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A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma

von Joan Austen-Leigh

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624342,113 (3.77)8
"Charming, intelligent, and imperious, Miss Emma Woodhouse, the eponymous heroine of Emma, is one of Jane Austen's best-loved creations - as is the village of Highbury turned upside down by Emma's well-intentioned but misguided matchmaking. Joan Austen-Leigh, Austen's own great-great-grandniece, takes readers back to this world with a novel of such style, wit, and wisdom that it is sure to thrill Austen fans both old and new." "Utterly faithful to the original story of Emma, A Visit to Highbury is a parallel novel that looks at life in Austen's beloved village through the eyes of Mrs. Goddard, the mistress of the local school attended by Emma's protegee, Harriet Smith." "Mrs. Goddard's London-based sister, Mrs. Pinkney, has made a rather hasty second marriage. Lonely for company, she begs Mrs. Goddard for news. In the gossipy exchange of letters that ensues, the sisters speculate about such mysteries as the origins of Jane Fairfax's pianoforte, why young Harriet would have declined Robert Martin's marriage proposal, and what caused Mr. Elton to rush off to Bath. These stories unfold along with Mrs. Pinkney's own heartwarming tale, for - in true Austen tradition - hers is a story of love threatened by misunderstanding. With prose as sparkling and insightful as her esteemed ancestor's, Austen-Leigh offers a work that is an essential companion to Emma and a delightful novel in its own right."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (mehr)
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I’m a small person sometimes. Maybe I’m a small person most of the time; I’m not sure. But I went into this book predisposed to not liking it. Why, might you ask? Well for starters, I generally don’t like follow-on books about peripheral characters. I mean, they’re peripheral. You’re not supposed to care what they do or why. Second, I generally don’t care for books that are a series of letters. It’s just too difficult to develop characters well and keep me interested. And third, and this is where I divulge my smallness, the book was written by Jane Austen’s distant relation (like Jane’s greatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreat niece or something similar), who STILL keeps the “Austen” name. And it just felt to me like a crutch and that I should be wary of it lacking in real artistic talent and that was the only way she could publish.

Well, shame on me, to both. I really enjoyed A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma, due in large part to vivid characterizations and real, honest-to-goodness writing of which Jane herself would have approved.

I was hooked from the first letter. The book is a series of letters between two sisters: Mrs. Pinkney (new to the Emma world) and Mrs. Goddard who, as some of you may recall, was Harriet Smith’s school mistress. In the original, Mrs. Goddard never had dialog, but it was made clear that she had some standing in the community, was a friend of Emma’s father, and was generally well-involved in Highbury.

The sisters need to catch up after a long period of slothful correspondence and Mrs. Goddard begins to tell Mrs. Pinkney all of the goings on of Highbury life. Of course, there has to be some rather blatant contrivances to make the dialog go back and forth. A few examples: Mrs. Pinkney’s husband’s apothecary is the very same one that Emma’s sister, Mrs. John Knightley uses for her family in London. Thus Mrs. Pinkney can report on the Knightleys of London. Or Mrs. Pinkney runs into Mr. Elton in Bath on his wife-hunting trip. And so forth. But for all of that, Ms. Austen-Leigh delightfully wraps both Mrs. Pinkney’s London world and Mrs. Goddard’s Highbury world together, giving some well-thought out explanations and insights into the major characters of Highbury. One of my favorite examples, despite how I dislike Harriet Smith, is more knowledge of the Martin family, since the sisters met Harriet while attending Mrs. Goddard’s school. Another wonderful insight is into the fall of Mrs. and Miss Bates in society and poverty.

There is only as much insight into Emma and Knightley as is realistic for two sisters really unrelated to their romance can be. And that is disappointing on the one hand but very appropriate and satisfying on the other.

Sadly, this book did not feed my thirst for plausible explanations of why George Knightley would fall in love with selfish, immature little Emma. But I don’t suppose that Ms. Austen-Leigh set out to do so. In the mean time, I enjoyed enlarging my perspective of Highbury and will have to wait until someone else can try to pen an explanation to this mystery. ( )
  mullgirl | Jun 8, 2015 |
Charming... ( )
  lesleyannemcleod | Aug 2, 2013 |
I first read this book about 10 years ago, during one of my "Emma" phases. I fell in love with it. It was the first Austen segual I had ever read and it set the bar exceedingly high. So far very few have come close to equalling it much less surpassing it.It as stated was written by Austen's own great-great-great grand neice, but whether she was able to hone in on JA's tecnique by shared family blood or just her own talent(Maybe both) may never be known.But this is a delightful compaign book to Emma. I recommend any Austen fan read this wonderful novel.























j ( )
  TeresaOM | Jun 19, 2013 |
Mrs. Mary Goddard, headmistress of The School, watches on with fascination as Miss Emma Woodhouse shakes up the village of Highbury. A pea from her sister in London, Mrs. Charlotte Pinkney, leads Mrs. Goddard to write down all the happenings and romantic entanglements that occur as Emma tries her hand at matchmaking. When Charlotte discovers a connection to Emma's older sister, the gossip exchange starts in earnest. Simultaneously, Mary and Charlotte discuss Charlotte's recent second marriage, which is not turning out as she had envisioned nor hoped. As the Highbury romances resolve into happy endings, so too does Charlotte come to a better understanding of her Mr. P. Mrs. Goddard and Mrs. Pinkney's correspondence continues to expanding Emma's story in Later Days at Highbury. (Joan Austen-Leigh is the great niece of Jane Austen.)
  ktoonen | Mar 24, 2012 |
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"The post-office is a wonderful establishment!" said she. -- "The regularity and despatch of it! If one thinks of all that it has to do, and all that it does so well, it is really astonishing." From Emma.
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My dear Charlotte, Your dejected letter of yesterday has just come. Well, of course I very much regret on my own account that your visit to Highbury must again be deferred: I blame myself that in my great desire to see you, and knowing that you were now only sixteen miles away, I encouraged the scheme. Really, it was a very selfish and unreasonable one. So short a time as you have been married, it was not to be supposed that your husband would willingly part with you. We ought each of us to have considered what was due to Mr. Pinkney.
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"Charming, intelligent, and imperious, Miss Emma Woodhouse, the eponymous heroine of Emma, is one of Jane Austen's best-loved creations - as is the village of Highbury turned upside down by Emma's well-intentioned but misguided matchmaking. Joan Austen-Leigh, Austen's own great-great-grandniece, takes readers back to this world with a novel of such style, wit, and wisdom that it is sure to thrill Austen fans both old and new." "Utterly faithful to the original story of Emma, A Visit to Highbury is a parallel novel that looks at life in Austen's beloved village through the eyes of Mrs. Goddard, the mistress of the local school attended by Emma's protegee, Harriet Smith." "Mrs. Goddard's London-based sister, Mrs. Pinkney, has made a rather hasty second marriage. Lonely for company, she begs Mrs. Goddard for news. In the gossipy exchange of letters that ensues, the sisters speculate about such mysteries as the origins of Jane Fairfax's pianoforte, why young Harriet would have declined Robert Martin's marriage proposal, and what caused Mr. Elton to rush off to Bath. These stories unfold along with Mrs. Pinkney's own heartwarming tale, for - in true Austen tradition - hers is a story of love threatened by misunderstanding. With prose as sparkling and insightful as her esteemed ancestor's, Austen-Leigh offers a work that is an essential companion to Emma and a delightful novel in its own right."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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