Tag Archives: Emma Woodhouse

Flashback Friday-Emma Approved (2013-2018)

Emma Woodhouse, Jane Austen‘s heroine in the aptly title novel Emma, is introduced as “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich”.  In her world, Emma Woodhouse is the queen bee. She thinks that she knows everything about everything. Emma Woodhouse is in for a shock.

In 2013, the YouTube web series, Emma Approved (2013-2018) transferred the world of Emma from regency era England to modern-day. Emma Woodhouse (Joanna Sotomura) is a lifestyle coach and matchmaker. She is completely confident that she can help her clients to achieve their personal and business goals. Her long time friend and business partner Alex Knightley (Brent Bailey) is tries to burst Emma’s bubble as gently as he can, with a hint of sarcasm.

Emma Approved was the follow-up to the successful Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Though it was not as well received as LBD, I enjoyed Emma Approved with the same level of enthusiasm that I did LBD. Last year, Emma Approved came back for a short revival, which to my mind was just as enjoyable as the original series.

Not only did I appreciate the color blind casting,  I personally think that it’s adorable that the two lead actors are together IRL.

I recommend it.

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Emma: The Wild and Wanton Edition Book Review

Sometimes, the deepest loves start out as a friendship.

This is the case of Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley in Jane Austen’s 1815 classic, Emma.

Putting a new spin on Emma, Micah Persell published Emma: The Wild and Wanton Edition in 2013 with the help of Jane Austen.

Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley have known each other their entire lives. They are even related, due to the marriage of his younger brother and her elder sister. Emma is described as handsome, rich and clever in the opening passage of the novel. She is the queen of her world and she thinks that she knows it all at the age of twenty-one. Her newest enterprise is playing matchmaker, an endeavor that may not end as neatly as she predicts it to be. George Knightley is her neighbor and sixteen years her senior. He tries to guide her in the right direction, but Emma rebuffs his guidance.

Neither knows that the other has the hots for each other. Will they get together or will their differing views of the world keep them apart?

I’m going to put it out there, because there is no other way to say it. It’s Emma with sex scenes. The thing to remember about Jane Austen is that she knew how to slip in sexual tension between her romantic leads without being obvious. When it comes to modern writers adding the sex scenes, it has to feel organic, especially when the writer decide to stay in the early 19th century instead of adapting the story in a more modern era. Ms. Persell succeeds at organically adding the sex scenes without causing a major disruption to the narrative. My only criticism is that there were sections of the novel where she could have added additional sex scenes instead of keeping those specific sections as Jane Austen wrote them.

But overall, it’s not only one of the better published fanfictions that I’ve read.

I recommend it.

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Charlotte Lucas

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Sometimes, life deals us a hand of cards that we would not choose for ourselves, if we had that choice. In cases like this, we have two choices, play the hand we are dealt or fight it bitterly and be miserable.

In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s best friend is Charlotte Lucas. While Charlotte’s family is rising in status, she does not have the luck of her family. She has neither beauty, a witty personality or a large fortune to use as bait for potential husbands. She is also unmarried at the age of 27, which means according to the era she lived in, she was set for life to be the maiden aunt who took care of everyone else because she had neither a husband or a child of her own to care for.

After Elizabeth turns down Mr. Collins’s proposal, he goes straight to Charlotte, who accepts him.  Elizabeth is horrified, but Charlotte knows that Mr. Collins is the best man she could get as a husband.

Through a modern lens Charlotte’s choice seems hasty and foolish. But we cannot look at her choices through 2017 lens, we must look at her choices through the lens of the Georgian era.

In Emma, Austen makes light of the hardship that single women endure.

It is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman with a very narrow income must be a ridiculous, disagreeable, old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls; but a single woman of good fortune is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as anybody else. (p. 93)

Unlike Emma Woodhouse, Charlotte’s options are far more limited. She can either marry Mr. Collins for income and a comfortable home or forever be the old maid in her family. Given the options that are before her, marrying Mr. Collins, as ridiculous as he seems, makes a lot of sense.  Charlotte plays the hand that life has dealt her.  Prince Charming, Mr. Collins is not (and certainly never will be). But he is a respectable man with a solid income and home to offer Charlotte, which is certainly better than living with her parents for the rest of her days.

To sum it up: Sometimes in life, and on the page, we are dealt a certain hand of cards. How we deal with that hand defines us. In creating the character of Charlotte Lucas, Austen not only makes the most obvious feminist statement, but she also comments on the choices we make based upon our circumstances and why we make those choices. As writers,  we have to explain to the audience why our characters are making the choices they are making. If the character’s motives are fuzzy to the writer, they will also be fuzzy to the reader. Charlotte’s motives for her choices are clear and by making that clear, that is the only way to hook the reader so they will come back for more.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Life, Pride and Prejudice, Writing

JASNA AGM 2016-Emma: No One But Herself

My regular readers might have noticed that I was unusually silent this past weekend.

This was because I attended the JASNA AGM, held in Washington DC this year.

