Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: Emma and the Vampires, by Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson

I've said before I am a Jane Austen fan and I will say it again, I am a Jane Austen fan.  So whenever I seee a book that takes one of her classics and reworks it or adds a sequel, I am almost obligated to read it.  That was the case with Emma and the Vampires.  But I have mixed feelings about the book...  While I laughed aloud at Emma's antics and the witty dialogue, there were other parts that had me not smiling so much.

Book Blurb:

What better place than pale England to hide a secret society of gentlemen vampires?

In this hilarious retelling of Jane Austen's Emma, screenwriter Wayne Josephson casts Mr. Knightley as one of the most handsome and noble of the gentlemen village vampires. Blithely unaware of their presence, Emma, who imagines she has a special gift for matchmaking, attempts to arrange the affairs of her social circle with delightfully disastrous results. But when her dear friend Harriet Smith declares her love for Mr. Knightley, Emma realizes she's the one who wants to stay up all night with him. Fortunately, Mr. Knightley has been hiding a secret deep within his unbeating heart-his (literal) undying love for her... A brilliant mash-up of Jane Austen and the undead.

Product ISBN: 9781402241345

Price: $14.99
Publication Date: August 2010

My Review:

Jane Austen herself said that Emma Woodhouse was only a character that she could love... For myself, that is true.  In the original Emma,  by Jane Austen, I found myself constantly cringing at the naive Emma and her lack of common sense. 

When I saw that Mr. Josephson had done a new book taking Emma into the world of vampires, I was immediately intrigued.  Perhaps he had brought a new Emma to light and vampires, I love vampires!  Sadly, Emma was still Emma, (still lacking in common sense) and those around her appeared to lack sense as well when it came to the vampire village.  This led to some unbelievability, on my part, of the book.  With fiction, obviously, things are made up, but there has to be some connection, some understanding, some flicker of believability on the part of the reader, that what is happening in the book, could happen if the circumstances warrant it and the author puts in enough solid backing for us to say, "well possibly."

I found myself frustrated that she didn't notice the pallid color of the men aroud her who were vampires, their black eyes, the fact that they had black curtains in their houses to block the light and that they didn't want to come out in the sun, the fact that she referred to their fangs, but still had no idea they were vampires--like Mr. Martin. The book missed the mark with me.  I didn't understand it, wherein perhaps may lie the problem.  Because I didn't understand it, and I questioned the believability, I wasn't able to enjoy the reading of it as much as I would have liked.

That being said, I will give kudos to Mr. Josephson for staying true to Ms. Austen's original Emma, in that the characters seemed to be almost identical to the originals.  With the addition of vampires, the plot was essentially the same. Emma sounds like Emma, Harriet sounds like Harriet, Knightley sounds like Knightley, etc...  Mr. Josephson says that in writing this book, he hoped to bring the Jane Austen classics to younger readers, and I do believe he may capture that audience's attention.

I also really liked the cover! It was very eye-catching!  Reminded me a bit of the medieval painting, Judith With the Head of Holofernes. (This wikipedia link has several depictions of the painting if you want to see it.)

I believe with this book, you will have those that unequivocally state "LOVE it" and those that cringe--just like Ms. Austen did with the original.

So you may wonder what my recommendation is, I can't really say.  I think its worth a read, but if you loathed the original Emma, well... you may not enjoy this rendition either.  I look forward to reading more of Mr. Josephson's work, especially the modernized Jane Eyre rendition I saw on his site... Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is my favorite book.

About the Author:

After a career on Wall Street as a research analyst, Wayne Josephson decided to pursue his long-delayed desire to write.  He was a screenwriter for several years before realizing his true passion was fiction.  His love of the classics led to the creation of Emma and the Vampires.  Wayne resides in Virginia with his wife and three children.  Visit Mr. Josephson at http://www.waynejosephson.com/

1 comment:

Abigail said...

Thanks for the candid review. I'm a huge Austen fan too but I have trouble with the adaptations. Too many things jump out at me. I sort of like P&P&Z but felt the sexual comments so out of place that I couldn't absorb the silliness of the zombies. Not to mention I kept saying "misattributed dialogue!!" to myself--but that's my own issue.

I just got Android Karenina...we'll see how I do with that.