Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

For those of you who might have missed the last post, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:

But just not the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay. Each story gives us a look at these rational creatures.

So far we have reviewed Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility with Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston & Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice in Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio and Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes. And I loved them!!!!

This one is on Emma

Emma is the story of a girl who has been mistress of her house and doted on by her father. After her governess marries (a match she believes she put together) she becomes bored and intends on trying her hand at matchmaking. She pygmalions Harriet Smith as she plans to set her up with the new minister. Things do not go according to plan as her matches do not take hold and her “creation” takes a life of her own.

Oh Emma, some people hate her-others love her. With adaptaions, it has been a toss up for me. Half of them I have enjoyed, while the other half I haven’t liked how they portrayed Emma or Mr. Knightley. Emma is an interesting character and it can be hard really difficult to grasp who she is at the heart.

Then I saw that we had a Miss Bates storyline. That deeply interested me as I haven’t read anything from her point of view-and I was interested in how her constant chatter was going to be interpreted.

And then we have Harriet Smith. Were they going to make her silly, lonely, desperate, hopeful, or naive?

Well, I can’t wait!

Knightley Discourses by Anngela Schroeder

So all the other stories thus far in the anthology have all started at some point in Jane Austen’s tale and then taken the author’s own flavor, twists, and turns. This is the first that takes the story in a completely new direction, years after the original Emma story ended.

So the book starts off similar to Emma‘s beginning, except we have an Emma Knightley who is now 36 years old. She has been mistress of Donwell Abbey and Hartfield, until her father passed away a year ago, in which her sister Isabella and brother-in-law John took over the estate.

She has been so busy managing the estates, her father, marriage, children, etc. But now she is in a state of restlessness. One estate managed by her sister and brother-in-law, opens a lot of extra time. The children are managed by a nanny, her husband spending more time with his brother-in-law who has moved back.

She is feeling a little lost when she spots something that makes her remember the picnic on Box Hill all those years ago, and decides to go to visit Miss Bates. While she is visiting, she hears news from Jane (Fairfax) Churchill, all news that Jane already wrote her and read-until Miss Bates gets in a flurry over Jane’s acquaintance with the Winthrops.

Emma has locked on to this and after bugginginterrogating…asking others, she discovers that there was the possibility of something between a Mr. Winthrop and Miss Bates. With the Winthrops planning on visiting, Emma starts thinking…

Mr. Knightley tries to get Emma to promise to leave the two alone and she doesn’t plan to, but also doesn’t promise she won’t.

Emma and Knightley also have a cute scene when they talk about their marriage and about poor Jane Churchill who’s marriage is not happy at all-what with Frank Churchill doing his own thing, being away, and caring only about himself.

Slight pause on the story…I think it is AMAZING how the stories are written by two different authors, but the Frank Churchill storyline in Dangerous to Know, goes perfect with this one. Where that story ends is right where we pick up on Jane and Frank’s marriage.

Emma visits Mrs. Weston who drops a bomb on her. Mrs. Weston met Miss Winthrop, Mr. Winthrop’s brother, and she should be what Emma focuses her attention on-not matchmaking. Miss Winthrop is after Mr. Knightley.

Say what!

Yes, she was carrying on about how she and Mr. Knightley were engaged at one time and that if she hadn’t had to leave they’d have kids and ever grandchildren by now.

Forget you!

Emma feels okay and secure in her marriage, plus she’s much younger but then she meets Miss Winthrop, Miss Winthrop-always-gets-her-man-Sanchez. She’s a hunter and she’s after Mr. Knightley.

OMG! When I reached this part I was locked into this story. I had other things to do, but they were no longer important as I had to find out what happened next!

Argh, Miss Winthrop! She’s a maneater, we all know the type and an excellent villain. The perfect foil for Emma.

I loved this story. So far it has been my favorite as it captured the essence of Emma, presented the loved characters in a new, interesting, and adorable way (married Emma and Knightley are so cute). Plus women like Miss Withrop, they always get me going.

And I adored the friendship between Jane and Emma.

I HIGHLY recommend it, as I LOVED it!!!

