Saturday, January 03, 2015

Highlights from 2014!

What a year 2014 has been! Here is a post with my highlights, both of events, things I have done and people I have met, and also of the books I have read!

Let's start with the books... Here are my favourite reads of 2014, in no particular order I might add!

To Refine Like Silver by Jeanna Ellsworth - read my full review here!

... this is a very different and unique book. It is emotionally very touching and I was completely drawn into it as I read. It was a book where reaching the 'happy ending' - and not just for Lizzy and Darcy - has never felt more satisfying!

Pride and Persistence by Jeanna Ellsworth - read my full review here!

A thoroughly enjoyable read, particularly when you need a good book to cheer you up, and it is the perfect book for curling up with after a trying day at work; brilliantly funny and wonderfully romantic which will leave you feeling perfectly content and with a huge grin on your face - well I did anyway!

Jane Austen Cover to Cover by Margaret C. Sullivan- read my full review here!

This is a book which should grace the shelves of every Austen fan, in my opinion! It really is a very interesting and a very unique book and a fantastic way of celebrating 200 years of Austen's work.

Rainy Days by Lory Lilian - read my full review here!

It is a superbly written book with an inventive story which is full of humour and wit, breath-taking romance, wonderful characters and great drama to keep you turning the pages and racing to the end!  I enjoyed every single second of this book. Just read it!

A Father's Sins by Joy King - read my full review here!

I really enjoyed this story. It was unique and different. This is a much more serious variation than I usually read, but it was an interesting and enjoyable change ... The story was very dramatic and fast paced but had romance and humour - a perfect mix! Joy really is a talented author and I can’t wait for more!

The Subsequent Proposal by Joana Starnes - read my full review here!
I really enjoyed this story. It has a good balance of pain and sorrow, but also plenty of romance and some humour! I loved going along the journey through Darcy’s eyes and it was very clever how the author intertwined the characters from Persuasion and I loved the whole idea of the switching of partners from two of Jane Austen’s wonderful novels.

A Second Chance by Joana Starnes - read my full review here!

Joana Starnes really has done it again. Humour, romance, tension and a wonderful mix of characters and story lines - it's got it all!  ...this was so well written and such a clever, brilliant and different story.

Haunting Mr Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory - read my full review here!

I really cannot express just how much I loved this story! The plot itself was extremely clever and unique, it was absolutely hilarious and also supremely romantic. Just read it. End of.

Dear Mr Darcy by Amanda Grange - read my full review here!

I found the format refreshing to read as well as being very clever and it worked brilliant for the story. I never imagined I would enjoy it so much! The letter style was absolutely fascinating and showed so much more insight into so many of the characters we already know and love as well as adding some very interesting new characters ... If you love Pride and Prejudice as much as I do, then I highly recommend that you read this story.

Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice by Heidi Ashworth - read my full review here!

I really loved this story. It think it may even have become my favourite of this authors novels, for I loved the more serious nature as it resulted in such beautiful and heart-wrenching romance, the most powerful of all her stories in my opinion. But yet there was still some wonderful humour throughout.  The characters, and not just the hero and heroine, were also brilliant and very strong, really adding to the story.

Now onto the things I have been up to during 2014!

Jane Booker (centre)
I have seen some wonderful performances on stage this year. I saw a fantastic performance of Sense and Sensibility in April. It was a brilliant performance, with a cast of nine.

I think my highlight of the play would be the performance of Edward and Robert Ferrars, who was played by the same actor. Seeing him play both the shy and sensible Edward and the silly and outrageous Robert was pretty funny! It was also nice to see Jane Booker playing Fanny Dashwood and Mrs Jennings, who was Mrs Shaw in North and South (2004).

I also saw an absolutely unbelievable performance of Pride and Prejudice in October, adapted and performed by the fantastic Two Bit Classics - and as suggested in the title, yes there were only two of them playing the 21 different characters!

I can't begin to describe to you how brilliant and clever it all was - it was so good I saw it twice!

 I am interviewing the actors in Two Bit and I will be posting the interview very soon - keep your eyes peeled for that one, it is going to be a good one!

