Emerald & Opal ~ 2018’s Great Bookish Adventure!

From the moment I met my best friend Camille during our undergraduate creative writing course, I knew our relationship was going to be something special.

Maybe it’s because of how similar our names are.  Maybe it’s because of how opposite our physical appearances are, despite our styles being nearly identical.  Maybe it’s because she’s a die-hard Jane Austen fan while I’m a passionate Charlotte Brontë follower, and yet we can each appreciate Austen and Brontë for their literary brilliance.  Probably it’s all of these things put together, plus so many more…but whatever the reason that I was drawn to Camille in the first place, she has become this huge influence and driving force in my life ever since I was introduced to her.  She is the Jane to my Elizabeth Bennet, the Helen Burns to my Jane Eyre, the Diana Barry to my Anne Shirley, the Betty Cooper to my Veronica Lodge…we are yin and yang, ice blue and deep green…we are friend soul mates, there’s no doubt about it!

Camille is the friend I immediately turn to in moments of self-doubt and anxiety.  She is also the friend I have always felt most comfortable sharing my creative pursuits with, whether it’s a slightly trashy chick lit. short story I’m working on, or a poem I feel isn’t any good but I just had to get on paper, or posts for this very blog.  She was one of the first and fiercest supporters of me starting The World of my Green Heart (and I think she’s also one of its most avid readers ~ Hey Camille!), and she has always encouraged me to put my green heart on the line, both with her kind words and also by setting an incredible example for me.  Camille is a talented poetry writer, a masterful programmer and an expert white hot chocolate maker.  She’s mother to some adorable kitties (shout out to my god-daughter, the kitty Khaleesi), she’s a loving and devoted girlfriend, and she’s the most intelligent woman I have ever encountered, combining this passion for science and psychology with this determination to read ALL THE BOOKS!  Camille is, quite frankly, the woman I aspire to be.

So, when Camille and I were debating what kind of creative endeavour we should get involved in together at the end of 2017, I knew something magical was brewing!  We talked about joining a book club, attending an improv class…and I’m sure we will do these things.  But, the first thing we could agree on and really wanted to sink our teeth into was a joint Bookstagram account.  With the names we have, the opposite appearances, my preference for emeralds and Camille’s Pinterest obsession with opal stones, the Instagram account Emerald & Opal was born!  Our intention is to develop this Instagram page into a spot where we can share our story and chronicle our friendship, through paperbacks and hardcovers, classics and contemporaries, warm cups of earl grey and steaming lattes.  We intend to use this social media platform as a means to exercise our creative muscles and write a story, a memoir of sorts, a record of our interests and passions and the evolution of our relationship and ourselves.  We’ve already got the account underway, posting photos of our outings and hijinks, and also snaps of our recent reads and the massive piles of books we have to get to.  So far, it’s been a wild and exciting and addictive ride, and we’re constantly chatting back and forth about what to post next!

All this to say that I’m finally embarking on another creative adventure that I think goes so well with everything I’ve tried to and have succeeded in achieving on this very blog.  With that in mind, I thought I’d share the link to our page here, in case any of you are interested in following Camille and me on our Bookstagram journey.  Rest assured, I will be continuing to upload reviews and posts here just as frequently, but if you’d like to see some of the photos I’ve worked on and what my best friend and I are up to on a daily basis, Emerald & Opal is the place to do that!  And trust me, you’re going to love Camille (or Opal, as I’ve now taken to calling her) just as much as I do! ❤

Do you have a Bookstagram account?  If so, please share it in the comments below ~ Camille and I would love to follow along on your journey as well!

 

 

@emeraldandopal_xo

 

https://www.instagram.com/emeraldandopal_xo/

 

xo

Janille N G

(Girl with an EMERALD Green Heart)

(The Green Half of Emerald & Opal)

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Eligible ~ #JNGReads

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is a remarkably entertaining read that I enjoyed very much!

This novel is part of a broader series called The Austen Project, in which contemporary authors rework and rewrite some of Jane Austen’s most popular works. Sittenfeld’s story Eligible adapts the plot of Pride and Prejudice and it is an incredibly unique and witty retelling of a much-lauded classic.

I should start my review by saying that Pride and Prejudice is not my favourite Austen novel. Although I definitely love the story itself, I never was able to fully connect to the characters because I find Austen’s writing style in Pride and Prejudice to be too unemotional and almost scientific. That being said, I really love Austen’s novels Emma and (my personal favourite) Persuasion, and so I think that I just have a mental block toward Pride and Prejudice because I have seen it adapted into films so many times and yet feel that the actual text is devoid of much of the feeling and sentiment ascribed to it in popular culture. However, there is no doubt that Austen was a genius of literature, and I absolutely have a fondness in my heart for Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, and all the cast and characters of Pride and Prejudice.

