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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Christmas in September by Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers  
 (It is a pleasure to have Regina Jeffers visiting with me here at Darcyholic Diversions!  And I am grateful to be back amongst the living!  If you have something you would like to share here at Darcyholic Diversions please contact me at barbaratillercole@gmail.com ... Barbara Tiller Cole)

In Mr. Darcys Present, Darcy often bemoans the lost of the religious aspects involved with Christmas being replaced by the necessity to purchase gifts for a variety of people. One can only imagine what he might think of todays avarice.

When most people consider a Regency Christmas, they are really envisioning a Victorian one. Happy Christmas among story characters and real-life accounts. Even Jane Austen made few references to the day as anything other than an acknowledgement of Jesus birth.
During the Regency Period (1811-1820), Christmastide began on Christmas Day and ended with a Twelfth Night celebration. There are few references to Christmas traditions in Regency literature other than the occasional wish for a

Religious observances remained the foundation of English Christmases of the time. One must remember that in the 16th Century, to prevent subversion, the government banned Christmas celebrations. According to the Jane Austen Centre Magazine, We have accounts from early 19th Century journals of Christmas days where the writer mentions the holiday but makes absolutely no fuss about it. Likewise, there are records of newspapers, published on December 25th that do not even contain the word Christmas.

In Chapter 14 of Austens Persuasion, we see how the schoolboys return home for the holidays is the most important event, not the celebration of Christmas itself. Immediately surrounding Mrs. Musgrave were the little Harvilles, whom she was sedulously guarding from the tyranny of the two children from the Cottage, expressly arrived to amuse them. On one side was a table occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other were trestles and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire, which seemed determined to be heard in spite of the noise of the others.

The Christmas pudding is traditionally made on Stir Up Day, the last Sunday before Advent. All family members of a household take a turn in the stirring with a special wooden spoon, which represents the Christ Childs crib and the stable. Stirring in a clockwise direction with his eyes closed, each person makes a secret wish during his turn at the spoon very much as one might do before blowing out the candles on a birthday cake.

In country houses, the occupants hung decorations on Christmas Eve. These remained in place until the Epiphany on January 6, when they were removed. One might hang holly, ivy, rosemary, evergreen, hawthorn and hellebore (Christmas rose). As for the mistletoe/kissing ball, it became quite elaborate during the Victorian Period. However, many believe the tradition remained below stairs in the servants quarters during the Regency Period. Yet, the kissing ball and the removal of the berries for each kiss stolen from a lovely heroine is often found in Regency based romances.

Book Blurb for Mr. Darcys Present: A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary:

The Greatest Present He Would Ever Receive is the Gift of Her Love

What if Mr. Darcy purchased a gift for Elizabeth Bennet to acknowledge the festive days even though he knows he will never present it to her? What if the gift is posted to the lady by his servants and without his knowledge? What if the enclosed card was meant for another and is more suggestive than a gentleman should share with an unmarried lady? Join Darcy and Elizabeth, for a holiday romp, loaded with delightful twists and turns no one expects, but one in which our favorite couple take a very different path in thwarting George Wickham and Lydia Bennets elopement. Can a simple book of poetry be Darcys means to win Elizabeths love? When we care more for another than ourselves, the seeds of love have an opportunity to blossom. 

Words of Praise for Mr. Darcys Present
Jeffers takes a familiar story and reinvigorates it with humor, warmth, and wisdom. - Roses and Lilacs Reviews

