Emily M. DeArdo


Jane Austen

Memorial Day Weekend

books, Jane Austen, journalEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Memorial day weekend means a few things. Usually. 

1) Swimming--except this year, because stitches in my head. Yes. Still there. Will be there for at least another two weeks. Sigh. So anyway, no swimming, but I am greatly looking forward to the moment I can do that!

(I'm not really missing anything--the complex pool isn't open yet. Whew.) 

2) The Great Jane Re-Read Commences. Every summer, I re-read all of Jane between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This year I did it backwards, so I started with Persuasion

I knocked it out on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed every minute I spent with Anne Elliot. As I always do, because Anne Elliot is the bomb. 

Next: Emma. 

(Can I be honest? Emma drives me nuts. I really only like her starting about halfway through the book, when Mrs. Elton shows up. But I do want to go to Box Hill and have a picnic.) 

3) Time with friends and family.  

This was most of the weekend. :) 

On Friday, Mary and I went to Chuy's, because that is what we do, all the time. (Well, most of the time. But we love Chuy's. Some creamy jalapeño and some dulce de leches cake makes everything in life come into focus.) 

There's so much I love about Mary....

There's so much I love about Mary....

Chuy's art

Chuy's art

We also went to Elm and Iron, which I adore, to check out some home-y type things.

The purple rimmed candles are called "Wildflower", and totally smell like some!

The purple rimmed candles are called "Wildflower", and totally smell like some!


I managed to replay my Sperrys, which died last summer (after I wore them for about six years) when the upper became separated from the sole. I don't replace shoes until they DIE, people. I'm not a big shoe person. 

I am, however, a big rose person. I love these.  

Love these roses outside Macy's! They're so blowsy pretty. 

Love these roses outside Macy's! They're so blowsy pretty. 

I have big plans for my place this summer. Obviously funds do not allow me to do it all at once. :) But browsing is always fun and that's how I get my ideas and figure out what I'm looking for. I did manage to hit a TREMENDOUS sale at Macy's where I got half off the pillows, and then 25% off that. They basically gave the pillows away, guys! (Well, OK, not really. But seriously, 75% OFF? What crazy world is this?!)  So my bed is a nest now. And I'm so excited to just love on it.  

Caroline The Rabbit is the second oldest denzien of the Bedroom. Coach the Bear is the oldest, but he didn't want to pose. 

Caroline The Rabbit is the second oldest denzien of the Bedroom. Coach the Bear is the oldest, but he didn't want to pose. 

My bedroom doesn't get as much love as it probably should these days, since I spend most of my time on the first floor of my place. But now I've got the Great Chair in the office, so I spend more time in there, and now my bedroom is really starting to come together. 

Sunday started with some watercolor work. It's true--sometimes I love what I draw and sometimes I hate it and want to rip the page from my sketchbook. But I don't, because that would mess up the book. Sigh. Roses are hard to paint, y'all.  (And yes, I'm a midwesterner, and I say "y'all." Because why not. I also say "slippy", which is what people in the 'Burgh say for "Slippery." I think "slippy" is a much better word.) 

Sunday morning coffee in my Eat 'n Park mug, because my hockey team is in the Stanley Cup Finals! Which means my Nashville mug is verboten--because the Pens are playing the Predators (Nashville's team). I cannot drink out of the (temporary) Enemy's Mug. 

The parents and I got lunch at Marcella's, a cute Italian place, where menus speak the truth: 


And then we did some shopping. 

Then I came home and had tea, brewed with my new tea ball. 

Chocolate tea, people!

Chocolate tea, people!

Monday I played a lot of skee ball and arcade games with my parents at the bowling alley arcade, and there were hot dogs for dinner. I won a stuffed monkey! 

And hockey. Hopefully my hockey team wins. :) 


(edited. They did. In the strangest game EVER--a disallowed goal, a catfish on the ice, and no shots on goal for over half the game. But they won anyway.) 




Seven Quick Takes No. 129: Happy birthday, Jane!

7 Quick Takes, Jane Austen, books, holidays, history, linksEmily DeArdo3 Comments

Today is Jane Austen's 241st birthday!!! Yay!

This is definitely something to celebrate. So here's some links to help you celebrate, too! 


Here is one of my series on Jane's writing, if you want to catch up: 

Jane, Aristotle, and Aquinas

Also, Jane's characters figured prominently in my Seven Characters post! 


A wonderful way to celebrate today is to watch Pride and Prejudice. The ONLY Pride and Prejudice. As in, the one featuring Colin F as Mr. Darcy. Because I do not acknowledge any others. :-P Keira Knightly is not Lizzie in my world. 


If you would like to watch a Jane biopic, there is Becoming Jane, which I recommend. Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy are fantastic. 

Anne Hathaway as Jane in  Becoming Jane

Anne Hathaway as Jane in Becoming Jane


You could also practice your instruments if you play any. Be like Marianne and play a "powerful concerto".  Or just listen to the Sense and Sensibility movie soundtrack, which is perfection. 

And since it's Christmastime (well, almost), we might wonder what carols would Jane have known? Here's a piece about Regency Christmas carols, and here's one from the Jane Austen Center. Also, Messiah was composed in 1741, thirty-four years before Jane was born, so she might have been familiar with some of the pieces. (It was first performed in Dublin, but had its London premiere in March 1743).  Her father was a clergyman, and the piece was performed in cathedrals around the country after the London premiere, so it might have been possible for Jane, or members of her family, to have heard it. 

