‘Emma’- Jane Austen

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STAR RATING: (★★

BLURB: Beautiful, clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: (of coursE) ‘It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!’

‘I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.’

READ IF YOU LIKE: 19th Century ramblings about living in the countryside and going to a lot of balls

If you’re going to read Austen, definitely start with this one. It’s your basic formula of romance and friendship, set in a quintessential early 19th C English countryside. It’s different from Pride and Prejudice (also Austen), and in my opinion better, but one thing P&P holds over Emma it is the classic moving scene between Darcy and Elizabeth in which he proclaims his love to her, such a great passage in English Literature scene I can almost recite it word for word. I would have loved to have seen the love affair between Emma and Mr Knightley played out more, and it annoyed me that Austen almost skirts over it- why is Emma so compelled to love Mr. Knightley after being so against marriage for so long? And why does she immediately give in to his declarations of love after proclaiming herself as the ultimate independent heroine ???

This took me SUCH A LONG TIME to read and after finishing it I feel like I’d climbed Everest – it was really hard to push through the middle section, the main developments and plot twists only happen at the end which is always really really annoying in a book. Also it’s one of those books in which an entire 4 page section could have been explained in one sentence, but then I guess the joy of Austen is the way she writes about human emotions and sensibilities, something which you do notice she has a sixth sense for, which you wouldn’t get without her rambling prose passages.

From the impression and previous things I’d heard from this book, I think the reader is meant to thoroughly dislike Emma. I completely disagree, I really enjoyed her independent woman attitude and how she was always messing with people’s love lives. She seemed by far the most grounded character in the novel, along with Mr Knightley, who I think are close contenders for cutest 19th c. couple (as opposed to Darcy+Elizabeth / Jane+Rochester)

Thus concludes my basic covering of Victorian novel reviews – safe to say I am pretty bored of them, and will be reading something slightly more modern now…

tl;dr: Too long, but the best Austen novel I’ve read and I’m glad I took the time to read it. Mr Knightley = bae

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Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

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STAR RATING: (★★

BLURB: Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: Didn’t have one, and don’t think  I can bring myself to wade through the pages and pages of narrative prose that this book includes.

READ IF YOU LIKE: The Bronte sisters, classics,  gothic horror, love but not romance, repeated sequences of getting in and out of carriages, protagonists that you hate, protagonists that you can’t understand and very long passages describing weather.

PAGE COUNT: Approx 272 (print was v small).

This is something I’ve been wanting to read for a very long time, as an avid lover of Jane Eyre this was my only option for the next novel set in this period. And sadly, although it is deemed to be better than many books from this era (Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Jane Eyre), I really didn’t connect with the book. It came with so many obsessed reviews and high hopes, and the book was wildly different from how it had been suggested to me.

Basically, I hate hate HATED all the characters, and this often (always) stops me from enjoying a book. I thought that Linton (a character who enters halfway through and is like a leech that wont let go of you) is one of the most horrifically pathetic characters ever written into literature. And he isn’t like Heathcliff (main guy), who you love to hate because he’s the mean broody and good looking, strong and assertive man, whereas Linton is a shrivelled, snivelling little thing who is constantly ill. I grew quickly bored of the characters, and felt there was little light or joy brought to this book.

I was expecting one of the greatest love stories of all time (as has often been quoted to me), and yet Cathy, the supposed protagonist of this novel, DIES HALFWAY THROUGH?!?! Her ‘love affair’ with Heathcliff lasts about a page and a half. Entirely unsatisfying, and I was then left with the remains of this book, which, after Heathcliff’s disappearance and Cathy’s death, consists of Linton (see previous point) , and some other irrelevant characters. I came here for a love story!!!!!

Despite all this, this is one of the worlds greatest classics, and you can tell why. Bronte’s agenda was clearly to create a gothic horror storyline in which there was no hope or happiness, and the fact that I had such an aversion to many (all) of the characters is testament to her skill. Basically, at least I had a reaction to it.