Longbourn is For Sale and You Too Can Party Like a Bennet

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A couple of months ago, I wrote about Regency Encounters, the event planning company who specializes in Regency era events, and the rumours they were planning on doing a Kickstarter to purchase the house used as Longbourn in the 1995 mini-series of Pride and Prejudice.

Reader, it is no joke. Melanie Kerr (akaTara Rout), the proprietress of Regency Encounters, has a Kickstarter running to do just that.

Set as an all or nothing goal, Kerr has ambitiously set the bar to raise $8.5M CND for the project. According to the Kickstarter information,

Luckily, the house itself is in great condition. The only work it needs is cosmetic, to make it look as it did in Pride & Prejudice. We will be incorporating in Britain, and using the equity in the house to finance its operations in the beginning. We have the key staff members in place, being the housekeeper, caretaker, manager and lead costumier. With these key people in place, we will be able to launch very soon after taking possession of the house.

So there you have it. Packages run from $5 CND for a Facebook frame to $13K CND for a full on wedding experience. Kerr promises there will be events held nearly every day and it will be a real life Austenland that will be resplendent in Pride and Prejudice glory.

The Kickstarter is set to end on July 10.

For more information, visit the Kickstarter page or follow Regency Encounters on Twitter, Insta, and Facebook.


A Masters Degree in Jane Austen

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A couple of months ago, I wrote about the FutureLearn MOOC (massive online open course) “Jane Austen: Myth, Reality, and Global Celebrity, a free multiweek course covering Austen and her status in pop culture. (Alas, I signed up and never completed the course but if you did and want to write a blog post about your experience, let me know!)

Anywho, it shant be no surprise then to discover that you can now get a Masters of Arts on the great lady herself! Taught at the University of Southampton, the one year MA program utilizes not only top scholars on Austen but also access to the Chawton House archives and library.

In the 200 years since Jane Austen’s death, she has gone from being a moderately successful, anonymous writer to a global literary celebrity. This unique new MA, the first of its kind in the world, will help you discover how and why. Giving you unique access to literary archives at Chawton House – former home of Austen’s brother – and offering specialist tuition by a range of Austen experts, this innovative new programme will transform your understanding of Austen’s work, culture, and reception.


The programme combines academic and practical approaches, marrying the study of eighteenth-century culture and a range of modern scholarly approaches to Austen with insights into the heritage industry and literary tourism, and providing you with a broad set of skills. You will be taught by a team of specialists from the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Southampton who have published broadly on Austen, and who have experience of working in heritage positions. In addition, you will enjoy a lively programme of relevant events put on by the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and have unique access to the archives at Chawton House, former home of Austen’s brother, and now an internationally-recognised research centre for the study of early women’s writing.

How cool is this? Sadly, I won’t be able to make it over to England to get my third Masters (yes, I have two already! One can never have enough Masters it seems) no matter how inviting the course looks and sadly it is not available solely online. Here are a list of modules you can take, how to fund the course, and what you can do with the degree. Even more information is available on the program’s website.

Applications opened in May and you can contact the college for more information.

Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters links for June 24, 2018

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Here are your Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters related links for the week:

The Emily Bronte Rose

Doesn’t this sound familiar? Last year I discovered there is a Jane Austen AND Pride and Prejudice rose varieties and it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, truly it isn’t, to find out David Austin, fine breeders of English roses, has bred an Emily Bronte rose “delicious hints of lemon and grapefruit.” Now, I’m not a fan of roses, we once had an attack rose bush that loved pricking me whenever I walked by it, but I can get behind this fragrance.

An exceptionally beautiful rose; the distinctive blooms are very neat and rather flat. Each bloom is a lovely soft pink, with a subtle apricot hue, the smaller central petals deepening to rich apricot and surrounding a button eye, which unfurls to reveal deep-set stamens. The strong Tea fragrance becomes more Old Rose, with delicious hints of lemon and grapefruit. It forms a bushy shrub with strong, healthy, upright growth.

The roses are available to be shipped in the UK and Europe but unfortunately, they are not available in the US.

Pembertea: The Great Unboxing

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Last month, I wrote about a new Jane Austen / Tea monthly subscription box by Pembertea. Subscription boxes are pretty awesome—every month (or quarter or whatever the time frame is) you receive a box in the mail on a particular theme. For Pembertea, the main theme is Jane Austen with a side of tea along with a specific monthly theme.

“Books, Tea and Austen are our spirit animals.” is their motto.

