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George Knightley, Esquire, Book Two: Lend Me Leave Kindle Edition
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- ASIN : B005IGA63M
- Publication date : August 16, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 661 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 246 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #866,939 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This is the second volume in a two-volume retelling of Jane Austen’s *Emma,* told from the hero’s point of view. I gave the first volume four stars because I loved the portrayal of Mr. Knightley as deeply embedded in the business of the parish and his tenants—a true squire. The author had clearly done extensive research but rarely trotted it out for its own sake; the historical context was well embedded in the story. That element is present in the second volume as well, and I continued to enjoy it. The public face of Mr. Knightley is credible and consistent with the original novel.
What I liked less in the first volume was the romantic side of the story—Mr. Knightley’s ruminations and jealousies around his attachment to Emma, which he came to recognize pretty early on. We got a lot about *what* he felt but less of *why.* This preoccupation felt to me both anachronistic and inconsistent with the original novel. Unfortunately for me, the second volume had a lot more of the same and my interest flagged. I feel it would have been possible to make Knightley’s feelings more interesting had there been more of an arc to their development, echoing the arc of Emma’s ethics and slow-developing wisdom in the original. Instead, he simply adored her and slewed back and forth between hope and despair, mostly centered on the question of whether she was attached to Frank Churchill.
There were other anachronistic elements, such as men teasing and sympathizing with each other about their romantic lives, as well as the whole flirtation-and-sly-references-to-sex thing after the wedding, which always makes me cringe. I get that these are stock elements of modern romance, but they are *not* stock elements of Jane Austen’s fiction, and it jars me out of the world being evoked when they are present. (I realize I am outside the mainstream in this regard, so other readers may be more attracted to than repelled by these parts.)
At the heart of the artfulness of *Emma* is that it is a mystery (without the murder element). We have an unreliable narrator who believes reality is something very different from what it proves to be. Clues are scattered throughout, and the reader gradually comes to realize the flaws in our heroine’s thinking and sees past her to the truth. Rereading *Emma* with prior knowledge of the truth only adds to the pleasure because we are primed to see the author’s art and take delight in her cleverness. For me, that fundamental character of the original book was lost by shifting the focus to emotional feelings. I grant that it would have been a particular challenge to preserve the mystery structure when the story was being told from Knightley’s point of view, because through most of the original he holds the omniscient position usually held by the narrator (except for a few blind spots where Emma is concerned). So I sympathize with the author’s dilemma! But I wish she had found a way to keep her tale, so full of interesting detail, closer in spirit to the original novel.
I have been avoiding Jane Austen fan fiction for years because 1: it always seemed like fanservice wish-fulfillment ("I want to see Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy have sex!!") and 2: because I was pretty sure if I wanted to read that I could get better stories on fanfiction.net for free.
However, the first book was a Kindle Freebie and Mr. Knightley is my favorite Austen character (suck it Mr. Darcy) so I went for it.
I was really really surprised. Ms. Cornwaithe did a great job of capturing the spirit of Austen writing without trying to overly force the style, of capturing Mr. Knightley's character, and of expanding Mr. Knightley's life in Donwell beyond the story. She expanded on minor characters from the novel and created new ones of her own that seamlessly wove in. She enhanced the relationship between Mr. Knightly and his brother in a way that was both believable and very fun. And her arc of Mr. Knightley discovering his love for Emma was flawless. Ultimately I think what made this a great book is that even though you KNOW how it's going to turn out in the end, there is literally no wiggle room on the outcome, you STILL are on the edge of your seat with suspense for Mr. Knightley.
And in true Austen fashion, no, there is no sex. Sorry fanwankers!
There were a couple of flaws: I didn't like Knightley talking to the cat (it seemed contrived) and I felt that splitting it into 2 books was just a scam to get more money, since both books were about 250 pages long, and one 500 page book isn't exactly unheard of. However, since I got the first book for free, it's hardly like I can complain.
I don't know who this Barbara Cornthwaite is, but she's good and she needs to do more.
Top reviews from other countries
The first book ended with Mr Knightley realising what his feelings are toward Emma. However, he is caught very much in what we would call the ‘friend zone’. He knows that Emma holds him in high esteem as a friend, but doesn’t feel for him beyond that. He runs the risk of losing her friendship if he tries to court her and she is not interested. In such a small place as Highbury and taking into account the family connection between the Woodhouses and Knightleys things could be very awkward, but if he doesn’t try to court her at all maybe somebody else will and he would have to stand by and watch her make a marriage with somebody who doesn’t deserve her:
‘The thought of meeting her eyes with his feelings advertised on his countenance seemed too bold. If she met his gaze with alarm on her face, he would feel wretched. He would not know how to proceed. She might avoid his eyes thereafter, or speak coldly to him. He could not bear that.
He paced the full length of the lime walk and turned back again. If he did too much too quickly, he risked losing her; if he did nothing he would certainly lose her.’