Not familiar with some of the regency carols? I've provided some audio for your listening pleasure. 


A little bit about Jane's family: her father, George Austen, was a clergyman who married Cassandra Leigh on April 26, 1764. Jane was the seventh of eight children and the second (and last) daughter--her sister, Cassandra, who was her best friend, was two years older than she was, and outlived Jane by twenty-eight years. 

The rest of the siblings were: Rev. James Austen; George Austen (who was severely disabled--either with epilepsy or cerebral palsy, we're not quite sure); Edward Austen-Knight (he was adopted by the Knight family as their heir, thus his last name); Henry Austen, Jane's favorite brother; Francis (Frank), who became a vice-admiral in the British Navy (giving Jane plenty of knowledge about the navy for her novels, especially Mansfield Park and Persuasion); and her younger brother, and youngest sibling, Charles, who also joined the Navy. 

Edward ended up being instrumental in the care of his widowed mother and unmarried sisters after their father died in 1805; he provided them with Chawton Cottage, where Jane did most of her writing, and where she died on July 18, 1817 at the age of forty-two.  (All of the brothers, though, helped support the women in the family after the reverend's death, with money and offerings of housing, etc.) 


And finally, we must have tea! if you really want to drink tea like Jane did, get some Twinings, which was the brand she and her family drank! From the Twinings website: 

A century later, writer Jane Austen was a devoted customer because, at a time when tea leaves were sometimes mixed with tree leaves by unscrupulous vendors and smugglers, Austen could be sure of buying unadulterated leaves at Twinings. In an 1814 letter to her sister Cassandra, she mentions: “I am sorry to hear that there has been a rise in tea. I do not mean to pay Twining til later in the day, when we may order a fresh supply.” 

She visited the shop to buy tea for herself and her family when she was in town (meaning London) visiting her brother, Henry.  So, we must have tea on Jane's birthday. Their Lady Grey tea is an excellent choice for afternoon tea drinking.

 Here's a piece on tea in the Regency Era , and one on tea in her novels. 

There is also the delightful book Tea with Jane Austen as well as At Home With Jane Austen.  One day I WILL get to England and do the Jane Austen tour. My entire bucket list is basically that. 

Happy birthday, dear Jane!

"Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance": Jane Austen and Married Soulmates

Uncategorized, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo2 Comments

"'Well,' said Charlotte, 'I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were married to him to-morrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness, as if she were to be studying his character for a twelve-month. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.'"

--Pride and Prejudice

The idea of "soulmates" is definitely a modern one. For the majority of human history, people viewed marriage under a much less romantic lens. 

This is sort of addendum to a post I wrote yesterday about marriage in the Church; but it's also something I've been thinking about for awhile, ever since I had a conversation with a friend about Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins. 

My friend's position was that Charlotte marrying Mr. Collins was a failing of the book; Why would Charlotte marry a man that she doesn't really like? That's just ridiculous! Jane messed up. 

But what Pride and Prejudice--and to extent, almost all of Jane's books--illustrates is that women didn't, generally, marry for love. It was nice if you could do it. But single women were really limited in what they could do, without a husband. They couldn't own property. They had really no say in a court of law. If they weren't married, their fathers were in charge. If their fathers were dead, then their brothers were in charge. If you did marry for love, you were Super Special--and possibly, super odd. 

Jane knew, very vividly, what this was like. She made the decision not to marry for anything other than love, but that meant that she was at the mercy of her brothers, after her father died. Fortunately, the Austen men were good sorts of men, and took good care of Jane, her sister Cassandra, and her mother.  They were lucky, and Jane knew it; you can see it in her fiction. The Dashwoods' brother is not nearly as kind to his sisters. 

 Charlotte Lucas is older than Lizzie (who is almost 21), which plays a part in her deciding to marry Mr. Collins. She's probably feeling the need to get married soon, before all the guys are taken. With a husband, she's off her father and brothers' hands. She's provided for; she has some station in the world. Even though she's the daughter of a knight, she won't inherit anything at Lucas Lodge. It will all go to her brothers. Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice both show what happens when an estate is "entailed away from the female line." The reason Mrs. Bennet wants Lizzie to marry Mr. Collins is so the house can stay in the family--when Mr. Bennet dies, as he says, Mr. Collins could "throw [them] all out, if he chooses." Yes, that's right--Mrs. Bennet, and all of her unmarried daughters, would be out of their house, if the new owner so chose to do that. 

Marianne, Elinor, and Margaret Dashwood are essentially being helped by another male relative, Sir John Middleton. The money their father left them and their mother is quite a small sum, and they lost their home, Norland. They weren't poor, but without Sir John's help, they very well might have been. And keep in mind that women couldn't really "earn" a living. Look at Miss Bates in Emma. She and her mother aren't Dickensian, but they're also not really genteel, either. They're poor enough that Emma takes them food and clothes and things like that. 

Fanny Price's family could be Dickensian. They are very clearly poor. Her father wastes any money he gets, and it's only because Mrs. Price begs her sister, Lady Bertram, to take Fanny, that Fanny has any chance. Mrs. Price "married for love", and it's not a recommendation she makes to her daughter. She would like to see Fanny marry Henry Crawford. 

In Jane Austen's England, love was a secondary question.  It's lucky that all of Jane's heroines do end happily--but the risk of that not happening is very close, all the time. None of them, except Emma, is independently wealthy. Emma is the only one who could really choose to stay single. Marianne, Margaret, Elinor, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, Lydia, Fanny, Harriet, and Anne all have to either get married, or be dependent on the whims of their male relations. 