So, I was excited to give Eligible a try and see how Sittenfeld would adapt Austen’s novel about social hierarchies and personal biases to a contemporary time and setting. And, I am happy to report that Sittenfeld does an awesome job of sticking to Austen’s important plot points while tweaking details slightly to fit within the 21st century. There are many things about Pride and Prejudice that would seemingly be hard to incorporate in a modern setting (such as Bingley and Darcy’s wealth, for example), but Sittenfeld manages to find creative ways to account for these things, such as making Bingley a reality TV star and Darcy a neurosurgeon with an old family estate. She even addresses the subtle racism and bigotry of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in ways that are very relevant, particularly by portraying how these characters (who act and speak as if they jumped right from Austen’s original text) would react when meeting transgender and homosexual characters, as an example. Although aspects of these interactions left me feeling a bit uncomfortable because I felt that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet were extremely offensive and narrow-minded, I understood the statement that Sittenfeld was attempting to make with these characters and I appreciate that she pushed the envelope to show just how detrimental these attitudes and behaviours are. Often, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are said to be humorous, the comic relief of Pride and Prejudice (particularly in the film adaptations), but I think Sittenfeld is smart to investigate how very awful and unfunny it would be if they existed in our modern times…and how very unfunny it is that there are still people who think like they do nowadays. There was certainly a broader messages to these points in Sittenfeld’s text, and I respected what she was trying to do and think she did it quite well, given the lighter feel of Eligible as a whole.

What was most fascinating about Eligible was how expertly Sittenfeld captures the spirit and tone of Pride and Prejudice without resorting to parody. Sittenfeld doesn’t emulate or imitate Austen’s style per say, but she somehow manages to write with a voice that is so similar to Austen’s while still being firmly contemporary. It’s really hard to explain unless you’ve read the novel and I would rather not cite entire passages because it would give too much of the beauty and style away, but suffice it to say that I was VERY impressed with Sittenfeld’s writing and with her mastery of a voice that is at once Austen-esque but also distinctly her own. You get this sense that you are reading a great work of literature while immersed in Eligible, and yet somehow the novel still feels light and breezy and pleasurable to get through. It is in many ways the perfect blend of a classic literary style with the modern day enjoyment factor characteristic of romance novels.

I want to give Eligible 5 stars because I enjoyed reading it just that much, so I am going to. But that doesn’t mean that it is a perfect book by any standards. I can’t actually say that I liked any of the characters; I do really love Elizabeth and Jane Bennet as characters in Pride and Prejudice but, in Eligible, there were aspects of their characters that annoyed me quite a bit, such as Jane’s absolute lack of direction in her life and Liz’s justification of having a relationship with a married man. It also threw me off at first that Jane and Liz are in their very late 30’s, and while this makes sense given that no one in contemporary society would call a 20 year old an old maid or spinster, it still made it a bit hard for me to picture them engaged in these particular sorts of romantic and familial foibles. I also found Chip Bingley and Darcy to be somewhat flat characters and felt that their personalities were not explored as much as I would have liked because they just weren’t given that much attention in the novel. But, for some reason, these issues didn’t at all detract from my enjoyment of the novel as a whole or from my eagerness to read it, and I was able to accept that I might not like all of the characters, but I certainly was excited to read about and spend time with them.

Oh screw it, I’m going to provide a few quotes here, ones that I found particularly funny and well-written during my reading. If you want to avoid all spoilers (if that’s even possible considering the entire novel is a retelling), I suggest you not read the passages below…

~ “‘It’s probably an illusion caused by the release of oxytocin during sex,’ Darcy continued, ‘but I feel as if I’m in love with you. You’re not beautiful, and you aren’t nearly as funny as you think you are. You’re a gossip fiend who tries to pass off your nosiness as anthropological interest in the human condition. And your family, obviously, is a disgrace. Yet in spite of all common sense, I can’t stop thinking about you. The time has come for us to abandon this ridiculous pretense of hate sex and admit that we’re a couple.’ Darcy had delivered this monologue stiffly, while mostly avoiding eye contact…”  CLASSIC DARCY! (And yes, that’s right, Liz and Darcy do have casual sex in this adaptation – surprising, but not altogether unrealistic!)

~ “Such compliments – they were thrilling but almost impossible to absorb in this quantity, at this pace. It was like she was being pelted with a magnificent hail, and she wished she could save the individual stones to examine later, but they’d exist with such potency only now, in this moment.”

~ “and then – outside the lodge, behind the boulder, he in a tuxedo and she in a lavender bridesmaid dress – their faces met and they kissed at such length that the kiss contained multiple phases, including the one in which they both were smiling, practically laughing, and the one in which she forgot where she was.” A highly Austen-esque description – veiled, logical and informative!

