I adored Alyssa Goodnight’s novels, Austentatious and her new release Austensibly Ordinary. They center on a magical journal through which Jane Austen provides romantic advice, making them pure fun for fans of the Austenesque.
Austensibly Ordinary follows high school English teacher Cate Kendall as she juggles her sexy alter ego, her attempts at matchmaking à la Emma Woodhouse, and her feelings for her mysterious Scrabble partner, Ethan.
I’m thrilled to have Alyssa as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric today. She’s here to talk about her favorite Austen novel, Emma, (mine, too!) which is referenced throughout Austensibly Ordinary. Like me, she loves Mr. Knightley. Yay! So please give a warm welcome to Alyssa Goodnight.
How thrilling to be celebrating the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice this week! P&P is certainly an impressive accomplishment all on its own, but the idea—the reality—that it’s inspired such an enduring and ever-expanding legacy is truly mindboggling. Jane Austen has proven herself a literary titan.
Deep breath…and release.
Now, I have a confession: Pride and Prejudice is not my favorite Austen novel. Emma wins that accolade quite easily (although Northanger Abbey just might be edging it out.) I know I am in the minority, and while I understand why my favorite isn’t as revered and beloved as the incontrovertible classic, Emma certainly has its merits.
For instance, in a Darcy versus Knightley debate, I would come out staunchly on Team Knightley. The man is sensible, steadfast, and selfless, willing to sacrifice his own happiness for his true love’s. He is witty and sexy and best friend material: everything a man should be. Unless you like brooding. If you like brooding, then Darcy is definitely your man.
On the topic of conflict, some would argue that while Pride and Prejudice has it in spades: Elizabeth and Darcy, Darcy and Wickham, Mrs. Bennet and anyone who dares to have a contrary opinion, not to mention vindictiveness (Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine de Bourgh…), Emma is positively full of likeable characters who have little trouble getting along (at least until Mrs. Elton shows up or Harriet Smith decides she’s in love with Mr. Knightley). While financial circumstances and society strictures—not to mention the namesake pride and prejudice—kept Darcy and Elizabeth apart, Knightley is waiting, right next door, for Emma to notice him, to realize that marriage to him would be quite wonderful.
To me, Pride and Prejudice feels like a classic romance novel and Emma like a humorous romp. The novel was adapted into the movie Clueless, after all (which I love). That should really say it all. It’s a witty, light-hearted story about finding oneself, with a dash of romance thrown in along the way. Romance between best friends. I love the carriage scene with Mr. Elton, when he’s pouring out his love for Emma and she’s horrified! I love the bits where Harriet Smith acts like a goofy-in-love buffoon, and the tension-filled moments that are spent between Emma and Knightley (unchaperoned!). Ms. Austen kept tragedy and harsh reality from this novel, and as a result, Emma is an enjoyable, escapist read (and still a classic!). I wanted to capture a little of that feeling with Austensibly Ordinary, and I hope I succeeded on some level.
If you haven’t read Emma…maybe you’ve never strayed from the allure of Mr. Darcy…I encourage you to give this slightly lesser-known Austen novel a chance. Maybe on a rainy Saturday afternoon, when you need a little smile, or perhaps even a reason to giggle. And then, most definitely, you must watch the adaptation of the novel starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam, and Alan Cumming. You must!
I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement while reading this guest post! Thanks, Alyssa, and I sure do hope this will be an entire series of books!
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