Emma and Sir John Knightley

Emma and Sir John Knightley

It's important, when reading Jane, or the Brontes,  Dickens, or even Outlander, to remember that their world is not our world. There was a very different code that governed lives and society.  In Outlander, Jamie says that a good husband is one who doesn't beat or starve his wife. That's what's a "good" husband in 18th century Scotland is. Jane Eyre's pluck is sort of risky--she could very easily have alienated, instead of entranced, Mr. Rochester. And if Lizzy and Darcy's feelings for each other hadn't changed, Lizzy would've been in a pickle, as she says, somewhat laughingly, to Jane: "I may in time meet with another Mr. Collins!" 

There's also the question of class, which is raised in P&P. "He is a gentleman, I am a gentleman's daughter, thus far we are equal," Lizzy says to Lady Catherine near the end of P&P. "But who is your mother? Who are your uncles and aunts?" Lady C shoots back. Lizzie's father may be a gentleman, but the fact that her one uncle is a lawyer, and one is in trade, doesn't bode well for Lizzie's social standing. 

In an "ideal" marriage, everything would match--fortune, social standing, breeding, etc. That doesn't mean that they'll be happy together; look at Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. But the important thing to remember is that the idea of "soulmates" isn't something that was common for most of human history, as we can see in the history of the period, as well as in the fiction. 

Edmund and Fanny 

Edmund and Fanny 




Summer Scribbles No. 1: A Question of Packing

essays, travel, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo2 Comments

The SITS girls had a list of blog writing prompts for June, and I've selected ones I particularly enjoy, and which I'll be sharing with you on Wednesdays throughout the summer. Sometimes using prompts helps ignite my creative juices and give us some variety in the content we have here. And it's summer, so we might as well have fun with it, right? 

The first prompt is: 

What is something you always take with you when you travel? 

Besides the medical equipment--CI cleaner, CI battery charger, the huge medication bag (which is smaller than it was pre-transplant!)--and the normal stuff, there are two things that always come with me when I travel:

Tea and Jane Austen. 

I realize those things are probably connected. 

I started taking Bigelow tea bags last fall when I went out of town for a wedding. I found it was so nice to have the option of hot tea in my room at night--if there's a coffee machine, I can heat up the water for tea, and if there's a microwave, I can even reheat tea again in the morning. I brought an entire box to California with me, if you can believe it, and it came in handy on the last day, because I caught a cold and having tea was definitely helpful! 

The other thing I always bring is a hard copy of a Jane Austen novel. Usually it's P&P. For Pittsburgh, it'll be Persuasion, unless I finish it before then, in which case it'll be Emma. When I' tight on space and/or I have my iPad, all of Jane's books are loaded on there. Her books are sort of my literary security blanket. I know I'll always have something to read!

What is something you always bring with you when you travel? 

Seven Quick Takes No. 112

7 Quick Takes, life issues, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Previously on the blog, here (in case you missed any of it!): 

Sugarcoating Suicide: Me Before You
Ordinary Joy
Summer Reading

That first one has become particularly relevant since I found out that the state of California will legalize assisted suicide next week. 


In My Summer Reading post, I talked about Eligible. Well, I finished it yesterday, and it was terrible. Terrible isn't really a strong enough word for how bad it was, acutally. If you are at all tempted to read it, please, for the Love of All That is Holy, go pick up the real Pride and Prejudice, or watch the Only Version That Exists In My World. 



Also in the world of Jane, I'm re-reading Persuasion. If you haven't read that one, go for it, please. It gets overlooked sometimes!


If you're a Facebook friend of mine, you're probably wondering why, around 8:00 every other night, my feed becomes incomprehensible with sports jargon. It's because the Penguins are in the Stanley Cup Finals, and I adore hockey.  

My first NHL game was against the Hartford Whalers (Wow, I just dated myself) at the old Igloo--the Civic Arena-- in Pittsburgh. I think this was in 1990. But anyway, I have been a lifelong fan since then. Poor Mary, when we were in LA, had to put up with my attention totally deviating from her if hockey came on the TV when we were eating. I'm like a dog going "SQUIRREL!" 

So, until the series is over (and hopefully the Pens will sweep and it'll be over next week, and we'll have our Fourth Stanley Cup victory), there might be some weird Facebook posting. :) 


If you're wondering why I root for Pittsburgh teams when I live in Columbus--it's because my parents are both from Pittsburgh. In fact, they were born three days apart (although in different hospitals), and Dad is a Pitt and Carnegie Mellon graduate. Mom used to work at Pittsburgh Children's before she married my dad. So all of us kids were brought us as Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins fans, and it stuck. Even though my brother went to OSU, we're not very strong OSU fans. 

And I hate calling it The Ohio State University. Some of my friends do it just to spite me. :-P


It go so hot, so fast here. It's like we didn't really have spring at all. It was cold, and then "boiling lava hot" (as Jim Gaffigan says in his Hot Pockets sketch). Oh well. At least the pool's open and my A/C works!!!! 


Finally--do any of you use fountain pens? I just started and I have to say, I love them. I feel very writerly and Jane-ish (although I know Jane didn't use them). Ink spots on my fingers? Fun! 


Seven Quick Takes No. 103

7 Quick Takes, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo2 Comments


It has been AN AGE since I have done one of these! So let's start with Jane--Yesterday was the 203rd anniversary of Pride and Prejudice's publication. Huzzah!


