(P)1987 by Recorded Books, Inc.
I think Jane Austen is just about the greatest purveyor of English prose ever. "Emma" is plotted so well, the characters are so masterfully rendered, and the purity of her writing is so pitch-perfect that I can hardly say enough good things about this work. When Frank Churchill says that Mr. Knightley is "a man I cannot presume to praise" I know just what he means, because I feel the same way about Jane Austen's writing. Like other writers I admire (e.g., Anthony Trollope, Patrick O'Brian) she writes with economy -- every word seems carefully chosen, and no word seems wasted, and no word could have been safely left out. It's like drinking a fine wine, as opposed to the rousing fun of Dickens, who is a tankard of ale and plenty to eat besides. The reader is just right, too -- intelligent and properly English and good in her characterizations.
The story of Emma is true to form in regards to Jane Austen. If you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, you will enjoy Emma. Having seen the movie also helps to put a face on the characters. In my downloaded version, there were a couple of tracks that were hard to understand (muffled). But, not muffled enough to make me stop listening.
I have read Emma several times in my life. This is my first audio version, and I thoroughly enjoy ed it.
Emma should make anyone's list of Great English Literature. The whole book is filled with Austen's witticisms about human nature that can only come from keen observation. Ms. Morgan does a good job reading Emma (both the book and the character); however, she has a tendency to pause mid-sentence - possibly while turning a page? - and pick up again a moment later as if beginning a new sentence all together. It is rather disconcerting, as it takes the listener out of the story. I find the whole thing unfortunate, as I really enjoy Ms. Morgan's vocal talents and wish that her editors had done a better job taking out the pauses, breaths and fits-and-starts that are so jarring to the listener.
I want to read a new book by Karen Joy Fowler called The Jane Austen Book Club, so I thought I should actually finish a real Austen book first. Since Emma is the book first read in the fictional book club of the book, I though I would go with that. This is a long, slow book that is very much unlike the most writing we see today, but that really didn't put me off. At times the pace was so slow, but then Austen would come up with some dialogue that was just such a funny comment on the very rigid and formal social structure the story takes place in. I don't really know much about Austen's writing, and maybe I am reading too much into it, but it seems that she really skirts the edges of confronting many of the social issues of her day. I also very much liked the insight into English life and the historical sources of current English culture. Overall good, but now time to move onto Fowler's book. One important point is taht Victoria Morgan does a GREAT reading job! So much of the text just goes on and on, but she really brings emotion to it!
This version jumps very badly between sections - repeating chapters already listened to.
Also there was one part where a different part of the book showed up suddenly in the middle of a chapter.
I had to check the real printed book for continuity.
Overall, it was worth it. I love this book and the reading was good.
Morgan has a beautifully modulated voice, deep and lovely. But you cannot tell who's talking when there's dialogue, as she doesn't do "voices" AND there are no pauses between pieces of dialogue. Still worse, there is absolutely no expression in the dialogue. Emma saying, "Mr. Elton, surely you are speaking of Harriet," when she's trying to rebuff his proposal and Mr. Knightly saying "My boots were quite dry" sound EXACTLY THE SAME. I was trying to avoid the usual Nadia May route, but there's a reason why she's always at the top of the list!
This book will be familiar to any of you guys who have humored your women by watching one of the TV adaptations of Emma. I have to admit that I like the story and movies of Emma almost as much as my wife does. The twists and turns in the plot and the wry humor that Austen injects are great fun. The clever turn of a phrase that Austen is so good at come across very well with this good narrator.
I loved Pride and Predjudice and Sense and Sensibility. I disliked this story so much, I still haven't finished listening to the last CD. It was so boring that it never lured me back to hear how it would end.
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