Emma (Penguin Classics)

Ugh, boring longwinded vile book that I longed to be done with but that I suffered through so that I could get it in here as a warning not to attempt again. This warning needed because as I searched previously, I couldn’t find any evidence that I’d read this, but as I staggered through the first volume, it all rang so familiar. I must have made it through the first third of the book before tossing it on the trash heap. I’m not sure why I hated it so much, except it lacked Austen’s usual cleverness in repartee, and it was filled with tedious dialogue that dragged and contained no sparkle or humor. Emma is a beautiful (natch!), strong-willed, spoiled brat of a daughter left caring for her proper & rich father. Her governess has just married well, and only lives a half mile away, inheriting a step-son (Frank Churchill) that she hopes to wed to Emma. Only, SPOILER!, Frank’s already secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax, the other lovely and talented but poor girl in town. Emma’s main hobby is matchmaking, and she latches onto Harriet, a bastard child with no prospects who’s quite pretty, giving her false hopes about marrying a gentleman and spurning the advances of a farmer (who SPOILER! she ends up marrying at the end). I appear to be alone in my hatred of this book, oh well.

Oh– just flipped through and realized there was one bit I wanted to remember… apparently it was a common practice to write across text diagonally. “To cross a letter” was a paper-saving method in the 18th century; the explanatory notes: “after filling a sheet of paper, the letter writer would turn the page at a right angle and ‘cross the letter’, i.e. write horizontally across the vertical text.” Something to explore in my own epistolary adventures.