Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jane Austen’s First Love–Blog Tour and Giveaway

Welcome to The Little White Attic, my stop on the Jane Austen’s First Love blog tour, with a special guest post by Syrie James, along with my review of Jane Austen’s First Love. There will be more information about the blog tour and your chance to enter the giveaway later in this post.JaneAusten'sFirstLovebySyrieJames2014x350

But first and foremost, here is a Special Guest Post by Syrie James:SyrieJamesheadshot2012x250

A Few Quotes From Jane Austen’s First Love

Which Have Special Meaning For Me

By Syrie James

I’m often asked, when I finish writing a novel, if any particular lines or quotes from the book have a special meaning for me. I gave it some thought, and here are six quotes from Jane Austen’s First Love of which I’m particularly fond, because they either inspired an important aspect of the book, or because they represent something I really wanted to say.

1. This enigmatic and emotional quote by Jane Austen, from one of her letters to her sister, inspired Jane Austen’s First Love. Jane is reflecting here with affectionate longing upon her long-ago relationship with Edward Taylor, the heir to Bifrons Park:

“We went by Bifrons and I contemplated with a melancholy pleasure the abode of him, on whom I once fondly doated.”

2. This quote from Chapter One of Jane Austen’s First Love, in which Jane’s mother expresses her opinion of Jane’s writing, perfectly captures my own mother’s attitude toward my desire to become an author:

My mother raised her eyes heavenward. “I know how much you enjoy your writing, Jane. Lord knows, we all love a good laugh now and then, and if any one understands the pleasures of composition, it is I—I flatter myself that my poetry is not entirely unreadable—but it is only a hobby, Jane: an amusement for the family. We are neither of us Mozart nor Shakespeare.”

3. Edward Taylor and Jane sneak away during a ball and talk for hours and hours, as they get to know each other better en route to falling in love. This sentiment Edward shares is one of his deepest convictions, and mine as well:

“One should not, must not, be swayed by popular opinion or the ideas of others, to think or act against his or her own convictions. It is not always easy…but if possible, we must be true to ourselves, for I believe the only route to happiness is to follow our own hearts.”

4. And here’s what Jane thinks, after that very meaningful interlude:

What a difference an hour or two of conversation can make, with an intelligent, deep-thinking person! I had entered the ball-room that night with one set of ideas, and after my dialogue with Edward Taylor, returned to it with quite another.

5. Every heroine needs to go through a few trials and tribulations, and Jane makes her share of mistakes in the novel, leading to this introspection (after she performs in a home theatrical of A Midsummer Night’s Dream):

“How sage is Shakespeare’s line, What fools these mortals be! How ironic that I was obliged to speak those words on this very day, for he may as well have written it specifically about me.”

6. Finally, here is a line from Jane’s rumination at the end of the novel, which sums up a great deal about her journey:

I learned so much that summer, from him as well as all the others: about the human mind and heart—about what motivates people to marry—about what really matters when two people are falling in love.

-Syrie James

I would like to thank Syrie for sending the quotes from her book along with the insightful background information. I am so grateful for the chance to participate in this blog tour! So now for my review:

As a hard core Janeite I have read many variations and spin-offs in the Austen genre. Some are very well done, some amuse, and some I have tossed without finishing. It’s a tricky business due to the varying images that different people hold of Jane Austen. Some writers want to show Austen’s characters in situations that Jane Austen never would have dreamed of publishing. Personally I have too high a ‘blush factor’ to read through some of these romance novels.

I am a bit more of a Jane Austen purist. Well- as much as you can be when indulging in the Austenesque. I want the characters to stay true to themselves as found in the original writings. I want adaptations to be accurate to the original, and historical fiction to fit well within the context of Jane Austen’s life.

I guess you could say I want the type of writing that Syrie James delivers. I have been a fan of Syrie James’ work for years, and even met her on a few occasions. Her novel The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen was very enjoyable, and I have to say, I like Jane Austen’s First Love even better.

I have read several Jane Austen biographies, collections of her letters, and her juvenilia, and I found that the story line of Jane Austen’s First Love successfully fills in the gaps of a romance only hinted at in her letters, and does it with imagination and wit. The family characterizations ring true with what I already know about her family. James also managed to capture the youthful spirit of a clever young Jane Austen.

My favorite books are those that manage to weave in a little bit of charm and sparkle, just a little bit of magic that makes you smile for a moment before turning to the next chapter. I highly recommend this book. Add it to your Christmas list. It is the perfect after-holiday read when you can cuddle near the fire with some cocoa.

Of course I understand if you can’t wait that long!

And now the details of the Blog Tour and Giveaway.

Grand Giveaway Contest

Win One of Five Fabulous

Jane Austen-inspired Prize Packages

To celebrate the holidays and the release of Jane Austen's First Love, Syrie is giving away five prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any of the blog stops on the Jane Austen's First Love Holiday Blog Tour.
Increase your chances of winning by visiting multiple stops along the tour! Syrie's unique guest posts will be featured on a variety of subjects, along with fun interviews, spotlights, excerpts, and reviews of the novel. Contest closes at 11:59pm PT, December 21, 2014. Five lucky winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments on the tour, and announced on Syrie’s website on December 22, 2014. The giveaway contest is open to everyone, including international residents. Good luck to all!



