Sunday, May 9, 2010

An Afternoon With Jane Austen...And Beer

Of course, today was Mother’s Day. Aside from my daughterly duties, I had the privilege of attending “An Afternoon with Jane Austen” organized by the Montreal JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) chapter and held at the Centre St. Ambroise (next to the McAuslan Brewery in St. Henri.)

We had a full afternoon of lectures. One covered the similarity of Jane Austen’s themes with those of the Dutch painter Vermeer. The second was on brotherly, sisterly (and, appropriately enough, motherly) dedications in Jane Austen’s Juvenilia (humourous and satirical works written when she was a teenager.) And, to conclude, a look at Northanger Abbey, and particularly, it heroine, Catherine Morland.

The presentations went smoothly (aside from a few PowerPoint gremlins) and were spiced up with some truly enjoyable – and laughter-inducing – readings of extracts from some of the novels and Juvenilia.

Following this edification, we were treated a beer tasting of five McAuslan beers, a couple of cheeses and dark chocolate. We toasted Jane Austen with our beverages, enjoyed the snacks and conversed on subjects Austen (favourite parts of the novels and upcoming JASNA events) and not (the proper serving of Guinness and the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.)

I also noticed that there were more gentlemen at this event that at any of the others I have attended so far. Might the beverages have something to do with it, I wonder?

Feeling smarter and fuller than when I arrived, I headed for dinner with my mother. (After my generous snack, I hoped there would be no cheese or chocolate on the menu – Thankfully, there wasn’t.) I also received a little booklet on beer in Austen’s works, as well as in other works during the regency period, to take home.

I quite enjoyed the afternoon; I felt the combination of lectures, treats and company a real delight and a fun change from my usual routine. I am eager to hear about the next JASNA event!


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