I’d start early as you won’t want to stop.

You’ll notice that this is the one story I didn’t do a quote from, and that’s because I was reading so fast to finish it and find out what happened, I forgot to highlight.

For more on Emma Woodhouse, go to Call Me, Maybe: Austentatious (2015)

The Simple Things by J. Marie Croft

So first of all, reading Miss Bates in Jane Austen’s Emma always gave me a major headache. I loved her, felt for her, but the endless chatter made my brain hurt.

J. Marie Croft did a perfect, perfect, representation of her. You can tell she really studied Austen and the character and put her all into it.

But, while the character in Emma was annoying-Croft did an excellent job not making her chatter unbearable. She would go on when speaking to people, but didn’t continue this within her mind, or with her close friends.

Good job, this was not an easy feat.

We start the book off with Miss Bates turning down a Mr. Franklin as she doesn’t love him. Even though he could answer all their family money woes. She knows Mr. Franklin doesn’t want a wife, but a nanny/nursemaid/cook/cleaning woman/housekeeper/etc and is not interested in becoming a free servant.

“The sacred institution of matrimony is too often perverted, Patty. Perverted by men and women shackling themselves to a mate for whom they feel no special regard. No attachment. No affection. No ardent admiration. No that is not the life for me. I will not doom myself to a marriage of apathy, misery, or fear. I would rather live independently, if poor.”

As Mr. Franklin was the landlord, they have lost their home and will have to find another cottage. But Miss Bates refuses to be shackled to a man she does not love. This makes her think back to her first love.

Hmm…

This story was so cute and amazing in how it portrayed Miss Bates. We were able to see a new side of her-her touched by love, the care she had for her sister and best friend, her devotion as an aunt, I loved it. And how even through the suffering and the trials she goes through, she still remains an amazingly cheerful person.

“And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will[sic].” –Emma, Jane Austen

Croft did an amazingly good job. An excellent read!

For more by J. Marie Croft, go to “The Art of Sinking” from Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

For more on Miss Bates, go to Should We Pity Miss Bates or Strive to Be Her?

In Good Hands by Caitlin Williams

This story picks up after Emma tried to match Harriet up with Mr. Elton, and failed.

Then Emma thought Harriet was into Frank Churchill and tried pushing them together-but that failed.

Harriet tried to get with Mr. Knightley and that failed.

Harriet and Emma’s friendship broke up. And Mr. Knightley and Emma got engaged.

Poor Harriet Smith and to top it off-she has a horrible toothache. Emma arranges for her to go to London, and stay with the Knightleys, while she sees the dentist. Harriet is exuberant as she wants to get away from it all and her embarrassment over what has happened.

So embarressed

Harriet tells Isabella what happened-all of it from Mr. Martin to Mr. Elton to Mr. Knightley. Isabella feels for her and has her stay longer, as Harriet is a great help with the children. Harriet is trying to figure our what to do next (and how to keep from returning to her embarrassment) when Robert Martin comes walking in.

Harriet is embarrassed, tongue-tied, and a little scared at what to do or say.

“Now the pretty decorated timepiece felt like an enemy, a thief robbing her of the opportunity to say something meaningful to Robert Martin before he went.”

Will this be just more embarrassment to pile on, or a second chance?

You know I really like this choice. I like the view into Harriet, her resolution to improve herself, and that we get to see how the two get together. Plus Mr. Knightley sent him, Mr. Knightley is matchmaking. So adorable!

I loved how Harriet was written as well. She wasn’t desperate or dumb, but she was a pleasant, sweet girl, a pinch lonely and unexperienced.

For more by Caitlin Williams, go to “Death of a Bachelor” from The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

For more on Harriet Smith, go to Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

These stories were just as great at the others, especially the Emma one.

 So we have had seven stupendous and striking stories. Will the rest be just as good? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see! 🙂

For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth & Charlotte

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne

For more Emma, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

For more Austen book reviews, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

You Cannot Think That I Will Leave Off Match-Making

So I have written before how much I like Emma, and that in quite a few ways we are alike. One of which is matchmaking. Emma loves trying to match people up, I used to to; but both of-our matches do not end well.

