Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Emma

Emma (Jane Austen Children’s Stories #4) by Jane Austen, adapted by Gemma Barder

I did not originally plan to purchase both the Northanger Abbey and Emma adaptations in this series so close together. If I had I would have done a dual post like I did for the Babylit series. I was just going to purchase the Northanger Abbey one, but a couple weeks after my cousin’s birthday party I discovered that my friend moved her daughter’s birthday party up to the first weekend in June. I needed a present stat and I always buy her a book and toy for her birthday.

So when I was trying to find a book for a 7 year old, the first thing that popped in my head was to get another one book from the Jane Austen Children’s Stories.

As I mentioned in my previous review, any time I spot a children’s book that has to do with Jane Austen, I try and purchase it to gift to them and hopefully influence spark a love of Jane Austen in them.

The Jane Austen Children’s Stories series takes the text of Jane Austen and adapts it for children who are reading on their own and want something longer than a beginning reader, but not quite ready for thick chapter books. Each novel has easy to read text, illustrations, but at the same time still retains the plot of the original novels.

The recommended age for this series is 7-10 years old. The series has adapted Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Love and Friendship. You can buy them individually at ~$7 a paperback (hardcover is ~$12 per book) or in a set of all seven in paperback form (plus a journal) for ~$27.

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 her new acquaintance, Harriet Smith, and 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.

While I enjoyed the Northanger Abbey review, I loved this adaption of Emma. It was done a little different with it starting off with a breakdown of the characters, a who’s who of everyone.

The book easily captures the attention of the reader as it leans in to the already comedic tones of Emma. The illustrations were also well done, no complaints of the men’s outfits here.

I really enjoyed it, and I think the 7 year old who I purchased it for will love it as well. If you are looking for Jane Austen books for elementary schooled children in your life, then I definitely recommend giving this series a read.

For more Jane Austen Children’s Stories, go to Northanger Abbey

For more Jane Austen children’s books, go to Jane Austen (Little People, BIG DREAMS)

For more on Emma book adaptations, go to Emma Manga

For more on Emma, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen Children’s Stories #5) by Jane Austen, adapted by Gemma Barder

If you’ve been following me, you know that I love to brainwash share my love of Jane Austen with my nieces and my friends’ children.

So any time I spot a children’s book that has to do with Jane Austen, I try and purchase it to gift to them and hopefully influence spark a love of Jane Austen in them.

One day I was on Amazon when this Jane Austen Children’s Stories series came across my book recommendations. This series takes the text of Jane Austen and adapts it for children who are reading on their own and want something longer than a beginning reader, but not quite ready for a thick chapter books. Each novel has easy to read text, illustrations, but at the same time still retain the plot of the original novels.

The recommended age for this series is 7-10 years old. The series has adapted Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Love and Friendship. You can buy them individually at ~$7 a paperback (hardcover is ~$12 per book) or in a set of all seven in paperback form (plus a journal) for ~$27.

Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen’s books to be written and is a parody of gothic novels and a satire on society. In the story Catherine Morland is a minister’s daughter who loves to read and has an overactive imagination. She is asked to accompany family friends to Bath and while there her life becomes a bit like a novel as she meets the mysterious Tilney family, and the. delightful and handsome Mr. Tilney. She also has another less moral man vying for her affections, Mr. Thorpe. She is later given an opportunity to stay with the Tilneys in their home, Northanger Abbey, and while there wonders if there is a dark secret on the premises. Catherine begins investigating but is there really a mystery or has her overactive imagination just struck again?

I thought the adaption was very well done as it reminded me a lot of the Great Illustrated Classics series I used to read when I was a child, but geared for a slightly younger age. They kept the plot of the book, but removed some of the language or plot points that would sail over a elementary aged child’s head.

I also enjoyed the illustrations, well…except for the men’s outfits, they were not accurate.

I love the way they drew General Tilney. Look how sour he is, there is no doubt that General Tilney is an unpleasant man. Just look at his face.

I really enjoyed it, and I’m hoping my 10 year old cousin, who I purchased it for, will love it as well (fingers crossed). If you are looking for Jane Austen for an elementary schooled child in your life, then I definitely recommend giving this series a read.

