Saturday, November 6, 2010

Third Annual Jane Austen Festival in Louisville was too good

The Third Annual Jane Austen festival in Louisville, Kentucky, was too good, but, to borrow from Jane's own words in Mansfield Park, "nobody minds having what is too good for them" and indeed, my daughter Rachel, and I did not mind at all.

Held July 10th and 11th at the Historic Locust Grove, and sponsored by the Jane Austen Society of North American, Greater Louisville Region, it exceeded all our expectations as attendees of last year's festival.

We took part in many of the activities we enjoyed last year including shopping in Meryton, the Regency fashion show and, of course, Afternoon tea. This year, however, we took in a few new presentations. From the sidelines, we caught Ed Maeder's discussion on period hats. (Maeder is the creator of bonnets for the PBS documentary on Dolly Madison.)

And, if that weren't enough to satisfy all hardcore Janeites, the other presenter, Kim Wilson, author of "Tea with Jane Austen" and "In the Garden with Jane Austen" was, by any standard, much, much too good. As a longtime devotee of "Tea with Jane Austen", it was a real treat to be sitting front row center to hear Kim Wilson discuss the importance of tea in Jane's life and literature. Among her many insightful and amusing observations was Ms. Wilson's commentary on a passage from Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy's preference for coffee over tea had nothing to do with the beverage, but who was serving it. At a large party held at Longbourn, when Darcy returns to the parlor after the requisite separation of the sexes after dinner, he chooses to be served the inferior tasting coffee, instead of a more flavorful cup of tea, because Elizabeth Bennett had been assigned the charge of the less desirable hot drink. This sacrifice only proved how unquestionably fond he had to be of her.

We also met up with the superb hostess and organizer, Bonnie Weiss, and many familiar faces from last year's event. At Afternoon tea, we had a great time with new friends: another mother and daughter team from Mississippi. At the Jane Austen Festival, there are no strangers, just friends yet to be introduced.

The only change Rachel requested for next year's festival is that I do not schedule our Afternoon tea at the same time as the "Dressing Mr. Darcy" event, which I have done for the past two years. Yes, I do agree, next year, we will try to work in every event, including being in the audience for the donning of attire on the most popular of Jane Austen's Prince Charmings. Can it get any better than that? Well, we already know it will be too good, and surely, there's no one who will mind that at all.

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