~ “she loved Darcy too much to try to prove her love to anyone except him.” ~

All in all, Eligible is a GREAT novel and one that I HIGHLY recommend to Austen fans! It was a thoroughly unique take on Pride and Prejudice unlike anything I’ve ever encountered, and certainly just as entertaining as the original!

❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

“I want a wife…” – #JNGReads and #JNGWatches

“Jane, I want a wife. I want a wife, not a nursemaid to look after me. I want a wife to share my bed every night. All day if we wish. If I can’t have that, I’d rather die. We’re not the platonic sort, Jane.”

– Jane Eyre, 2006 BBC Miniseries

“Her entire world ceased to exist except to study Richard’s face…”

“She reached deep into herself for her control.”

The Three Colonels, Jack Caldwell

the-three-colonels-2

Soon enough, I will be finished my current read, my rescue book, The Three Colonels by Jack Caldwell. Given the fact that I unexpectedly stumbled across the book in the Dollar Store, I wasn’t at all anticipating that I would become quite so attached to the story and the characters. My expectations were not at all lifted by the fact that the plot centers on three rather unpopular female characters from Jane Austen’s novels, Caroline Bingley and Anne de Bourgh of Pride and Prejudice and Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility. I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility (it’s the only Austen novel I have left to conquer), but my own experience of Pride and Prejudice and my discussion of it with several other readers have made me convinced that no one really likes or is at all interested in Caroline Bingley or Anne de Bourgh. If anything, the presence of these two women in the plot is mostly just a nuisance to the main, beloved characters.

Having said that, I have grown to really like and enjoy my time with Caroline, Anne and Marianne (who I admittedly don’t know very much about). I have found Caldwell’s story to be very lovely, peaceful and calming to read. I have become thoroughly engrossed in it during my lunch breaks and my long bus rides home, and I have found myself looking forward to reading it throughout my day. I am dreading finishing these next 50 or so pages (hence the fact that I’m writing this post rather than reading) because I don’t want to give up living in the comfortable and warm world that Caldwell, with much help from Miss Austen, has created. This world has been a source of solace and escape for me.

More than that though, I have been taken in by the marital and domestic bliss that Caldwell portrays in his Austen adaptation. As you all know already, especially since I can’t seem to stop talking about it, I am recently engaged. I am also in the midst of planning a Christmas wedding inspired by my favourite literary characters and Victorian time period. This is undoubtedly the most exciting, fun and wonderful time of my life, and I cannot wait until my wedding day in just under 15 months. However, wedding someone is so much more than having a party, feasting for hours and dancing the night away. There are vows to be said and promises to be made, and these precious moments cannot be overlooked.

For me specifically, wedding my fiancé SS means becoming a wife. This is something that I have always fantasized and dreamed of. The concept of being a wife first started to truly intrigue me in high school, when I opened the pages of Jane Eyre and beheld a love unlike any other. A love between two equals who lived and breathed entirely for each other, this romance began to serve as a guideline for me, as a goal for what I hoped to achieve in my own life. At the same time as I wanted passionate love, I also craved the comfort and security that Jane felt with her Rochester. When I watched the 2006 BBC miniseries adaptation for the first time, and heard Edward Rochester declare in the final scene that he wanted a wife to be his companion and helpmate as well as his passionate romantic partner, I was immediately swept up by the idea. Being a wife would mean, I began to understand, desiring someone, wanting them, but also supporting and encouraging them under all circumstances. It would mean giving my life for them in all capacities.

Now that I am a fiancée, this idea of being a wife has taken on new meaning and significance. What will it mean for me to become SS’s wife? Will it mean losing my identity? Certainly not – my Victorian role models would never allow that. But, it will mean taking on a new identity, among the many identities I now possess. It will mean becoming the person (even more than I am now) on whom SS consistently relies. That is a thought that makes my heart soar.

I have many examples of happily married couples all around me, starting with my own parents. I am a reader, though, and so I always like to look to literature to present models for my every day life. And, this is the very reason I have grown so fond of Jack Caldwell’s The Three Colonels. In it, I have found three models for being a wife, and they have provided me with an image of married life that is at once exhilarating and safe.

In The Three Colonels

Being a wife means loving and idolizing and respecting your partner above all others. Anne de Bourgh is taken by Richard Fitzwilliam, although society may not find him conventionally handsome or extraordinary. She is overcome by his intelligence, his kindness and his impressive work ethic. She is proud of his military accomplishments and his reputation. She is attracted to his personality, his manner of speaking to her, his inclination to ask for her advice and give her the power to form her own opinions. She grows to love how he looks because of who he is, and he becomes the most handsome man in the world to her. Her eyes look on him with love, and he becomes the only person she can ever imagine being with. She is devoted only to him.