For more Jane Austen children’s books, go to Jane Austen (Little People, BIG DREAMS)

For more on Northanger Abbey book adaptations, go to Jane in Love

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to What’s a Girl To Do When Your Parents Won’t Allow You to Live Your Gothic Dreams?

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Ella Enchanted

Happy Mother’s Day!

For those who are celebrating, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day. To honor my mother, today’s book was a recommendation from my mother. I am always thankful for her patience toward my obstinacy.

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers is something I started a while back for fans of Jane Austen who are looking for something to read.

There are Jane Austen’s works and numerous variations, but while those adapts are fun, sometimes you don’t always want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but something different. But what can you read instead?

That’s why I started this series. I will be reviewing books that have the things we love about the Austen novels, but are not another retelling.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

A few years ago I reviewed Ella Enchanted as part of my 30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves (something I ended up running out of time to finish but will one day complete. I think I’m only short two books). And at the time it made me think of Pride and Prejudice, well at least Prince Char made me think of Mr. Darcy.

I always meant to write a post about how it reminded me of elements of Jane Austen, but I ended up forgetting all about it as I was sidetracked by other reviews and life. You know how it goes…

My life motto right there…

But now not only do I have this new series to put it under, Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers but I also have reread it and decided it’s finally time to finish the post I drafted three years ago.

If you are interested in a full synopsis/review of this book and why I love it, then you should check out my post: At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted.

But for those who do no want to go to a separate post, I’ll do a quick synopsis. Ella Enchanted is a retelling of Cinderella and one of my favorite retellings.

In Ella Enchanted, Ella is “blessed”, really cursed, with obedience. She must always do what someone tells her to do, it is physically impossible for her to deny an order. This has made life really hard for her, as she struggled to make the best of her situation. Ella has a sharp mind and tongue, her words sometimes being the only thing that can get her through some days.

Ella’s mother dies at a young age and Ella is raised by her father, who does not really care about her, but himself and status more. She is sent away to finishing school where she is controlled by two girls who discover her secret, Hattie and Olive.

Ella escapes finishing school and charms ogres, reunites with the Prince (who she earlier befriended), and discovers that her father has lost his fortune and plans to remarry. Not only is the horrible woman Mum Olga going to be her stepmother, but her stepsisters are going to be the terrible Hattie and Olga. When these ladies discover Sir Peter’s lack of finances, they poor their angry into ordering Ella about. Will Ella survive life with these horrible ladies? And will she ever discover a way to break the curse?

This book has action, adventure, romance, and more. I highly recommend it.

Or 10th, 50th, 100th….

But why do I recommend this book to Jane Austen fans? First of all Ella reminds me of Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse. All three women are beautiful, witty, from a life of privilege, and brave enough to face on people head to head. But while they are all witty and intelligent, they all tend to act rashly and make decisions that make things difficult for them later on. All of these ladies: Ella, Elizabeth, and Emma; tend to make quick judgements, like to be right, and can have issues with humility.

Areida, Ella’s only friend from finishing school, is extremely sweet and caring, just like Jane Bennet. Areida is bullied at finishing school as her family isn’t wealthy and she has an accent as she is from Ayortha. However, when one of the mean girls who likes to humiliate Areida becomes ill, Areida stays up all night to take care of her. That is such a Jane Bennet thing to do.

Sir Stephen is one of Prince Char’s knights, and while he isn’t in the book long; the way he talks about his dogs reminds me of Sir John. Both men are kind, sweet, and absolutely love their hounds.

Sir Peter, Ella’s father, is extremely similar to General Tilney. He is not a kind man, and only cares about wealth and status. Both men will eagerly trade their children’s happiness to achieve what they want. Like General Tilney, Sir Peter can pretend to be kind and charming to woo a rich woman, in order to gain the wealth and status he desires.

