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Emma (Wisehouse Classics - With Illustrations by H.M. Brock) (2016) Paperback – 17 Aug 2016
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About the Author
Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels which interpret, critique and comment upon the life of the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Her most highly praised novel during her lifetime was Pride and Prejudice, her second published novel. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favorable social standing and economic security. The author's major novels are rarely out of print today, although they were first published anonymously and brought her little fame and brief reviews during her lifetime. A significant transition in her posthumous reputation as an author occurred in 1869, fifty-two years after her death, when her nephew's publication of A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider audience. Austen's most successful novel during her lifetime was Pride and Prejudice, which went through two editions at the time. Her third published novel was Mansfield Park, which (despite being largely overlooked by reviewers) was successful during her lifetime. All of Austen's major novels were first published between 1811 and 1818. From 1811 to 1816, with the publication of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815), she achieved success as a published author. Austen wrote two additional novels (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818) and began another, eventually titled Sanditon, before her death. During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries Austen's writings have inspired a large number of critical essays and literary anthologies, establishing her as a British author of international fame. Her novels have inspired films, from 1940's Pride and Prejudice starring Laurence Olivier to more recent productions: Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Kate Beckinsale in Love & Friendship (2016).
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This is the story of coming of age of Catherine Morland, aged 17, a silly and immature but good-hearted, honest and likeable young damsel, who meets two very different suitors during her sejour in the good city of Bath somewhere around 1810. The heroin, let's stress it again, is very likeable but not particulalry clever and especially she is mentaly completely immersed in her favourite books - gothic novels. This lack of maturity and common sense as well as a certain estrangement from reality will play her a couple of nasty tricks, from which she will have to learn some valuable lessons... I will say no more about the plot.
Other than the usual delights of Jane Austen humour, wit and sharp social observations, this book offers an extra treat - it is the one in which we can see the real birth of author's talent. The first half of the book makes for a pleasant reading but not much more, as author, who was only 23 when writing her first novel, clearly was still hesitating, treading carefully and learning her trade. But past the middle point, suddenly we see the young writer spreading her wings and soar! Some writers graduate from honest labourer to gret master from one book to another but I think it is the first time I saw the birth of a major writer in the middle of a novel. It impressed me greatly.
My personal copy of "Northanger Abbey" was a Barnes & Noble "old style" hardback, part of "Barnes & Noble Classics" collection. Its very "passé" aspect (going as far as artificially yellowed paper and irregularly shaped edges of pages) actually increased the pleasure I took in reading this very pleasant, entertaining and in many moments quite amusing short novel. I will definitely keep this book and pass it one day to my kids...
I will say no more here about the book. Get it, read it, love it and one day come back to it. ENJOY!
I finished reading this novel last weekend, within a completed works compilation (free on here) where I became increasingly convinced as the story progressed, that there had to be quite a few errors. I'm going to compare this one to the last one, and a printed copy that is lying around but has spiteful print and I hope to sort out some ambiguities that are really bugging me.
All I can say is, after reading the first 10 pages, the punctuation is already much improved compared to the other (free) version on here - what a relief that is!
I've also bought the study notes to go with it, because I was fascinated to recently learn that the biographical interpretation of the novel actually pertains to Wentworth as Jane, rather than Anne as Jane. I think this is a truly fascinating insight and just goes to show that if you have a gripe, the best thing to really do is, thrash it out creatively.
Update 09 July 2014:
Have compared this to my paper copy and pleased to say its spot on, only found very obvious, tiny, typo errors, punctuation etc, all fine. (The earlier copy I read (mentioned above) must have been abridged because this one has all the details about minor characters that are often missed out in dramatisations.)
As usual, McCall Smith reveals his wry and humorous observation of class classics and behaviour, while bringing Jane's characters back to life in the twenty-first century. Great holiday or fireside reading.
I found the storyline to be unexciting. Apart from Isabella, the characters lack substance; the man with whom the heroine falls in love, comes across as pedantic and irritating. I can't get too bothered about whether "she gets her man" if I I don't think he's that special in the first place!
That said, it was pleasant reading and there are times when the writing style is superb.
So, I recommend this book if you like reading classics but it's not a patch on 'Pride and Prejudice'.
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