Being a wife means being strong and supporting your partner, despite your own fears and anxieties. I have learned, particularly recently, that being part of a couple means facing stressful situations together. Sometimes it also means staying firm and having the confidence that your partner lacks. Marianne, Caroline and Anne must each watch as their beloved men go off to fight a war against Napoleon. They must wait at home as their men work diligently to protect not just their loved ones, but their entire country. It is not easy to be the one sitting at home, or to be the one who supports from the sidelines, but it is one of the most important functions that a wife (or any partner for that matter) has. Being a constant source of strength is essential, and these three women are able to dispel their husbands’ fears even when their own hearts and minds are racing. They put their own nervousness aside and bear so much burden so that the men they love can have but a little relief from their anxieties. They are the pillars that hold their husbands up.

Being a wife means never, ever losing your own identity and sense of self. Caroline Bingley becomes Caroline Buford, but she never stops being the woman she always was. She is far too feisty for that. Anne de Bourgh is the mistress of Rosings; it is her property and her relationship with Fitzwilliam does not call that into question, but rather encourages her to be even more forceful about her powers and her responsibilities. She takes on the finances and the politics with class and intellect, and she is truly a match for her politically-inclined beloved. Rather than becoming quiet through her love for him, she becomes louder and more confident in herself. She is anything but sickly and silent.

Being a wife sometimes means being a mother. It means creating a family, a home base. It means creating a life for your husband that will be mutually pleasurable and peaceful.

Of course, being a husband has its own challenges and responsibilities too…but I’ll leave that to SS to discover! 😉

I am hesitating to finish The Three Colonels because I have so enjoyed witnessing three women become accustomed to married life. I have easily identified with all three women, in their different stages of marital bliss, and I have recognized aspects of myself in them and traits that I would like to assume and apply to my own life.

I would highly recommend Caldwell’s novel to any reader that enjoys becoming a part of Miss Austen’s world. You will get sucked into the story, I promise you that!

The Future Wife,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

The Great Book Rescue — #JNGReads

Last weekend, I was called to my duty as an Avid Reader and forced to rescue a book from a shelf where I believe it would’ve been underappreciated and unloved. The story goes like this…

I was walking through the Dollar Store with my mother. She was in pursuit of masking tape or paintbrushes or something of that sort, and I was slowly following behind her. I found myself in the stationary aisle, looking at the pens and pads of paper and notebooks, and I finally came to the end of the aisle where there was a large shelf full of colouring books and picture books.

I stopped in front of this shelf and began to peruse the various volumes it contained. There were your classic children’s colouring books, but also those adult colouring books that have recently become so popular. There were children’s picture books, but as I  investigated the shelf, I noticed that there were also Young Adult books. I hadn’t heard of any of them personally, but they were proper, quite lengthy novels. Then, as my eyes flitted over the different titles and covers, I alighted on two words I recognized: Jane Austen. I moved closer to the shelf and picked up the book that contained Miss Austen’s name. The Three Colonel’s: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men by Jack Caldwell.

the-three-colonels

I picked up the book and stared at it in confusion. What was a book based on the novels of Jane Austen doing on a shelf in the Dollar Store? I turned it over, still puzzled, thinking there had to be some mistake, and sure enough the synopsis described that the novel was in fact a sort of sequel to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I thought that the book must’ve been left in the story by mistake, but I noticed that in the bottom right-hand corner there was a little sticker proclaiming that the book was…$3! I opened up the book, and it did in fact have pages in it, with lots of words. It was a real novel and it was only $3. I was still very confused by the whole turn of events.

If you’ve read my blog for some time, you’ll know that I’m not the biggest Jane Austen fan. I find her writing style to be too clipped and calculated, to lack sentimentality and emotion. But, I am a student of literature, and I of course respect and appreciate Jane Austen’s contributions to the written word. I love her stories and many of her characters, and so, as I held Caldwell’s novel in my hand, a novel that continued the life of many of these beloved characters, I knew that I had no choice. I had to buy the novel, rescue it from a shelf where it would either never be properly seen or never be rightfully appreciated. It was, after all, only $3…hardly an investment to ensure that Jane Austen’s characters would have a comfortable home.

I took the book home with me. Although I was intending to start reading a new Dickens novel, I figured that I could get through Caldwell’s story more quickly, and so I began it immediately.

I am pleased to say that I am thoroughly enjoying the story so far, and I’m about halfway through it! It’s actually quite lovely…it has its steamy moments, which really surprised me, but for the most part, it does follow Austen’s tradition and portrays many simple, romantic scenes between some surprising characters. Caldwell decides to focus on, arguably, the lesser-liked characters of Pride and Prejudice – Carole Bingley and Anne de Bourgh are his central focus. Rather than being disappointed by this, however, I am actually enjoying getting to know Caroline and Anne. I do prefer Anne because I still feel that Caroline is a bit too ruthless for me, but both women are presented in a respectable light and it is cute and endearing to get to read about their feelings and love stories. I’m enjoying this novel very much…and for $3, I couldn’t have asked for more!