When I was in high school, I tried setting a friend up with another friend-she was kind sweet and charming. The guy was more outgoing, fun-loving, and I thought the two would balance out.

Did it work out?

It failed. He just ignored her the whole time and ended up dating another girl.

I tried another time with a different friend. She was smart, into some nerdy things (not too much but enough), loved reading, and having fun. I had a guy friend that was intelligent, interested in the same things as she was, and just her type of guy in build.

Did it work out?

It failed. And to make things even worse, they guy ended up liking me! And telling me he had feelings for me!

Just like Mr. Elton

Later on I tried again to get a friend paired up with another friend-football star and just her type.

Did it work out?

Yes, every time I tried to match people it failed, and it failed horribly. The girls were hurt, I was hurt, no one ended up happy. I therefore swore off match-making altogether. Never again.

But then I met my co-worker’s single son.

He would be perfect for a friend of mine! He’s great with children, nice to his mom, interested in the same movies and things as her, and exactly her type in build.

It’s perfect!

But every time I try-even move to do matchmaking-I have to remind myself that I am Emma.

And that it won’t turn out well. Yep, sometimes it is better to leave it to the professionals.

Well, at least for now.

For more on Emma, go to A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma

For more matchmaking, go to Baby Jane Austen

Baby Jane Austen

So I’m sure some of you might be thinking that I will be writing about Jane Austen’s life as a baby.

Hoe cute she probably was

She was probably a cute baby.

Well no, I’m not. Instead I am talking about Jane Austen novels for babies!

OMG gasp

I know, how cool is that? There is a company called BabyLit that takes classic novels and turns them into baby primer board books; that is learning books for babies.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

Now they can also read classic novels!

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So far they have Dracula on counting: Alice in Wonderland on colors; A Christmas Carol on colors; Wuthering Heights on the weather; Moby Dick on the ocean, Jane Eyre on counting; Romeo & Juliet on counting; The Jungle Book on animals; Sherlock Holmes and the Hounds of Baskerville on sounds; Anna Karenina on fashion; Jabberwocky on nonsense; Frankenstein on anatomy; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on colorsand Huckleberry Finn on camping.

keanu Whoa

And of course they have covered Jane Austen with Emma, Pride & Prejudice, and Sense & Sensibility.

Double double yay

And of course me being a major fan, I just had to buy them and check them out.

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But as I have no children and didn’t have any extra book space to hold onto them for if that ever happened (my books are already in every spare spot I have) I bought them for my friend’s baby. So far I have only purchased two (Emma and Pride & Prejudice), one for Christmas and the other for her first birthday. When I buy Sense & Sensibility for this Christmas I’ll review it.

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Emma

Emma: A BabyLit Emotions Primer by Jennifer Adams

So we know the story of Emma right? The bare bones of it is a bored girl tries her hand at matchmaking:

Emma-Woodhouse-mr.elton

But in the ends her schemes don’t go anything like she planned.

clueless mybad oops

However, that is too advanced for a baby; so this one is all about emotions with cute illustrations. Emma is excited! Mrs. Bates is scared! Mr. Knightley is Loved.

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You got that right!

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Pride & Prejudice

Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams

So Pride & Prejudice, the most famous of the Jane Austen novels. In it a mother is trying to marry off her offspring, but her meddling can cause some issues.

Pride&PrejudiceTruthUniversallyAcknowledged

Plus some manipulations, misunderstanding, and perseverance see that four couples find their happy match (once again bare bones).

Pride&PrejudiceDarcy

So once again too much for a baby, so this one is all about counting: nine fashionable dresses, five sisters, two gentlemen, etc.

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sense&sensibility

Sense & Sensibility: A BabyLit Opposites Primer by Jennifer Adams

So this is the story of two sisters who go from being wealthy, to having nothing.

Elinor Dashwood: Marianne, you must change. You will catch a cold. Marianne: What care I for colds when there is such a man. Elinor Dashwood: You will care very much when your nose swells up.

They get caught up in others manipulations, in their own striving for happiness, and discovering that being all sense or all sensibility isn’t the right way to be; their should be a balance of both. Plus sisters will always be there for the other.

