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Emma Brown Paperback – 1 Jul 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (1 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349116725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349116723
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 2.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 652,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Clare Boylan's expansion of Bronte's scrap of plot into Emma Brown is powerfully imagined and stylish, with enough melodramatic twists to keep the momentum going until the end. She is distinctly successful in recreating faithfully an idiom both familiar yet obsolete. Charlotte Bronte left a fragment of a novel at her death, subsequently published under the title Emma, concerning the placement by a rich father of a haughty and unresponsive daughter at a school for young ladies. As with Jane Austen's Sanditon or Dickens' Edwin Drood it has offered later writers the challenge of guessing a dead author's intentions.

Paradoxically, one of the opportunities that such an enterprise offers is the possibility of subverting the apparent direction of a plot-line, or undermining the perceived character of participants in the story and Clare Boylan takes extensive--perhaps too extensive--advantage of her freedom in this regard. A modern author's preoccupations are unlikely to be the same as those of a mid-Victorian and Boylan's story takes Charlotte Bronte's characters into darker milieu, and with a greater explicitness of social detail, than their creator is likely to have permitted herself. Rather like Charles Palliser did with Dickens in The Quincunx, Boylan seems to be trying to strip away the euphemism and restraint required of the great 19th-century novelists to show the reality of the world they mirrored. Students of Victorian social history will recognise elements drawn from Mayhew and WT Stead, among others: indeed Stead and the incident for which he is now best remembered--the purchase of a child--has clearly influenced a key character and plot element.

There is much of Dickens, and perhaps even more of Wilkie Collins, in the plotting, which survives a tendency to the schematic or mechanical to deliver a story that ranges widely through 19th-century England and society. This is a remarkable achievement in many ways. While clearly not the novel that Charlotte Bronte would have written, it is a successful resuscitation of the forms of high Victorian fiction as a vessel for 21st-century concerns. --Robin Davidson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Clare Boylan's expansion of Bronte's scrap of plot into Emma Brown is powerfully imagined and stylish, with enough melodramatic twists to keep the momentum going until the end. She is distinctly successful in recreating faithfully an idiom both familiar yet obsolete. Charlotte Bronte left a fragment of a novel at her death, subsequently published under the title Emma, concerning the placement by a rich father of a haughty and unresponsive daughter at a school for young ladies. As with Jane Austen's Sanditon or Dicken s' Edwin Drood it has offered later writers the challenge of guessing a dead author's intentions. (Paradoxically, one of the opportunities that such an enterprise offers is the possibility of subverting the apparent direction of a plot-line, or undermining the perceived character of participants in the story and Clare Boylan takes extensive--perhaps to)

There is much of Dickens, and perhaps even more of Wilkie Collins, in the plotting, which survives a tendency to the schematic or mechanical to deliver a story that ranges widely through 19th-century England and society. This is a remarkable achievement i (Robin Davidson, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW)

hugely daring...this is living in the mind of another writer...delicious, beautifully written, quite superlative. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By EllyBlue TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Sep 2004
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. It must always be a risk to take on and complete something begun by one of the great writers, but Clare Boylan has produced from Charlotte Bronte's fragment, a novel which is both a worthy tribute to Charlotte but also a very good read in its own right. Many of the familiar Bronte themes are here and there is also a sufficiently intriguing and complex plot to keep those pages turning. This novel shows the sharp contrasts between different classes in 19th century society, and also demonstrates well the problems faced by women in that society. However, at its heart is a well-crafted mystery and a cracking good tale. I think Clare Boylan managed a good balancing act. She manages to retain enough of Charlotte's style in her writing that you never completely forget her, but at the same time, she has produced something distinctive of her own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback
Take the first two chapters of an unfinished novel by Charlotte Bronte - the Charlotte Bronte - and complete the novel. This was the task Clare Boylan set herself and which she completed creditably. Yes, there is a difference in the prose penned by Bronte and that by Boylan, but it is so small as to be almost unnoticeable and certainly not in the reading. By some close textual detective-work you can see that Boylan has thoroughly taken on the Bronte mantle, but there is a small amount of strain in the complex facility that Bronte brings to prose. It hardly matters, though, for Boylan has kept in tune with the passion and patheticism (in the old sense of the word) at the heart of Bronte's work. True she allows her heroine to go much further into sexual danger than any early 19th century novelist would have dared, but that's no problem for us today and Boylan was brave to recognise that and not keep to the tiny margins of sexual awareness that were outwardly allowed to women in the late 1880s. It is entirely discreet and in keeping with the social message in any case.

And here we come to my one sticking point - the social message is far too loudly expressed. Bronte might have felt that the hypocrisy of society's attitude to women was wrong - but she would never have come out quite so directly or on quite so large a scale about it. Nevertheless, it is a brilliant piece of imitation, which is not to decry its value or worth, for how could it be anything other than imitation?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sainte-carmen on 2 May 2007
Format: Paperback
I found this novel absolutely riveting. Like most gothic tales, 'Emma Brown' is essentially a mystery. Although it is certainly predictable at times, I kept turning the pages until I reached the end.

This adaptation may not please purists, but for those in search of a good read, I highly recommend Boylan's novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bookfriend on 3 Nov 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Beauty of this novel is in it's language - it's form, and descriptive prose. The beastly is the unapologetic presentation of life for the poor as it was then - grim at best, and horrific at worst. A side of life rarely even mentioned in the usual Bronte or Austen novels which so many of us love. Sadly, it's message of child prostitution is painfully current to modern days, too - we still haven't learned that lesson!

The story is a wonderful mix of mystery, detective, and romance, though, and a cracking good novel. I really hope the author tackles a version of the further adventures of Mr and Mrs Darcy, as she mentioned her interest in that area. She has a real talent for this type of writing!
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