, we became friends over refreshments, followed by moving to the card tables for an evening of Whist.  I was grateful to find myself at one of the less competitive tables; we did not play deep, but we laughed deeply.

At the Whist table

As most of us had travelled long that day, we retired after a few rounds, but gathered early on Saturday for breakfast in order to make the most of the day’s activities.  We began with a most excellent fencing master, Vivica Fox, who after providing us some historical information on the sport, led the group through the proper positions and stretching exercises.

Viveca Fox

Throughout the morning, then, Miss Fox gave private lessons to each of us who ventured so boldly.   The moves appear so graceful and natural when one observes accomplished fencers; but after many attempts to combine form, technique and strategy all at once in lunges, parries and ripostes, my best accomplishment was a greater appreciation for the skill and difficulty involved.  I was highly intrigued by my session, however, and would love to continue my training.

While several took advantage of the individualized fencing lessons, others of us moved to the back garden to take up bows for archery.

Archery lessons for Lady Russell and Emma Woodhouse

I am delighted (relieved) to report that a grand time was had by all, the target often was struck, and no dogs were dispatched.

Miss Fairfax, archer

The morning had begun with a fine hot sun which continued throughout our activities; fans and parasols were employed assiduously.  A number of our party, after archery, chose to retire to the shade of a large porch with their books or embroidery, rather than be kept in a continual state of inelegance.

Mary Musgrove driving Judge

But for some, a short journey to a horse farm brought the next adventure: learning to drive a gig!

The head groom very graciously allowed us to assist in harnessing Judge, an extraordinarily gentle animal (one could hardly call him a beast) – although of course, as ladies we would never perform this task for ourselves in the usual manner of things.  We then began by walking Judge around the paddock.  This was to become accustomed to working with him, especially for any of us who were no horsewomen.  Once each had achieved some comfort with the reins, a lovely small carriage was attached and off we went through a park land of varied prospects.  (I must confess that I saw little but the posterior of the horse in my turn, so concerned was I lest I steer poorly and hit a post which might have overturned us.)

Just as we bid adieu to our mount and made to leave, another group from our party arrived for a carriage ride.  We bade them a lovely tour and made our way back to the Governor’s House.  There we enjoyed a light fare set out by our hostess – since we had breakfasted so early – to tide us over until the dinner hour.

The last hours of our morning were passed again in satisfying retirement on the back porch; for as we all know, to sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.  Some ventured to trundle a hoop, or play the Graces.  Most found contentment in a cool libation and the company of clever, well-informed people who had a great deal of conversation – the best company!

Finding shade

Charlotte Lucas

Reading Jane Austen

Lawn Ladies

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Quite soon, it seemed, the time came to dress for dinner and we dispersed to don our fashions.

Mrs. Elton in full fashion!

Jane Fairfax – Mrs Bates [there in spirit!] – Miss Bates

Our repast for the evening was a full course, enlivened by so much entertaining discourse and laughter that we all remained at the table right up until the arrival of visitors who had been invited to join us for the hour of tea!   Mr and Mrs Bennet with their daughter Lydia were presented, the latter immediately pronouncing that what the party required for success was… dancing!

Of course, all were amenable to this particular proposal! Immediately, furniture was shifted and carpets rolled and removed, the music struck up and Mrs Bennet, an accomplished English Country Dance caller (sometimes peculiarly addressed as Val Medve), led us through an evening of dances with only a short ‘supper break’ to regain our breath.  Most invigorating, indeed!

When finally the night ended, few I think did not drift into sleep the moment they fell into their beds.

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A Turn about the Estate

Sunday dawned as bright and promising as had the previous day.  Following our breakfast, some of the party went off to ride, others for a lengthy turn about the estate (such prospects to enjoy) and still others preferred the sedentary nature of their work in the elegant parlour.   But soon activity called once more.