Frozen Sacrifice self love you sisters

There are also manipulations, secret affairs, meddling matchmakers and more. But of course, that isn’t something babies can grasp so instead we have opposites: big, small, happy, sad, etc.

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So What Did I Think Of It?

So while it doesn’t tell the whole story of these novels (which I didn’t expect it to) I thought these were a wonderful idea and I want to purchase them all.

ShutUpTake MY Money

In a world where less and less people are reading, especially the classics: it is important to bring these memorable works back into the mainstream. I mean there is a reason why they were chosen as classics and they need to be read by everyone.

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And while this book focus on it’s theme (colors, counting, feelings) more than the plot of the novel; two very imoprtant things come out of here.

First, the child is being given a classic novel and grows up hearing that name and the characters; making them much more open to reading the real book when they are old enough.

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And second, you reading to your child teaches them the importance of family time and the importance of reading. Thus making them book fans too.

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So I highly recommend buying these and adding them to your child’s bookshelf. After all:

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Save Our Youth! Read Classics Today!

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For more on Emma, go to When You Shockingly Relate to Mr. Woodhouse

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Death Comes to Pemberley

For more on Sense & Sensibility, go to I Don’t Want You Far From Me: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

For more Emma variations, go to The Austen Series: Amanda

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy

For more Sense & Sensibility variations, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Captain Wentworth’s Diary 

To Edward or Not to Edward?

So when we last left off in Sense and Sensibility things were going haywire.

OhNOthisisgonnabebad

Yep. Fanny Dashwood didn’t even wait for the body of Mr. Dashwood to cool before she moved in the home and claimed it as her own.

All-Mine

I hate that woman.

Hate YOu

I mean

Girl Please

Just calm yourself down and wait.

Anyways, Fanny’s brother also came to visit.

Edward-Ferrars-mr-edward-ferrarsSense&Sensibility

And was such a pleasant surprise to everyone in his kindness. In fact Elinor finds him incredibly charming.

In fact she is the one that pushes her family to spend time with him and see him as his own sweet person instead of evil incarnated like Fanny.

“I think you will like him’, said Elinor, ‘when you know more of him.”

In fact Mrs. Dashwood does grow to like him as she seems him as tender, sweet, and the perfect match for Elinor…not to mention he’s also rich and could take care of them all.

perfect plan

And that’s when Mrs. Dashwood starts planning their match, really taking a card from Mrs. Bennet in assuming something without any real proof of it’s existince. Yep, she thinks that Elinor and Edward are headed down the aisle.

“In a few months, my dear Marianne,’ said she [Mrs. Dashwood], ‘Elinor will, in all probability be settled for life. We shall miss her, but she will be happy.”

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Yeah mom, you probably should have talked to Edward and Elinor before announcing or planning it.

dean whinchester shrug smile oh well

Now there are two people who are not happy with this. Marianne, the first, doesn’t want Elinor to marry Edward. Now some of you might think that she doesn’t want to lose her sister, which is part of the reason, but her biggest issue with Edward is that she thinks he is boring.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

Edward as a romantic hero? Marianne says:

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Here is a list of Edward’s shortcomings according to Marianne

  • He’s not handsome enough
  • Doesn’t have the right airs or manners.
  • He is tame with no fire in his eyes (i.e. too much of a nice guy)
  • No taste in music
  • Doesn’t know anything about art
  • He’s not exciting

Yep, to Marianne nice, secure, sweet is not really what she wants. She’s after a guy from a romance novel who is dashing, charming, has a heart of gold, who loves music and poetry and will focus on that instead of being sweet or secure. Yep Marianne is just like you.

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And the other person who is not happy about this closeness…well (as I’m sure you all guessed) that person is Fanny.

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She is not about that at all:

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But more on that later as well.

So To Edward or not to Edward is the question for Elinor, of which we will read the answer in an upcoming post.

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For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to The Eye of the Storm

For more on Elinor & Marianne, go to Sisterly Roles

For more on the fiendish Fanny Dashwood, go to Promises Were Made to Be Broken