#98 A Review of Emma (Graphic Novel) by Nancy Butler, Illustrated by Janet Lee

What do you get when you combine one of Jane Austen’s classic works with the minds behind Marvel Comics?  Why, a graphic novel series of course.  Nancy Butler has turned three of Austen’s works into graphic novel format thus far: Sense and Sensibility (which I’ve reviewed here), Pride and Prejudice, and now Emma.  As the newest release, Emma intrigued me because I’ve already enjoyed one of Butler’s works, and figured that combining two of my great literary interests (Austen and to a lesser extent, graphic novels) would be a lot of fun.  Butler tells the tale of Emma, Knightly, Jane Fairfax, and all of Austen’s other beloved characters with as much enthusiasm and truth as the original work.  Adding a new dimension with the incorporation of the graphic novel format, Butler relays the tale of Emma and her belief that she is always correct in all things despite her limited worldview.  It is not until the proposal of Mr. Knightly that brings her back to reality that she realizes how wrong she has been the entire time.

Being a graphic novel, obviously the most important part of keeping and capturing your audience would be the illustrations.  With that being said, each of the three Austen graphic novels I’ve read have had a different illustrator so far.  The illustrations in Pride and Prejudice led to very “porn-like” characters and didn’t match the original descriptions of the characters at all.  Sense and Sensibility was much better, with tasteful illustrations that matched the time period.  Emma, on the other hand, had very child-like illustrations that seemed out-of-place.  It became difficult at times to discern characters due to similar illustrations.  What I found interesting was the attention to detail spent on the wallpapers, designs on women’s dresses, and scenery, while so little was spent on making sure each character was distinguishable.  Every character seemed to have similar facial structures and hair.  On the other hand, the adaptation of the text was done quite well.  Butler has done a great job making sure that the bulk of the story is told, and the important bits of dialogue make it over to the graphic novel adaptation.  I’m sure a lot of people would think that Austen’s work would be diminished by being imported into a graphic novel format, but I think the illustrations can actually aid in telling the story.  People that don’t have the time to pick up Austen’s novels and read them may find it easier to get that Austen “fix” by reading these graphic novel formats.  In all, I enjoyed Butler’s adaptation of this timeless classic, as well at her other works in this format so far.  Although the illustrations needed definite work, certain parts were done quite well.  I can’t wait to see what’s next in this series!

3 out of 5 Stars

Emma by Jane Austen, Nancy Butler, and Janet Lee
Marvel Enterprises (2012)
Paperback: 120 pages
ISBN: 9780785156864

Read-A-Thon Hour 11

It’s hour 11 and my tally of completed books is 2 and Todd’s is 1.  We both just finished eating some dinner and are back to cuddling on the couch with kittehs reading.  I don’t know where y’all are participating from, but it’s cold in Connecticut.  Cuddling and reading is the only way we’ll get through the full 24 hours. (Sebastian even joins in reading sometimes)

Anyway our completed list of books so far is:

Kim:

  1. Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber
  2. The Marriage Trap by Jennifer Probst

Todd

  1. Hope by Victoria Ferrante

We were super pumped to find out that we were one of several door prize winners for this hour as well! SO PUMPED.

Ok, our short break is over. Back to reading; graphic novel version of Austen’s Emma for me and M.R. Cornelius’s The Ups and Downs of Being Dead for Todd. What are all y’all reading?

#70 A Review of North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris

Cover Image North by Northanger is the third novel in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series, written by Carrie Bebris. Currently there are five novels in the series the most recent being The Intrigue at Highbury  which was recently published earlier this year. The Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series takes the characters from Jane Austen’s novels and puts them smack dab in the middle of whodunit’s.  Elizabeth and Darcy are the main sleuths, with each book introducing the characters from another Austen novel into their storyline.  The first novel Pride and Prescience was about just the characters from Pride and Prejudice.  The second novel, Suspense and Sensibility includes the characters from Sense and Sensibility along with the Darcy’s.  North by Northanger introduces Henry Tilney from Northanger Abby into the mix. The Matters at Mansfield, the fourth in the series introduces the characters from Mansfield Park.  The Intrigue at Highbury brings Emma and Mr. Knightley into the Darcy’s lives.  According to Bebris’s author profile on goodreads.com, she is currently working on a book that is influenced by Persuasion.  I’m assuming that this book would be the sixth in the series, as Persuasion is the only Austen book not yet represented in her collection.
  