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The AGM is a Janeite’s wet dream. Surrounded by fellow Janeites from around North America and around the world, the weekend is a break from reality and a complete immersion in everything that is Jane Austen. It’s my kind of heaven.

I encourage my fellow Janeites who have not attended an AGM or to join JASNA to consider one or both. Next year is in California. We will remember and mourn the 200th anniversary of the too soon passing of our beloved Jane and in two years, the Kansas City region is hosting. The topic is Persuasion. Crossing fingers, I will be at both AGM’s.

The AGM lies somewhere in between comic-con and an academic conference. My experience has taught me that the mark of a good AGM is one with excellent breakout sessions (with plenty to choose from), engaging plenary speakers and an opportunity to meet fellow Janeites with whom I would never meet outside of my local JASNA region.

My favorite breakout session related to the fact that Emma is a black comedy. Unlike other women in her world and her era, Emma Woodhouse is not only unafraid to speak to her mind, but she speaks of topics that make some people (especially men) uncomfortable. There is an indirect line from Emma Woodhouse to women who today dominate comedy and are not afraid to speak to their mind.

While the highlight of the AGM is the banquet and ball (yes I did dress up and dance. English country dancing is quite the workout), my absolute favorite parts of the AGM was visiting the DAR Museum and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The DAR Museum (Daughters Of The American Revolution Museum) is located minutes from the White House. The present exhibit, An Agreeable Tyrant: Fashion After The Revolution, told the story of how America built her economy during her early years by encouraging citizens to buy American made goods. The clothes are authentic and lovely. The exhibit will be at the museum until April 29,2017.
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I am going to save the best for last. The Will and Jane exhibit. And The SHIRT. This shirt is reason I went to DC this weekend.

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The Will and Jane exhibit will be at the Folger Shakespeare Library until November 6th, 2016. This exhibit is a must see for any Janeite.

This past weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. I look forward to seeing my Janeites, both new and old in California next year.

Have a good rest of the week.

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Love & Friendship And Bridget Jones’s Baby

Today, two new trailers were released that are all Jane Austen all the time (my kind of heaven).

The first is Love & Friendship. Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale, Emma Woodhouse in 1996 BBC production) is one of the most unlikable characters in the Austen cannon. She is smart, cultured, charming, but also manipulate and heartless.  She is the heroine you love to hate.

The second is the second sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary. Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is back as the most iconic single woman of the past two decades. So is Mark Darcy (Colin Firth in  the 1995 Pride and Prejudice).  I won’t say anything else, as the trailer speaks for itself, but I will say that I am pretty excited for both movies.

 

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March 23, 2016 · 10:20 pm

Emma Book Review

Those of you who know my Janeite side know that I am not a purist. I am not against taking the novels out of their early 19th century setting and putting them in another era. That does not mean that every modern adaptation is worthy of the original novel.

Famed mystery writer Alexander McCall Smith entered the Jane Austen arena with his modern rewrite of Austen’s 4th novel, Emma.

As she is in the original novel, Emma Woodhouse is “rich, clever and handsome”.  She lives with her widower, hypochondriac father and her governess, Miss Taylor. Miss Taylor is recently engaged to Mr. Weston.  Emma has recently graduated college and is eager to start her interior design business.  But first she has some matchmaking to do.

Her initial success with Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston leads her down a dangerous path. She may or may not have mistakenly guided her new friend Harriet Smith away from Robert Martin, the son of local B&B owners and potentially into a match with Philip Elton, the local vicar. Add in Emma’s longtime neighbor/verbal sparring partner/ brother in law George Knightley and you have what may end up being an interesting summer.

I will forewarn my fellow Janeites that if you are a purist, you will not like this book.  McCall Smith has taken some liberties with his take on Emma. While I am not a purist in any sense of the word and I do enjoy a modern adaptation, I still prefer certain traditional elements of the novel and the character to remain. McCall Smith has taken too many liberties for my liking.

Do I recommend this book? If you don’t mind too many changes to character and story, then yes. But if you prefer the novel in it’s original form, then I recommend that you stay away.

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The Jane Austen Rules Book Review

Jane Austen is everywhere. Despite the fact that she died nearly 200 years ago and only has 6 completed novels to her name, she is a brand unto herself.

It’s not difficult to peruse a bookstore or library and find many titles relating to Jane and and her characters.

One of the newest additions this ever growing Jane Austen library is The Jane Austen Rules: A Classic Guide To Modern Love.

Scholar Sinead Murphy combines the lessons learned from Austen’s female characters with The Rules, a Georgian era book that informed women on how to behave and present themselves to the world.  Using characters such as Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse and Catherine Moreland as examples, Ms. Murphy guides her readers through the often rocky path of finding the right person, while finding happiness as a single, independent woman.

I am not sure that I liked this book. It doesn’t take a scholar to figure out the life lessons that readers have been learning from Austen’s characters for the last 200 years. As an Janeite, I did enjoy this book. But I felt like I was being preached to.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Catherine Moreland has to simply take her head out of the gothic romance novels to see what is going in around her, or to know that Emma Woodhouse is not the matchmaker and know it all that she thinks she is and Elizabeth Bennet to learn to curb her prejudices and her slightly sharp tongue.

