It's Monday, What Are You Reading? - A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

Yesterday, I had this conversation on Twitter with Jen Fitzgerald:

So I extend Jen's recommendation to you as well. I'm going to be moving it up my To Be Read List and I hope to be reading it sometime in March if you would like to join me.

Goodreads Description:
In A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf imagines that Shakespeare had a sister. A sister equal to Shakespeare in talent, and equal in genius, but whose legacy is radically different. This imaginary woman never writes a word and dies by her own hand, her genius unexpressed. If only she had found the means to create, argues Woolf, she would have reached the same heights as her immortal sibling. In this classic essay, Virginia Woolf takes on the establishment, using her gift of language to dissect the world around her and give voice to those who are without. Her message is a simple one: women must have some money and a room of their own in order to have the freedom to create.
You can read Jen's review here

You can read chapter 4 which discusses Jane Austen here

 Happy Reading!


Only a Novel

‘What are you reading, Miss ----?’ ‘Oh! It’s only a novel!’ replies the young lady; while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. ‘It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda’; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed; in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit or humour, are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language. -Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
This quote showed up yesterday in a post on The Huffington Post titled "Jane Austen and 6 Other Authors On The Divine Pleasure of Reading."

This quote is from the last paragraph of Chapter 5.  I find it interesting that 200 years later and the same sentiments still exist where we brush them of ass "only a novel." I enjoy reading, it really doesn't matter what, but every day I'm around people who look down their nose at books that aren't the latest literary master piece or the newest historical account of some long dead president.

Don't be ashamed to be reading a novel. It may be the one book you read that reaches you to the core, that shows you the joy and greatness of the world. Enjoy that novel! Close yourself off into a room like Catherine and Isabella and read a novel!


Wordless Wednesday #74

Regency period mahogany tea caddy.
Source: Source Unknown via CNJ JASNA on Pinterest


Morven Museum's Schoolgirl Needlework Exhibit

This past weekend we toured the "Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860" temporary exhibit at the Morven Museum in Princeton, NJ. The exhibit displays embroideries in silk and wool that were completed by young, relatively wealthy girls as part of their formal education during the 18th and 19th centuries. All of the pieces reflect the work of girls from New Jersey, although in some cases the girls were sent to nearby Pennsylvania and Delaware to be taught at a prestigious girls' schools. These needlework samplers were generally meant to be displays of how privileged and talented these girls were.
“It is amazing to me, how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are. ... They all paint tables, cover screens, and net purses.” - Charles Bingley in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
As we had a relatively large group and made plans some time in advance, we were able to secure a special PowerPoint presentation by two of the exhibit's co-curators as well as a semi-guided tour of the exhibit with them. The presentation helped a great deal in putting the exhibit into context. The co-curators described how there were regional differences evident in the needlework. They had divided the state into 5 distinct regions. Some regions had heavy influences from their Quaker founders, for instance. They also noted how even though there were distinct variations that could be largely attributed to one area or county, there was definitely cross-over as teachers moved from one school to another and brought their knowledge to a new set of schoolgirls. Not only did the exhibit cover more than 100 years of works, it also reflected needlework pieces from girls as young as 5 and as old as 29.

The needlework pieces themselves are astounding. Some show their wear while others have stood the test of time pretty well, still showing off bright colors and clearly legible text. Designs vary but are often of a similar nature: animals (particularly birds and deer), simple buildings, landscapes with a person or two, and alphabets and verses abound. Some pieces were used as a way to delineate a family tree/family historical record. Other more complicated works presented maps of the state or country. One sample contains the poem whose first line inspired the exhibit's title:
“Hail specimen of female art / The needle’s magic power to show / To canvas various hues impart / And make a mimic world to grow / A sampler then with care peruse / An emblem sage you may find there / The canvas takes what forms you choose / So education forms the mind.” - Anne Rickey
A few of the exhibit pieces also mixed media by having the needlework sent out for painting by an artist. Usually this done with silk-embroidered pieces rather than wool. After the schoolgirl completed her embroidering of the piece, then a painter would add in details or a landscape background to complete the piece. Finally, the piece would be framed, which was unusual for many of these samplers. The effect was stunning. The talent and patience that went in to stitching these elaborate pieces are clearly evident.

The "Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860" is only on display for roughly another month, closing on March 29, so don't delay in checking it out!

Edited with permission from original post written by Jen Fitzgerald on Arts and Entertainment which can be found here.


Jane Sighting - Pride V. Prejudice by Joan Hess

This sighting is just side swipe of similar titles and I know some of our members enjoy cozy mysteries (and I think enjoy this series).  Book #20 in the Claire Mallory series by Joan Hess is Pride V. Prejudice:

Here's the description from the publisher:
Pride V. Prejudice: A Claire Malloy Mystery (Claire Malloy, #20)Claire Malloy, for as long as she can remember, has been the local bookseller and owner of the Book Depot and the widowed mother of teenage Caron, who frequently speaks in ALL CAPS. But her life has changed dramatically in recent years. Claire has married her longtime beau, Deputy Police Chief Peter Rosen. Still the owner of the Book Depot, Claire has passed the day-to-day running of it on to her very efficient employees. With Caron inching ever closer to college, there's but one thing that remains steadfastly unchanged—Claire's astonishing ability to attract, find, or even just randomly stumble across trouble.  
Summoned for jury duty, the prosecutor on a murder case, harboring a grudge against her husband, decides to humiliate Claire and dismiss her. Having done so in spectacular enough fashion to make the local news, Claire decides that revenge will be the next dish she serves. She hunts down the defendant in the case, a woman accused of murdering her husband, and offers to help prove her innocence. And not just because Claire wants to humiliate the prosecutor. There are only two problems. One—the defendant is looking guiltier by the minute. And two—the worst day imaginable has finally come: Claire's dreaded new mother-in-law is coming to visit and life in prison is starting to look good.