Remember, just by leaving a comment here you will be entered to win! Good luck friends!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Afternoon Tea at the Empress

tea roomThe Empress Hotel is famous for its Victorian afternoon tea. Being a Janeite and a bit of an anglophile I have wanted to do this for a long time. I was so excited to make it a part of a wonderful anniversary trip. My husband really went above and beyond with this one!tea strawberriesThe tea starts with fresh strawberries and cream.

I don’t drink tea, because being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) I uphold a standard called the Word of Wisdom, But hot chocolate is also served when requested, and it was very good. Of course a variety of teas are available, including herbal tea.teapotA beautiful assortment of tea sandwiches were served. Our selections included egg salad croissants, smoked salmon wheels, and chicken curry sandwiches. There were also scones with jam and cream, and a variety of chocolates and other miniature sweets. There is a children’s tea available and I have to say that the little children, mostly girls with mothers and grandmas, looked so adorable with their own little fancy tiered plates in front of them. I know the afternoon tea is pricey for most of us, but it is not just a meal, it is a special experience.us at the teaI would like to thank my husband Jon for 27 wonderful years of marriage, and the best anniversary weekend ever. I was completely spoiled and treated like royalty. Thank you, sweetie. I love you with all my heart!



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Anniversary at the Fairmont Empress

This is my second post on our awesome anniversary trip to the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria British Columbia.Empress front

The Empress hotel was completed in 1908 and named in Honor of Queen Victoria being the Empress of India.

empress viewThis was the beautiful view of the harbor from our room.

toastWe had a romantic package that included chocolate dipped strawberries and for us, sparkling cider.

For dinner we ate in the Bengal Room, where Jon took advantage of the curry buffet. The Bengal room was a favorite of frequent guest Rudyard Kipling.

breakfastAnd a delicious breakfast delivered to our room in the morning.

woodworkAn interior shot of the Empress. I love the beautiful woodwork.

empress pathA path outside the Empress.

Next time my final post about our stay in Victoria- Afternoon Tea.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Butchart Gardens, Victoria B.C.

My wonderful husband took me to Victoria BC for our anniversary. We had a great trip and a wonderful time together. Our first stop was Butchart Gardens.Sunken Garden 1

You might think that spring and summer are the best times to visit botanical gardens, but the fall foliage was absolutely stunning!

Here are some of my favorite pictures from Butchart Gardens.japanese garden

Butchart house

willow reflected

Butchart porch


japanese garden 2

We were amused by a sign in the gardens reading ‘No Unauthorized Singing.’ It seemed kind of funny, but if I started singing Jon would quickly shush me. Uh uh uh, No singing. Those of you who know me or my family will believe that he stopped me from singing at least three times. THAT’S how beautiful these gardens were.us at butchart


Friday, October 10, 2014

The Grandma Arts

santaIf you catch me humming a Christmas song even though it’s still early in October don’t be surprised. Something special has got me in the holiday spirit.

Remember when I told you about the wonderful Christmas Stockings my grandma made for all of her descendants and their husbands and wives? Well, over the summer I talked to my sister Shannon about starting one for my grandson.

She said, “Well, since you’ve been doing so much crocheting I thought maybe YOU’D like to do it”.

I haven’t knitted more than an iffy ‘potholder’, so I wasn’t sure. But thinking of the traditions and of my own little grandbaby I decided to give it a go.

stocking 1Shannon is a great teacher and soon I was up and running, knitting a project I always thought would be way too complex. As I make this stocking I feel very close to my own Grandmother who is no longer with us and to my little grandson who lives over half a country away.

stocking 2

I also feel love for my family and nostalgia for Christmases, past and future. Here’s to traditions!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Graduation Lei

IMG_3090I am home from my recent trip to the south, and preparing to go to Pullman for my second daughter’s graduation from WSU.

(Go Cougs!)

IMG_3043I thought it would be nice to get her a graduation lei. I think they are so special but I’ve never bought one for my kids graduating high school. I visited a couple florists and realized that they had to be ordered far ahead of time.

IMG_3046I’m a do-it-yourself-er, so I decided I would make one. I watched a couple you tube tutorials, following this one from the Mai Kai restaurant. I also really liked the tips from Jack Topus, but my husband nixed the idea of the money lei, so I stuck with the flowers.

IMG_3047I chose carnations in red and white to match WSU colors. It took about 3 dozen large carnations to string a 4 foot lei, leaving a bit for tying. It was the perfect length.

Since the graduation was 24 hours away and we were traveling I put the finished lei in an aluminum cake pan with lid, resting it on some moistened paper towels. When we traveled I put an icepack under the pan to keep it cool until it could go back into the fridge. I made the lei Thursday night and she will be wearing it on Saturday so I want it to still be fresh.

(I just added a photo to the top of this post of the finished product.)


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I’m a Grandma!

new grandmaI am head over heels happy. A new little bundle on the other side of the country brings a smile to my face whenever I think about it. About him- my Grandson.

newbornSome women are squeamish about being called Grandma, but not this girl. As my sister put it, being a mother is an honor, being a Grandmother is like royalty!

Immediately after hearing the news I had a flight booked to New Orleans to be with my daughter and see the new little guy. These pictures are from that first precious week.

day 2The tiny little guy safe in his daddy’s arms.

looking at his mommyAnd see how he gazes up at his mommy!

Life is so good!