I’ll leave you now with a few nice quotes from the novel. A proper review of it will come once I’m finished.

“‘You are too good, sir.’ … ‘I am a poor fool saved by your love.’”

“It was clear that for her he would do anything.”

“firmly secure in her practice of thinking only of the past as it gave her pleasure”

“‘I shall speak, and then my fate shall be in your hands.’”

The Three Colonels, Jack Caldwell

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Where I Read — Home Away From Home

Reading in SS's Backyard

Hello hello and happy weekend!

Can I just say that there is nothing better in the summer than weekends! Who wants to wear dress pants in 40 degrees Celsius? Not this girl!

Anyway, I digress. This week, I’ve decided to skip the #JNGReads/#JNGListens post and instead do another entry about a location Where I Read. I could’ve done a #JNGWatches post, because if you all follow me on Twitter, you’ll see that I’ve been posting gifs and photos and videos of two particular movies all week. I watched both Pride and Prejudice (the version starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden) and Becoming Jane last weekend, and I’m a little obsessed with both movies. I also realized that my fiancé has never seen Becoming Jane, so I’ll likely have to rectify that situation this weekend and watch the movie again. What a sacrifice to spend another 2 hours with James McAvoy! *sigh* The things we do for our future husbands! 😉

Oh dear, here I go digressing again! Okay, let’s focus — on to my most recent reading location.

A few weeks ago, SS and I had a mini engagement party with the members of our wedding party (some of whom I introduced on the blog here). The next day, we spent a leisurely Sunday in his newly landscaped backyard. SS and his parents did ALL the landscaping themselves, and the garden is truly a sight to behold it is quite breathtaking and the flower beds and built-in stone benches are absolutely beautiful. It’s a perfectly serene and peaceful little retreat, with a covered deck that stays cool and shaded, and a lovely collection of vibrant and vivid summer colours.

On that particular Sunday, the sun was quite scorching, but SS and I were totally protected under the deck, and I was able to spend hours reading Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey in complete calm. Although SS and I are looking to buy a condo and most likely won’t have a garden of our own any time in the foreseeable future, it is nice to know that we will always have a warm and inviting atmosphere to hang out in at his parents’ place. And it is truly remarkable to me that I feel so comfortable there…that I can casually sit in his backyard and feel like I am right at home.

SS's Backyard #1 SS's Backyard #2 SS's Backyard #4

 

 

 

 

I’ll be spending a few days this week at SS’s house while his parents are away on a vacation, so chances are I’ll be spending a lot more time reading in this pleasant setting!

Enjoy your weekend and the blazing sun!

SS's Backyard #3

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

The Bride’s Side – #JNGWeds

“‘I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature.’”

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

This is a bit of a belated blog post. I should’ve written about this quote last weekend, in a #JNGReads entry, but I had such a busy schedule that I didn’t get around to discussing these powerful words. This week, I started reading a new novel, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, and I don’t quite know how I feel about it yet, so I didn’t feel the urge to discuss any passages from the book right now. I decided, then, that it would be a good time to fill you in on my past weekend and discuss one of the lines from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey that I was particularly fond of.

Last weekend, my fiancé SS and I had a small but cozy engagement party with our dearest friends and family. We wanted to keep the event intimate and comfortable, so we focused on honouring and introducing some of the people who have been the most supportive and incredible to us throughout our lives. These young men and women will form our bridal party, and we really felt like getting them all together and formally asking them to share in our Special Day with us.

The barbecue/garden party was a huge success! We had tons of delicious food and drinks in SS’s immaculately landscaped backyard (his parents designed and constructed it themselves!), and it was amazing to see all of our friends and family conversing and getting along so well. We truly feel that we have the best wedding party in the entire world – they are all individuals who are kind, open-minded, genuine and so loving. We know they are going to be a huge help to us in the next year and 5 months (Ahh!) until the wedding.

Janourena Ties The Knot

The line quoted above from Northanger Abbey portrays exactly how I feel about these remarkable people that have agreed to be there for us on our Big Day. I’m an emotional person and I don’t censor my feelings in the least. So, although I wasn’t particularly fond of the character Isabella Thorpe from Northanger Abbey, I did absolutely connect to her statement that she cannot love others only “‘by halves’” – it is in her “‘nature’”, it is a crucial part of her identity that she gives her heart to people fully and without restraint. I feel the same way about the people I choose to let into my life, and I couldn’t be happier for it. I rely on these special friends, and I am attached to them without holding myself back.

