Utterly random: I totally missed that Caroline Dhavernas played a bit part
in an episode of SAJV. Huh. *insert obligatory "there are only thirty Canadian actors in existence" remark*
I spent the week reading Emma
, and to no one's greater surprise than my own, I enjoyed the hell out of it. Well, not the hell. Maybe just the heck. Or even the aitch-ee-double-hockey-sticks, to get progressively more euphemistic and to further damn with faint praise. It did have its issues, such as being able to see Mr. Elton actually being interested in Emma rather than Harriet coming from 90 pages away. And in my edition, I believe that particular denoument actually came on page 85, so you can see how obvious it was. Also, Emma was certainly a twit at times. I so desperately wanted Harriet to, at the end of the book, call her on her twitiness, rather than being so freaking polite.
I did enjoy Mr. Knightley. He brought the snark, which was oh so necessary at times. Frank was cool too, even if he was caddish. At least he was lively. And despite its faults, the book chugged along at a pretty good pace for Austen (I read the first half all at once last Saturday). I particularly liked when the young people started playing a game with the little Knightleys's twig alphabet, if only because it reminded me of the line "We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs" in Billy Collins's "Nostalgia," which is one of my favorite poems.
Also, there was NO SIMPERING, YAY. Mucho gusto. Emma was stuck up, sure, but she didn't simper and she wasn't perfect. She made mistakes, got called on them, and acknowledged the errors, at least some of the time, unlike Miss Perfect, who never did anything wrong and whom everyone loved without exception. I can't imagine Emma having an attack of the vapors at being called competent, unlike SOME I could name. Jane, Harriet, and Mrs. Weston were fairly excellent as well.
But there's something about the smallness of the world in Austen's novels that bugs me--the limited settings, casts of characters, and prospects for those characters. I know she was writing what she knew, but I certainly do long for a trip to London even more than some of her characters do. I do appreciate that this novel makes use of the widest social strata Austen ever used in a book (according to one of the essays at the back of the Norton Critical Edition I checked out, anyway), which was interesting, but man...I almost enjoyed hearing about Maple Grove because it wasn't in freaking Surrey. And I hated
Mrs. Elton--as one was supposed to--so that's saying something.
I just keep thinking of how Elizabeth Gaskell treats the same basic plot of P&P in North and South
, for example, and I like that treatment a lot more than I like Austen's, because it both acknowledges and even for its plot depends on the existence of a world greater in geography and humanity than this tiny circumscribed village and class. (I guess part of the attraction of Austen's novels now is escape to that world of leisure--well, leisure accompanied by the very serious necessity for the women of finding a husband who could support them, which is fairly fascinating in its own right, I suppose--which I have absolutely nothing against, just...in smaller doses, maybe. And it can be a very, very long time before I read about everyone being concerned about catching cold from a draft in a hallway where they will spend all of five seconds walking from one end to the other, oh my GOD, people, you are all a bunch of raving HYPOCHONDRIACS.)
Now, onto The Voyage Out
, which, if V.Wo is true to form, will be about a disheartened and suicidal married woman in London. Am I right?