Here in central Ohio, we got no snow from last weekend's huge storm. I'm not totally opposed to that, since me and snow aren't really friends. I don't mind the dusting that's outside right now, but feet upon feet of snow? NO. 


My follow-up appointment post-hospital was on Monday and things were joyous. My PFTs are back to baseline, the X-ray is cleared up, and I even lost weight! (Although I'm pretty sure that's a med side effect, but we'll see.) Everyone was quite pleased. 


That being said, I'm sloooowly getting back to my own personal baseline. I think I'll be there by next week, which is good, because the last three weeks have not been the way I'd like them to be. I'm OK with slow recoveries but it is nice to be able to get dressed, run errands, and make dinner all in one day without feeling like that's the equivalent of Everest climbing.  


Guys, Lent is upon us. Do you have a plan? I'll be running my Lent series again next week, but perhaps you should consider Restore? It's a truly excellent Lenten workshop that starts on Ash Wednesday and runs through Easter.  Read more about it here, or click the button on the sidebar .


A good quote from St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast day was yesterday: 
"Beware the person of one book."

Good advice, Sir! :) 


And lastly, because it's Friday: 

Yarn Along No. 39

books, yarn along, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo4 Comments

OK, try number three on the basketweave scarf! Ha! Well, I'm about to go for try number three. So here's just a nice picture of the needles and the yarn. Again. And my Advent book, which I adore. 

The biggest problem for me here is that you can't mess up, because of the pattern. If you drop stitches or something, the entire pattern looks off. So I have to be especially careful here. 

And since it's also Jane's birthday, here's some of my favorite Jane knitting things: 

Happy Birthday, Dear Jane!

Jane AustenEmily DeArdoComment

Happy 240th birthday, Miss Austen! 

Obviously, we all must celebrate appropriately (watching the 1995 Pride and Prejudice would be a good start), and rejoice in Jane's birthday. 

Jane was born on December 16, 1775 to Rev. George and Mrs. Cassandra Austen of Steventon. She was the second youngest of eight children: James, George, Edward, Henry Thomas, Cassandra Elizabeth, Francis William (Frank), and Charles John. Frank and Charles became naval admirals, and James and Henry became clergymen like their father. (Edward was adopted by a wealthy family that needed an heir, and had no profession.) Henry was Austen's favorite brother, and he became her literary agent later in life. Of course, Cassandra was Jane's best friend. 

While Jane did accept one proposal of marriage, she reneged it the day after, and remained unmarried her entire life. Cassandra was engaged, but after her fiance died, she lived with Jane and her mother for the rest of her life. (Rev. Austen died in Bath in January 1805.) The Austen women were financially supported by Jane's brothers, and eventually Jane's own income from her books must have certainly helped their financial situation, at least a bit. 

Most of Jane's novels were written and published while she lived at Chawton Cottage, from 1809 until her death on July 18, 1817. She is buried in Winchester Cathedral, and her books have been continuously in print since 1833. 

In addition to her writing, she was an excellent piano player and dancer. She often traveled to visit her brothers and assist their wives with their children, and in the delivery of her nieces and nephews, and of course she had duties in her own home, which she shared with her mother and Cassandra. 

While Jane said her writing was, "the little bit of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush", she has become an integral part of Western Literature. Harold Bloom has placed her among the greatest Western writers of all time, and there is a wealth of writing about her, her life, her family, and her novels. 

Her work may not be as stormy as the Brontes', or as social conscious as Dickens', but her fine pieces of ivory have certainly brought pleasure to many people over the past century and change. So, happy birthday Jane!

Which austen novel is your favorite? 

The Great Jane Re-Read: Persuasion

books, Jane AustenEmily DeArdoComment

And so we come to the end: Persuasion. Last, but not least! I'm a big fan of Anne Elliot. 

I've written about Persuasion before, here

My favorite movie adaptation is the 2007 one. 

(Side note: Tobias Menzies, from Outlander, plays William Elliot!) 

So, let's talk about Anne, now that we've got the preliminaries out of the way. 

I could not have been as patient and good as Anne Elliot. I would've ripped Elizabeth's head off by the time we'd become eligible to marry. Mary isn't as bad as Elizabeth, but--that's not a great recommendation for Mary!

Anne, though, needs to be calm, cool one, because her father and sisters are clearly not. I imagine Anne is a lot like her mother, whom we never meet. She tries to keep everyone from flying off the handle.  She's sort of a typical middle child, in that sense. She will keep the peace. 

After Louisa falls from the Cobb in Lyme, Mary very strongly reacts to being told that Anne is the best person for Louisa. "Am I not as capable as Anne?" she cries. Well, no, Mary. You're not. You have been petted and cosseted and you barely take care of your children; how are you to take care of such a delicate situation, and keep a cool head? Anne is almost always level-headed and calm. She's ideal in an emergency. 

All the men in story, other than her father, see Anne's worth and value immediately, and they do not overlook her. Indeed, William Elliot and Charles both prefer Anne to her sisters, and Charles only married Mary because Anne turned him down. 

Anne also does not share her family's insistence on protocol and rank. "They should know what is due to you as my sister," Mary says to Anne about the Miss Musgroves visiting them. Elizabeth and Sir Walter cannot wait to make the acquaintance of their aristocratic relation, Lady Dalrymple, and Anne almost withdraws from it. She knows that as the daughter of a baronet, she has a certain rank, but she doesn't lord it over people. She also won't put Lady D's party above her visit to her friend Mrs. Smith, which greatly angers her father. "To place such a person ahead of your family connections among the nobility of England and Ireland! Mrs. Smith!" he rages. But Anne will not be cowered by her father's fury.

