2 December 2015

Review: Emma by Jane Austen and Crystal Silvermoon

A Graphic Novel

Note: in writing this review, I’m assuming everyone knows the basic plot, either from reading the book, or seeing the movie. Well, one of the movies (personally, I prefer Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd in Clueless rather than Gwyneth Paltrow’s period portrayal).

Emma has never been my favourite Austen heroine—she doesn’t have Lizzie Bennett’s wit, she’s lacking in intelligence, and she’s a snob (e.g. refusing to allow Harriet to pursue a relationship with Mr Martin because he’s only a farmer, yet ignoring the fact Harriet is parentless and can’t expect to marry into Emma’s class). I’m also not sold on Mr Knightley as a romantic hero. Sure, he’s waited all these years for Emma to grow up, but isn’t there something a little creepy about marrying the guy who used to rock you as a baby?

But I needed a graphic novel for my 2015 Reading Challenge, and the manga version of Emma appeared on NetGalley (thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review). I’ve never read manga before, and it did take a little getting used to: it starts from the back, and pages are read right-to-left, not left-to-right like the American and British cartoons I read as a child. So that took a little getting used to, and I did have to re-read a few pages because I accidentally started on the left.

I enjoyed the story once I got into it. The adaptation is excellent, especially in the way it captures the essence of the story. The visuals helped bring Emma (and Knightley) to life in a new way, and I was struck again at how brilliant Austen’s writing is. Recommended.

This counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a graphic novel.

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