I am really excited to be taking a trip to Brighton this weekend to see the Princess Charlotte exhibition at the Royal Pavillion. Here are some beautiful engravings of Charlotte which I have taken from an old book I own.

The book by Mrs. Herbert Jones was published in 1885 and was limited to 250 numbered copies, mine being number 128 so it is extremely rare. The book is in pretty bad condition so I have photographed the engravings rather than scanning them.

I think the engravings are a great way of looking at Charlotte’s short life as she only lived to be 21. Pictures of Charlotte also offer a fantastic glimpse at the finest Regency fashions.

Here is the book, not looking too bad for 127 years old!

The inside of the book

Princess Charlotte 1796

 Princess Charlotte 1799

Princess Charlotte 1801

Princess Charlotte 1807

Princess Charlotte 1810

Princess Charlotte 1812

Princess Charlotte 1814

Princess Charlotte 1815

Princess Charlotte 1816

All pictures taken from – The Princess Charlotte, An Illustrated Monograph – Mrs. Herbert Jones – 1885 – Bernard Quarich, London

Today I watched the film of Emma from 1996, This is the one staring Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma. The film is a complete mixed bag. There are many things I like about it and many things I don’t.

Firstly I need to get one thing out-of-the-way. I HATE THE HAIR! This may seem like a trivial complaint but all the way through the film I am looking at the 1990s take on regency hair and it spoils my enjoyment. It’s very pretty but just doesn’t look regency enough for me. This goes for all the characters be it Emma herself or Ewan McGregor in a terrible wig! Phew that’s that out-of-the-way!

Emma is not my favourite Jane Austen book, it’s a good story but I always find it hard to care about the characters, this film does not help with these feelings. Gwyneth’s Emma is a little too calm and emotionless, you do see the different sides to her personality (talent, kindness, foolishness, sentimentality etc) but in a very bland way. It’s as if a woman with no personality is pretending to have one. Gwyneth’s Emma is boring.

One thing I loved about the film was seeing wealthy Emma’s past times. Be it painting, archery, gardening or tending to the poor and infirm, it a nice touch to have a glimpse at the life of a wealthy heroine. Emma’s wealth and comfortable situation as well her the fact that she need not marry set her apart from other Austen heroines.

Mr Knightly my favourite character makes no real connection in the film. This of course inevitable in a feature length adaptation. I always feel that Jane Austen is better serialised, as the stories are complex and build slowly. There are many twists and turns and a two-hour film is too short a time to tell an Austen story properly.

The character of Mr Elton as played by Alan Cummings is a little over the top and has the feel of a toned down Mr Collins. However I liked the subtle ways that he glanced at Emma, while she believed him to be in love with Miss Smith. His wife was suitably annoying and made an entertaining addition to the film.

Miss Bates was sweet and charming and you really felt her pain when Emma insulted her at Box Hill.

The last ten minutes are by far the best in the film and the proposal was acted beautifully.

There are better adaptations of Emma but if you love the beautiful dresses and scenery of period dramas then this is a great watch.

Recently I watched the ITV drama Lost in Austen for a second time. Spread across 4 hour-long episodes this is a treat for any Austen fan. Lost in Austen is a modern drama in which the main character Amanda Price –  a Pride and Prejudice obsessive, finds herself living within the novel having switched places with Elizabeth Bennet.

What makes this programme so good is the vast attention to detail. It could have been done very badly but instead every aspect of the book has been studied as well as taking into account regency etiquette. All the characters in the book stay true to Austen’s descriptions and the writers manage to develop the characters while still keeping true to the feel of the original book. Many may not agree as many things are dramatically changed, but I think it is done in a funny, natural and realistic way.

I love the character of Amanda Price who loves the manners of regency England and yet thrown into Elizabeth Bennet’s world she struggles to fit in. She is outspoken and very funny. Everything seems to go wrong as Amanda desperately tries to make the story happen as it did in the book and everything can’t help falling apart. It tells like a ‘what if’ story in which an alternative version of Austen’s book is played out.

The costumes and sets are perfect and I love the choice of Biggin House in Yorkshire for Longbourne, it fits with the kind of house that the Bennet’s would be living in as opposed to the ramshackle setting in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film. And Harewood House, also in Yorkshire makes a perfect Pemberley.

Without giving too much away I’d recommend this as a bit of fun for die-hard Austen fans, especially those who fantasize about Mr Darcy! Elliot Cowan is fabulous as Mr Darcy in a performance that makes him a close contender to Collin Firth.

I think what I liked most was the portrayal of Mr and Mrs Bennet. Every time I have read pride and Prejudice or seen a film I feel Mr Bennet is treated with too much sympathy. In this you get more of a sence that he has a cold side which does not care if his wife and children are left homeless after his death. He comes across as a man who married the wrong women and has hidden behind his books ever since, he is almost too cowardly to face up to the reality that his five daughters have a fragile fate ahead of them. Mrs Bennet is shown as a woman who has to be strong to protect her daughters futures, but is also emotional foolish and silly. It would have been so important for the daughters to marry given that Mr Collins would inherit Longbourne, and Mrs Bennet is not at all foolish for seeking good marriages for them.

In conclusion I really do love this programme, it is fun, silly and full of beautiful regency language and costumes, what more could you want?!

If you haven’t watched Lost in Austen yet please do and let me know what you think.

Last Saturday I held my first ever vintage fair in Wimbledon. The day was a massive success with a huge turnout and some amazing stock was sold. Here are some pictures taken on the day.

Some amazing jewllery and accessories from Jewels by Design London

Handmade Jewellery by Florie Willow

Handmade hangers on the TWLV Stall

Stunning vintage dresses from Something for your Closet

 Lots of handmade vintage accessories from Pearly Queen Boutique

Vintage dresses from Scarlet Rage Vintage

Lots of happy shoppers

Vintage books from Sue Oliver

Up-cycled vintage furniture from Bowie Belle

Cute vintage clothes and accessories from TWVL

Lots of sparkly brooches from MacMillan Cole

Hope you like all the pictures, taken by Nicola Cashman Photography. Our next fair is being held on July 28th in an even bigger venue.

Find out more about the fair and stall holders on the Frocks and Frills website here

This week I had a lovely trip to the Royal Opera House in Covent garden to see this new ballet performed by the Royal Ballet. I go to the ballet a lot and it’s always nice to see a new ballet, as I have seen a lot of the classic ones a few times. I must say it was every bit as good as the old favourites.

Written for the fabulous Lauren Cuthbertson who took the lead role, this really was every bit as good as expected. As usual the Royal Opera House’s huge stage was decorated with the most amazing scenery. This has to be my favourite part about going there. My favourite bit of scenery was a giant needlepoint picture of a cottage which actually opened up, everything was very creative. The music written by Joby Talbot and conducted by Barry Wordsworth was perfect, and performed to perfection by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. The costumes were a pleasant mixture of traditional and modern my favourites being the queen of hearts and the flamingoes.

The choreography by Christopher Wheeldon was inspired, and included a fabulous bit of tap dancing during the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

I’d recommend this ballet to anyone who usually gets bored watching 2 of ballet, as the story was not distracted by the dancing and the mixture of drama and humour were well-balanced.

If you didn’t get the chance to see this one live, look out for it being shown at your local cinema as well as on the Sky Arts channel who often show Royal Opera House performances.

Here’s a little back stage preview:

Find out more here