The Elliot family: Sir Walter, and (l-r), Anne, Elizabeth, and Mary. 

The Elliot family: Sir Walter, and (l-r), Anne, Elizabeth, and Mary. 

But under all that coolness, she very much regrets losing Frederick. Her love for Frederick is much deeper than she'd admit to anyone, no matter how cool she tries to play it in public. She knows how wrong she was to reject him, and to care more about the opinion of others over the feelings of her own heart. 

Frederick is ENTIRELY too hard on Anne in the beginning. She was young when they were in love, and he punishes her  for being persuaded by other people, or influence by them, even though she's now eight years older. He seems reluctant to let go of her, but also wants to punish her for breaking his heart. Well, Frederick, she broke her own heart, and I think she's been punishing herself enough, thanks. 

But it's clear that Frederick still loves her, even when he's busy with the Miss Musgroves....who, while they're sweet, are what Mr. Bennet would call "very silly girls." (Not that Mr. Bennet does much about the silly girls!) He can't stand to have anyone else be attracted to her, or pay her attention. (The scene between Frederick, Anne, and Walter is a great example of this.) 

The story is, at heart, a story of second chances. One of my favorite Jane quotes is found in Persuasion

The only privilege I claim for my own sex...is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone. 

Anne is constant to Frederick, even when she has no hope of ever seeing him again.

Anne at a musicale in Bath (before she goes chasing after Frederick.) 

Anne at a musicale in Bath (before she goes chasing after Frederick.) 

One of the main settings of the novel is Bath, which both Anne and Jane disliked heartily. Anne's consolation is that she has a friend in Bath, especially since Elizabeth has no need of Anne. "She is nothing to me," Elizabeth tells Mrs. Clay (the lawyer's who has set her cap on Sir Walter). Elizabeth, of course, immediately tries to snare the heir to her father's estate, William Elliot, who is a cousin of theirs.  Elizabeth is in even greater danger than Anne for being "left on the shelf"--she is almost thirty. She must marry soon, if she is to marry at all. 

William at first appears worthy. He's a lot like many of Jane's other rakes--Wickham, Willoughby, Henry Crawford. They all look nice and shiny, but then we realize their deficiencies, as Anne does.  Of course, William beguiles Anne at first, as much as she tries to deny it. How many people have paid attention to her in her life? Not many. But Harriet, her delightful friend, informs her of his true character. That little scheming man! 

Frederick might be Jane's most ardent hero--his letter to Anne in the novel is certainly more ardent than anything we get from Edward, Edmund, or Mr. Knightley, or even Darcy. 

One of the reasons I really like Persuasion is because it's a more grown-up love story. It has a sort of elegiac quality to it, which makes sense, since it's Jane's last novel. I don't think she knew that, at the time--she had plans for other works, including "Sandition" and "The Watsons"--but the overtone to the story is autumnal and very much in the way of things ending or transitioning. Fortunately for Anne and Frederick, they're good transitions, into their natural relationship of husband and wife. 

Anne and Frederick 

Anne and Frederick 

Seven Quick Takes No. 82

7 Quick Takes, Jane Austen, knitting, booksEmily DeArdoComment


I am super excited to share my first giveaway with you! You can read all about it here. Enter often. (Well, as often as you can....)


The weather is going to be perfect this weekend and I don't know what to do with it. Do I go to the Irish Festival in Dublin (OH, not Ireland. :-P)? The Violet festival? Do I just hang out at the pool? So many options, so little time. And the State Fair started this week, so there's always that. Seeing a butter cow is a fun thing, let me tell you. 


I am almost done with the washcloth, which means you might--might!-- have something new to read about in the Yarn Along this week. I know that excites you so much! I'm still reading Middlemarch, though, and I have to read Emma this weekend since it's the next in the Jane Austen Re-Read. That post will be up on Thursday. 


I have bought my first Christmas present--a book for my grandma. Given that my mom started shopping in May, I am behind. She is the Queen of Christmas. 


I know you've seen the Planned Parenthood videos on the news and on the web. I can't say anything that hasn't already been said. But I dearly hope that those who are so misguided as to think that these aren't babies that are being killed, by the millions, every year in America, that they will finally see what is really happening in these places. It's not healthcare. It's death on demand. 

Every single life matters, from the moment it's conceived, to the moment of natural death. But we have to start protecting it when its most fragile. 


I'm going to a Dominican Rite Mass on Sunday in honor of the feast of St. Dominic, which is August 8. I went for the first time last year and was a bit discombobulated. Let's hope I do better this year--I'll report back. 


I'm making progress in my art classes. The assignment this week? To draw part of a piece of toast. Not kidding. So I'm working on that today. 

The Great Jane Re-Read: Mansfield Park

books, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo2 Comments
Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo
Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

This week's contender: Mansfield Park.

I've written about Mansfield Park on the blog here.  It was also the topic of my senior thesis for my undergrad English degree, in which I wrote about how Fanny was a model of femininity to be embraced, not ignored. One of these days I'll upload it to the Internets and share it.

My favorite movie version is the 1999 one.

Previous entries in the series: Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility,

So, let's talk about Fanny and Co. 

