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  • Gracie Carmichael

Celebrating one year of Austens & Alcotts... and introducing myself!

Dear friend,


Today marks the one-year anniversary of when I turned a little idea called Austens & Alcotts into a blog...! Whether you have been following along for awhile now or only happened to find this little spot more recently, I am so grateful to have you here. It has been something of a dream fulfilled to be able to write about what I love most to share...an undying love for good books, cosy teatime chats, period drama recommendations, and the occasional literary-inspired recipe. It's been my joy this past year to get to know so many dear kindred spirits and count endless new blessings through every interaction and kind word.


If you follow me on #bookstagram (@austensandalcotts), perhaps you'll recall that this all really began there, in February of last year. That's when I officially let the ideal in my head become something concrete, but alas...I posted about three times in a one-week period before life changed completely, as it did for so many, and I dropped the idea for awhile. Two months, actually. April of last year, I realized I hadn't quite let go of this idea yeAustens & Alcottst, my heart was aching for purpose, for somewhere to share my thoughts, to express my creativity and nurture it into a new creation. T&hat was the real start: when I took this to blog-form and austensandalcotts.com came into being.


And here we are, you and me!!

I can't begin to put into words how much this space has meant for me, in a time I needed it most. It dazzles me that today, so many new faces are visiting the blog, perusing my shop, and joining me on Instagram where nearly 1,800 kindred spirits have followed along. It absolutely touches my heart, and I'm truly so grateful for every form of love and support received.


I figured that, in honor of this special anniversary, it's a good time to re-introduce myself a little more thoroughly... :)


I'm Gracie, a self-proclaimed "19th Century gal" with a dream for living a simple, beautiful, quiet life surrounded by the things dearest to me: family, books, a craft cupboard, and a growing book-manuscript. I'm a Christian, and my faith is the only thing that really makes sense to me in this loud, uncertain world. I'm in my early twenties, living in the upper midwest of the U.S. It's been a real treat as I grow older to form new and exciting creative endeavors independently, and somehow I'm convinced that these have taught me far more and beautified my life in more ways than my college years ever dared to. I have a deep interest in personality theory ("typing" fictional characters is a real hobby of mine, ha!), and I'm basically a textbook INFJ according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Theory.

You've probably already guessed that books are a huge part of my life...and I'm not about to tell you differently! :) When I was eight, while my friends were interested mainly in growing up to be teachers or veterinarians, it was my wish to become a librarian. I went so far as to make a book catalogue for my already-burgeoning shelves of children's books, and spent those happy childhood years creating, what I now like to imagine was, the prelude to Austens and Alcotts. I was 12, designing newsletters for my "library," creating laminated library cards for friends and family, printing out bookmarks and assembling "check-out" lists. A junior bibliophile, for sure. It wasn't even "reading" the books themselves that gave me the most joy...it was just books, being surrounded by them, loving them.


While it's absolutely true that Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott are amongst my very favorite authors, I actually have a confession for you... My true "favorite author" above any other is L.M. Montgomery. I've read more of her books than I have of any other author, and I make a habit of rereading one (or two) of her books every month. I just can't keep away from themthey speak directly to my heart.


I'm not fond of listing "favorites" because it's terribly hard to narrow them down...really, if anyone asks me to rank the Austen books, I feel it's something of a nightmare. With Austen in particular, I genuinely love them all, and my "favorite" tends to change yearly, if not seasonally!! But I can say, at the moment, Emma is my favorite. I'm definitely a "Mr. Knightley" gal. :)

Despite a frustration for favorites, I can give you five of my all-time favorite books...though this too seems to change by season! :)

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

  2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

  5. Emily's Quest by L.M. Montgomery

I generally don't read anything contemporary...but it's not really a conscious choiceI just don't feel an interest to. When I walk into Barnes & Noble, the flashy stands of new, glossy covers are void to me, and I usually just head straight to the Tolkien section, aha! (The classics, I somehow can never find in one spot...they're interspersed everywhere!) But funnily enough, I still don't see myself as exclusively a "reader of classics." That term seems to be reserved to the "academias" who read Dickens and Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky...


Every reader is definitely unique, and some get invested in the plot, the writing style, the setting or the suspense...but for me it's always been about characters. My favorite series of books, the Emily of New Moon trilogy by L.M. Montgomery, is a fine example of this, as the books are never moved by huge plot events or anything really external...it's all Emilyher thoughts, her feelings, her inward growth. I adore that. I have a deep-seated, unexplainable attraction to stories with anti-heroes, in that the main protagonist does heroic deeds and never gets their due. They're left unthanked, unappreciated, and their stories seem to always end tragically, when they really deserved all the happiness in the world. Frodo Baggins of The Lord of the Rings is a great example of that. A hero's tragedy always breaks my heart...but it's what really makes those stories so unforgettable in the end, I think.

I may be a beholder of 19th-Century daydreams with certain rose-tinted ambitions and a growing collection of vintage teacups...but at my heart, it's the love of a simple, quiet life that drives me on every day. I've not achieved it yet, but I try every day to nurture those little things that make everything calmer...and more full. But really, I'm simply a gal with a fondness for floral sundresses and flower-picking, who quotes Pride and Prejudice (1995) just about daily, and frankly spends so much time in her head than in the "real world" that I've more than half-convinced myself I live in a daydream-world somewhere in the late 1800s on P.E.I. But that's all interspersed with other loves, too...and some that may be a little surprising! I dream sometimes that I'm somewhere in Stars Hollow, Connecticut in search of the Gilmore Girls...or that I'm a Doctor Who companion fighting aliens alongside David Tennant—ha!! :)

Thank you so much for sticking around with me to celebrate the very first year of the Austens & Alcotts blog! If we seem like kindred spirits, I would be honored if you introduced yourself in the comments below or shared anything you like! You can always send a message direct to me from the box under the 'About' page if you fancy. :)


Here's to another year of wonderful things to come for Austens & Alcotts!!


Until next time,

-Gracie

Want to follow along on Instagram? You can find me @austensandalcotts to see what I'm reading next, interact with other readers, and hear what's new on the blog. You can also subscribe to the Austens & Alcotts mailing list at the bottom of this post to get a twice-monthly newsletter from me to your inbox, where I share reading updates, shop releases, and more subscriber-only details!