by Jude Morgan
“I confess I found it somewhat insipid when I last went….it was all so prosy – so bonnety – so whisty and teacuppy – you see, the adjectives for it do not even exist, and I must invent them.”
Jude Morgan is a skilled writer with a quirky, eccentric style. He changes tenses and points of view. He almost randomly inserts colons everywhere. He uses colons like he went to a colon firesale and bought every one. There is a witty turn of phrase, observation, or piece of cleverness on almost every page. We roll our eyes or smile with (or at) almost all of the characters. Sometimes we even laugh out loud at the frequently amusing dialogue and observations.
The plot is woven from the plotlines of most if not all of Jane Austen’s novels. It’s mostly Emma, but It is peopled with dozens of characters or combinations of such from her other books. Mapping out the intermingling plotlines and characters would make a fascinating spreadsheet. Sometimes a character starts out as one Austen character and ends as another. That’s a weakness, as it is not a character development so much as a whiplash-inducing about-face. Yet, there are no surprises in the book if you have read Jane Austen. It is liberally sprinkled with Austen allusions, isms, and inside jokes. It starts out very Austen but ends up very Georgette Heyer. I count that as a strength: (colon!) It’s fun, and Mr. Morgan knows his stuff. My only complaint is it ends rather abruptly. I wish he had ended the book by reverting back to Austen for a chapter to get all of the characters neatly disposed of, and a little glimpse into the future.
September 12, 2017