Review: Emma - Jane Austen

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“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Classics, Fiction, Romance

Reading Challenge: 7 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

‘I wonder what will become of her!’

So speculate the friends and neighbours of Emma Woodhouse, the lovely, lively, wilful, and fallible heroine of Jane Austen's fourth published novel. Confident that she knows best, Emma schemes to find a suitable husband for her pliant friend Harriet, only to discover that she understands the feelings of others as little as she does her own heart. As Emma puzzles and blunders her way through the mysteries of her social world, Austen evokes for her readers a cast of unforgettable characters and a detailed portrait of a small town undergoing historical transition. 

My Thoughts —

This was the final Jane Austen novel that I read for my third year Austen course in uni last term. As I had literally a million things to do by the time my exam rolled around, I never got to finish reading Emma before the exam and left something like 50 pages for myself to read after I came back from winter break. (In case you’re wondering, I did well on the final!). Well, procrastination at its finest, I didn’t get around to finishing this until mid-February.

Emma is easily one of my favourite Austen novels, now that I’ve gone and read them all (but Persuasion). I really hadn’t heard much about Emma before, as it's not one of the more talked-about Austen novels, at least not in the way of Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. It’s sort of underrated in that regard. I found it to be wonderful.

Emma is an unlikeable character in a few ways. She’s petty, naive, and extremely selfish. She tries to control situations so that they benefit her, which is clear through her convincing her best friend not to marry a man she so obviously is attracted to because Emma looks down upon his social-standing. But I think beneath it all, she does have a good heart and good intentions as well. Throughout the novel, she does the necessary learning to grow as a person which I think is incredibly important. And honestly, it makes for a better story.

In terms of the story itself, I think this is such a perfect example of Jane Austen’s wit. I love the humour in this novel!!!! I find that some of her novels, like Northanger Abbey, don’t really hit the mark for the wit that she’s known for - and that made me love her writing. This one, however, is so clever and just downright funny. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be saying I was giggling while reading a book that was written in the 1800s haha. But, here we are!

In case anyone’s curious, my ranking of the Austen novels (excluding Persuasion) is as follows:

1. Pride and Prejudice

2. Sense and Sensibility/Emma

3. Northanger Abbey

4. Mansfield Park

What do you think about Emma? In your opinion, is it one of Austen’s best novels?

Felicia x

Review: Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

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“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Classics, Fiction, Romance

Reading Challenge: 27 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Jane Austen's first novel—published posthumously in 1818—tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen's fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. The satirical novel pokes fun at the gothic novel while earnestly emphasizing caution to the female sex.

My Thoughts —

So, first off, Northanger Abbey is the first of Austen’s novels to be prepared for publication (even though it didn’t come out until after she died). I think that’s what makes this book less of a hit with me, compared to her later works - like my personal fav, Pride and Prejudice. But that’s definitely not to say that the writing in Northanger Abbey is immature! Jane Austen was always wise beyond her years and I still think Northanger Abbey is a great novel, just not one of the best. You know?

I thought it was quite clever that Jane Austen used Catherine’s love for Gothic novels almost as a flaw in her character. It was a really tongue-in-cheek jab at Ann Radcliffe. Catherine’s imagination and obsession with the novels gets her into quite a lot of trouble, which is a fairly amusing storyline.

The one thing that irks me though is that Henry Tilney, for the majority of the novel, is quite annoying. He’s presumptuous and condescending. Most of his time spent with Catherine, and his sister Eleanor for that matter, is by berating her for her interest in Gothic novels and how her perception of things is wrong. Blah blah blah. He does get less tiresome throughout the last half of the novel. THANK GOD.

All in all, it was a pretty good read! I might not read it again, though.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Do you like Northanger Abbey?

Felicia x

Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

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“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.”

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Genre(s): Classics, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 12 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”

My Thoughts —

So I went into this book with a very different idea of what it was about. I honestly can’t remember now what I thought this book was about before I read it. At this point, I’m so overwhelmed by it all that I can’t even register it all haha. Essentially, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a story all about morality and a young society man who sells his soul in order to be eternally youthful - and it comes with severe consequences. It’s a Wilde story. SORRY I had to.

The first half of this book was quite slow, in my opinion. I kept waiting for there to be some big “wow” moment, which did ultimately come - but not until several chapters into the book. Eventually though, once that moment did come, the rest of the book was intriguing and it was fairly jam-packed with twists, turns, and intensity.

One of the things about this novel that I didn’t necessarily love was that there were often very long bits of dialogue. It bothered me a bit. Not terribly, but just worth mentioning. However, this is probably a consequence of it being an older novel. If you’ve ever read a Jane Austen novel, you know how well she could write a run-on sentence so each author has their thing y’know? Long dialogue just sort of loses my attention after awhile.

The writing, however, was very good overall. And once the plot quickened in pace, the storytelling was extremely interesting. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that I can say about the actual plot without giving away a bunch, however I can say that it was certainly a page-turner! I thought it was a good novel, although I wouldn’t say it was particularly my taste or one of my favourite classic novels.

Have you read The Picture of Dorian Gray? What did you think?

Felicia x