By Sandy Bregman
After recently receiving the (May/June) Newsletter published by our local JASNA Region, I had the pleasure of reading “Miss (Donna Elizabeth) Bennett’ s Perspective.” This is a beautiful recollection of her experience at our Special Event “A Day with Jane Austen” and “An Evening with Jane Austen.” The event was February 27, 2016, at the Glendale Women’s Club, an impressive meeting house in Glendale AZ. Glendale is a charming and unique historic city in the Greater Phoenix area. Glendale’s green Town Square is surrounded by historic buildings used as antique shops, charming retail stores, eateries, etc. The city is also known for Cerritos Candy Company, horse and buggy rides, and Christmas celebrations.
“Miss Bennett’s Perspective” has inspired me to share my own delightful experience of the day. For me, the day was much like a kid in a candy store experience. We were kept busy throughout the day, so that at times our heads were spinning. My writing is not as lyrical as Miss Bennett’s, but I would like to impart to anyone interested, a bit more information.
Before I delve into the day’s activities, I would like to say that we are a very fortunate and busy community of Janeites, even though we are only a few years old. Our general membership and active board members live throughout the state of Arizona, from the northern and central part of the state as well as the Greater Phoenix area. Our region is guided by a very special group of people whose charm, dedication, devotion, and creativity have made this and many other activities and events possible as well as successful.
Most of our officers and board members are heavily involved in the success of our region which was formed only a few years ago by Lady Diane Gorham, our Regional Coordinator.
Every year Lady Sylvia Hom, mentioned earlier by Miss Bennett, hosts our Jane Austen Birthday Tea in her beautiful home.
Lady Paula Heil, also mentioned earlier, is a fireball of energy and works tirelessly as our Special Events Coordinator, which included a Jane Austen Cruise in the last year or two. The saying “if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person” fits Paula like a glove, but she acknowledges loving it.
I won’t list all of the officers and active board members, but must acknowledge how important they all are to our organization. While the success of our group mostly lies in their capable hands, we also have some members who possess special skills and knowledge and have generously shared them with us.
Back to the day:
I agree with Miss Bennett that the cravat tying activity was a hit! I would just add that we were each provided with a sample cravat plus a visual guide showing step by step directions to tying our cravats, while Mr. Hesley faced us and described his steps as he tied his own cravat;
Over, under, around, and through, while attempting to dress the neck properly. Some of us stumbled (me), while others were quite successful.
INVENTING AN ALTERNATIVE JANE, The Jane Austen Mystery Series, Guest Speaker Author Stephanie Barron
Ms. Barron writes a series of historical mysteries where Jane Austen is an amateur detective. To my complete surprise, Miss Barron announced that she also writes mysteries under a second pen name: Francine Matthews. Francine has written over 20 novels. She mentioned one in particular, which I had read and enjoyed a couple of years ago, Jack 1939. In another blogpost, I will write a short synopsis of this book!
TEA with JANE AUSTEN, Author and Speaker Kim Wilson with Morning Tea.
Miss Bennett mentioned how she coveted the book Tea with Jane Austen and then was presented the book as a gift!
Kim Wilson speaks to groups around the country, about a variety of topics, including tea, the history of tea, the history of gardening, and the author Jane Austen. In Jane’s Chawton home she was in charge of the teas. She held the key to the tea cabinet and prepared teas which were quite expensive at the time. This book contains anecdotes and references to teas taken in the novels. Mrs. Wilson also brought her other books related to Jane Austen and her times, At Home with Jane Austen and In the Garden with Jane Austen.
DRESSING MR. KNIGHTLEY, presented by Lady Diane Gorham and featuring Mr. Shawn Gorham as Mr. Knightley.
Mr. Gorham cut quite the fine figure in modeling as Mr. Knightley, as well described in ” Miss Bennett’s Perspective.”
It is hard to imagine how the ladies and gentlemen of Jane’s times could have gotten along without their maids and valets. I doubt that they could even have started their days. Our Mr. Knightley and we were very fortunate that Mr. Hesley stepped in as valet. Together the gentlemen made the dressing of layer after layer of clothing, boots, hat, and coats seem fairly effortless. We all are very fortunate that Lady Gorham is such an excellent seamstress and Regency fashion expert and designer. She has made many of the gowns and dresses for our members, not to mention the beautiful bonnets she makes and designs. She is a woman of many great talents.
THE GRAND MARCH and MR. WESTON’S BALL
I was unable to attend the ball, but can guarantee that it was a wonderful success, just as was the entire day. I have seen the ladies and gentlemen in their finery at former events, and I have been to dances called by Lady Peg Hesley, an excellent dance mistress.
We would welcome anyone interested in Jane Austen or the JASNA group to join us. We enjoy many educational, exciting, and fun activities and events. We invite you to check us out or join us. Members are welcome to participate as much or as little as pleases them.
Check our website for a calendar of events
Thank you for reading!