I bought this book as it was the only sequel to Emma that I could find (apart from Mr Knightley's Diary), after reading many Pride and Prejudice sequels. The book started well and i was pleased that the writing tried to be true to the Jane Austen style, or at least the style of the time, but several things started to grate on me fairly early on. Firstly throughout the book there are several spelling and grammatical mistakes that it makes me wonder if the book was proof read at all. None of them are particularly significant but when buying a published book I wouldn't have expected that. Secondly there are instances of plot inconsistency, Augusta Elton's sister is called both 'Selina' Suckling and 'Serena' Suckling at various places throughout the book, again I would have expected a proof reader to pick up on this. Finally one of the most annoying points in this book is that Emma calls Mr Knightley 'Knightley' throughout the book, which makes me think the writer has not read the original novel very well as calling him Knightley was something Mrs Elton did to Emma's great disgust. So it strikes me as odd that after they are married she would start calling him this. I also felt that whilst capturing most of the other characters quite well, Emma turns into a jealous, unconfident somewhat reserved person in this story which is completely at odds with her personality in the original novel. The storyline however is quite well thought out with some interesting plot points along the way, even if the ending is slightly abrupt considering how long it took to get to. If you are a fan of Austen sequels in general then this is worth a read but it just didn't grip me as much as I would have liked it to. I was pleased however that most of the original characters remain and are well included in the story, alongside a couple of interesting new additions!
This is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Emma, beginning around 18 months into the Knightley’s marriage and all is not well in Highbury. The story begins really quite depressingly; news of a death, and the realisation that Emma and Knightley are emotionally not very close – they have kept up their respective roles of spoiled child and advisor. The story then moves onto a bankruptcy and another death. I had to take a break from this book and come back to it, misery piles upon misery and through it all Emma and Knightley get further and further apart.
At the end of ‘Emma’ I felt that Emma had matured somewhat and gained a better level of understanding but here the character has reverted to the clueless character of two years before. It is also disappointing to see Mr Knightley constantly pulling away from his wife, he is hardly ever there, and when he is he’s usually leaving! Since Mr Knightley provides Emma with so little friendship it is comprehendible that she wouldn’t confide in him but I don’t feel that would be in line with Emma’s character, I think in the circumstances in the story Emma would have felt obliged to tell him of certain events. There was also a reliance on the couple mistaking the other’s feelings in the same way that was cleared up in ‘Emma’ and I felt it was unlikely that they’d both do this again. Plus all this was cleared up in literally five pages, and there must have been so many opportunities for this to be cleared up much more quickly, it seemed unlikely to me that it would have dragged on for so long.
There were some things I liked very much about this book; the style of the writing is really very good, it’s witty and ironic and it reminded me of the original book. Emma’s sister Isabella is a very minor character in ‘Emma’ and here she is fleshed out much more, which I thought was done really well. There are also some original characters, most notably Mrs Philomena Tidmarsh, who is an intelligent widow who befriends Emma for a mixture of reasons. However, despite all these positives, the sad subject matter and bad state of the relationship between Emma and Knightley, which I felt was unlikely, meant that I found this book hard going to read.
This is a continuation of Emma that Jane Austen herself would have been proud of. Tastfully written with no bedroom scenes, it was a delight to read. The story followed the return to Highbury of Frank Churchill after the death of his wife in childbirth, and the disruption it caused in the relationship of Knightley and Emma. Well worth reading.