CREATIVE: Write a short review of what you imagine might be the sequel to Emma (imagine it is out in the bookshops now).
An inferior accompaniment to the outstanding Emma – but then again, how many sequels ever surpass their predecessor? – was the still enjoyable, still entertaining, still emotionally provoking, Knightley. We are reacquainted with familiar characters in the town of Highbury, England, and are extremely aware of the absence of a notable individual: Mr. Knightley. Set nineteen years after Emma, we are presented with a widowed Emma. In an attempt to keep herself distracted from her sadness, we observe her falling back into her matchmaking tendencies. The third person narration favours Emma, however, follows her son, William, rather closely. William and Harriet’s daughter, Elizabeth, are involved in secret relations, and this brings up all too familiar emotions in Emma. Not only does William reject Emma’s preferred choice of bride, but he rejects his mother’s controlling nature. Isolated and alone, it is through Emma’s dejection that she comes, once again, to realise the error of her ways. Knightley conveys themes of free will, love, friendship and the detrimental effects of gossip – stirred by the nosiness of Highbury.
Author, Stacey High* recreates the Romantic period extremely well. Adopting more of the Romantic tenets than Austen does with the original, allows for a more emotionally engaging text. We are not limited by the Classical elements more typical of Austen’s work but are encouraged to engage with our own emotion from the beginning to until the end of the text. While lesser in sophistication, this novel brings a modern edge more comfortable for today’s readers. I highly recommend this book to audiences who strive but struggle – as many do – to comprehend the language and context of Austen. Knightley provides concepts, plot development, and elegance that Austen and other 19th Century writers provide, but in a much simpler, contemporary way.
Would I reread Knightley? Perhaps not. Or maybe I would on a very bored occasion if Emma wasn’t available. Would I recommend this book to someone else? Yes. Whilst I wouldn’t rush to read it again, I may be biased in my opinion as a Classic lover. To those who have dabbled in Romantic novels, some Sci-FI, and dare I say, teen-romance-vampire novels, then I would recommend this read.
An applaudable effort to High for even approaching to succeed a novel in the class of Emma.
* Please note this is not a real author.
Artwork: Untitled, Victoria Zullo, 2014, oil on canvas (40cm x 30cm)