Sunday, 30 May 2010

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 110

This time I also go with simple stuffs (particularly because I've been contemplating on heavy stuffs enough this week). We know hat bonnets and caps were very important to the ladies in Regency Era, including Jane Austen herself. And she was very particular with every details of her garments, from shoes to hats. She also took time to re-embellish or redecorate her bonnets to make it more fashionable. It was an act of saving perchance, but in this ecofriendly era, re-embellishing old garments is actually an ecofriendly act.

From JA's letter to Cassandra Austen, Tuesday 18 December 1798 (Deirdre le Faye 1995 edition, p 25-26):

I took the liberty a few days ago of asking your Black velvet Bonnet to lend me its cawl, which it very readily did, & by whic I have been enabled to give a considerable improvement of dignity to my Cap, which was before too nidgetty to please me. - I shall wear it on Thursday, but I hope you will not be offended with me for following your advice as to its ornaments only in part - I still venture to retain the narrow silver round it, put twice round without any bow, & instead of the black military feather shall put in the Coquelicot one, as being smarter; - & besides Coquelicot is to be all the fashion this winter. - After the Ball, I shall probably make it entirely black.

Wow, she was truly an expert in reembellishing her bonnets, Miss Austen...Now, I don't wear elaborate hats or fascinators often (not at my place at least, except during the Melbourne Cup...), but I am fascinated with (on cue) shoes, and guess what? I actually did re-embellish a pair of my shoes last night!

My re-embellished shoes were new red suede 2.5 inch pumps, just bought it on 60% sale because it was 'damaged', as in one pair had a very different leather strip than the other. Still on the exact place, but instead of a phyton-like leather pattern (as the right pair had), the left pair had almost very smooth leather surface. It was just a line of 7 mm leather strip across the vamp, and no one would see it unless they took a closer look, but I was still disturbed. But, I can't resist the colour and comfort of the shoes, nor the sale price. I then tried to find burgundy velvet ribbon to cover both strips. Couldn't find the exact red tone, so I opted for 7 mm black satin ribbons, and it worked like magic! Just have to make sure that the glue stays; I might have to use stronger superglue if it came off.

So, if any of you Ladies and Gents have any defective garment, do not throw it away. Try to re-embellish the piece of garment, and you will not only save yourself some money, but also be more ecofriendly!

For further information re: Regency bonnets, check Vic's excellent entry here. For practical ideas on how to re-embellish your modern shoes (including flip flops!), check Female Network , Love To Know and Squidoo.

Pic 1: Various Regency bonnets from Fashion Era

Pic 2: A pair of beautiful Regency slippers (sadly, not mine) from House of Nines Design

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 109

It's Sunday here in Australia, so wake up from the hang-over, Ladies!

Ooops. That might be a wrong thing to say. Do ladies who read Jane Austen have weekend hang-over? Well... if you do, do not fret. I think Jane Austen herself would have drunken too much wine now and then. Of course, drinking wine sounds cooler than drinking beer, but you ladies get what I mean...

Anyway, leading to this week's quote is the party-related statement from JA herself. From Deidre Le Faye's 'Jane Austen's Letter' p165, dated Tuesday 10 - Wednesday 11 January 1809, written in her brother Edward's Godmersham Park, Kent. Jane would be 34 years old by then, hardly old at all for our modern standard. But still, here's what she said in the PS section:

The Manydown Ball was a smaller thing than I expected, but it seems to have made Anna very happy. At her age it would not have done for me.-

It's funny... we often think of Jane Austen as an old spinster sitting in the rocking chair and reading highly intelligent books or poetries... which I think she did anyway during the dusk of her life... But we often forgot that JA was also a party animal.

Although I'm actually older than Jane by the time she wrote this letter, I also often forgot that the senior ladies I often saw in the bus or on the street were once party animals too... with high heels that clicked when they danced. I guess reading Sophie Kinsella's Twenties Girl and Alexandra Potter's Me and Mr Darcy changed my opinion about the classical image of elderly ladies now.

Elderly ladies would also have had wild parties before, and had some fun. It would be a different setting, shoes and dresses, but they still had a great time. One might cry because her partner deserted her, and - just like what I saw last night on the bus - her friend would try to cheer her up.
And I guess, the Regency setting is more of a good balance those days. We would still find elderly ladies standing at the sides, smiling as they watched (albeit chaperonically) their nieces/daughters/grand-daughters dancing with prospective partners. Sometimes, mothers would also dance with their husbands. It would be more of a balanced and healthy setting for the party spirit within the seniors, I think...

