My Adventures at the JASNA AGM (Jane Austen Society Annual General Meeting) in Victoria

Syrie at Butchart Gardens

Syrie James at The Butchart Gardens Sunken Garden in Victoria, British Columbia.

 

I had a fabulous time at the JASNA AGM (Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting) in Victoria, Canada two weeks ago. The weather was perfect, the company delightful, and the city beautiful and welcoming.

The theme of this year’s JASNA conference was Sense and Sensibility in the City of Gardens. There were excellent plenary speakers, breakout sessions on dozens of fascinating subjects, fun workshops, a banquet and Regency ball, and great tours of the city and beyond. I especially enjoyed my day at the world famous Butchart Gardens (pictured above).

My friend Diana Birchall and I wrote and performed an original comedic play, “What Did Lucy Steele?” I played Lucy to her Mrs. Ferrars—the two female villains in Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility. It was a hit, a battle of wits and cunning before an audience of over 350 people that ended with us furiously fencing with fans!

 

Syrie James and Diana Birchall

Syrie and Diana Birchall after their performance, “What Did Lucy Steele?”

 

I walked my feet off sightseeing in the beautiful city of Victoria.

 

Empress Hotel

The stunning Empress Hotel greets visitors in Victoria’s inner harbor.

 

Flowers

They really know how to do flowers in Victoria!

 

Totem Pole

Majestic totem poles abound.

 

Victoria's Parliament buildings

Victoria’s Parliament buildings are lit up every night.

 

I enjoyed a spooky nighttime Ghost Tour, and a walking tour of the chocolatiers of Victoria, where we were treated to sinful handmade chocolate candies, cookies, macarons, drinking chocolate, and truffles.

 

Rogers Chocolates

Rogers Chocolates, a gourmet Canadian chocolate shop.

 

I met with wonderful friends, old and new, from across the country and around the world.

 

Syrie and friends at the JASNA AGM

Dinner with dear friends overlooking the Victoria harbor.

 

Syrie, Susannah Fullerton (President, Jane Austen Society of Australia) and Ruth Williamson, friend and speaker from New Zealand.

Syrie with friends Susannah Fullerton, President, Jane Austen Society of Australia, and Ruth Williamson, speaker from New Zealand.

 

Tea at The Butchart Gardens

Tea at The Butchart Gardens

 

I learned a lot! In one especially memorable session, fashion historian Ivan Sayers gave a lecture about the evolution of fashion changes during Jane Austen’s lifetime, displaying garments from his extensive collection of original period clothing.

 

Fashion Lecture

Fashion historian Ivan Sayers’s lecture, “English Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen, 1775-1817.”

 

Man's frock coat 18th century

Check out the detail on this beautifully embroidered 18th century gentleman’s frock coat from Sayers’s collection.

 

I scored this gorgeous bonnet and Jane Austen pillow at the Soho Bazaar.

 

Bonnet and Jane Austen Pillow

 

I danced the night away at the Regency ball.

 

Ladies in blue

Ladies all dressed up in blue for the ball.

 

Regency Ball

The Regency Ball.

 

Baronda Bradley

In the spirit of “The City of Gardens” my friend Baronda Bradley wired on all those fresh flowers by hand!

 

Syrie dancing at the Regency Ball

Syrie having a ball on the dance floor.

 

The bookstore sold out all copies of my novels for the Author Book Signing!

 

Syrie and Diana signing books

Syrie and Diana at the author book signing.

 

This was my 10th AGM, having attended previous conferences in Chicago, Portland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Montreal, Louisville, Huntington Beach, and Williamsburg. Each one has been an unforgettable experience. Jane Austen has enriched my life in so many ways and I’m forever grateful!

If you are a Jane Austen fan, check out JASNA.org. It’s a wonderful organization, with people from all walks of life brought together by their love of Jane Austen, her novels and films, and the world she lived in. There may be a regional chapter near you!

 

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5 Comments

  1. Betty Strohecker on October 17, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    Wonderful pictures! Thanks for sharing this experience with everyone who couldn’t be there. So happy you enjoyed it.

    • Syrie James on October 17, 2022 at 2:54 pm

      Thanks so much, Betty! I had such a great time. I highly recommend the JASNA AGM to all Jane Austen fans. There’s nothing else quite like it. Next year’s meeting is in Denver. I hope to see you there!

      • Betty Strohecker on October 18, 2022 at 12:10 am

        Thank you for your books about Jane. I loved them all!

  2. LEILA HANDELMAN on October 18, 2022 at 1:25 pm

    Syrie outdid herself with the wondrous report, pictures and successful everything she does!

  3. Shannon Winslow on October 18, 2022 at 11:40 pm

    Hi, Syrie – I enjoyed your post and especially enjoyed seeing you (and other friends) there at the Victoria AGM! Great pictures and great memories!

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