Category Archives: Emma

Multiple Reviews

It’s been a fair while, but I still exist. I’m just recovering from burn-out.


1815, ~269 pages, Completed.

Finishing off the works of Jane Austen with one of the more light-hearted pieces (not that there aren’t characters that get your blood-pressure up). Typically witty and satirical.

The Hunger Games

2008, ~454 pages, Completed.
(Catching Fire, 2009, ~472 pages, Completed.)
(Mockingjay, 2010, ~455 pages, Completed.)

I started reading after seeing the first two films (which I enjoyed), and found the books equally interesting, though the third went in directions I wasn’t expecting. It also serves as a good illustration of how to adapt a work — the differences between book and film are less in plot and more in presentation. Both use the right sort of tools for the medium.

His Dark Materials

Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass), 1995, ~399 pages, Not completed.
(The Subtle Knife, 1997, and The Amber Spyglass, 2000, Not attempted.)

I was expecting the sticking point to be the anti-religious sentiments of these novels (though it may be more accurate to describe it as anti-Catholic), but I didn’t get far enough for that to matter. I just wasn’t engaged by the plot, and found Lyra (the protagonist) wholly unlikable, and thus was unwilling to spend any more time with her.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

1841, Completed (as well as the other Dupin stories, The Mystery of Marie RogĂȘt, 1842, and The Purloined Letter, 1844).

I found a copy of this at the library when I was looking up other books and swiftly added it to the pile, as I am a fan of brains-over-brawn protagonists (e.g. Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who) and of mysteries and puzzles in general. I was slightly surprised at the length of the piece (a short story, as opposed to a novel), but more so that the mystery was revealed by both the picture on the front cover and the blurb on the back. They seem a bit quaint (though with the expected “That Poe was a troubled man!” vibe), but you can certainly see the germination of the modern detective story.

The DaVinci Code

2003, ~593 pages, Completed.
(As well as the rest of Dan Brown’s thrillers: Digital Fortress, 1998, Angels & Demons, 2000, Deception Point, 2001, The Lost Symbol, 2009, and Inferno, 2013.)

Again, a series I read after having seen (and generally enjoyed) the films. From the book, however, I can see why people get annoyed at the author. They are works of fiction, and if left in that context, could be accepted as not to be taken too seriously. However, because they are presented with disclaimers of the “all secret rituals are REAL!!!” variety, they become a lot more irritating (especially if a particular detail is something you know about — Rose Red was amused by me occasionally ranting “That’s not how encryption works!” or similar at the books).

That said, I have to acknowledge two things. One, even though he produces some truly cringe-worthy sentences, and his research isn’t as good as he thinks it is/claims it to be, the author is very good at compelling the reader to keep turning pages. Second, there are definite signs of improvement in the writing from the earlier books to the later ones.

Up next … I’m not going to stop reading things, but I’m not going to be making a conscious effort to work through the list. Occasional advancements will pop up. I’m also starting a more general blog to capture thoughts on a wider range of topics. Watch this space.


Posted by on April 3, 2014 in Emma, Other, Review


Vanity thy name is Emma

I know Pride and Prejudice is the one about… well… pride & prejudice, but hoo boy, does Emma have a fair dose of each herself. Between meddling in her friends’ love lives (with appropriately embarrassing consequences), being quite precise about social strata, and disliking Jane Fairfax largely because Jane is more accomplished and doesn’t even have the decency to be stuck-up about it, Emma has a major ego. This is of course, understandable given her level of nous relative to most of those around her, and her upbringing by a governess who became essentially an older-sister figure rather than one of authority*.

I find her to fit far more noticeably to the “flawed protagonist who has to come to terms with their own failings and ultimately becomes a better person” archetype than say, Ann Elliot (of Persuasion), whose mistake of being persuaded by sound advice from someone who ought to know is scarcely a mistake at all (Who can say what might have been? If she hadn’t turned down Wentworth, he might not have had the motivation to achieve so much in the navy). Elizabeth Bennett is supposedly the prideful/prejudiced one, but she comes across as relatively open-minded. Elizabeth is similarly the superior of much of her family, but – crucially – not all of them, which seems to give her a better sense of perspective. Her bias against Darcy is quite understandable given how aloof and anti-social he comes across on first meeting (in that sense, P&P is more about not weighting first impressions too strongly).

But maybe this is my own biases showing. I’m far more likely to judge someone on a bad first impression, or be persuaded against my preference by sensible-sounding advice, than I am to meddle in other people’s’ romantic pursuits; hence, I see it as a more significant flaw (excuse me… I seem to have something in my eye… I think it’s a log…).

Fortunately, just when it seems that Emma will prove to be the most annoying character in the book (because there’s always at least one Austen character that you want to throw the book at), along comes Mrs. Elton. If you know the book, no more need be said. If you haven’t (yet) encountered her, you have another great love-to-hate character to look forward to. In comparison, someone like Miss Bates comes across far more comically and less irritating (though requiring a spot of breath for her page-and-a-half monologues).

* Note that I am not saying older siblings cannot be figures of authority, especially given a large age gap and the absence of a parent/guardian. In cases such as this, however, where the two can interact on fairly level terms, it is difficult to maintain a sense of authority.

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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Emma