This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Released on June 25, 2015
I just had the opportunity to read the delightful Pride & Prejudice rendition for the Manga Classics series so I eagerly snatched this one up to read Jane Austen’s Emma turned into a graphic novel. While I enjoyed many of the same aspects of this one that I did in P&P, I didn’t love it. More on that in a minute.
The story follows the same path as the original with the same characters as it should. Emma is a young lady from a good family who happens to be one of the two leading families in the neighborhood. She is lovely and has never felt want, but while she triumphs in the thought that it was her stellar matchmaking skills that brought her gentle lady companion and a wealthy businessman together, she now feels lonely and needing occupation.
Emma decides that since her first go at matchmaking went so well that she’ll give it another go much to her friend and neighbor, Mr. Knightley’s chagrin. He tells her not to meddle and he is particularly concerned when she meddles with a young, naive girl boarding at the nearby Goddard school. Harriet is a sweet girl, but she has no claims to family or good breeding. Emma elevates her to the status of Miss Emma Woodhouse’s particular friend and then sets about bringing Harriet and the reverend, Mr. Elton, together.
Added to her machinations on Harriet’s behalf, Emma is further unsettled by the arrival in the village of an accomplished young woman that Emma sets up as her rival, Miss Jane Fairfax. And then there is the flirty and friendly Frank Churchill. All the while, Mr. Knightley frowns on many of Emma’s choices and way of looking at things. Emma learns when it is too late that she was so busy about other’s business that she might have missed her own shot at happiness.
This was a delightful read in many ways. I enjoyed the graphics particularly the expressiveness of the characters. I felt they depicted the characters well. I also enjoyed that much of the original novel is encapsulated so well that I had no trouble recognizing the story. There was good dialogue and mental monologues that kept me interested and involved. One thing that really stood out as a nice addition was that certain secondary characters were brought out more to me. I liked how Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax seemed to have a side story going.
Now the part that fell short for me was Emma, herself, or at least the way I felt Emma was depicted. I never really got this from reading the original, but in this one, she came across as a class-conscious snob and self-absorbed. She notices nothing of real importance and even argues with everyone who contradicts her or tries to point out to her what she is missing. I’ll grant you this; she had a huge growth arc in the story and I was glad to finally see in the end that she realized all her mess-ups. But where the novel portrays her as someone trying to be good and kind and going about it wrong, this one didn’t give that vibe. It could just be me and others won’t get that impression.
Regardless, it is worth the read and I love the added dimension that a graphic novel can bring to a story. Those who wish for a re-acquaintance with the classics or a first introduction might find this a nice option.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.