Tuesday, 11 January 2011

An old acquaintance

As I have been reading the Jane Austen Pocket Bible, it has been taking me back to the books and I have re-acquainted myself with Miss Emma Woodhouse. I realised that there are many more clues in the book than I had discovered, and in fact, I had been almost as blind as Emma herself! In fact, it is like a detective story, where Jane Austen gives subtle clues to underlying action, so subtle that it is very easy to miss them altogether. A discussion with a fellow Jane Austen fan consolidated my thoughts that these novels are complex and well written and repay many re-readings.
As an additional thought, I would like to put in my vote for Mr George Knightley as the best hero in the whole of Jane Austen's novels. Yes, I know there will be howls of derision from all the Mr Darcy fans, but I stand by my choice. Mr Knightley is the sort of man you can depend on. He is caring, sensible, attractive but not outrageously handsome, and just the sort of man to help in any circumstance. Some readers may feel he is a little dull, but I think that is just because he is more of a quiet presence throughout the novel than Frank Churchill, or Wickham in Pride and Prejudice or Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, and behaves as a gentleman should. He is selfless, and not afraid to offer an opinion. (Oh, and being a major landownwer with a large house and money helps too!) Captain Wentworth (Persuasion) comes a close second, but is let down by initially having his head turned by a young woman's flattery and Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility) also deserves a mention although as my friend pointed out, he does wallow in his feelings a little too much. Having a sort of Mr Knightley of my own (except for the landowner bit and money, yes Chris, I do mean you!) perhaps makes me biased, but it seems to work for me.

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