Full disclosure: I've always liked Fanny. The very first time I read the book, I liked her immediately. In the margins of my Oxford World Classic's copy, I noted that she was like Cinderella to her family, or, in more contemporary terms, a Matilda. No one really appreciates her or notices she's there, except for Edmund, and he's pretty thick. (I like him, but he is so thick. It drives me crazy when he's mooning about Mary to Fanny when Fanny clearly in in love with him!) Lionel Trilling famously noted that no one could like Fanny, but I've found his view disproved by people I've met. It's actually Emma I have a hard time liking, which jives with Jane's assertion that she'd created a heroine that "no one but myself will much like."

Fanny and her family in Portsmouth.    

Fanny and her family in Portsmouth. 


Part of the problem with MP, I think, is that it comes right after Pride and Prejudice. But I don't think that was accidental. Jane noted that she found P&P "too light and bright and sparkling" in parts, and MP definitely isn't those things. It's still classic Jane--it has brilliant moments and it's an excellent story--but there isn't the witty repartee of Elizabeth and Darcy, or the humor of the Bennet parents. MP deals much more closely with larger ideas of morality, family ties, what we owe other people, and growing up. 

So tell me what you think of Fanny in the comments. I'm really intrigued to know how you view her! 

I don't think Mary Crawford is evil. I think she has a lot of problems, which we might be able to say are because of the way she grew up, but I think Mary and Henry didn't learn to respect people, to see them as people, with their own dignity. They see them as things to use, as means to an end. Mary "loves" Edmund because he seems pliable, and might come into a fortune. Henry "loves" Fanny because she's a mystery to him. But neither of them really understand love, truthfully. They use people for their own entertainment (this is easily seen in Henry's interactions with Maria and Julia). 

Mary and Henry Crawford 

Mary and Henry Crawford 

More than any other novel of Jane's, Mansfield Park illustrates how virtue leads to happiness. Fanny, who will never be a "Miss Bertram", has a moral compass and deep-seated sense of goodness that her cousins (who can name all the principle rivers of Europe!) lack. It might be calibrated in Julia, but Maria has lost her chance for redemption at the end of the novel--in the 19th century, she's disgraced permanently. Julia is a lot like Kitty in P&P, in that once the bad influence of her sister is removed, she can be influenced for the better. 

Fanny's ability to remain true to herself, to what is really important--her self-respect, as opposed to her social and financial standing--is one of my favorite parts of the novel. When she returns to Portsmouth after refusing Henry's offer of marriage, Fanny sees how dire her family's poverty is. She realizes that she probably couldn't live like this, not after having lived at Mansfield and knowing that sort of life (and remember, Fanny doesn't even have the Mansfield experience of her cousins. She doesn't have the maids and the dresses and the fancy education and social whirl. But just living in that house, having enough food and being in a clean, neat environment, is more than she'll ever have with her parents.). But still, she manages to stick to her beliefs. No matter how much Henry may appear to have changed, she still can't make herself agree to marry him. She is not so simple as Henry believes she is. 

Edmund and Fanny. 

Edmund and Fanny. 

Not only do the Crawfords underestimate Fanny, but so does Edmund, who is, for most of the novel, her champion. Edmund never quite sees her as a mature woman in her own right, not until the end of the novel when he sees who Mary Crawford really is. Only once "the charm is broken" does he realize who Mary and Fanny really are, and the stark differences between them. 


what do you think of Mansfield Park? What characters resonate with you? Which characters repel you? And would you ever be in "Lover's Vows"? (I totally would love to do it.) 


The Great Jane Re-Read: Pride and Prejudice

Jane AustenEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

(Other links in this series: Sense and Sensibility; Northanger Abbey)

I've written about Pride and Prejudice here and here.

And people, there is ONLY ONE P&P movie. ONLY ONE.

(If you want some video, click the second link above).

There is no other version. The Keira Knightley version does not exist in my world. Jennifer Ehle is Elizabeth, and Colin Firth is Darcy, and that is all.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the book!

  • P&P is, without a doubt, the Jane novel I've re-read the most. I used Mansfield Park (which is next!) a lot, obviously, when I was writing my thesis, but P&P has been read, straight through, the most. It's also, coincidentally, one of Jane's shorter novels. It's shorter than Sense and Sensibility,  and it's only 40 pages longer than Persuasion, so P&P is the second-shortest of her novels.
  • The action gets started right away, which is another reason I think it's shorter. It's concentrated, in a way. Bingley is introduced on the very first page--the narrative and characters are set, and we're off.

We're talking about Pride and Prejudice today in the Great Jane Re-Read! Join us! @emily_m_deardo

  • It's so hard to read the parts of this novel where Elizabeth believes Wickham (does anyone else feel this way?). After you've read it a few times you just want to yell, "RUN AWAY!" The first time you read it, of course, it's a sucker punch when Darcy's letter reveals him about halfway through the novel, and you cannot believe it.
  • I love the scenes of Darcy and Elizabeth at Rosings. It's just so obvious that they are more alike than they think.
  • We're talking about Pride and Prejudice on the blog! Come join in @emily_m_deardo

  • I wish we still wrote letters to people. Email is faster, no doubt, but the handwritten quality of letters is so delightful.
  • Georgiana Darcy is fun, isn't she? At least I think she's fun. I would love to know more about her, and I wish Lizzie had gotten to spend more time with her. Since this novel is so streamlined, we don't get the insight into the secondary characters that we do in some of the others.
  • Whenever I read about Darcy's library, I want to know what's in it. What do you think Darcy would like to read?
  • Jane told her family the fates of the other characters--both Kitty and Mary end up married, but I wonder what their husbands were like.
  • We're talking about Pride and Prejudice! Join us! @emily_m_deardo

  • And: Did Mr. Collins ever inherit Longbourn? Or did Mr. Bennet outlast him? (Probably not, but I can see how that would've mae Mrs. Bennet happy.)