You sent for me, Papa, Elizabeth asked.
Come in, child, and close the door.
She had spent many afternoons in her fathers study discussing books and enjoying quiet companionship, but Mr. Bennet rarely summoned her to his sanctuary. Have I done something to displease you? she inquired in anxious tones, for a frown of disapproval marked his brow.
In truth, Lizzy, he said as disquiet crossed his features. I am not certain what to make of this. He set a wrapped package upon his desk. She wished to reach for it, but instinct told her to wait for her fathers permission. It carries your name as the recipient.
Mine? she asked in surprise.
Yes, child. He folded his hands upon the desk and leaned forward. The rider who delivered it said he came from London.
From London? she asked in equal astonishment. Other than aunt and uncle, I know no one in London. She eyed the parcel with interest. Is it not from Uncle Gardiner?
I have not inquired of my brother whether he sent the parcel, Mr. Bennet admitted. I thought to do so, but customarily Gardiner marks his letters and packages with his initials some place on the back, not as a franking stamp, but so I know it is from him. This package holds no such markings. Moreover, as the regular post did not deliver it, there is no origination stamp to determine postage costs. In fact, I incurred no charge in receipt of the item other than a coin I presented the rider.
Elizabeth studied the package as if it would announce its sender. Then I am at a loss. Should we not open it to discover if there is a card within? From its shape I assume it is a book.
A book is a logical guess, her father said evenly. But I mean to wait until Christmas morning. The rider said he was told from his employer that this was a gift.
Who would send me a fairing? she said in bewilderment.
That is what I wish to know, her father spoke in disapproving tones. I wish you to think upon it, Elizabeth. Who do you know in London that would recognize your love of reading?
She could think of only one man who might know something of her preference for reading, for he had assisted her in the library at Netherfield, but surely Mr. Darcy would not send her a presentation, especially after her set down following his proposal. If it is not from Uncle Gardiner, I know of no one who would send me a present. Her mind raced for an explanation. Mayhap Mr. Bingley purchased a gift for Jane and sent it to my care.
Even though Bingley appears to be again courting Jane, I doubt he would be so forward. I could inquire of him privately in this matter, but I am hesitant to do so. In truth, I prefer that you and I open this together on Christmas morning. If it is from Gardiner or Bingley or among those we share as a family, the sender will certainly ask of the fairing if it is not acknowledged. If it is something more than your uncles goodwill or Bingleys besotted nature, I do not wish your mother or sisters to know of it. I would prefer to avoid another scene such as the one we experience after your refusal of Mr. Collins.
Her fathers words stole Elizabeths breath away. You think the gift is from a gentleman? But that cannot be! I have encouraged no one to act so boldly!
What of Mr. Wickham? her father countered. It is my understanding that Wickham and several other officers are in London.
But Lieutenant Wickham would not think to send me a gift, she argued. The last time I spoke to him, Mr. Wickham was not happy with my defense of Mr. Darcy.
A defense of Mr. Darcy? Her fathers eyebrow rose in curiosity. I thought you despised the man.
Uncle Gardiner spoke of a recent accident involving Mr. Darcy, she explained. Mr. Gardiner also chastised me for my flippant remarks regarding the Derbyshire gentleman. He was quite displeased that Aunt and Mr. Wickham participated in gossip.
Did you not also gossip? her father asked skeptically.
I only listened, she confessed. But to prove his point, Uncle Gardiner insisted that I pronounce the good I knew of Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Bennet smiled knowingly. This news pleases me. Although I, too, found some of Mr. Darcys manners strictly reserved, I am aware a man of his consequence in Society often disguises his true self behind a stiff mantle. Moreover, I have noted of late that you appeared too quick to renounce the man and to align yourself with Mr. Wickham. It made me think that perhaps Mr. Darcy had snubbed you with more than his remark at the Meryton assembly.
Elizabeth dropped her eyes in regret. I thought my opinions superior, but, I am no longer certain.
I am glad of it. As you are the most intelligent of my daughters, it would grieve me to find you giggling after the officers. And as to Mr. Wickham, I cannot say it would bring me joy to have you become the wife of a man who held no other options than to become a member of the highly underpaid militia. From what I have heard, another paid Mr. Wickham to serve in his stead, which indicates that the lieutenant has no land of his own of which to speak. Moreover, you deserve a thinking man, one who would appreciate your finer qualities, not some fellow looking for a woman who will carry more than his children. Therefore, you and I will open the package together. The wait mixed with your curiosity will be your punishment for inadvertently drawing the attention of a reprobate. I will not have you marry Mr. Wickham, Lizzy. So if your heart is set in that quarter, you must think again. Despite your mothers affinity for gentlemen in red coats, no officer of the militia will claim any of my daughters. If the gift is from a scoundrel, I will return it personally, along with a strong warning never to cross my threshold again.
I understand, Papa, she said obediently.
Speak to no one of this, child. This must remain our secret.

Purchase Links:



Images above are:

Twelfth Night ~ via Wikipedia "Twelfth Night Merry-Making in Farmer Shakeshaft's Barn, from Ainsworth's Mervyn Clitheroe, by Phiz

Plum Pudding: Harrington's of Vermont     www.harringtonham.com

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Let's Bloom! It's Spring! Bloom Where You are Planted!

Let's Bloom!  It's Spring!
By Author Barbara Tiller Cole

{I am very happy to be a part of the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop this year!  Please be sure and click on the link at the bottom to check out all of the other great posts!}

There once was a man who had two sons.  He gave both of them red wagons as a gift.  One of them played in the wagon,  and even used it for transporting groceries to a neighbor who was sick.  He carted trash back and forth to the curb for an elderly gentleman who lived down the street.  Found that he enjoyed giving younger kids rides in it to their delight and giggles.  The other son, well the other son put the wagon in the corner and pouted.  He had wanted a scooter.  Who do you think that the father wanted to give more to in the future?
Now whether or not the father began to play favorites with his sons at this time or not is irrelevant.  The morale is that gratitude and happiness with your lot in life is a much better way to live.  

'Bloom Where You Are Planted' was the first thing that came into my mind as I considered the theme of this hop--Authors in Bloom.  Be all you can be, do all you can do with what you have.

I did a bit of research to determine where this phrase came from.  Some say that it originated in the bible (countless Biblical references seem to point to various verses in the Bible that carry a similar notion).  However, many credit the Bishop of Geneva, Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) with the phrase.  Later Mary Engelbreit popularized the notion.