General Tilney

The step family of Olga, Hattie, and Olive remind me of the Elliot’s from Persuasion: Sir Walter Elliot, Elizabeth Elliot, and Mary (Elliot) Musgrove. Like Sir Walter, Dame Olga only cares about status, looks, and having the right presence in society. Hattie and Olive both love to use Ella and have her take care of everything, slowly sucking the soul out of her; just like how Elizabeth and Mary treat Anne. Hattie and Elizabeth only care about themselves and are constantly putting down their sisters. Like Mary, Olive constantly wants attention and likes it whine about how she has the short end of the stick, compares her life to her sisters. When Anne is with her sisters she is often treated as a servant, the same stays that Hattie and Olive downgrade Ella to.

And last, but not least as he is the one that inspired this post: Char. Char reminds me of Mr. Darcy. While Char is full of responsibilities, having been taught at a young age how to be and how his actions reflect on the kingdom (just like Mr. Darcy and Pemberley), they also both share the same characteristic of “when their opinion is lost it is lost forever.”

mr-darcytemperopinion

However, this sentiment does not apply to the woman they care for.

And while Char can be open and fun, he tends to be closed off when he is with people he doesn’t know and only really shows his true self to a select full-like Darcy with Bingley, Elizabeth, Colonel Fitzwilliam, etc. Char also loves and cares for his younger sister, just like Darcy.

It’s one of my favorites and I strongly recommend it.

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Secrets of the Heart

For more Mother’s Day posts, go to Book Club Picks: Julie

For more on Ella Enchanted, go to At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted

For more fairy tales, go to Once Upon a Time There Were Three Sisters…

Pride and Prejudice Audiobook Narrated by Kate Kellgren

I love audiobooks!

I never was really interested in audiobooks until I downloaded overdrive (now MeetLibby) to become better familiar with it, in order to assist library patrons. However, I started listening to them when getting ready in the morning, traveling, cleaning, etc.; and was hooked.

My book club met last month and my pick was Pride and Prejudice. I lent out my copies to the book club members and was going to read off my kindle app, as I always have it with me, but then I spotted this audiobook on MeetLibby and figured why not give it a listen as well? After all:

I really enjoyed this audiobook version as I felt Kate Kellgren did a wonderful job at distinguishing the different voices. As you may recall from earlier reviews, if I don’t like the way the reader/narrator does the voices then I cannot listen to them.

I especially loved Kellgren’s Caroline Bingley voice as she sounded posh, cold, and mean. Exactly how I imagine her to sound when I read the book.

Listening to an audiobook can sometimes bring to light passages you forget about or help see it in a new light. For instance we always laugh about how Elizabeth’s mind changes seeing Pemberley.

But listening to it I was reminded that while she thinks better of Mr. Darcy, she isn’t completely won over until she meets his housekeeper, sees how he honors his father’s wishes and keeps the miniature of Mr. Wickham up (even though he hates him), and how he treats her “Cheapside” relatives with respect. After this she changes from believing she inaccurately judged his character to admiration for the type of person he is.

And of course after he helps her and her family, she fully moves from admiration to love!

If you are looking for a good audiobook to listen to, I highly recommend.

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to An Affectionate Heart

For more audiobooks, go to Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl Audiobook

Charlotte’s Story

Charlotte’s Story: A Novel from the World of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

by Carolyn Korsmeyer

I was on Instagram when I came across a post by Heather Moll, in which she was looking for Jane Austen fans to read an ARC of her newest book. I of course am always looking for new things to read (even though my to-read list is crazy long) and reached out to her.

We discussed when she would like the review posted, but after we messaged each other something kept niggling in the back of my mind, I had forgotten something? But what?

After I received Moll’s ARC it suddenly hit me! Back in December, Wiley Saichek had reached out to me to review Carolyn Korsmeyer new book Charlotte’s Story. With him emailing me at the beginning of the holiday season it had completely slipped my mind.

From Clueless

Feeling all kinds of horrible for promising to review the novel and having not done it, I decided before I could check out Moll’s work I needed to read and review this immediately.