Pic: A quadrille dance during Regency Era, from the exquisite Jane Austen's World

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The 2010 Jane Austen Festival UK and Awards

Dearest Linda provided me with this information on the 3rd Annual Jane Austen Awards and its survey and a very interesting (and difficult for me!) love quiz. Do fill in the survey and quiz and tell us your results!

Also coming up in September is the 10th Jane Austen Festival in Bath! Oh my dearest Rachel, how I envy thee...

A question: does anyone of you dear readers have any Regency costume? I wonder, because it might be a good investment, even just as a memorabilia...

Pic: Andrea Galer's regency costume from JA Centre UK. Is it not a beauty?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 108 by Linda

In Emma, Chapter 8, we find Emma and Mr. Knightley discussing the fact that Harriet has refused Mr. Martin. Emma observes:

Oh! to be sure," cried Emma, "it is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage. A man always imagines a woman to be ready for anybody who asks her."

"Nonsense! a man does not imagine any such thing. But what is the meaning of this? Harriet Smith refuse Robert Martin? madness, if it is so; but I hope you are mistaken."

Emma states a point of view that I happen to agree with, but then Mr. Knightley says it isn’t so! Whom am I to believe? Perhaps there is a bit of truth in both, depending on the individuals involved? Hmm. Miss Austen always gives us some ‘food for thought’.

Linda the Librarian

Pic: Cover to Emma 1996 DVD (Beckinsale). Kate was so cute there!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Quote of the week - Week 107

I realised that we have not used a quote from Sense and Sensibility for a while so thought that I would base this weeks quote on Marianne Dashwood. I have personally always loved her; I feel a special connection with her character. I think it may be because Sense and Sensibility was the first Jane Austen novel I read when I was very young and impressionable - her sensibility just stuck with me.

This quote is from the closing pages of the novel in chapter 50 after Marianne and Colonel Brandon and Elinor and Edward have been brought together:

"Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract by her conduct her most favorite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment superior to strong esteem and lively friendship, voluntarily to give her hand to another."

"Colonel Brandon was now as happy as all those who best loved him believed he deserved to be; -- in Marianne he was consoled for every past affliction; -- her regard and her society restored his mind to animation, and his spirits to cheerfulness; and that Marianne found her own happiness in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby."

Firstly I like Jane's use of the word 'fate' - Marianne has the esteem and strength to finally become wiser after her experience of the hurt and betrayal of Willoughby. I love the second part of the quote, particularly the image of Marianne restoring animation in Colonel Brandon's life; what a wonderful ability! I think that the reason I love Marianne is because she never could love by halves and this liveliness and bravery makes her truly admirable in my opinion.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 106

This week I shall pull a quote from Miss Austen’s letter to niece Fanny Knight on 13 March 1816. Since all my JA resources are either in Bali or Queensland (and I’m neither there), I count on’s archives of Brabourne letter collection.

To you I shall say, as I have often said before, Do not be in a hurry, the right man will come at last; you will in the course of the next two or three years meet with somebody more generally unexceptionable than anyone you have yet known, who will love you as warmly as possible, and who will so completely attach you that you will feel you never really loved before.

This was a letter, not a novel, which surprised me because at the dusk of her life, Jane Austen was still a believer of love. Some people might think cynically that she was no longer a believer of love as she grew older, but I disagree. I think Jane was still very much a believer; which is a delight considering her plight as a spinster in those days.

I guess in many ways, I am also a believer of love. Otherwise, why would I (or Team Jane) rummage through JA’s collection every week and present something for us all? Even though love is often hidden or elusive, I believe it’s still here.

Oh, and I found the inspiration to use this letter after reading Alexandra Potter’s Me and Mr Darcy. A very funny chick-lit, one that finished satisfactorily (to me, at least), such that I hope I can do Ms Potter justice by writing a review about it soon enough. The trouble with going to another town to visit relatives and friends is… too many relatives and friends to visit, hence not much time for literacy delight…

Pic: Watercolour picture of Fanny Knight by Cassandra Austen, from JAcourses UK