So Jane: Crafts and Recipes for an Austen-Inspired Life, by Hollie Keith and Jennifer Adams – A Review

So Jane Crafts and Recipes from a Jane Austen Inspired Life, by Hollie Keith and Jennifer Adams (2014)From the desk of Lisa Galek:

If you’re like most Janeites, it’s never enough just to read Austen’s novels. You want to live in them, too. That means decorating your house with Austenesque items, baking Regency era goodies, and throwing fabulous book-based soirees. So Jane: Crafts and Recipes for an Austen-Inspired Life by Jennifer Adams and Hollie Keith is the perfect book for bringing your Austen obsession to life in your very own home.

So Jane is an extensive collection of recipes and craft projects inspired by the works and life of Jane Austen. Organized into six chapters—one for each of Austen’s major novels—the book is filled with well over 100 pages of ideas for Austenesque décor, gifts, crafts, and entertaining. There’s Breakfast in Bath (Northanger Abbey), Tea with the Middletons (Sense and Sensibility), Dinner at the Great House (Persuasion), Emma’s Picnic (Emma), A Rustic Dinner (Mansfield Park), and Netherfield Ball (Pride and Prejudice). Each chapter features a full menu and six adorable craft projects inspired by that novel and its characters.

This book is billed as a way to “help you bring all things Austen into your home in a contemporary way” and it completely succeeds. With pages and pages of gorgeous full-color photographs that really bring to life the look and taste of each section, you’ll find tons of Austenesque ideas that you’ll be dying to create. The instructions and steps are very easy to follow. The layout of the book is simple, too—just choose an entire menu or book theme and go from there. If you want to get a little more creative, you can branch out and mix and match ideas from different sections or adjust the projects and recipes for your skill level. The ideas are so creative and inspirational that the possibilities are endless.

Of course, if you’re looking for items and foods that are totally authentic to Regency England this book doesn’t promise that. This is truly Jane-inspired with a modern twist. The authors have actually done a great job using the Regency era as a jumping-off point while picking colors, materials, and ingredients that are more appealing to our contemporary tastes. For example, the recipe for Hot Spiced Cocoa notes that early 19th-century cocoa would have been flavored with chilies, which not many modern folks would enjoy. With a slight adjustment in flavors, you have a treat that your guests will love rather than something authentic that doesn’t taste as delicious. Continue reading

Rosedale in Love, by Lev Raphael – A Review

Rosedale in Love, by Lev Raphael (2011)In honor of Edith Wharton’s 150th birthday yesterday, Kimberly Denny-Ryder has generously shared her review of this new novel inspired by Wharton’s The House of Mirth.

The Gilded Age of America is one of my favorite time periods to read about.  This is probably due to the fact that I grew up near NYC and also made frequent trips to the mansions in Newport, RI owned by the billionaires of that era.  The amount of wealth that was thrown around in those days is truly astounding.  To see the ostentatious nature of some of the landmarks of that era is mesmerizing: houses with elaborate ballrooms, private tea gardens, marble EVERYTHING, etc. etc. – you get the idea.  When Lev Raphael approached me about reviewing Rosedale in Love, a historical fiction novel taking place in the Gilded Age, you can imagine my immediate acceptance!

The time is 1905, and America is booming.  Considered the first real decade of consumerism and materialism, Americans were spending their hard-earned money in droves.  At the center of this madness in New York City is Simon Rosedale, a Jewish financial wizard who has big plans to break into the elite upper-class society that controls everything there is to control in the city.  However, not having any beneficial family ties, and feeling slightly outcast due to his faith, Rosedale sets his aim on marriage as his way into this exclusive club.  Enter Lily Bart, a down-on-her-luck member of this aristocratic society who has recently been fodder for the tabloids.  Rosedale sees a way in via Ms. Bart.  She’s hurt enough socially that she just might take the plunge with Rosedale.  But would she really marry someone like Rosedale?  Would this make the gossip go away, or would it intensify even further?  Add into this mix Florence, Simon’s cousin who is secretly head over heels in love with Simon and you have one hell of a love triangle. Continue reading