Having just finished reading the Marvel Illustrated version of Emma, I figured why not try the Manga Classics version! I received a copy from Udon Entertainment in return for my honest opinion with no compensation. And let me tell you, I am very glad I requested it!
The closest thing I’ve ever come to reading manga is watching Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z in high school and I never thought I would actually read one. I’m glad however, that I happened to listen to this Good Job, Brain! podcast the week before I read this! I felt so knowledgeable going in. This won’t be a side-by-side comparison of the two graphic adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma, but I’m sure I will refer to the major differences between the two. But first, let’s start with how to read manga.
For episode seven of Come Read With Me, I was joined by my friend Dalton. He chose The Adventures of Captain Underpants (link to my review) and I am glad he did. This isn’t a book I would have gone out of my way, but it’s one of those books that is as much a part of pop culture as any cartoon show I grew up watching! Make sure to check out his Tumblr The Whet Whitch Whistler and follow him on Twitter @barleypoop.
I think we kept it PG-13 enough, not to warrant an explicit label, but suffice to say we discussed whether or not Dav Pilkey was a bit of a pervert, whether The Adventures of Captain Underpants could be Fifty Shades of Grey for nine-year-olds, AND whether or not Dalton writes fan-fiction or erotica. (Inquiring mines want to know!) To make it even more exciting, I may have even compared Dalton and his sister, Hayley, to the Brontës. Now that is praise from me for sure!
For this post we will take a look at some of the different bindings and covers of Wuthering Heights in our collections. Some of these covers, pictured above, may look uninspiring at first but they can show how publishing and book buying has changed over time. Although we will briefly consider some titles from the Main Library, most of the books discussed here come from the Hargreaves Collection, which was given to the University Library in late 2012. All 800 volumes in the collection have been catalogued and can be found on SAULCAT. One of the interesting aspects of the collection is that it contains many different versions/editions of the same work, allowing changes to be traced and compared.
I’m not sure what it is about Brontë fan-fiction, but they’re just not as whimsical as the Austen fan-fiction. Looking at the subject matters and general ambiance of the works and the author’s lives it is fairly obvious, but when you think about it the options for fan-fiction are limitless. I picked this book (Amazon link) up in late 2012 and have finally gotten around to reading it.
The only other Brontë fan-fiction I’ve read include Solsbury Hill and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë and they were both a bit ho-hum. I did enjoy the vilification of Charlotte in Michael Thomas Ford’s Jane Fairfax trilogy (here, here and here), but that could be the problem. Emily and Anne died so early and Charlotte had so much time to cultivate/purge their images in society that it’s all about Charlotte and not the rest of the family. (“What’s more, she [Charlotte] has become adept at spinning her own legend and constructing her image before the public.” (59) – and I would even argue spinning Emily and Anne’s images, obviously). Even this novel, whose main character, Sara, is in love with Wuthering Heights ends up being predominantly about Charlotte.
Book three of the Jane Fairfax trilogy just didn’t live up to Jane Bites Back or Jane Goes Batty. That being said, there were some great moments, but overall it just wasn’t as light or as fun. As an end to the trilogy, it did a decent job wrapping everything up as it should and leaving enough room to keep going if Ford ever decides he wants to write more, but I doubt I’ll read more.
Rather than keeping the story in Upstate New York, Ford takes the traveling circus that is Jane Austen’s new life on the road. From Jane’s best friend, Lucy, to the future mother in law Miriam, everyone who is important either goes along or is named dropped at some point. Ford again introduces a cast of quirky minor characters, but this time they felt lightweight and fluffy. There wasn’t a lot of substance to many of them and I was left wanting.
When I finished this I did a little wiggle in my seat and clapped my hands. Some times I really do wonder about my sanity.
Having finished Jane Bites Back I immediately got a copy of the next two, this book and Jane Vows Vengeance from the library – YAY Kindle! I didn’t read this one quite as fast as the last one even though I was working from home, but it was just as well written and hilariously fun!
What I took out of this novel was how great Ford is at caricatures, not only of characters but of ideas and fads. I spoke about the Janeites and Brontëites in the last novel and how he brought those together, but he does it even better in this novel. There’s a giant love festival, don’t ask, and the culmination is a game between the two. Originally a softball match, it ultimately is a croquet match, fitting right, and the descriptions and tension are hilarious.
I would love to say this is the only vampire inspired fan fiction of Jane Austen I have on my shelf, but it’s not. I won this in a blog raffle from the Mount TBR Challenge back in 2013 hosted by Bev of My Reader’s Block. (I also have a copy of Jane and the Damned, and I’ll be damned if I remember where I got that. Get it? HA!) Regardless, I am familiar with this Michael Thomas Ford through his book, Last Summer, and I was excited to start this one! That being said, his humor and ability to write great characters continues through this novel.
This was such a delightful read! As much as I love the original novels and some times shake my head at the spin-offs and fan fiction novels, this might be one of the best I’ve read! Ford takes Austen-mania, the seemingly constant competitiveness of the Janeites and Brontëites and even the book blogger phenomena, to such an extreme that you can’t help but laugh throughout. (Spoilers ahead!)