Picking up where the last book left off, Elizabeth and Darcy have returned to Pemberley where Elizabeth is beginning to settle into her duties as mistress of Pemberley.  She begins moving some furniture and after moving Lady Anne’s (Darcy’s mother) writing desk she finds a letter that has fallen out.  The letter is addressed to Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Elizabeth is startled to see her name on a letter written by Lady Anne, considering she’s been dead over 16 years. Darcy and Elizabeth read the letter, written the day Lady Anne died, and find that it implores Fitzwilliam’s future wife to find an object that held great importance to her.  Having no idea where to start looking the two push aside the letter and focus more on finding a suitable person to help with the delivery of their first child. They travel to Bath to meet with a doctor that Darcy has deemed appropriate to birth his first-born child.  While in Bath a Captain Frederick Tilney sends a letter with an invitation for the Darcys to come to his home, Northanger Abby.  He states that their mothers were friends and that he would like to renew the acquaintance between the families.  Upon their arrival at Northanger Abby they are quickly ushered into the home by a woman with no manners, the Darcy’s servants go missing, and they are left to eat without their host. (While dressing for dinner, the Darcy’s happen upon a beautiful set of diamonds left in the dresser in their room)  Upon finishing dinner they are quickly brought to a room that has a bandaged Captain Frederick Tilney in it.  Frederick tells them that he had an accident while training his men and then begins to candidly ask questions about Lady Anne and a memento of some kind.  Elizabeth and Darcy feel uneasy with the questioning, and excuse themselves to their rooms. Returning to their rooms they find that their servants are still missing and that their room is a mess.  They pack their belongings and leave for Pemberley the next morning.  Due to the inclement weather and bad roads they find they most stop at an inn for two days.  While at the inn a constable comes to their rooms to ask them if they had been to Northanger Abby the previous night and begins questioning them about their time there.  They come to find out that the diamonds they found in their bedchamber have gone missing and an anonymous letter states that the Darcys are responsible.  After a search of their belongings Darcy’s walking stick is found to have a secret compartment (which Darcy knows nothing about) with the diamonds in it.  Darcy is thrown in jail with the promise that they will return to Northanger Abby the following day to speak with Captain Tilney.  Upon their arrival they find that Captain Tilney is not there, but his brother Henry is.  Henry claims that his brother had died days earlier and that it could not have been his brother who met them the previous night.  The constable throws Darcy back in jail to await his trial until the spring.  Elizabeth finds that the only way she can get her husband out of jail is to get Lady Catherine involved.  Lady Catherine comes to the rescue securing their release to Pemberley as long as they stay under her care. Darcy, and Elizabeth, with the help of Henry Tilney must figure out who has framed them for the robbery and why, all under the condescending nose of Lady Catherine.  Lady Anne’s letter and her memento all come into play as piece by piece the mystery comes together.
 
This is my favorite novel in the series so far.  The first two novels dealt with plots that included supernatural and mystical elements.  North by Northanger went in a different direction entirely.  After reading the first two I was expecting the supernatural to play even a small part in the plot.  North by Northanger was the most realistic of the three I’ve read because it was believable.  It’s not that far-fetched that you find an old letter begging you to find a certain object, or that people disguise themselves as someone else for less than honorable reasons.  Bebris really found Elizabeth and Darcy’s voices, and wrote them in a way that I think Austen herself would be proud.    
 
I really enjoyed the storyline that dealt with Lady Anne.  Elizabeth grows into a more mature character while reading Lady Anne’s letters and journals about being pregnant.  She becomes more in-tune with her feelings as an expectant mother which creates a new side of Elizabeth for the reader and also a new kind of relationship with Darcy.  I was really surprised with the whodunit at the end!  As surprising as this sounds I enjoyed Lady Catherine! She was a big presence in this book and it was funny to read the bits between her and Elizabeth. I was disappointed at the non-presence of Catherine Morland.  Bebris makes one reference to her in the entire novel, which just seemed strange to me considering that her husband Henry Tilney was so involved.  I read the book from cover to cover in one sitting.  It’s an engaging and stimulating read that will keep you on your toes from beginning to end. (Best to not start this in bed.  I started the book at 10:30pm, planning on going to sleep at 11pm.  Closed the book a little before 2am, completely finished – HA)
 
 
4 out of 5 stars