If you’re a Jane Austen fan, it might be time to book a flight to Vermont. For a long time, the most devoted “Janeites” made their pilgrimage to Bath to take part in the annual Jane Austen Festival. But now, there’s an opportunity for fans to live like the characters in Austen’s novels in Hyde Park, Vermont.
Image via OneHundredMain.com
Meet Governor’s House: a yellow, Georgian-style mansion tailor-made to imitate the world of Austen’s beloved novels. The house, owned by Suzanne Boden, invites Janeites from around the world to step into their favorite novels.
Boden had the idea to start hosting weekends for Jane Austen’s one day outside Governor’s House:
I was outside hanging tablecloths on the clothesline against the backdrop of Governor’s House, and I was listening to some music through the window, which happened to be Mozart. From the back of the house, you can’t see anything that’s modern because of the trees. And I thought: ‘I could be Jane Austen! And someone else might want to come and be Austen, too.’
Apparently, quite a few readers agreed! Boden’s been hosting Jane Austen weekends and Downton Abbey experience for a little more than a decade.
It’s an escape…It’s about going back in time. It’s a chance to dress up. Most of all, it’s a chance to be with, and interact with, other Austen fans, who always have a lot to say. It’s unusual if someone goes home without a long list of book recommendations or film recommendations from new friends.
Image via OneHundredMain.com
Guests can totally immerse themselves in the experience by learning how to live life like Jane. Guests get English dance lessons and, of course, afternoon tea. They even get to learn how to write with a quill and fold paper the way Austen did, before envelopes were even invented. Who knows, you may even meet your own Mr. Darcy while taking a horse-drawn carriage ride!
There are over 79 regional groups in the Jane Austen Society of North America across the U.S. and Canada, and Boden’s events have attracted fans from as far away as Texas!
“Everybody loves Jane Austen!” says Boden, “She gets right to the heart of things. On the surface, it looks like a little romance, but there are so many layers in her works, which have been translated into – well, how many languages are there in the world? Although it’s very British, she doesn’t mention anything going on politically … so it could be set anywhere.”
Image via The Guardian
Reporters at The Guardian recently went to Governor’s House to interview the people participating in an Austen weekend’s festivities. One fan in particular, Lena Ruth Yasutake, mentioned how her love for Jane Austen’s novels began:
I pushed through my dyslexia to finish Emma because I loved the story so much. It was my ‘gateway drug’ into Austen.
At the end of Boden’s weekends, she gives her guests a quiz over Sunday brunch. Throughout the weekend, she might drop a few hints here and there that are answers to the quiz. But beware, there are some serious consequences if you end up flunking:
If you flunk, you get the greatest prize of all: you get to reread the novel.
Featured image via OneHundredMain.com