Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken

Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken

So I have heard people say how much they enjoy Joan Aiken’s books. I have put all on my to-read lists and when I came across her book Jane Fairfax a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, I jumped at the chance to grab it and read it.

However, I didn’t like it.

Aiken is not a bad writer, but the style didn’t suit me. I tried reading this book three times and could not get involved in it, forcing myself to finish it so I could review it.

The book is told from Jane’s point of view, but while I thought this would be interesting…it was not.

The book starts off with Jane growing up in Highbury, angry and upset with Emma as she has money, a sister, a father and mother-then later a governess, clothes, etc. She can’t stand Emma as she wishes she had her life-after all Emma is rude and doesn’t deserve what she has.

YEEEEES!!!!!!

She also has a humongous crush on Mr. Knightley, on that grows with every gift of apples, every horseback ride, every moment with him, etc.

She is given the opportunity to live with her father’s old friend. Life in the Colonel Campbell home is not what she expected: the Colonel is a mean and grouchy man who is always yelling at his daughter; his wife is a woman who is uninterested in anything regarding her child; Colonel Campbell’s mother-in-law is grouchy, gives unneeded advice, and is rude to Jane.

It sucks!

Her only friend is the mousy and insecure, Rachel Campbell.

When the girls are young they meet the Dixon boys who are annoying at first but then they grow on the girls. Jane also meets Mr. Knightley, Mr. Weston, and Frank Churchill occasionally in London. And every time Jane’s heart goes thump-thump when she sees Mr. Knightley.

When the girls are older they go to Weymouth and spend time with the Dixons, Jane realizing she is in love with Matthew. Unfortunately, Rachel is too.

But then Matthew reveals his love for her, Jane-and it is all she can do to refuse it. You see Matthew has debts that need to be paid and Jane has nothing-no money, no connections, and definitely no dowry. She convinces him to marry Rachel, he proposes to her, and the two leave for Ireland while Jane will be sent back to Highbury.

To her surprise Frank Churchill, who she thought little of, has fallen for her.

What are you talking about??

As she lost her real love and knows that Mr. Knightley is not likely to be with her she says yes to his engagement.

And then we enter the Emma story as Jane is sent to Highbury waiting for Frank’s aunt to die so they could be together.

I didn’t like this as Jane seemed so cold and calculating, choosing Frank not because she loved him, but because she wants money, security, a home-basically she is Charlotte Lucas.

Reading Emma, I never cared for Frank Churchill and thought he was a total jerk, and that Jane deserved better. Whenever I read it all I can think is she must have really, really loved him to put up with all the crap he does-romancing Emma as a smokescreen, talking about her to Emma, making fun of her, etc.

So having her not really care for Frank is…weird. I mean she is sooo practical through the whole thing. At age six she knows she will never get married but is destined to be a spinster and governess (that is what Aiken writes), so for her to enter an engagement that has very little chance of coming to fruition seems like a weird choice for someone so practical and logical.

Hmm…

Now if she was in love with him, well love is blind that makes sense.

But as she isn’t, why would she even think this would work? If anything her character makes more sense to believe that as soon as she leaves London his ardor for her will too.

Or plot!

Anyways, she comes to Highbury, Frank is a jerk, she moons over Knightley which I also thought was weird. If she was interested in Knightley, why not make a play for him over Frank? It is far more likely that Mr. Knightley would marry her than for Frank to.

I mean for real!

And Jane is just horrible to Emma. I think the author wanted to go with past hurts can color your current behavior, and that Jane is still upset over the behavior of the Emma when she was a child-but I couldn’t stand it. Every time Emma enters the room Jane is all look at the disdain she gives me, she doesn’t care. She’s pretending to be kind and she’s really a snake.

This makes this a not a very fun read as she is just mad all the time. I don’t like characters that are just mad all the time.

 

The part I did like was when Jane goes to Highbury and has a hard time fitting in as she was in a different position as Colonel Campbell’s ward versus Mrs. & Miss Bates’ ward. That isn’t something you really think about or see in the movies and I enjoyed that view.

Most of the story is about Jane having a crush on Mr. Knightley, this continuing until she is heartbroken to find him marrying Emma her longtime rival.