On that note, I’d like to take this moment to introduce my side of the lovely bridal party to you all here on the blog. Since wedding planning is so exciting and there are so many literary aspects I’d like to incorporate into my big day, I know I will be speaking about these people very often, and I thought it would be helpful for you all to get a sense for who they are. I’ve decided to go with a bit of a royal theme for my half of the wedding party (SS is slowly following suit), so I’ve given each of my maidens and my Man of Honour a regal wedding alias for the duration of the planning and events. Here is JNG’s Wedding Party

  • Lady Camille ~ My dear friend since second year university, CV is an absolute force to be reckoned with in terms of creativity and ingenuity. She is passionate about literature (particularly a certain Miss Austen), as well as psychology and various technological advances in these fields. She is my absolute soul mate, my bosom buddy, my most effortless companion, and my love for her knows no bounds. I can go to her with absolutely any concern and she always puts me at ease and is a shoulder to lean on in all circumstances. I am so glad that we found each other in university, and I know she will be my lifelong companion and support.
  • Lady Courtney ~ I’ve known hilarious, beautiful and fiery CL since elementary school, but it was high school when we became close and started to bond quickly. With a job in the entertainment industry and a love for all things pop culture, CL is an absolute blast to be around. She is also unfailingly loyal and supportive; she is always on my side and she is eager to boost my confidence and my self-esteem in any dire situation. I relied on her strength so much in high school, and she has continued to be a huge support to me in every regard. I love spending time with her because she always has me laughing and puts a smile on my face.
  • Lady Kailah ~ KM is my oldest friend, meaning that I’ve known her for the longest time. We met in grade 4 and became utterly inseparable. Although KM moved to California for a short time during our high school years, our connection is so strong that our friendship remained perfectly intact; when she came back for visits, it was just as if she had never left. With a degree in kinesiology and a mind that can memorize absolutely anything, KM is a professional roller figure skater (she competed in the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games!), and her commitment to her craft has always inspired me to be better and stronger. She has been with me for most of my life, standing by my side and urging me to get out of my comfort zone, try new things and be a more self-assured version of myself…and I adore her for it!
  • Lord Brandon ~ My brother BBG was the obvious choice to be my Man of Honour. Although I have some incredible female friends (as you can probably tell by now), BBG has been attached to me since birth, and he knows absolutely everything about me. It’s not always easy for brothers and sisters to get along, but I can honestly say that BBG is a great support to me; he understands things about my personality that no one else ever will, and he has shared all of my experiences. He is a lover of books and writing (he’s even written his own novel, which is a complete masterpiece and will hopefully be featured on this blog someday!), and he is incredibly creative. Yes, he can be a bit of a pain sometimes, but as we’ve grown older and our relationship has matured, BBG and I have begun to truly rely on each other. I know that he will protect me in all circumstances, and I never doubt that he will be there for me and be rooting me on. He is the most dear and important person in my life and I am lucky to have him. He is exactly what he is supposed to be…a true man of honour.
From left to right: Lady Camille, Lady Courtney, JNG, The Man of Honour BBG, Lady Kailah.

From left to right: Lady Camille, Lady Courtney, JNG, The Man of Honour BBG, Lady Kailah.

Janourena Engagement Party

SS and me with my Man of Honour and brother, BBG.

And there you have it…that’s my wedding party! They’re all so different and unique, but I value them each and couldn’t imagine my life without them. I love them all so fully…never by halves and always 100% completely!

xox,

JNG

Bride with a Green Heart

my green heart

Janille Reads Jane – Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey

I have to make a startling admission which I’ve probably already alluded to here on the blog: I am not the biggest fan of Jane Austen.

I am one of those people who is loyal to Charlotte Brontë, who loves Charles Dickens, who enjoys long and eloquent descriptions full of emotion and feeling. I’m not really that fond of concise narratives that sum things up in a single paragraph, that tell me what a character is thinking and feeling rather than showing me through their actions. I like sentiments over logic, lengthy descriptions over summaries. And I find that Jane Austen usually offers the latter.

My assessment was no different yesterday afternoon when I finished Northanger Abbey. I have now read all of Jane Austen’s books except Sense and Sensibility, so I feel that I can profess an astute opinion on them. Don’t get me wrong, her stories are iconic and I have adored movie adaptations of them, such as the version of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFayden, as well as modern adaptations like the Youtube series Emma Approved. However, I just do not adore Jane Austen’s writing style. It is too clipped and concise and ironic, which I believe leaves it void of emotion. There is no real substance, no depth to the characters, in my opinion. The concepts are good, but they are told in catalogue style, as if Austen wants to simply list the events and summarize them without exploring their detail or complexity.

Northanger Abbey was probably destined to be a novel I wouldn’t love because it toyed with and critiqued the archetypes of gothic novels. However, I hoped to learn something about the gothic genre from it and expand my opinion. Instead, I found myself struggling to connect to Catherine Morland – I just wasn’t given enough to work with; her speeches were short and to the point, and her romantic feelings were described in a few sentences or less. Her fear at being separated from her lover, Henry Tilney, was momentary and brief, and their profession of love was entirely omitted and was instead summarized in one paragraph. I love ardent confessions of undying love, and Northanger Abbey sorely lacked this.