Share your thoughts about P&P in the combox!

'To be very accomplished': Learning to draw

drawing, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo2 Comments

'It is amazing to me,' said Bingley, 'how young ladies can have the patience to be so very accomplished, as they all are.'

--Pride and Prejudice

I often joke that I was born in the wrong century. Not medically--in any other century I'd be dead--but socially. A lot of my skills are in the old-school definition of 'accomplishment', as Bingley talks about in Pride and Prejudice (and which we will be talking about on Thursday in the Jane Re-Read!). I can cook, knit, sew (cross-stitch and mend), play the piano, sing, etc.

'A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.'

'All this she must posses,' added Darcy, 'and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.'

--Pride and Prejudice

I certainly have the extensive reading down, but I've never been able to draw. Really. My brother could do it, and my grandfather, but not me. Art class in school was never a subject at which I excelled. As I got older, I thought I'd never be able to learn it.

But then Melissa turned me on to Sketchbook Skool. This is an online art school, taught by professional artists and teachers. It's video-based, and each class lasts six weeks. I enrolled in "beginnings," and I'm in my last week of the course.   I have definitely learned to draw!

My first Sketchbook Skool assignment.

Learning to draw at Sketchbook Skool @emily_m_deardo

(I don't know why the second one is wonky...sorry guys!)

Anyway, yes, I am really happy with the progress I'm making. The classes have been so informative and I love the teachers. I'm enrolling in another class next week, because in 'beginnings' we haven't covered everything. We've done watercolors, pen, pencil, colored pencil, and we've learned a bit about technique, but I really need to work on perspective and depth in my drawings.

Learning to draw with Sketchbook Skool @emily_m_deardo

There are times when it's really frustrating--don't get me wrong. Some of my drawings are much better than others. But I see something good in every piece I do, so that's definitely a step forward.

SBS is a great example of how the Internet can be awesome. I never would've tried to do this if I hadn't gotten the recommendation from Melissa, and I never would've found these great teachers. I can move through the classes at my own pace, right tin my house. It's not something I have to leave my house to do, which is nice.

Summer is a great time for experimentation and learning new things--are you doing anything this summer like this? Or can you draw much better than I can? :)

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey

books, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo4 Comments

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

(If you're new here, read the beginning of this post to get the ground rules/ideas.)

I wrote this about Northanger Abbey last year.

My favorite movie version is this one, from the BBC (click the photo for details):

OK, so let's talk about the book:

I really like Catherine--do you? I mean yes, she has some silly moments, but generally, she's not a bad kid, especially for one who has never been away from home before and is thrown into social situations she's never been in before. She's much more sensible than, say, Lydia Bennet! (Whom we'll talk about in the next installment.)

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey @emily_m_deardo


I just wanted to throttle the Thorpes. I always feel that way, but this time it was with special vengeance. Isabella is just so silly and stupid! Not to mention money grubbing: "Oh, I love James! Oh, no I don't, his income is too small. Oh, wait, I love him again! Because no one else will have me, la!"

And John? How in the world does he think Catherine wants to marry him? He rivals Mr. Collins in his stupidity of women, but at least Mr. Collins was never as outright rude and coarse as John is.

General Tilney is a really interesting character, isn't he? He terrifies his daughter and obviously Henry has his own problems with him. He's not a model father, that's for sure, although I don't think any of the readers ascribe such villainous deeds to him as Catherine initially does. :)

Speaking of that, I love the scene when Catherine finds out that the papers are just laundry lists. It's sort of like Ralph in A Christmas Story: "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine? A crummy commercial?!"

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey @emily_m_deardo

Have you read The Mysteries of Udolpho? It's still in print, amazingly--Oxford World Classics has an edition that I'm pretty sure is only still in print because of Northanger Abbey. It's not a bad read, if you're interested in digging deeper into Catherine's favorite genre.

The next time Jane will set a book in Bath will be Persuasion, her last completed novel, and the novel isn't entirely set there (much like NA isn't entirely set in Bath--it's funny that we have to wait so long to get to the titular abbey, right?). Anne Elliott is not quite as sanguine as Catherine is about being in Bath, that's for sure.

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey @emily_m_deardo

Catherine's family seem so jolly, doesn't it? 10 children, but also her parents seem to be really down-to-earth, practical sort of people (Although I imagine you'd have to be, in order to have 10 children and not be completely nuts.). She might be--I'm just now considering this--the most practical mother in Jane's writing. Mrs. Bennet is not. Mrs. Dashwood sort of gets there by the end of the novel, but she has her moments of crazy. There is no Mrs. Woodhouse in Emma, nor is there a Mrs. Elliot in Persuasion, although Mrs. Elliot seemed to be a very lovely person, based on Anne's remembrances; but Sir Walter wasn't exactly a peach to live with. What do you think?

The Great Jane Re-Read: Sense and Sensibility

books, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo4 Comments

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read!  We're talking about Sense and Sensibility@emily_m_deardo We're doing this slightly out of order--I read S&S first this year, so we're starting there.