Pembertea reached out to me after the post was published and offered to send me a few boxes to review which I gladly took them up on their offer. This post is an honest review of those boxes.

Reader, they are exquisite.

Pembertea sent me two boxes, April and May 2018.

The boxes arrived in a branded mailing box.

Pembertea branded mailing box

First up is April.

The treats in each boxed are delicately wrapped and when opened, the delights are thoughtfully and carefully packed.

Pembertea April box part 1


April’s theme was “Emma” so the box contained all things Emma.

Pembertea April 2018 part 2

There is a tea strainer, tea, a bracelet charm, an Emma candle, Emma air freshner, and finally an Emma bookmark.

May’s was especially a delight as it celebrated  “Music, Mothers, and Matrimony.”

Pembertea May box part 1

It was especially adorable since Pembertea included buttons of Harry & Meghan to celebrate the Royal Wedding.

Pembertea May box part 2

Frameable music sheet, Austen soap, tea, Darcy pillowcase, bracelet charm, and Harry & Meghan buttons.

Overall, the boxes are divine. The items are thoughtfully curated and well made. I liked that the months I received were timely, Harry & Meghan!, other than the bracelet charm and tea which are constant, the boxes were wholly unique and catered to that month’s theme.

I love how involved they are within the Janeite community and their dedication to Austen (and tea) is evident in the items they choose for that particular month.

Pembertea also sells clothing, mugs, and other gifts as well as you can buy previous month’s boxes and specialty boxes.

The boxes are monthly and are $35 which for the amount of stuff you get is a great deal. If you prefer to order the boxes by theme instead of month, Pembertea has created a list of 2018’s boxes here.

This box is especially necessary for Austen fans as well as fans of Regency era gifts and most importantly, tea.

You can find Pembertea on their website, Facebook (where they post memes and all things Austen in addition to their wares), Twitter, and Instagram.


Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters links for June 17, 2018

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Here are your Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters related links for the week:

Book Review: Jane Steele

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Image for the cover of Jane SteeleTitle: Jane Steele
Author: Lyndsay Faye
Pub date: 2017
ISBN:  978-0425283202


First impressions: A brilliant mash-up of Jane Eyre and serial killer novels, Jane Steele is an utter original in both plot and scope. I cannot gush enough on how much I love this book.

First, I cannot tell a lie. I started this book in the summer of 2017 but my own laziness that summer in reading was heightened when the print copy of the book was due back to the library before I finished. Sometime in the early spring of this year, I prowled through my library’s ebook collection and lo! Jane Steele was available to check out. Again, laziness intervened and finally, I gave myself a stern talking on checking out titles and not reading them, sat myself down and read. (I read seven books the week we were on vacation in May.  Feast or famine!) I am kicking myself for not finishing this last year!

Jane Steele tells the story of Jane Steele whose life runs parallel to Jane Eyre’s. Once Jane Steele’s father dies, she and her mother are whisked from their grand house by Jane’s aunt and creepy son to a small cottage on the property. One day, Jane accidentally kills her cousin who attempts to rape her and not long after, Jane’s mother succumbs to her madness from long held grief and dies. While the house was to be inherited by Jane upon her father’s demise when Jane was a toddler, her mother leaves behind no document or paperwork listing as such. Jane is shuttled off to a girl’s school where she accidentally murders the head teacher and this is when the story takes off.

When you think “Jane Eyre mixed with serial killers” as a pause in the material you will read, I can assure you it’s not as trite as it sounds. Faye takes very good care in honoring Jane Eyre, in fact, Jane Steele mentions much throughout the book Jane Eyre is her favorite novel and quotes from the book begin each chapter as well as Steele’s fondness for noting the parallels in their lives.

It’s meta upon meta.

Steele, for I must call her that to prevent further confusion, pulls herself up by her proverbial bootstraps, killing others until her body count is up to five, and attempts to win back her home. She changes her last name and presents herself as a governess to the new lord of the manor, Mr. Thornfield, for Thornfield’s adopted charge. The secrets that bound Thornfield are not a mad woman in an attic, but PTSD of sorts as well as secrets from his time in the Punjabi war. Coupled with Steele’s secrets including those dastardly murders of hers, Steele must reconcile her feelings for Thornfield along with her past. Will he accept her if he knows she’s a murderess?

You might be thinking, “No! She’s a murderess!” which yes, she is but she has very good reason to do so. She’s not a female Jack the Ripper but rather she kills accidentally and for good reason. Sorta like Dexter.

