Caris's Reviews > Emma

Emma by Jane Austen
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Jan 07, 10

bookshelves: 2010
Read in January, 2010

Earlier this week, (Monday, in fact) my friend was beginning to tell me his opinions of the novel I had written for NaNoWriMo this past November.

“Have you read Notes from the Underground?” he asked.

At this point in time, I didn’t have any idea that we were talking about my novel, so I began to talk about Fyodor’s book instead. I feel comfortable speaking of Dostoevsky on a first name basis because of what was said next:

“Your book reminds me a lot of it,” he said.

And, inside my head, I’m like, Fucking wow. Dostoevsky, really? My novel? Outside my head, I ask, “How so?”

And then Phil, he starts talking about unreliable narrators (specifically the underground man and Holden Caulfield) and how it’s an under-appreciated narration style. With my book, he says, it’s obvious that the narrator is unreliable as he seems like an intelligent fellow, but is prone to fits of psychopathy. It makes you question his entire viewpoint.

“Is that good?” I ask, starting to feel protective of this first draft of mine pounded out blindly in thirty days.

Which got me thinking about Emma. Emma is about as unreliable as Amazon Super Saver shipping. You don’t really know it until it’s too late, though. She seems really intelligent and insightful, but she’s almost always wrong in the end. You’re completely thrown for a loop…

…unless you’ve seen Clueless close to one hundred times.

When I was in seventh grade, that is just what I did. Nearly every day, I would sit down and pop in my taped-from-a-free-HBO-preview copy and all my troubles would melt away. Why did I feel such a kinship with this movie? It’s hard to say. Watching it was a compulsion of sorts, I guess. My mother is still convinced that I just had the hots for Alicia Silverstone, which (Sorry, Alicia. I like you a lot, but just as a friend.) is simply not true. In hindsight, the movie provided me with an escape from my normal life. The convoluted personal relationships of these over-privileged teenagers seemed to be what my life should be like, but wasn’t. So, I dutifully memorized every line of the goddamned movie.

And, as a result, was bored to death by the first three-quarters of the book. There was nothing Jane Austen could do that would be able to one-up Cher and her pals. So it took me weeks to get through this relatively short book. It felt like such a chore just to pick it up each evening.

So I didn’t. Not really, anyway. I read the book page by page in between levels of Resident Evil and reruns of Roseanne and The Dog Whisperer. Eventually, I made it past that hump, somewhere around the three hundred page mark, and things started getting good. Emma started feeling things that Cher never could have. And fucking everyone was clueless.

But the point is, at least I think this is the point I was trying to make, that Emma is an unreliable narrator. And in the beginning, this is a bad thing because you think the book is just a really boring study of old timey relationships. But once you realize that Emma has no idea what’s going on and that that is going to blow up in her face, that’s when it gets interesting.

So…

“Is that good?” I ask.

“Well, I guess that depends on…blahdy fucking blah," Phil said.

Yes, Caris, that’s good indeed.

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Comments (showing 1-50 of 112) (112 new)


message 1: by Megan (new)

Megan Ooh, which Resident Evil are you playing?


Caris Umbrella Chronicles. I'm stuck on this big snake and I don't seem to have enough ammo to kill him.


message 3: by Megan (new)

Megan I hate running out of ammo.


Caris It's awful. It really is.


message 5: by Megan (new)

Megan Can you go back to get more or are you basically stuck? I haven't played enough of Umbrella Chronicles to know how that kind of thing works.


Caris I can go back a little bit. But there's a whole bunch of strong zombies that eat up my bullets before I get to the snake. Can't fight the snake if you're dead.


message 7: by Megan (new)

Megan Huh. Tried a walkthrough?


Caris I'm not that desperate yet. I was in the same spot (different boss) a couple weeks ago and made it through.

I do wish Wii had cheats, though.


Caris I'm glad I wasn't the only one deterred by the beginning and middle of this book.

I've walked out on movie versions of Sense and Sensibility more times than I can count, so I'd have to agree with you about Clueless being the best adaptation (not that my 7th grade bias can be totally ruled out).


Caris Though it's not surprising in any way, I missed all of that. Is that collection available in book form?


Caris Thanks for the recommendations. It's good to know someone in the Austen know.


Sparrow I had never thought of this. Good work. I, too, barely made it through this book, despite being a rabid Austen fan. Also, interesting what Elizabeth's saying about the farming village. Sometimes, I think there is a direct relation between the accuracy of a book and the boringness of it, though. The beginning of this book has that feeling of accuracy that I associate with the pastoral-lovey parts of Anna K. and the building-the-railroad parts of Middlemarch. Ugh.

But I do think it's interesting that in both Clueless and the movie version of Emma you understand immediately that she's unreliable and you can appreciate her for it. Much more entertaining that way (sorry, Jane, it's an outstanding plot, at least).


Sparrow P.S. Are you going to send us all ARCs of the novel?


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

P.S. What is up with that cover? Is that the edition you read?


Sparrow YES!! Oh, Thomas Hardy, I had forgotten you and my high-school experience being bored-to-death by the Native. But Eustacia Vye is still one of the best names. Someone should do a vampire-mash-up of that one.


Caris You know, if I got any ARCs, I'd send them first to you guys. The (small) publisher I'm working with has promised only one copy to me. Perhaps I can send that one around to those interested.

Actually, the cover thing is kind of funny. I looked through the four hundred different editions, but couldn't find the one I was reading. So I searched by ISBN for my edition and this one came up. It's a cheapy Borders edition and I figure this was a previous cover.