It also lacked direction, in my opinion. It started off as a pleasant tale about a young woman entering society, then became a pseudo-gothic novel set in an abbey, then it was concluded with convenience and efficiency. The scenes were interesting enough, but they were short-lived, and I never had a chance to fully immerse myself in any of the plots or intrigues.

I should say that I still enjoyed the novel more than most others I’ve read and more than other Austen novels. I just wasn’t blown away by it and although I’m glad I can say I read it, it’s not one of my absolute favourite portrayals of the time period. I do intend to watch the movie adaptation with Felicity Jones though, so that may increase my affections a little.

Are you all too disappointed in me for not being a Janeite?

❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Long Have I Waited – #JNGReads

It all started with a quote by Jane Austen. Not author Jane Austen, speaking through Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse or some other character, but real Jane Austen, speaking in a letter and using her own voice.

“To you I shall say, as I have often said before,

Do not be in a hurry, the right man will come at last.” – Jane Austen

While I’m not going to go so far as to say that this quote led me to my boyfriend, it was on my mind when I met him for the first time, and it has been on my mind a lot recently. I’ve been counseling and giving advice to a few of my single friends, and these wise words from one of the greatest authors of all time (although arguably not as great as my girl Charlotte Brontë, but that’s a whole different blog post for a different time) have been spiraling in my brain non-stop. Bottom line, Jane is so so right in saying that the perfect guy is out there and that it just takes a little patience to find him.

I know this first hand – and if you’ll all sit with me here for awhile, maybe grab a cup of tea or a blueberry scone like the one I’m currently eating, I’d love to tell you the story of how I met SS, the man I spent years and years waiting for.

I didn’t meet SS on Tinder, we didn’t bump into each other buying drinks at a bar. I didn’t even know SS existed until, one day, after class during the second semester of my Master’s degree I sat down across from him. That’s right: SS and I met organically, naturally, and in the most fairytale/movie-like way possible. I was at my beloved University of Toronto (which I can’t now begrudge in any way, because not only did the school give me two degrees, it also gave me a boyfriend!), finishing up my last seminar for the week, and I had a 20 page reading that I really wanted to get finished before the weekend got started. I would normally have taken the train home right away and finished my reading there, but I remembered that my mom was at work and that my dad and brother were at home alone. I knew that if I went home to read, they would start talking to me, asking me questions and favours, and it would take me double the time to finish the measly chapter. So, in a truly Fateful moment, I decided to go and read at Hart House before making the trip home.

When I entered the eating area in Hart House, I saw that it was pretty full and there weren’t any tables available. There were several seats available at some of the larger tables though, so I thought, Why not go and ask to sit down across from someone? And that’s what I did! I randomly picked a table, not even looking at who was sitting at it, and asked the guy there if he minded if I took the seat across from him. He said No, I smiled and thanked him…and the rest is history!

Like actually – the guy I ended up sitting across from was none other than SS himself! As I was sitting there, minding my own business and reading, I kept feeling someone’s eyes on me and every time I glanced up, I noticed that the guy across from me was looking at me and smiling. I smiled back to be polite, but the whole time I was thinking, Why on Earth does this guy keep looking at me? I saw that he was really good looking and definitely seemed nice enough, but I just kept thinking, If I had a nickel for every time a guy smiled at me in a library and never said anything, I’d be rich enough to move to England and find my Mr. Rochester! So, let’s just say that my expectations were extremely low: it seemed like the guy enjoyed looking at me, but I did not expect him to talk to me at all.

Imagine my surprise when he randomly started a conversation with me, asking what book I was reading and what I was studying. I was super impressed and I’m also friendly, so I engaged in a long-ish conversation with him about Medieval literature and philosophy. Once again, my expectations were low because these short conversations happen all the time in life…so I was completely and utterly shocked when he got up to leave about 15 minutes later and…ASKED FOR MY PHONE NUMBER! I was basically stunned and so so confused because things like that rarely (if ever) happen to me. I gave him my number and he texted me on the spot so that I would have his, which was so new for me considering that I usually spent days waiting for guys to text me back. When he left, I told a couple of my friends and my mom what had happened, but I again didn’t expect him to text me or ask me out or anything because, let’s be real, things like that don’t happen outside of movies or novels!

But, he did text me, the very next day, and a week later we had our first date. It’s been a year and 7 months now and SS is my best friend, my biggest confidante, and someone I cannot imagine my life without. I feel lucky every. single. day. that I decided to go to Hart House that evening, and SS and I talk frequently about how we could’ve missed each other and about how we truly believe Fate (<3) brought us together!

