Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Emma, finally I have the Like

I never found the Emma Love but this recent reading of Jane Austen's Emma has been my favorite so far. Which is to say I did not find it a chore. It's always been my least favorite of her novels because Emma drives me nuts. And not in a fun, lovable way but in a when-is-someone-going-to-gag-Emma kind of way. And Harriett, ugh, get a spine! Mr. Knightley is darling, of course, but Austen knows how to do a hero.

So what made this reading better?

I tried very hard not to check out. I'm not the sort of person that finishes every book she starts, and I can speed read so if a book is only mildly interesting I usually start to speed read. In fact, the highest compliment I can give a book is to read every word. There are books I love and have read over, but have probably not read every word. Only if a book scores tops on all the important components will I read every word.

So for this reading of Emma I didn't check out when she started driving me nuts. In fact, I was still checked in halfway through the book and that's when it began to pick up for me. Emma was actually pretty funny when she started to gain a sense of humor about herself.

I've not been able to form any kind of theory as to why this Austen seems to be so popular with male critics especially so if anyone would like to propose one I'm all ears! I suppose the 'humbling of the pretty girl' plot is quite popular but using that as a reason seems incredibly insulting to male readers, and all readers really.

I've already mentioned that I like the movie Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam) and I distinctly remember describing it as quiet and slow, but lacking nothing in essentials. I stand by this but if you watch the movie directly after finishing the book it zips right by! It pretty accurately depicts many scenes from the book but since it's only 2hrs long those scenes come rapid fire if you've just finished the book. One thing I do think the movie lacks is more boning-on-Emma scenes courtesy of Frank Churchill. In the book I can really get a sense of his bad behavior but in the movie not so much.

I'm now on Sense and Sensibility (6 of 6 in my reading order) and I might even peruse Lady Susan (finally!). But no need to wait on my batting order of Austen novels:

1/2. Persuasion
Pride & Prejudice
3. Northanger Abbey
4. Sense and Sensibility
5. Mansfield Park
6. Emma

My 1/2 is cheating a bit but I go back and forth on those two as my favorites. I do know why they are my favorites and why N. Abbey comes in a solid third: H and H scenes! Romances are fun because we see the heroine and hero together. Of course they need to be separated for most of the story because that's the formula but they should only be separated in love not in actuality. I want to see why they love each other, if they're never around each other I never get any sense of their need to be with each other. I want the interaction, I want to see them seeing each other. I want to fall in love with them too and I can't do that if one or the other is never around to fall in love with.

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