JASNA Puget Sound Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Puget Sound JASNA logoI was privileged to attend the festive 20th anniversary celebration of the Puget Sound chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) at the elegant, Georgian-style Mayflower Park Hotel in downtown Seattle this Sunday last. The beautiful paneled library of this landmark hotel was filled to capacity with many ladies and gentlemen in Regency-attire who enjoyed a warm welcome by Regional Coordinator Marian LaBeck, followed by a set from Jane Austen’s songbook by the talented Charlene Kern.  A champagne toast to our dear Jane by Kimberly Brangwin, one of the chapters founding members, was the highlight of the day for me. Kimberly kindly agreed to let me share her moving speach with my readers.

Puget Sound JASNA member Kimberly BrangwinTwenty years ago, in this hotel, fifteen people gathered to discuss an adored author, Jane Austen.

Over the ensuing years, we have analyzed and argued over all of Austen’s writing.

We have learned about

Fashion and foodstuffs

Regency and religion

Navy and nobility

Love and loss

Estates and entails

Family and friends.

After all this time together, we have made a family from friends.

And so a toast—To us and the muse we adore—Jane Austen.

I had arrived in Seattle unfashionably late after encountering a traffic accident on the 520 bridge and had the great fortune to be seated next to chapter newsletter editor Julie A. who graciously introduced me to many members during the course of the day. She enthusiastically showed off her gorgeous new Kate Spade Pride and Prejudice clutch handbag that I had only heard tell of on Facebook. You can see by the photos that it is a stunner and perfectly finished off Julie’s fashionable summer frock.

Julie A. and her Kate Spade Pride and Prejudice clutch bag

The Mayflower Park presented an elegant three-course meal of chicken saltimbocca, garlic mashed potatoes, prosciutto, goat & asiago cheeses in a roasted garlic-tomato-basil sauce, or vegetable Wellington, with Portobello mushrooms, zucchini and sun dried tomato pesto for our enjoyment. While savoring my dinner, I had remembered that some of the cast members from the popular television series Downton Abbey had stayed at the hotel while they were in in town for a PBS donor event that I attended the following week. Dan Stevens had Tweeted about his visit to Oliver’s, the hotel watering hole, where bartender Steve had create a martini in honor of the show. Inspired to discover the drink, Julie and I ventured into the bar and asked the bartender on duty for a Downton Abbey. The look of surprise on his face was classic, but he soon found the recipe stashed in the cash draw and proceeded to mix the cocktails while we watched in anticipation. For those interested in designer martinis, it is made from Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain (elderflower liqueur), lime juice and a splash of champagne.  Wow! It did not disappoint and may be my new signature drink. Back at our table, it was certainly the conversation piece and Marian LaBeck soon followed our example and trekked off to the bar to order her own glass of the potent concoction.

Bartender at Oliver's in the Mayflower Park Hotel preparing our Downton Abbey martinis

Bartender at Oliver's at the Mayflower Park Hotel preparing Downton Abbey martini's 2

Lest you think that the afternoon was spent entirely in wine and song, there was also the premier of an original playlet written by member Judith Fiedler, featuring Mary Laney, Loveday Conquest, Kimberly Brangwin and Nichelle Hilton portraying Elinor Ferrars, Mrs. Ferrars, Fanny Dashwood and Lucy Ferrars respectively in honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility. Bravo to the cast for an amusing reading, and to Judith for giving Lucy Ferrars the hilarious last line.

Puget Sound JASNA group in Regency finery

Even though I had met some of the Puget Sound members previously and corresponded with James Nagle (who was sadly out of town), I had not attended one of the local chapter meetings previously. It is a trek to drive from Snohomish to Seattle for events, but what is fifty miles of good road when Janeites are gathering?

Many thanks to the chapter members for their gracious and warm welcome.  I look forward to many future soirees and am anxious to share my Austentini recipe at the next get together.


Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

images © 2003–2011 James Petts & Julie A.

18 thoughts on “JASNA Puget Sound Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

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  1. The pleasure of making your acquaintance was only matched by the pleasure of the day. Snohomish is so delightful, perhaps we can arrange one of our meetings to be there? We can come to you since it is a trek for you to come to us. Either way, I look forward to getting to know you better and talking all things Jane.


  2. Thanks for sharing with us and such fine images. But, now, you’ve gone and made me homesick again! The “Downton Abbey?” After a couple of those I would probably find myself a trifle “foxed”


  3. Oh, I wish I’d known you were there – I’m a faithful reader and would have loved to meet you. That’s me in the last picture on the right. It was my first meeting, and I absolutely LOVED getting myself outfitted for the dinner!



    1. Julie, your frock and bonnet are gorgeous. I am so sorry we missed connecting. I learned after the event that Susan Schwartz, who I met at the Portland JASNA conference, had drive up and attended also. It was a large and lively group. Maybe we can be sure to seek each other out at the next event in October.

      Cheers, LA


      1. Oh, good – you’re planning to come in October, too! It was a really fun group, and I look forward to lots more in the coming months….



  4. 50 miles of good road– indeed! “Lest you think that the afternoon was spent entirely in wine and song” oh LaurelAnn, too funny!


  5. Laurel Ann, loved the description of your day. It sounded like a wonderful event. The excellent toast by Kimberly Brangwin was a very nice touch. I think Jane Austen would have liked that.


  6. That Downton Abby martini looks like something I could use on a hot afternoon in late summer! Maybe I’ll try one the next time I’m in the Emerald City. What a wonderful event in honor of Jane Austen.


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