Sparrow You know we want it, but I don't think I'm to be trusted with an only-edition. I'm not responsible enough.


Caris Well, I could, you know, buy another one should it get lost. I'm sure I'll get some kind of discount.


message 19: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Elizabeth wrote: "Boring the way Thomas Hardy and the milkmaids are boring too."

I see your milkmaids and raise you the SHEEP-SHEARING SCENES in Crowd, Jesus.


message 20: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Persuasions! OMG COOL.


Sparrow Caris wrote: "Well, I could, you know, buy another one should it get lost. I'm sure I'll get some kind of discount."

Well if it's replaceable, I'm in.


Sparrow Elizabeth wrote: "Moira wrote: "Persuasions! OMG COOL."

You know the annual meeting this year is in Portland..."


GASP! West Coast GR event time!


message 23: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Elizabeth wrote: "You know the annual meeting this year is in Portland..."

No!


message 24: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Meredith wrote: "GASP! West Coast GR event time!"

OMG AUSTENITE SLEEPOVER.


message 25: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Meredith wrote: "GASP! West Coast GR event time!"

Or rather, tea!


message 26: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! WAIT WHATWHAT? I missed something! Are you all coming to Portland? YES!


message 27: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Eh! wrote: "WAIT WHATWHAT? I missed something! Are you all coming to Portland? YES!"

....well I'm agoraphobic. But I AM in therapy! And a GR meetup - so tempting!


Sparrow Moira wrote: "Eh! wrote: "WAIT WHATWHAT? I missed something! Are you all coming to Portland? YES!"

....well I'm agoraphobic. But I AM in therapy! And a GR meetup - so tempting!"


IT WILL BE SOOOO WORTH IT! GR meetup is its own therapy!


message 29: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Meredith wrote: "IT WILL BE SOOOO WORTH IT! GR meetup is its own therapy! "

IT TOTALLY WOULD BE.


message 30: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Also, Caris, terrific review and congratulations on the confirmation of your novel's greatness!


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

When is it? *seriously tempted*


Sparrow Ceridwen wrote: "When is it? *seriously tempted*"

Ack! Come! It's in October for Halloween, it looks like. But I'm confused about how you register. You have to register for the year and for the conference?


Caris Eh!, you're the nicest person in the world when you're not hatin' on me.


message 34: by Caris (last edited May 26, 2010 02:20PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Caris Eraserhead Press- a very small, very specialized joint that prints only bizarro fiction (which my novel apparently qualifies as). I'll certainly try, but I doubt it. I'll let everyone know when it's out (if it ever gets there- we're in the middle of the editing process).

How many Austen books must one have read to go to the conference? If I lie, no one will tell?


message 35: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Caris wrote: "Eh!, you're the nicest person in the world when you're not hatin' on me."

Aww, sorry but I'm out to make you a stronger person. Hate makes great?

Oh lord. $500? I have plenty of room but just one bed and one air matress. If you're willing to "rough" it I can put you up! House rule: You must dress up in regency attire. :o)


message 36: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Aww I blanked out on the NaNovel too! Congratulations! That's awesome.


message 37: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Eh! wrote: "House rule: You must dress up in regency attire. :o)"

Regency NIGHTIES. With Regency S'Mores on hand.


Sparrow Elizabeth wrote: "you don't have to have read any of the novels just have a high tolerance for janeites. only reason i havent gone to a conf yet is that i have a very low tolerance for them."

I know. It's a problem. BUT HIGH TEA!!! They're going to high tea!! I love that. We should just crash it. and not pay the fee. Eh! can get us in. I'm sure of it.


message 39: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! I love high tea!!! All the tiny cakes and tarts and sandwiches! Besides, if you go with US we'll be making fun of everyone the whole time. We may even get kicked out for being disruptive.


message 40: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Eh! wrote: "I love high tea!!! All the tiny cakes and tarts and sandwiches! Besides, if you go with US we'll be making fun of everyone the whole time. We may even get kicked out for being disruptive."

OMG YES. We can throw buns!


Caris If Eh! will take care of everything, I think I can stand the janeites (a term which reminds me of deadites and makes me very, very happy).


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Fuck the janeites - we should just get someone to put together a GRCon somewhere. There's some kind of GR pub crawl in NY, but I kind of don't want to deal with NY. (No offense - you're lovely, NY, just too expensive.)


message 43: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! No, the buns must be eaten (don't waste food!). We can throw the sugar cubes and throw pillows.

Caris, do you lend your bow to me cause?


Caris I'll lend my bow to your will, Sir!


message 45: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Informal GRCon in Portland! We're all about the cheap. I'll pile the blankets on the carpet and cook for the crowd!


message 46: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Caris wrote: "I'll lend my bow to your will, Sir!"

Me sword by your side!


message 47: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Eh! wrote: "Informal GRCon in Portland! We're all about the cheap. I'll pile the blankets on the carpet and cook for the crowd!"

Aww, that sounds lovely. AND POWELLS, OH, MY GOD.


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

NY is awesome, just too far away - you can get there by train though!

I really do want to see Powell's, esp. since Eh! sent me that map. *sighs*


Caris Eh! wrote: Me sword by your side!"

I will lend you my steel!


message 50: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Heh, temptation in map form. It's even better in person....


Caris wrote: "I will lend you my steel!"

I'll offer up my courage!


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