As a lover of Victorian literature, this was absolutely the way I always wanted to meet my soul mate. I envisioned meeting a guy randomly in a coffee shop, or on the street. I hoped that one day a guy would just see me from afar and think, That girl looks amazing and so sweet and I have to get to know her and make her a part of my life. But, I was also single for a VERY long time (22 years to be exact), and I had started to give up hope before meeting SS. So, when my single friends are discouraged and lonely, I totally understand where they are coming from, because I was in their position for so long.

The best advice I can think to give them though, is the advice that Jane Austen gave me: the right man is out there, he’s anxiously waiting to meet you, but you have to be patient and let him find you; and you have to be willing to realize and accept when a guy you may really like is not the perfect one for you. Believe me, I know what a struggle it is, I know how hard it is to meet people and I know that not everyone sits down across from their future husband…but these crazy romantic stories do happen every day, and so there’s always reason to be hopeful.

And one thing I will say is that I think the nature of today’s society is getting in the way of romance a little. I don’t think Tinder is the absolute worst way to meet someone, and I do think it works really well for some people – but I do think it encourages people to be extra picky and maybe even to reject people that they could have wonderful relationships with. If I’m being totally honest (sorry SS!), I definitely would’ve swiped left on my boyfriend, no question, for one very simple reason: he is a year younger than me. Sure, I would’ve seen his pictures and thought he was cute, but I never imagined myself with someone younger, so I would’ve rejected him pretty quickly. Or worse, he never would’ve appeared on my feed because my age range settings would’ve eliminated him. I would’ve lost out on the most incredible guy based on something so superficial…and that is a terrifying thought!

So, what I would say to my dear single friends is, Yes, enjoy Tinder, enjoy going to bars and parties, enjoy socializing in various forms…but also know that the man you’re looking for could be right beside you (or across from you), and he may not look or act at all like you expected your dream man would. But that’s what’s so beautiful about love…it’s unexpected and magical and it requires moving outside your comfort zone, thinking outside the list you’re trying to check items off of. Tinder can’t tell you who the perfect man for you is, and neither can a checklist or your very best friend. Only your heart can tell you who the right man is…and when he has come, at last.

Janille N G

Girl with a Green (and Full!) Heart

my green heart

Meant to be Broken – #JNGReads

Welcome to this week’s #JNGReads blog post! In this post, I can’t help but reiterate a number of ideas I’ve already talked about here already…but the quote I found was just too perfect to resist, and once again I have a sort of thesis that indicates exactly why I started this blog to begin with!

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a rebel, by any standards. I mean, last summer I dyed a pink streak into my hair, but that’s pretty much the extent of my life’s rebellions. A little lame, I know. What some of you might find surprising, though, is that starting this very blog was an act of rebellion of sorts, especially after coming out of an English MA program at a relatively rigid academic institution.

Let’s begin with my quote selection for this weekend, and then things will become a bit clearer:

“I felt passionate about the subjects I wrote about, but there were conventions and rules to follow…” – Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi

Once again, Azar Nafisi has perfectly summed up my entire experience of my Master’s degree: I had such hopes, such love for literature, so many lofty ideas, and yet, I was forced to fit them all inside a bubble, into a set of objectives and aims. I was often not interested in doing that, and I had minor moments of rebellion, when I would vehemently disagree with a professor’s opinion in a seminar (and prove my own point with textual examples, of course) or when I would gush and gush about characters, particularly one Mr. Rochester, as if they were real, alive and breathing beside me. Would I say that I got into trouble for these moments of overwhelming emotion? Not exactly…but I was sometimes used as an example of what NOT to do in an academic career…because naturally, an academic should never feel anything about literature under any circumstances. *Insert eye roll here.*

So basically, long story short, and as you all already know from reading some of the other pages on this blog, I completed my MA, got my shining white diploma, and started this dear ol’ blog to talk about literature how I wanted and with as much darn passion and emotion as I believe is necessary and appropriate. And let me tell you, I feel that A LOT of emotion and feeling is necessary and appropriate when discussing novels, or poetry, or works of theatre. Sure, rules are all well and good…sometimes. But, why would I want to follow rules when talking about a piece of culture that was born out of some author’s feelings and passions? I’m sure Jane Austen didn’t feel entirely neutral when she wrote about Elizabeth and Darcy; I’m certain that Shakespeare wasn’t devoid of passion when he wrote Romeo’s passionate speeches to Juliet; and I am 100% positive that Charlotte Brontë felt a lot of things about the love story of her Jane and Rochester…a lot of things that I have no doubt she would’ve wanted me to feel as well, and to rant and rave about as loudly as I can.

So welcome again all you dear followers to this blog that is full of and ruled by emotions and feeling. Thank you for joining me on this ride, and for helping me break some rules that I was never particularly fond of to begin with!

JNG

Girl with a (Very Big) Green Heart

my green heart