Jane Steele‘s subtitle is A Confession which it very much is with occasionally breaking the fourth wall as the story progresses. This plot device does not feel contrived or heavy-handed which was a bit of concern when I started reading and I was relieved to find out Faye handled that device with deft and care.

The book comes in at a hefty 500 pages which can be daunting to some but I promise the story will fly by quick. Steele is very much a character with whom you can empathize and hell, even cheer for. For its originality, character development, and unique take on Jane Eyre, I highly, highly recommend this book.

(I cannot leave this post off without quoting the following from the author’s note in the book because I genuinely lol’d

…if (Emily) Brontë lived today, it wouldn’t be impossible to picture her replying to troll tweets and one-star Amazon reviews…)




Jane Austen Architectural House

Image of a Timothy Richards' Jane Austen house

Timothy Richards is a plaster genius. Working in the style of Jean-Pierre Fouquet, who worked in Paris between 1780 and 1830, what we know as plaster of paris, Richards builds one of a kind commissions as well as models of popular work scaled to size. He’s recently turned his eye to Jane Austen’s home in Bath:

This detailed scale Timothy Richards house model made famous by its association to Jane Austen, her home and her life in Bath would make a beautiful decorative piece for display in any office, upon mantelpiece or bookshelf next to the complete works of the much loved author.

This typical Bath terrace is Palladian in its origins consisting of three storeys with an attic above. As with many Georgian houses it contains a fireplace in most rooms and represent the best of 18th century living. Jane Austen’s uncle lived in The Paragon and Jane would have visited regularly.

The models are handmade and are, as of this writing, in stock. Austen’s house is available to ship in the US and sells for $150.

Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters links for June 10, 2018

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Here are your Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters related links for the week:

Book Review: The Madwoman Upstairs

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Image for the cover of The Madwoman Upstairs

Title: The Madwoman Upstairs
Author: Catherine Lowell
Pub date: 2016
ISBN: 978-1501126307


First impressions: A wholly unique tale of the last remaining fictional survivor of the Bronte family, their legacy, as well as her grief of loss, a tiny bit of romance, and a mystery to bring closure to very important things(tm). I was captivated by the story and found myself falling in love with Samantha Whipple within the first few pages. An engaging and clever read that I was ultimately disappointed it had to end.

Whenever I read a book review on an upcoming or new published book, “unique,” “original,” or “clever” get thrown around a lot which makes me pucker my lips. I’m a firm believer there is rarely any “unique,” “original,” or “clever” works.

Reader, I was wrong. (I was so wrong, the next book I review also is unique, original, and clever.)

Samantha Whipple is a first year at Old College, Oxford University. Her mother left their family when she was a teen, her beloved father had recently died, and she was the last inheritor to the Bronte legacy only there isn’t a legacy to be inherited and if there is, no one in the Whipple family have any idea what it is despite the insistance of Bronte scholars and academics.  Even with the romance as one of the subjects, this book is not chick lit or a romance but it is a woman’s story of how she works through grief, romantic love, academia, redemption, and finally forgiveness.

The Madwoman Upstairs was published a few years ago but it’s only recently I’ve seen it pop up in my internet reads as comparisons to new Bronte related fiction. I had a blase attitude towards it—the summary does the book no favors but once I got into the story, I became obsessed with finishing the book ASAP. Samantha is feisty, snarky, and in emotional pain—all the things I, and perhaps many, can relate to. Her relationship with her mother is fraught as she reconciles her mother’s relationship with not only her own but with Samantha’s father. Samantha is academically gifted and is often compared to her father who was a brilliant novelist and academic but gives two nothings about her place in academia.

Then there is the Bronte legacy.

The Madwoman Upstairs is many things and surprisingly does not get lost in its many things, but its heart is a mystery of Samantha reconciling and understanding her father more after his death and the dogged pursuit of Bronte scholars absolutely intent on the Whipple family to cough up an imaginary legacy. Samantha is on the hunt for the last remaining pieces of her father’s life, set up as a treasure hunt reminiscent of her childhood, and as she digs deeper into the mystery, Samantha not only learns much about her father and family but also about herself.

It’s rare for a debut to come out of the gate so strong with a finely tuned plot, the writing is sharp and clever (I tell you, I live for Samantha’s dialogue), and there is not a word wasted. At times the story is heart-breaking and uproarious and if you enjoy Bronte related fiction it’s a book not to be missed.