When I first read the premise of the the novel, I was intrigued as I have always liked the character Charlotte Lucas and I do not feel she gets enough appreciation. She is often seen as the “what not to do” character, but for a woman with limited options she was cunning and wily. She may not have married for love, but she also didn’t have a disastrous marriage like in The Buccaneers. While she married a man that isn’t passionate, she was for it ate to marry one who wouldn’t hurt her, abuse her, or cheat on her. And while he is silly and bumbling, Charlotte could have had it much worse.

For those of you who have never read or watched Pride and Prejudice, or may not know the character of Charlotte Lucas I will give a brief summary. The story of Pride and Prejudice revolves around the Bennet family, a large family consisting of five daughters living on an estate that is entailed (can only be inherited by a male relative). Mr. and Mrs. Bennet always believed they would have a boy and didn’t plan for an outcome of only girls nor have they been very prudent with their money. Mrs. Bennet is eager to marry all her children off ASAP, as when Mr. Bennet dies they will have a very different lifestyle and it will be harder to find them suitors. Two men come into the neighborhood, along with English officers and a distant cousin who will inherit when Mr. Bennet passes. Mrs. Bennet tried to ensnare marriage proposals but things do not go as planned. There is comedy, drama, and more!

Charlotte Lucas is the best friend of Elizabeth Bennet (second eldest Bennet daughter), and when Elizabeth rejects their distant cousin, Mr. Collins’, marriage proposal Charlotte swoops in. She invites Mr. Collins to move into Lucas Lodge and ends up engaged to him! After their marriage Charlotte moves to Hunsford, to Mr. Collins’ parish. When Elizabeth, Maria Lucas (Charlotte’s sister) and Sir William (Charlotte’s father) visit the Collinses, they are invited to dine with Lady Cathrine de Bourgh who not only is Mr. Collins’ patroness but also Mr. Darcy’s aunt; Mr. Darcy being one of the gentlemen who Mrs. Bennet was originally trying to snare and one that Elizabeth can’t stand.

After this vacation, Elizabeth returns home and we do not hear of Charlotte until the end of Pride and Prejudice. So there is a lot of wiggle room to create a “new” story.

This novel starts off with Elizabeth’s rejection and Charlotte deciding to net Mr. Collins. The two are quickly wed and then go to his home. Charlotte begins busying herself with taking everything into hand (as a bachelor does not always keep the best house). She tries to start a friendship with Lady Catherine’s daughter, Anne, but finds it difficult as Anne has a low constitution and a bulldog of a companion.

Charlotte finds it lonely in her new life, missing her friends and family and is also sad not to be pregnant as soon as she wishes. She also finds herself regretting aspects of her marriage, such as the fact that she was not wooed, won, or worked for. It reminds me of Milly in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and how her husband did not understand the value of his wife as she was won “without effort”. Charlotte also realizes that in her quest for marriage, home, stability, etc.-she never really thought about what type of man she should be looking for.

Hmm…?

When Elizabeth and Maria arrive, Charlotte becomes the viewer watching the scenes unfold, being told later by Elizabeth what has happened-from Darcy rejected proposal to Darcy’s secret.

In this adaptation Darcy and Anne are close cousins, although he has no desire to marry her. It was nice to see it as in Austen’s original piece all is told from Elizabeth’s point of reference (colored by her dislike of Mr. Darcy and Lady Catherine). From Charlotte’s point of view Anne is very nice, although naive, and the two eventually become friends.

The relationship between the Collinses become fractured when Charlotte falls extremely ill and while appreciative of the care Mr. Collins gave Charlotte is furious that Mr. Collins never contacted her family about it. Mr. Collins apologizes and shares about his childhood and that his parents never planned for children, his mother died in childbirth, and he has no familial bonds with anyone. It never occurred to him to notify her family. Charlotte forgives him, but everything splinters over the Lydia/Wickham and Elizabeth/Darcy situation. Mr. Collins wants to distance himself from his family (and rebuke them for their actions); while Charlotte wants to support her friends. After the dust has settled, and a quick visit to Hertfordshire, with no children on the horizon Mr. Collins sends Charlotte to Bath to partake in the waters. She journies with Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Norris (Mrs. Bennet’s sister), Maria, Kitty, and Mary. Anne and her nurse/companion Mrs. Jenkins also plan to meet them there.

