Monday, June 13, 2011

Jane Austen Guilty Pleasure

Since I am having trouble getting started with writing today, I thought why not start with something that feels "easier" -- thus, how about a few thoughts on a Jane Austen remake? My pal Laurie sent this book to me a few months ago and I finally had the chance to read it (I devoured it, by the way, in a mere two days!). George Knightly, Esquire is a re-imagining of Austen's Emma from the viewpoint of, as you can guess, Mr.Knightly. I was prepared for the book to be a bit on the fluffy side but I was suprised to discover how much I got into it.

One interesting angle -- Most Emma adaptations I have seen focus on life in Highbury, Austen's most detailed neighborhood. This book, while also providing those comfortable glimpses of the familiar town, focuses instead on the residents of Donwell, with its own parish, attending rector (Dr. Hughes), a new curate, our old friends the Martins, William Larkins, and an array of colorful tenants. The world the author (Barbara Cornthwaite) depicts is as vivid in my mind as Highbury after reading this Knightly-centered perspective. As a budding scholar who is fascinated with race and class issues, I found this book delightful in terms of bringing all these folks together in one "read."

The only negative? Apparently, this is only the first part (and once I look at the cover after finishing there was a hint with a subtitle called "Book One"!). The book ends just before Mr. Elton brings his new bride to Donwell and Knightly struggles with the Frank Churchill/ Emma entanglement. So .... more work on my literature review for the dissertation = purchasing the second part!


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