The only part I enjoyed was at the end when Jane and Emma talk and Jane apologizes for being cold and distant as she realizes she was angry and jealous of Emma; and Emma apologizes for ignoring her and being distant as she was jealous of her. They both realize that Mr. Knightley was right and they would have been good friends, regretting that they didn’t listen to him when they were younger.

Told you so

But that was at the end and I had to wade through the whole book to get there. I don’t recommend this and say hard pass.

For more Emma adaptions, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more Jane Fairfax, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

200 Years of Glorious Emma

So as I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided instead of reading through each Jane Austen novel one by one, I will instead read four chapters of one and then move on to another, then another, etc; that way each book would get posted on. I decided to do this mainly because Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion are really forgotten in the Austen fan world. Also because it is more fun this way. I started with Pride and Prejudice as it turned 200 in 2013. Then I moved on to Sense and Sensibility as it was the first book published. I should do Mansfield Park next, but decided to wait as this year is a special year. Yes 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of 1985, of which I have written a post celebrating The Breakfast Club, will be posting one on Back to the Future, and one honoring the rest of the awesome stuff that came out that year. BUT, 2015 marks another anniversary, this Christmas marks the 200th Birthday of Emma.

emma

Emma is a very unique character unlike any of the other Austen heroines. Many people don’t like this book because they don’t like Emma. I know my friends who love Austen tend to like her least of all the Austen heroines as they think she is too shallow or silly. In fact Jane Austen herself said that in writing Emma:

“I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.”

Well I love Emma. Most likely because she and I have a lot of similarities.

WhichJAheroare YOu?Emma

Sister’s amor hating you, a guy who won’t stop following you around. In my case 3), a friend who has a trifecta of boys rejecting her, deciding to become a spinster, has meddled in friends’ love lives…need I go on?

I am who I am

I am who I am

There are probably many of you out there who have had similar experiences.

But Emma is more than just fluff and comedic moments. Through this novel Jane Austen was able to share her own ideas of spinsterhood and how being a spinster who could care for one’s self (like Jane was able to) was nothing to look down on or pity.

Yep, just like her modern counterpart, Cher from Clueless, there is something about that girl that is just lovable.

Emma_Buggin

Not to mention Emma has the amazing Mr. Knightly.

EmmaMrKnightlyP&PMrDarcy

Like with the other two books, I will also will be reviewing books and films that are either another version/interpretation of the story or based on the book with a twist. Hope you all enjoy!

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Books:

Emma: A BabyLit Emotions Primer by Jennifer Adams

Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken

A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma by Joan Austen-Leigh & Jane Austen

Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE edited by Christina Boyd

Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith edited by Christina Boyd

Victoria and the Rogue (An Avon True Romance #12) by Meg Cabot

Mr. Knightley’s Diary (Jane Austen Heros #2) by Amanda Grange

Pride, Prejudice, and Personal Statements by Mary Pagones

Amanda by Debra White Smith

Daring Chloe (Getaway Girls #1) by Laura Jensen Walker

The Importance of Being Emma (Darcy & Friends #1)  by Juliet Archer

Emma & Knightley: The Sequel to Jane Austen’s Emma by Rachel Billington

Only With You (The Jane Austen Academy Series #5) by Cecilia Gray

Emmalee (The Jane Austen Diaries #4) by Jenni James

Film:

Emma (1960)

Emma (1972)

Clueless (1995)

Emma (1996) AKA Gwyneth Paltrow

Emma (1996) AKA Kate Beckinsale

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Emma (2009)

Emma Approved (2013)

We Are Family: Austentatious, Episode 1 (2015)

Big Girls Don’t Cry: Austentatious, Episode 2 (2015)

I’ll Be Watching You: Austentatious, Episode 3 (2015)

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Austentatious, Episode 4 (2015)

Call Me, Maybe: Austentatious, Episode 5 (2015)

Drive Me Crazy: Austentatious, Episode 6 (2015)

Make Me a Match: Austentatious, Episode 7 (2015)

Take a Chance on Me: Austentatious, Episode 8 (2015)

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For more on Emma, go to Opening With…

For more quizzes, go to Lookin’ Over a Four-Leaf Clover