Emily M. DeArdo


Jane Re-read

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.) 




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: 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?