Endings, of Sorts
by Charlotte Reads Classics
Time has been flying by this month and I’ve ended up posting this a lot later than I thought I would have. This post is a bit of a mash up of my reading over the last two weeks before Christmas – Christmas posts to follow shortly!
After my bout of complaining about Sense and Sensibility I did manage to complete Emma. I even enjoyed it. It was the first time I had read it, and found its silliness somewhat light relief after ploughing through Sense and Sensibility. I loved the character of Emma’s father; his gruel in the evening, panic at dining in company, wariness of chills, robbers, colds, overexertion, wet feet, mist, marriages… As for Emma herself, I thought she was pretty lucky that everyone was so tolerant and adoring of her. I’m not sure she’d get the same reaction today – although Cher was pretty believable in Clueless. I wonder if Austen felt a little bit of glee in sending up women like Emma (I hope so!). I suppose I read Austen for the marriages not the money, although I did miss having a heroine I truly wanted the best for.
I called it a day on Advent with Austen after that, but I was pleased with what I managed. I read Death Comes to Pemberley, Jane’s Fame, Sense and Sensibility and Emma. My conclusions are: I admire Austen for the legacy she has left and I have no desire to ever read an Austen spin off. At long last I have read all of Austen’s major novels and my order of preference is:
- Northanger Abbey
- Pride and Prejudice
- Sense and Sensibility
- Mansfield Park
The Robber Bride didn’t hook me in quite the same way: it wasn’t instant love like Cat’s Eye but a growing interest in the characters. Zenia is a fantastic literary villain – after a few chapters I couldn’t believe how much I disliked her! I can’t recommend Margaret Atwood’s books enough, because I haven’t read books by many other authors with such a fantastic imagination.
I feel sad you didn’t like Sense & Sensibility, but I’m excited to read Emma! Congrats on finishing all of Austen’s complete works! I should finish in 2012. And I highly recommend the Tomalin biography. 🙂
It’s been forever since I’ve read it, but my memory of Emma is that I found it the most humorous of Austen’s works. At any rate, I’m glad you enjoyed it after your disappointment with S&S.
Somehow I’ve never managed to read Atwood, although I keep reading good things about her. Someday…
[…] Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye […]
Haha! I’ve felt very alone in my Jane Austen antipathy. I’ve started Emma and Sense and Sensibility several times, but end up despairing. I finally got something out of one of them recently, when I sold it at a second-hand market for $2, having bought it at another market for $1 several years ago. I read Northanger Abbey last month, sheepishly hiding the cover on the train to work, but secretly enjoying it. It’s clever in the way it pokes fun at the form of a novel and builds it’s ‘heroine’ up to be something she plainly isn’t, only to trick you–yes, it’s just another Austen novel about money and marriage! I felt a little cheated, but appreciated the satire.
Of course Austen felt glee in sending up Emma! But also some sympathy, I think. The satire has a deeply serious point, I love Austen’s moral point of view. Lady Susan, on the cusp between the juvenilia and the adult novels, brings out her sharpness and satire, and is a good introduction to where Austen is coming from, even if not a great novel.
I find Atwood’s relentless pessimism cathartic. However bad my own life is, her characters have it much worse. Even so, I read Oryx and Crake and found the ending just shocking.
[…] Emma, Jane Austen […]