Do I recommend this book? I’m not sure.

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Jane Austen’s First Love Book Review

There are two types of writers who write Jane Austen related novels, whether they be about the author herself, or about her characters. There are those that touch the surface and merely imitate the world that Austen knew and then there are those that inhabit that world. While no modern writer can truly recapture Jane Austen’s original and timelessness voice as a writer, Syrie James come pretty close.

I have two of her books presently in my library, her most recent novel is Jane Austen’s First Love. Years before, Jane’s older brother Edward was so charming to the Austen’s childless cousins, the Knights, that they adopted him and named him their heir. Edward is now 23 and recently engaged to Elizabeth Bridges.  Eager to introduce his soon to be in laws to his family, Edward invites family to meet the Bridges.

Now fifteen years old, Jane is a typical teenage girl. She dreams of falling in love and writing the perfect novel. On the way to meeting her brother’s future in laws, she meets Edward Taylor and as teenage girls often do, fall quickly and madly in love. But there may be another young woman destined for Mr. Taylor. Meanwhile, Jane, conjuring the same matchmaking schemes that Emma Woodhouse would later use, identifies some couples who may or may not be correctly paired up and admits her first impressions of her new acquaintances may not be all together correct.

I loved this book. We think of Jane Austen of this smart, well rounded, intelligent grown woman who occasionally talked snidely behind others back. But underneath all of that is a former teenage girl who had innocent dreams of growing up, finding herself and falling in love.

I highly recommend this book.

 

 

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Emma 1996 Vs Emma 2009 Vs Clueless

Emma begins with the following description:

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

Emma Woodhouse is Austen’s Queen Bee. She is confident in her view of the world and her place in the world. Living with her widowed father (her mother died when she was a baby, her elder sister is married and moved away), Emma is mistress of her father’s house. Unlike some of other the Austen heroines she is not a dependent on the good will of her relations (Mansfield Park), nor is her home entailed away to the nearest male relative after the death of her father (Sense And Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice).

That being said, I will compare three of the filmed Emma adaptations.

Clueless (1995)

Cast: Alicia Silverstone (Cher Horowitz), Dan Hedaya (Mel Horowitz), Josh (Paul Rudd), Tai (Brittany Murphy)

  • Pro’s: Amy Heckerling as both director and screenwriter, perfectly adapted the novel. The transition from rural 19th century Highbury to mid 1990’s Los Angeles is seamless. The movie is totally funny, totally quotable and iconic in it’s own right.
  • Con’s: None.

Emma 1996

Cast:  Kate Beckinsale (Emma), Bernard Hepton (Mr. Woodhouse),  Mark Strong (Mr. Knightley), Samantha Morton (Harriet Smith)

  • Pro’s: It is a well done adaptation. The casting is on target and the screenplay is true to the novel. Beckinsale, as the title character is both infuriating and charming. Strong is sexy and annoying in the all knowing big brother sense.
  • Cons: Mark Strong’s Edwardian Mullet, which really is the only con I can think of.

Emma 2008

Cast: Romola Garai (Emma), Michael Gambon (Mr. Woodhouse), Jonny Lee Miller (Mr. Knightley) Louise Dylan (Harriet Smith)

  • Pro’s: This adaptation is well done and so very funny. Garai and Miller have this bickering brother and sister relationship that is just so endearing. There is almost this Benedict and Beatrice style relationship where they begin to fall in love through the bickering and in fighting.
  • Cons: None.

And the winner is……. all. I can’t choose.

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Happy Birthday, Mansfield Park

*-Delineates text from the original novel. Courtesy of Austen.com

This year, Janeites around the world will celebrate and debate the novel that is Mansfield Park, as they have done for 2 centuries.

Austen begins the novel with the introduction of the Ward sisters.

*-About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them. Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. Miss Ward’s match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible, Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield, and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a Lieutenant of Marines, without education, fortune, or connections, did it very thoroughly. 

The novel’s heroine, Fanny Price is the eldest daughter of the youngest Miss Ward. At the age of 10, she is taken from her family home to Mansfield Park, where she is raised. She is family, but not a daughter of the house and treated as such. Eight years later,  Henry and Mary Crawford walk into Mansfield Park and catch the eyes of Fanny’s cousins.

I won’t give the rest of the novel away if you haven’t read it.

Mansfield Park is her longest novel, the theme is not as clear cut as her other novels. It could be about slavery, it could be about following your own heart vs. society’s rules, it could be about appearances vs. reality. Fanny is not witty like Elizabeth Bennet, confident like Emma Woodhouse or sensible like Elinor Dashwood. She is meek, almost  a hypochondriac. She could be labelled by some as priggish. She is financially, the poorest of the Austen heroines and dependent on her aunt and uncle.

I wrote a while back about Fanny and how her good qualities are often overlooked. This year’s JASNA AGM is about Mansfield Park.  I expect that it will be a very interesting AGM.

Happy Birthday, Mansfield Park

 

 

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