Walking Ladies

Since letters are the lifeblood of communication in the world we were visiting, we learned to cut our own quill pens and then practice our hand, writing letters on parchment.  No blotting here!  And following this, we employed our fingers in an alternative manner – in learning to tat with yet another master of the art.  I should like to boast of having made the sample you see below; but in truth I had not the talent.  My fingers did not fly through the string with anything like accomplishment.  This is indeed one art in which no excellence can be achieved without constant practice.

Instruction in tatting for Miss Lucas, Mrs Weston, and Emma

Tatting sample

Sunday noon found us gathering around the dining table for the last time together.  A lovely luncheon may have passed serenely but for the introduction of one final pastime, one perhaps not quite of the Regency period but relating to it.  It was a Quiz!  Questions to test our newly-experienced knowledge of Regency life.  Our hostess had gone to some effort to challenge us and had risen admirably to the occasion.  I would like to say we responded in kind; and so I will.  Our answers as a rule, when we discussed them collectively, were creative, humorous, clever and entertaining.  What matter if they were seldom correct?

This capstone event marked the end of our journey to Jane Austen’s time.  When we had laughed our fill, ladies slowly drifted off to supervise the packing of their trunks by their maids.  All ventured fare wells to friends old and new amid the exchange of addresses and promises to post pictures at facebook.  (Whatever can they have meant by such strange speech?)

I retired to my room as I would not leave until the following morning.  There my mind was most agreeably engaged in meditating on the very great pleasure which a gathering of fine characters from the pages of Miss Austen’s novels can bestow.

Emma Woodhouse – Lizzy Bennet

Lady Russell

Mary Musgrove – Charlotte Lucas – Mrs Elton

Miss Bates – Mrs Bates – Miss Fairfax

Miss Tilney – Mrs Croft – Miss Lucas

Sunday morning parlour

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About the Author: Tess Quinn (a nom de plume) read Pride and Prejudice years ago at the age of thirteen, and has been hooked on Jane Austen – and Mr Darcy, unsurprisingly – ever since. She has read all the novels multiple times and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. Some time ago she was introduced to Austen-based fan fiction and, unsatisfied with some of the depictions and approaches, took up her own pen to try to carry on beloved characters in a manner consistent with Miss Austen’s originals. In 2011, her first short story was published in an anthology called A Road to Pemberley. With that encouraging milestone she is hoping shortly to publish another anthology, all her own stories, tentatively titled Pride Revisited. She has two completed P&P based novels (awaiting final edits and a willing publisher); and is nearing completion on her own darling child, a retelling of P&P from Georgiana Darcy’s perspective.

Descending into dinner

Tess, in her lovely evening dress, is on the left; do you agree that Mrs. Elton is looking rather miffed?? – perhaps we have caught her unawares displaying her displeasure at not being first into the dining room …

c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Hello Dear Readers:  a guest post today from Melody, a young woman on her first adventure at the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, Kentucky last weekend – she has shared her thoughts and several pictures of the her time there, so enjoy – and perhaps plan to go next year – she highly recommends it!

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The Louisville, Kentucky fifth annual Jane Austen Festival was held at Locust Grove. I wasn’t aware of the history behind this historical house. The home belonged to Maj. William and Lucy Clark Croghan. When George Rogers Clark was injured, Lucy invited her brother to stay at Locust Grove. So who is George? He was the older brother of William Clark, (who was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition), he founded Louisville, and quite a few other notable things important to the nation.

This is the North facing side of Locust Grove. It has a nice size porch.
The south side, which I would think
visitors would enter wasn’t as grand imo.

One of the notable items in the house that stands out is the fact the descendants painted over a regency era portrait. Apparently they felt the red dress was gaudy and a black dress was painted on. This was found out in the restoration and they put back to the original regal red regency dress.

The portrait that was painted over

  Another fascinating fact was the entertaining parlor was on the second floor, where today, upstairs is reserved for family and entertaining is done on the main floor or possibly even the basement for those who have one.

