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Classics Retold Review – Emma – Jane Austen

classics retold

EmmaEmma
Author: Jane Austen

Description:
‘I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.’

Beautiful, clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.

Review:
I have to say that this is probably one of my favorite Jane Austen (only slightly behind Pride and Prejudice). Of all the characters in the various Jane Austen books, I found the ones in Emma to be the most relatable. While all of them were bound by the various society dictates, there was a quirky-ness that shone through with Ms Austen’s descriptions and the development of the story.

It’s hard to say exactly what I really enjoyed about the book, there wasn’t one specific thing that I can say, yes, it was this scene, this person…but rather it was the amalgamation of everyone together. It was like seeing a stained glass mirror…while each part is individually created when its built and is pretty on its own, it is the final product that make people ohhhh and ahhh.

But I always find it hard to write reviews of these classics, because they are classics for a reason…so I’ll leave my review of Emma at that, but since I did listen to the audiobook, I need to address the narration a little bit. I have to admit when I saw that the only version of the audiobook that my library had had a male narrator (Michael Page), I was a tad skeptical, since Emma is told from a female POV and I can’t remember a classic that i’ve listened to, off the top of my head, that has had a male narrator. So it was a completely new experience for me. But I was pleasantly surprised. There was something smooth and flowing about his narration. I know that i’ll be checking out more books narrated by him in the future (and taking a peek, it looks like he had a pretty decent backlist).

 

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Classics Retold – Emma

classics retold
A few months ago, I was supposed to participate in a month celebrating the re-tellings of various fairy tales with Project Fairy-Tale. Unfortunately, I managed to choose a really hard one and struck out finding books to read, so I had to withdraw. Luckily for me, the organizers of that are back with another challenge – this time, classics re-tellings. Five different bloggers have gotten together to come up with their fabulous plan for the celebration. Each blogger is responsible for a different time period of classics and for me, Charlene from The Bookish Whimsey is organizing my chosen classics time period – 19th century and gothic classics.

When I was scrolling through the various classics I could chose from, I realized my decision was easy – since there was one book on the list, that is also on my 50 classics in 5 years challenge – Emma by Jane Austen. So I signed up for it. The goal is simple – in the lead-up to and during the month of September, the goal is to read the chosen classic, as well as at least 2 adaptations/re-tellings/spin-offs or sequels – and this could include movies (which since I have never seen the movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow – I’m set on at least one choice…

When I started looking for other options, I was surprised how many there actually were – I knew that a lot of re-tellings had been done for Pride and Prejudice, but there are also quite a few for Emma. I’m not exactly sure which ones I am going to read yet (so if you have any ideas, comment below). A few that i’m considering:

Mr Knightley’s Diary – Amanda Grange – from her Jane Austen’s Hero’s series
Jane Fairfax – Joan Aiken
A Visit to Highbury – Joan Austen-Leigh – i’m really hoping I can find this, it is cool that it was written by Austen’s great great niece
The Importance of Being Emma (Darcy & Friends) – Juliet Archer – a contemporary re-telling
Perfect Happiness – Rachel Billington – which picks up a year after Emma finishes
The Intrigue at Highbury: Or, Emma’s Match (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries) – Carrie Bebris – this looks to be a mash-up of P&P and Emma with both couples solving mysteries together…

I’m sure that there are many more out there, and I am looking forward to exploring various websites over the next few months and finding a good range of books to read and review.

Is it September yet?

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Reading Events

 

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Classics Challenge Review – Mansfield Park – Jane Austen (@ourclassicsclub)

mansfield parkMansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen

Description:
‘We have all been more or less to blame …
every one of us, excepting Fanny’

Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.

Why I Chose Mansfield Park?
My previous experiences with Jane Austen consisted of Pride and Prejudice (loved it) and Sense and Sensibility (ehhh, not so much). So I was curious to see how other books written by Ms Austen would play out in the scheme of things, so I added both Mansfield Park and Emma to my list of books for the challenge. It’ll be interesting to see how Emma plays out on my list of enjoyment.

Review:
I have to say that all of three Jane Austen’s that I have read so far (yes, I know that my education is sorely lacking) that this is my least favorite. In fact, I struggle to find anything even remotely good to say about it. Well, hang on, the narrator of the audiobook was good (that counts right?) There was something dislikeable about every single character – even Fanny Price, the supposed ‘heroine’ of the story.

While the story had a similar feel to Jane Eyre – well-off family takes in poor relative and raises her (forgetting the whole school for Jane, but just the dynamics in general) – at least in JE, it was obvious and to Jane’s face, how much she was disliked and looked-down upon. Whereas, even though it was obvious, the behavior of Mrs Norris (OMG, I wanted to beat her around the head – and you can see this in my twitter feeds) with how put upon they were because the family offered to take care of Fanny and how much she owes them. I just wanted to shove a sock in her mouth to shut her up – I mean, seriously woman, guilt trip much. Edmund was maybe the one character who had some slight redeeming qualities but even then, I wanted to tell him to grow a set and stand up to the family. And WTF – it was like I blinked and missed the whole “courtship” – I mean, i saw it coming – it was obvious – but a summation of 9 years in like a page…this is a pet peeve of mine in current romance, so I find it intriguing that it appears even in fiction from the 1800’s.

Thankfully, Joanna Ward’s narration turned a pretty crappy book into a slightly less than crappy listen. I found her narration soothing, even when I had my hands clutched around the steering wheel pretending like I was strangling one of the characters. Her female voices were all easily distinguishable and her male ones while not great, were passable – they didn’t make me want to turn off the audiobook at least (unlike some other narrators). I’ll be interested to see what other stuff she has narrated for future listens.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Classics Challenge

 

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