In Bath, Charlotte partakes of the water and again becomes a spectator into the lives of her party. Kitty, Maria, and Mary enjoy concerts, balls, parties, and young suitors. Anne is thrilled with being free from her mother and finds her own suitor, also being followed closely by Colonel Fitzwilliam. *Wink, wink*.

Colonel Fitzwilliam

Eventually their time in Bath ends and they all must return home, Mary joining the Collinses-and with one more twist in life’s plans will Charlotte eventually finds happiness or just sorrow?

So what did I think of the book? I thought Korsmeyer did a great job at trying to mimic Jane Austen’s style and stay true to the novel while putting her own spin on it. The only part of the book I really disliked was that several times Charlotte was moved to observer instead of an active member of the story. For a book that is supposed to be about her, at times I felt she felt became part of the scenery instead of staying the main player.

Korsmeyer does take liberties with creating her own story and some changes to the characters will not appeal to everyone. While I don’t agree with her depiction of some of the characters I did not feel that she did anything that was too contrary to the character’s “possibilities”. One example is the character change of Mary Bennet, who people seem to disagree with the most. In this version, Mary is taken to Bath and after she receives positive attention from her mother (and young men) with a new style of dress and a different way of acting; she embraces a new personality. For someone who is often only tolerated, left out, and the source of jokes in her family, I could see that with this change to actually being wanted, Mary would try to do whatever she could to keep it. Such as, completely changing her personality and making decisions she previously would not do. After all, I have known people in my life who have behaved like that. It might not be the route I would have taken, but I do not feel it is out of the realm of possibilities for the Austen character.

Parody of the none for Gretchen Weiners meme

Reading this book there were two points Korsmeyer made that I found extremely fascinating. The first is that Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy are the same amount of socially awkward, but in different areas on the spectrum. While Mr. Collins covers his insecurities with a constant stream of words, Mr. Darcy covers his with silence and scowls.

“At one point, I had the oddest impression that in their own ways each man [Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy] was evincing his discomfort with company. How very strange to speculate that my garrulous husband and this stern statue might both be simply ill at ease in society.

Charlotte’s Story: A Novel from the World of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Carolyn Korsmeyer

It is a fair comparison to make as we see Mr. Darcy react different when in company he knows/likes-however in the original novel we never see how Mr. Collins reacts when he is at home just with Charlotte.

The other point I found really thought provoking was when Mr. Collins discusses his childhood. In this adaptation, Mr. Collins’ mother died in childbirth, his father hated/blamed him + ignored him, and Me. Collins spent his whole life trying to get people to like him. Then one day he meets Lady Catherine who actually listens to what he says and enjoys his company. If this backstory were the case then in a way Lady Catherine has filled that vacant “parental” slot in Mr. Collins’ life. He now has someone who will “rear” him, give him advice, financially care for him (she’s his patron), etc. And not only does he have a “parent” in his life, but has gained “family” with Lady Catherine’s family. Just to be clear I’m not saying that Mr. Collins actually believes the de Bourgh family and relations to be his family, I’m saying that subconsciously he’s adopted them and believes they feel the same about him. Also if he never really had family growing up it would explain why he has no idea how to act with the Bennets, talking to them like he read a book on how to converse with one’s relations. But again, this is all supposition.

I found Korsmeyer to be a talented writer who is able to write a story that can hold your interest. This book will not be for everyone but I do believe that if you enjoy Pride and Prejudice adaptations it is well worth a read to see a different view into the Collinses and a deepening of characters that are often at the back of the action. Besides having more Charlotte, I really enjoyed the fleshing out of Anne de Bourgh, Maria Lucas, Kitty Bennet, Mary Bennet, and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Whether or not you agree with everything in the story, I still think most will enjoy the stroll down a “what if” path in the Jane Austen universe.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptations, go to Can The Shop Around the Corner Be Considered A Pride and Prejudice Adaption?

For more on Charlotte Lucas, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Is You’ve Got Mail Really an Adaption of Pride and Prejudice?