|Mòlnar Jùlia Dòra|
Confessions of a late Janeite
For a long time I didn’t consider myself as a Jane Austen fan – a Janeite as I learned the term a few months ago. Of course I knew the books, or at least I heard about them. But – the moment of truth – I was about 16 when I first saw (saw, not read) the Sense and Sensibility. The Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet movie. And I loved it. But still, the great recognition, the falling in love was still missing. I mean yes, Willoughby was handsome and I admire Alan Rickman, but come on... Neither of them is Darcy, am I right?
So I needed a few more years for The Day to come... My sister showed me the Pride and Prejudice. THE Pride and Prejudice. The BBC one. With Colin. And Jennifer Ehle. And I fell in love. Not just with Darcy, but with the whole ... Austen World! The atmosphere, the characters, the dresses, the balls, the story amazed me and I thought how wonderful it would be to relive or at least try to reproduce the Jane Austen era atmosphere.
After I got hooked, I not only watched the series many, many times, but I showed the episodes to my best friends, and read the book in Hungarian and in English as well, and read many others and I discovered other writers. By the way my sister’s favourite is Wives and Daughters (also BBC with Justine Waddell) from Elizabeth Gaskell's novel, but I don’t argue, because I love that too. So I think I can say that slowly but surely now I understand a little more about the regency era.
I was also lucky to travel a lot to and in England – before and after my recognition as well. Mostly with my dad and my sister, so I had the chance to experience the English culture in real life and present-day, which cannot be compared to anything, it’s so unique, so beautiful, so ancient yet so vivid.
A Jane Austen Ball in Hungary
So when I heard we’re planning a Jane Austen Ball, the first of its kind in Hungary, I was thrilled but also scared. After all, it’s a foreign culture’s event and I may watch and learn and read about it as much as I can, it can never really be mine. Beacuse I’m not English. And I didn’t grow up in a beautiful country cottage. I barely know anything about how to organize a ball. Let alone a Jane Austen Ball.
So the pressure was on. And the ball was fully booked! I was in charge for the design, the website, the Facebook, the dance card and taking the photos and shoot for a short film. All went well during the organization, but guess what?
I completely forgot to think over what I was going to wear. Two days before the ball I was devastated. Where would I find a nice regency dress? All of my colleagues rented it – which is great, but it also meant that there were no more available dresses in the nearby costume rental services. In Hungary they rarely have more than 1 or 2 dresses from the regency era.
The day before the ball, late in the afternoon, I discovered a small costume rental service and miraculously not only they have a beautiful dress but it was my size! Jolly!
The day came. I woke up very early – I couldn’t sleep. Although the Ball started at 7 pm, I was on the scene early in the morning. And it was so strange. The Prónay Castle I know so well looked as usual: same walls, same carpets, same lights and yet I knew by the time the evening came, the whole place would travel back in time and if everything went well, I might feel a bit like the Bennet girls. It all seemed so unlikely. And still , there was no way back. It was like being in a dream or in a movie.
Strangely the day passed very quickly. The hairdresser made my hair beautifully. I had only a little make-up on. Finally I put my dress on. I was ready and it felt so exciting.
The Ball started but I have to confess I only remember a few vivid pictures. Me admiring the guests’ amazing dresses. The sound of music and laughter. The scent of "Darcy’s kiss” – a special champagne coctail we made. The photos I took. And few days after the ball how great it was to watch the short film we made. Again and again and again.
I didn’t have a chance to dance, but I decided next time I’m going to no matter what. And now we’re organizing this year’s event. Maybe it’s time to find myself a wonderful dress :)
Molnàr Jùlia Dòra