For me, I have learned to look for the best in each day.  A few years back I had the gift of being able to gaze upon a lush field of 4-leaf clovers at the top of the Torc Falls in Killarney Ireland, overlooking a majestic field complete with an ancient castle and abbey.  I also have faced the death of both of my two parents just ten days apart.  The miracle of life and of living a spiritual life is that there are truth gifts being planted in either of those days.  It is just sometimes more difficult to see when the days are tough.

When the road seems more rocky, looking for something beautiful in the path will give you a new vision and a new purpose for living.  And if you live your life anticipating God's gift in each day, you might just find it.

Even flowers sprout in the desert.  As you make your way
around this Authors in Bloom blog tour, think about where you are today and how you can make the best of it and bloom.  If there is a desire you will find a way.  Just remember the beauty of something as simple as a cactus flower.

Looking at this particular picture some will see a rocky short and the lack of vibrant color or maybe even the starkness of the foliage.  Others will see the sparkling silver sheen of the water, and the glorious gift of being able to stand on the edge of the ocean.  Which one are you?  Are you willing to Bloom Where you are Planted?  Leave a comment about how you have either bloomed where you are planted or how you would like to.  And good luck with the contest.  Please leave your email address in your comment so we will be able to reach you if you should win.  And I hope you will read some of the other wonderful sharings my authors on this blog while you are here.

And my recipe is a little something Elizabeth Bennet would love:

Lavender Shortbread

2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons finely snipped dried lavender flowers, divided
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and 2 teaspoons lavender; cover and set aside at room temperature for 24 hours.
In a bowl, cream butter, sugar and remaining lavender. Combine flour, cornstarch and salt; add to the creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until easy to handle.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one portion of dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut into 1-1/2-in. squares. Repeat with remaining dough.
Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Prick with a fork several times. Bake at 325° for 18-22 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Sift reserved lavender sugar; discard lavender. Dust cookies with the sugar. Store in airtight containers. Yield: about 4 dozen.
Editor's Note: Look for dried lavender flowers in spice shops. If using lavender from the garden, make sure it hasn’t been treated with chemicals.

To enter the Blog Hop here on my site, please share this post, like me on Facebook, register for my blog or share a comment.  There are great prizes for the hop!  I will also be selecting one commenter to win a copy of with 'White Lies and Half Truths' or 'Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy'.  Winner's choice! So be sure and include a way for me to get in touch with you!

Now, be sure to follow the link below to all the other great authors that are a part of this Blog Hop!
Authors in Bloom Blog Hop Link

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Jane Austen Inspired Film Festival: Unleashing Mr. Darcy

An Austen Inspired Film Festival

By Barbara Tiller Cole

Unleashing Mr. Darcy

I have missed the Austen community over the past year. I was ill for quite awhile and got away from my blog, but it is time to reinvigorate.  Over the next couple months I will be presenting an Austen Inspired Film Festival.
The first offering is from Hallmark Channel:  Unleashing Mr. Darcy. 
I was giddy to watch a modern Pride and Prejudice inspired film and had no preconceived notions of what this film would be.  I even convinced my Mr. Darcy to watch it with me (he hated it by the way). 
In the opening scenes of the film, English teacher, Miss Elizabeth Scott is bribed to give her lacrosse playing student a passing grade so he can stay on the team.  Instead Mr. Marcum, who proves to be the true villain of the story, makes sure that she is suspended from the school. 
Liz and her spaniel Bliss are on the dog show circuit and Donovan Darcy is the judge of their dog category.  Liz is very quick to judge Donovan and his supposed arrogance when he says of her dog ‘fine eyes, shame about the freckles’. 
Events transpire in which Liz becomes the handler for a friend’s dog in an upcoming dog show who just happens to live across the street from Donovan Darcy.  Sparks fly between the two.
I enjoyed this modern Jane Austen inspired movie.  While it was not a canon retell, it had enough of Pride and Prejudice within the telling that those that love fan fiction will enjoy seeing it.
I loved Donovan Darcy from the beginning, as he seemed to have less of a prideful presence than a typical canon Darcy.  However, Elizabeth Scott has even more prejudice and an almost arrogant determination to hate Donovan that I found a bit irritating.   For those of you who will want to see it, I won’t add any more spoilers. 
I can tell you, however, after years of reading so many good modern Pride and Prejudice variations I have read many that deserve a film in their honor. I would love to know the story of how this particular one was chosen.  It was nice and pleasant, but not what I would call exceptional. I will give the film 3.5 out of 5 stars. 
I will however, give a disclaimer. I have not read the book, nor even know about the book of the same title until I searched Google for pictures for this article.  Should Teri Wilson read this review and be interested in being a guest here at Darcyholic Diversions, I would welcome that.
If you have the Hallmark Channel keep a look out if you missed it.  I am sure they will be airing it again!