 The entertaining parlor on the second floor 

Now for the Jane Austenites that want to hear about the festival. There were a great many visitors dressed in period reproductions that were all amazing! There was even a Regency style fashion show. The clothes were delicious and went in order according to the years they were popular. The speaker gave information on the clothes and where to find the patterns. Who knew men carried fans? The women carried cute reticules, wore pretty hats or had dainty parasols, and of course wore gloves, either long or short. The men were dashing in their finery as well.

 This lovely lady is a member of JASNA
with loads of information.
She was also in the fashion show.

 

Tailored/fitted clothing for a man 

(something that was mentioned during the fashion show was women
didn’t seem to be as concerned with gaping or perfect fits as we are today)

A man’s banyan

 I loved the detail in this purple dress. (same lady as above]

Now don’t think for a moment that this is an event purely for women. NO! There was a Gentleman’s duel. I do not know what caused the men to find it necessary to shoot at each other, but the first man to fire was the man to die. It was over within a minute. The gentleman remaining had been injured in the shoulder and was quite irked with the doctor for spending so much time with the dead man saying, “stop spending so much time with the dead man and tend to my wound!” (the duel the next day lasted longer than a minute).

Gentleman’s duel

There was also a bare knuckle boxing match that women obviously would not have attended. Or at least not women of any gentility. The ring leader gave the history of the gambling of the sport and the numerous exchange of money as the odds would change throughout. When he removed a pad of paper from his pants he wrote names and odds of the betting men. The winner of the boxing match had won a substantial amount of money.

There were fencing lessons and a demonstration on riding side saddle. It was very important what horse a gentleman rode. It reminded me of the status of the type of car one drives. There were special pay classes for how to paint a fan, and two discussions. On Saturday evening there was a ball, but since my companion is just 9 we forego that event.

Side saddle demonstration 

If you made reservations ahead of time there was afternoon tea. I recommend the lavender cake for dessert. It was deliciously moist and not overly powerful in taste.

Dr. Cheryl Kinney discussed Jane Austen’s illness and Jane’s opinion of illness and her characters’ woes. Who knew that green dresses were toxic?! It wasn’t just the clothing, but wall paper and paint as well. Green was very fashionable at that time too. Dr. Kinney asked how many people were wearing green at the event; there were quite a few! (of course they didn’t need to worry about the copper arsenic).

The final event on Sunday was “Dressing Mr. Darcy.” However, it was in reverse and he ended in a state that could make a grown woman blush. There was quite a bit of fanning happening in the audience.

Dressing Mr. Darcy

Finally, what made the event so special were the people. Everyone was so nice and the vendors were helpful. One young lady took the time to show my son a Spanish pistol’s workings with the full knowledge we were not going to buy. She even showed him how to salute with a rifle British style and American style.

One of the vendors made marbled papers that were amazing. After each one people would ooh and ahh. Of course everyone is unique. I was able to speak to the vendor on the last day and he showed me an antique book someone had given him with the marbling technique on the outside, inside, and on the edges of the pages. But the coloring was more indicative to the Victorian era, (darker, not as pretty as the Regency era).

The children gathered together and had their own fun in the meadow playing sword fights and just plain running around. I asked my son what his favorite parts were and after thinking about it he replied, “playing with the kids and the vendors.”  I was surprised. What kid enjoys shopping?

If you ever get the chance to attend a Jane Austen festival, I highly recommend it.


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About the Author ~ Melody writes:

Jane Austen came into my life, because I love history; the manners, fashion, and lifestyle. I also happen to be a book enthusiast and I like that Jane Austen tells things to the reader that makes the reader think. You must read between the lines, she doesn’t just come out and molly coddle the reader. Truth be told, I’d never been to a Jane Austen festival. I didn’t even know they took place. My son and I decided to give it a go, only because they offered so many fun “guy” events. I would not have gone otherwise. We are both happy for the adventure. We may make a tradition of it. Perhaps in period reproductions next time.

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Thank you Melody for sharing with us your observations of the Festival – maybe I will see you there next year myself!

Further Reading: from the Locust Grove website

  • You can see a performance of the bare-knuckled boxing here.
  • Bite from the Past blog on the Festival here.
 c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

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