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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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Northanger Abbey Review- I Wouldn’t Mind Visiting This Abbey

Classic novels are classic for a reason. In what they hope will be an easy book to write and have published, some writers may try to take a classic novel and bring it into the 21st century.

In the most recent cases of the modern reboots of Sense and Sensibility and The Age Of Innocence, the writers did little more than transfer the language, technology, clothing and transportation from the original time period to our time.

Thankfully, Val McDermid’s new novel,  Northanger Abbey, based upon the Jane Austen novel of the same name, does not belong in this category.

This story is the same as the original novel. Cat Moreland is 17 years old, from Piddle Valley, Dorset, England. A, sheltered, bookwormish minister’s daughter who was home schooled, Cat, is invited by her parent’s childless friends, Mr. and Mrs. Allen to Edinburgh (Bath in the original novel).

As in the original novel, she meets the brother/sister duo’s of John and Isabella Thorpe and Henry and Eleanor Tilney. I won’t give the story away (I highly recommend reading this book if you haven’t), but one sibling duo turns out to not be so trustworthy and the other does turn out to be trustworthy.

Northanger Abbey is not one of my favorite Austen novels. This original novel is very much a transition book for Austen, as a writer.  Her writing is starting to contain elements of later, more mature novels, but there are still traces of  her early Juvenalia works.  As to this modern reboot, the middle section was a little slow, but overall, it was a good read.

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Death Comes to Pemberley- A Good Sequel

There are a lot fanfiction writers out there. Very few are lucky enough to not only see their work in print, but also see it on screen.

PD James’s sequel to Pride and Prejudice, Death Comes to Pemberley aired the UK over the past few days.  I was lucky enough to see it before my American IP address prevented me from seeing it. 

The 1995 Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle minieries is not only the best filmed adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but the best of the filmed adaptations of any Austen novel.   Any adaptations will always bring comparisons, but this adaptations stands on its own.

Ms. James’s novel starts 6 years after the original novel ends. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are happily married with a young son.  On the eve of the annual Lady Anne Ball, Lydia arrives in hysterics that Captain Denny has been murdered and her husband is in the woods surrounding Pemberley.  During investigation and trial, Georgiana must  choose between duty and marry her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam or choose her heart and marry Mr. Alveston.

I enjoyed it. Ms. James keeps the language and humor of the original novel, utilizing many of the leading characters while keeping the reader engaged in the mystery.

Taking the reins from Colin Firth, Matthew Rhys is a more mature Darcy who is deeply in love with his wife and aware of the responsibility of his station. Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth is a lively and outgoing as she is in the original novel, but with the experience of marriage, motherhood, as well as sharing the responsibility of running the estate.  Lydia (Jenna Coleman) and Wickham (Matthew Goode), as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (James Fleet and Rebecca Front) are as they are in original novel.

I enjoyed both the book and the miniseries and I look forward to seeing it when it airs on PBS next month.

 

 

 

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