I made a wonderful purchase in April - I spent my 18th birthday money on a beautiful 1820s writing slope!

Vincent Warren Low

And what was even more exciting was that it had a name on the top, and thanks to the wonderful and lovely Hazel Mills I was able to find out all about who owned it - he even had a memoir! To see more pictures and read more about it, have a look at my post about it here!

I have also managed to tick off quite a few of my film locations this year! Of course, I couldn't resist making up a few comparison shots!

In August I visited the beautiful Stourhead Gardens, which was the location of the first proposal in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice.

In October, I visited Basildon Park, which was Netherfield Park , also in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice. I visited here with the lovely Joana Starnes, who I met this year and have since been on many delightful outings!

And at the end of October, I went to see if Lady Catherine was at home, at Belton House - Rosings in the 1995 mini-series!

Cassandra Grafton, me, Joana Starnes, Abigail Reynolds

And now, back to June when I spent two lovely days in Chawton with Joana, during the Regency Week.

Joana Starnes, me, Cassandra Grafton

On the first day, I met the lovely Abigail Reynolds and Cassandra Grafton. We attended the Regency Day in Alton, followed by a stroll through the pretty Selborne.

Joana Starnes, Monica Fairview, Cassandra Grafton,
Abigail Reynolds, me, Jane Odiwe

On the second day I was lucky enough to have a tour of Chawton House Library, where I met with Cassandra and Abigail again, as well as Jane Odiwe and Monica Fairview.

Joana and me in Chawton Cottage gardens

Joana and I also attended the Jane Austen House Museum's open evening, which was a lovely end to the day!

Onto August, which was a month of preparation as I put together my first regency outfit, ready for the festival in September!

It was such fun choosing all my accessories and designing my dress with the lovely Sarah from Marion May.

To see my full post about my outfit and links to where I purchased everything, have a look here!

And onto September, and possibility the best day of the year - The Jane Austen Festival Promenade 2014!

Joana and me

It was a fantastic day! I met with the lovely Joana again, and met Hazel for the first time in person!

Me, Joana Starnes, Hazel Mills and her husband Keith

I also made the acquaintance of the lovely Míra Magdó!

Míra Magdó and me in the Assembly Rooms

Adrian Lukis aka Wickham!

It was amazing to be among so many Janeites! (Not to mention that I met Wickham!) To see a full account of my day, take a look at my post here! 

During October I had a lovely surprise when I had a message from the lovely Barb Chancey saying she had been practising her new felting hobby and had made something I would be interested in, and she then sent me a photo of mini-me!

It is really cute!

This is the photo it was based off, taken by hazel at the Festival in September.

Also in October I went to visit with the lovely Hazel in Cambridge and she took me to see Cambridge university, Rosings (Belton House) and I saw Two Bit's Pride and Prejudice for the second time with her. It was a brilliant week! I also was in awe of Hazel's book collection - this is all Jane Austen novels!

Hazel Mills and me,
in front of her impressive collection!

In November I made an amazing purchase, meaning I now own an 1894 Peacock edition of Pride and Prejudice!

It was my Christmas present and it is stunning! My thanks must go to Hazel who found on for such a reasonable price and in such good condition!

And finally December, when I had another fantastic day when I performed a piano recital for the Jane Austen Society of Cambridge's Birthday Lunch. It was lovely to see Hazel again and also Míra who was so kind as to drive an awfully long way to come and see my performance. It was a very nerve-racking day but I really enjoyed it! Here is a video of the recital...

My recording studio in my bedroom!

Another exciting event in December was the completion of my first audiobook! After recording a few extracts for authors, I was persuaded to look into audiobook narration, and so a few months down line I am narrating audiobooks! I have completed my first one, Snow Storms and Kissing Games by Sarah Johnson, and it will be on sale on Audible and iTunes in a week or so!  


I hope you have all had a good 2014 as well!
Bring on 2015!

Christmas at Basildon Park (Netherfield 2005)

Your affectionate friend,
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