Book Review · Books

Emma by Jane Austen [BOOK REVIEW]


“Emma” by Jane Austen is one of those books that is both old and new at the same time. When reading it, you can clearly see time has passed. From the society, to fashion and language. However, certain situations still remain true even today, especially people’s characters and their reactions, and Jane Austen managed to include this all packaged in a wonderful story.


The books starts as we hear that Emma Woodhouse’s friend and former governess, Miss Taylor, has married Mr. Weston. And because Emma introduced them to each other, she takes credit for her matchmaking, and decides that she will try and make another match. She attempts to match her new friend Harriet to Mr. Elton, but things don’t go exactly to plan. Harriet is interested in the farmer, Robert Martin, who even proposes to her. But Emma makes Harriet refuse the proposal and continue to seek Mr. Elton’s attention.

“And have you never known the pleasure and triumph of a lucky guess? I pity you. I thought you cleverer; for, depend upon it, a lucky guess is never merely luck. There is always some talent in it.”

When it comes to Emma, I have so many conflicting thoughts and opinions. I really adore how gentle of a soul she is. And how much she cares about the people around her. But I also didn’t like how nosey she is, and her fascination to be a matchmaker. She needs to learn to mind her own business. However, considering this is a book written in a certain time, I have to remember that it wasn’t just Emma, but the whole female society behaves in the same way, as annoying as that thought may be. Through the book, however, we do see a change in Emma, and a slight development in her personality, especially around her relationship with Harriet.

A Classic

To be able to truly appreciate “Emma” for the classic trait it is, you firstly have to be ready to adjust to a time in history where society is simply different. I have seen way too many people criticize this book for this sole reason. But people, you have to understand, that’s how things used to work back then. That is how it was, and if Jane Austin wrote anything different, she wouldn’t have been telling the truth.

I have realised that I read classic books much slower than contemporary ones. In fact, “Emma” took me a month. I couldn’t read it in one day, or binge 100 pages in a sitting. I could only manage a few chapters at a time. But I really enjoyed it! I devoured the writing, the difference in how people walked, talked, dressed. The difference in mannerisms, the difference in how parties used to be like. Even the difference in how certain situations were handled. The gossip especially. It was always there, as it is today, but it felt to me as if the gossip in the past was a bit more thoughtful. People talked about other people, because they cared. Today we all tend to gossip about people we don’t even know.

“A man would always wish to give a woman a better home than the one he takes her from; and he who can do it, where there is no doubt of her regard, must, I think, be the happiest of mortals.

I loved Knightley and his ability to tell Emma off. There is something really charming about him, that kept intriguing me throughout the whole book. And I also really liked Harriet, even though she couldn’t form her own opinion to save her life. I should have drank a shot every time I thought: “Dear girl, don’t you have your own brain to think with?”

I found Mr. Woodhouse very soppy and annoying. Quite selfish too. And quite franckly, he was lucky to have a daughter like Emma, that was always running around him, to attend to his needs. I could even see the book ending with Emma never being married, only to attend to her father. Even her actual marriage in the end had a certain compromise around her father’s happiness.

“That is the case with us all, papa. One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”

My favorite part of the book was Emma’s rant about Mrs. Elton. And not because of the rant itself. In fact, I think that Emma’s outburst was probably a bit over the top. I just loved how different it looks from today’s language, and that intrigues me. If you ever wish to enjoy that part, just head to the end of Chapter 32. It starts with “Insufferable woman.”

I really enjoyed “Emma” and I will now have to read the rest of Jane Austen’s work! I think it’s a true masterpiece that perfectly portrays a certain society in a certain moment of time. And even though written so many years ago, it still touches on points that affect us in the current world we live on. We are still matchmakers, we still gossip and party, we are greedy and we all long for happiness and love, and friends alongside us.

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Book Review · Books

Dracula by Bram Stoker [BOOK REVIEW]

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Dracula by Bram Stoker is the ultimate horror classic of all times. This is where it all started. A tale about a creature that feeds on the blood to survive, but also a tale of friendship and love, described and presented in a way we rarely have a privilege to see these days. 

If Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy, Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse series pop to your mind when you first think of vampires, this book might feel extremely slow to your taste. However, if you want to experience the real horror and the building tension through many diary entries – you will enjoy this book completely. 
I am a fan of both, and I had moments where I fell in love with the detailed explanations of weather and whereabouts. But the setting of writing many polite letters to people dear to the characters also made me cringe. I suppose a cringe can’t be all bad for a horror book though? 
Through many diary entries of various characters, we follow their experience with the Count Dracula. Young Jonathan Harker is sent to go to Transylvania and arrange for the apartments the Count Dracula  wants to buy in London. During his stay, he faces many unusual things. Meanwhile, his fiance Mina and her friend Lucy are in London, and Lucy is facing some unusual experiences herself, when Dr. Seward arrives to help better her condition.

“How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.”

I knew what I was getting into, and I believe knowing this is a classic, and not a fast-paced romance with a paranormal twist put me in the right mood from the very beginning, so I was aware of what I was going into, and I really enjoyed it!
Dracula as a character is so mysterious, so powerful, very feared and secretly admired. I both loved and hated the fact that we don’t get to really see much of him, but we have to be satisfied with what the other characters are going through. And even though, he continues to be a shadow, a fear, a thought of everything they are doing. He is always there, even when he isn’t, and it requires great skills as a writer to create that presence for a character.
The characters of Lucy and Mina were very interesting – from a time perspective. How things have changed for women in all these years. What women were doing and thinking at that time, and how different it is now. I suppose I could make all the comparisons in the world – but one thing stays true will all classic books – they leave a mark of the time they were written, and this mark always gets better as time goes by. 

“It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature. Let any obstructing cause, no matter what, be removed in any way – even by death – and we fly back to first principles of hope and enjoyment.”

I am glad I read Dracula, and I will try to read more classics in the new year. The writing style, the past of them, they remind you to take a big breath and acknowledge many things you take for granted in today’s world. In a world of page-turners, you sometimes need a slow book that makes you think deeply.

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Book Review · Books

The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman [BOOK REVIEW]

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I haven’t read much classic reads this year, and a few days before the end of 2018, I decided to go for a classic short story, and I chose The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

This classic has been written by a woman in the 19th century. A time when women weren’t treated the same way as today. A difficult time, where women couldn’t express their opinion as they wished, but they were suppressed by the male authority in the family.

When The Yellow Wallpaper came out, it was considered a Gothic Horror Tale. It is hard to believe for me, knowing the world we live in today, and how we, as women can express our opinions openly. But back in the days, this is how it was. It wasn’t easy for the woman, and I am glad we have a lot of brave women from that time, that gathered the courage to tell stories for the next generations.

This is a story about a woman, who seems to suffer of post-partum depression (a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth). She has been forced by her husband and doctor to stay in her room until she is ”mentally capable” again to take care of her baby. I am not a mother, but I can imagine the pain and suffering of not being allowed to see and hold your unborn child. And people thought this was okay?

The woman is constantly staring at the yellow wallpaper and the window, constantly reassuring herself that this is all happening for her own good, and that the husband and doctor know best, until a point where we are not actually sure if she is in her right mind anymore.

She starts to see a woman inside the wallpaper, and believes the woman is struggling to break free. I loved the metaphor used, as her subconscious knows she is trapped, and the end is so painful to read, but oh, so powerful.

Even though such a short read, The Yellow Wallpaper is an impressive view on cultural traditions, and the position of women in the family. A classic and a must-have for every woman!

Do you know any stories similar to this? I would love to explore them?

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