Since this is the first post on the Jane Re-Read, let's do some basic ground rules:

1) Yes, she's Jane here. I can't call her "Austen" like I would "Dickens." Jane just seems like a friend to me. Hence, Jane.

2) Abbreviations: S&S--Sense and Sensibility; P&P--Pride and Prejudice; MP--Mansfield Park; E--Emma; P--Persuasion; NA--Northanger Abbey; JA--Juvenilia, (not her initials. :) )

3) In each entry--which will come up every two weeks--we can talk about anything related to the book. I'll post links to other things I've written about the particular book, and I'll also post my favorite movie version of each book (there are multiple versions of every book except NA, I think.)

4) I won't summarize the book. You can google it for that. I'm assuming you're going to read (or have read) the book. So it'll just be notes. So, if you haven't--spoilers, y'all.

Ready, y'all? Let's start with Jane's "darling child," S&S.

I wrote two pieces about S&S here and here, and my favorite version of the movie is the 1995 one, although the BBC's latest effort is more faithful to the book, overall.

S&S was originally titled Elinor and Marianne, and Jane took time off between the first draft and the published version we know as S&S. She wrote the first draft when she was younger, but it wasn't published until several years later. Her family relocation to Bath, the death of her father, and the fallout from that made for a peripatetic life. Finally, her brother Edward settled Jane, her mother, and her sister and best friend Cassandra , at Chawton Cottage in the village of Chawton. It was there that Jane revised S&S, P&P and NA, and wrote MP, E, and P. 

The Great Jane Re-Read: Sense and Sensibility @emily_m_deardo

Much of S&S deals with a topic Jane was intimately familiar with--what happens to the wife and daughters of a man when he dies. The Dashwood women do not fare nearly as well as the Austen women did. Jane's brothers all pooled their resources to provide for Jane, Cassandra, and Mrs. Austen. (Cassandra was engaged, but her fiance died in a shipwreck.)  Regency society was very hard for unmarried and widowed women, and that's illustrated well in the novel. Without Sir John's easy rent terms for Barton Cottage, the family would've been very hard pressed to find anything near their former situation. While the Dashwood women now live in a cottage instead of handsome Norland Parkthey still have at least one maid and a manservant, and are able to live in an approximation of their former life (none of the women have to work, for example, to earn money). But their lives could've been much easier if John Dashwood had kept his promise to his dying father.

The closeness of the two sisters is also true to life for Jane. Jane endowed Marianne with several of her qualities: Marianne adores Cowper (Jane's favorite poet), and shares some of Jane's personality; also, Jane was the younger sister (and second youngest child in the Austen family). It is easy to imagine Cassandra as Elinor, especially since Elinor is an artist, as Cassandra was. The closeness of sisters is examined in many of Jane's novels, but particularly here and in P&P (with Jane and Lizzie). In Persuasion, Anne Elliott isn't close to either of her sisters; Fanny Price in MP is close to one of her younger sisters, and Emma's older sister, Isabella, is a sort of non-entity since she is married and lives in London, not Highbury, with her husband and children.

The Great Jane Re-Read: Sense and Sensibility @emily_m_deardo

It's interesting that only MP deals with brothers--Fanny is very attached to her brother William, who serves in the Royal Navy (as did almost all of Jane's brothers). Edmund Bertram treats Fanny like a sister for much of MP, but they're cousins. There are no "true" brothers in any of the other novels: In S&S, he's the girls half-brother, from their father's first marriage; there are no Bennet boys, which is a major plot point, and both the Woodhouse and Elliott families have only girls. (This is also a major plot point in Persuasion, not so much in MP.)

I have a lot in common with Marianne. We both love music and romance and poetry, but I also have a bit of Elinor in me. I would never act like Marianne does in the ballroom scene in London, for example. The old-fashioned girl part of me waits for the man to approach and to do the asking. Like Elinor, I'm aware of social norms and what's acceptable behavior, and 99% of the time, I follow it. (The other 1%...well, sometimes we all go nuts. :-)) But I also am fiercely loyal, like Marianne is, and don't take fools lightly, although I generally use my Elinor side to refrain from saying whatever I think. (See, Marianne and the Middletons.)

Am I the only one who wanted Edward to buck up? You are not in love with Lucy anymore--break off the engagement! I totally support him keeping his word, but come on, Edward! You were willing to spend your life with a woman who drove you crazy because when you were young you made a mistake and got engaged?! Boo.

The Great Jane Re-Read: Sense and Sensibility @emily_m_deardo

I think every girl has her Willoughby--that man she falls head-over-heels for, the one that seems so perfect. And then you find out he's not. Maybe he's not a scoundrel, a la Wickham, but he's not perfect, and he's not the man for you.

It's a fine line between Marianne and Elinor. If you stay silent, like Elinor does, you could miss your chance. But if you're overly eager, as Marianne is, it can cause you problems later on. I always wondered what Margaret would end up like--more Elinor, or Marianne? Or a good mixture of both?

Like all of Jane's heroines, Marianne learns a lesson by the time she weds the Colonel (who, incidentally, is never given a first name in the books. He's just Colonel Brandon.), but I think she's happier for it. I think she and Elinor both have good, solid marriages, where both of them can love and esteem their husbands (as Mr. Bennet exhorts Lizzie to do in P&P). 

The Great Jane Re-Read: Sense and Sensibility @emily_m_deardo

What do you think of S&S? Are you more a Marianne or an Elinor?