While wrestling with this issue, Mr Knightley decides to just be as gentlemanly as possible, in the hope that merit will win the day. The only problem with this approach is that Mr Knightley was already a true gentleman. His character doesn’t really change during the course of ‘Emma’, she is the one who has to change and grow.
‘He had determined to show so much consideration and kindness to Emma that she would think him the best man she had ever known, but herein lay a dilemma: all the small kindnesses he could imagine doing were things that he usually did anyway, and would therefore cause no change in her ideas about him.’
What Mr Knightley doesn’t know, and what the reader will know from reading ‘Emma’, is that Emma considers him the pattern of a true gentleman, and her opinion on this never varies from the beginning to the end of the novel.
Unable to woo his lady, Mr Knightley has to withdraw somewhat from the situation. He is very lovesick, and is frustrated that he can do so little about the situation. Misery loves company, however, and Mr Knightley can commiserate by a friend, Mr Spencer, who can empathise with his situation as he is living through the same problem himself. This character is not a character in ‘Emma’ but I really enjoyed his inclusion here, because not only was he an excellent contrast to Mr Elton in being a really conscientious clergyman, but it gave Mr Knightley a safe outlet to discuss his feelings and frustration in his inability to initiate a courtship.
The secondary characters in this book, as in the first volume, were very good. It was interesting to see Mr Knighley’s impact on his neighbourhood, and some of the events that happened in the first book progressed further in the second, which gave some more depth to the portrait of Mr Knightley’s character.
Another continuation from the first book that I was pleased to see was the relationship between the Knightley brothers. They are shown to have a lovely relationship here, affectionate and full of dry humour and banter. Here, John Knightley is getting ready to leave Highbury, having brought two of his children, John and Henry, to stay with their Grandfather and Aunt Emma:
“Will you come and see me off like a good brother?”
“Of course. I will even shed tears at your departure, if you like.”
“No, no, you’ll start John howling if you do. The watchword in partings is ‘cheerfulness’.”
“Ah. Well, I can manage that. As your carriage departs I will look absolutely radiant.”
As Knightley is forced to wait and see what happens, we see some of the major scenes of the book from his perspective. He picks up on some clues that Emma misses so that some events late on in the story are not particularly surprising, whereas a first time reader of ‘Emma’ might not be expecting them. Also, the scenes at Donwell, and particularly those of Box Hill are less excruciatingly embarrassing than they are in ‘Emma’ because they are from a different perspective. As Knightley soon after goes to visit John in London we are away from Emma during a time when she realises the extent of her mistakes, the potential implications and what she really feels about a number of things. This is one of the most important parts in the novel. For all of these reasons I would definitely recommend reading ‘Emma’ first as I think this book is intended to complement ‘Emma’ by rounding off the views. If you read this story before reading ‘Emma’ I think you’d be missing parts of the story.
The character of Emma was treated very kindly by the author, and she is quite sweet and loveable here, which might not be how some readers see her. However I think it’s important to remember that she is seen through a partial, though clear-sighted, point of view by Mr Knightley. I am quite fond of Emma as a character; I know some readers struggle with her high-handedness, snobbery and arrogance in her belief in herself to such an extent that they find it hard to see her good side, but she has some excellent characteristics that are there in ‘Emma’ and highlighted here – her kindness, her humour, intelligence, her lack of personal vanity, the way that she tries to make amends when she has been wrong and her consideration for others are all positive traits.
As the reader already knows the end of ‘Emma’, then you’ll know where this story ends. Of course, not being written by a lady writer in the early 1800s there is scope for some romantic scenes, which were lovely.
I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as the first book, but it’s still an excellent read. The first book had more humour, whereas the second had some sadder issues, both within the story events from ‘Emma’ and the additional events added by the author, and of course Mr Knightley is less happy during this book, including a period of withdrawing from Highbury which made me feel really sorry for him.
I’d recommend this book to anybody who has read ‘Emma’. Most of the books I have read that are based on ‘Emma’ are modern updates, so it was a wonderful treat to read this pair of books. If, like me, you have had these books on your wish list for a long time, do yourself a favour and bump them higher up the list! I’d rate this book as a 4½ star read.
*This review was first posted on Babblings of a Bookworm*
'Lend Me Leave' - from a quotation by Spenser, 'Ah! When will this long and weary day have end, and lend me leave to come unto my love?' - covers the second half of Austen's novel, from the postponement of the ball after Frank Churchill's return to Yorkshire to the longed-for conclusion - and beyond! We get to relive the ball (and the dance between Emma and Mr Knightley), strawberry picking at Donwell, the ill-fated trip to Box Hill, the end of Knightley's suffering and suspense at Hartfield, and the various weddings which fill the final chapters, all from Mr Knightley's point of view. His longing for Emma is tender, touching, and even painful to share in places, but those who have read 'Emma' will find relief in knowing that his patience and anguish are suitably rewarded. I love how Barbara Cornthwaite captures Mr Knightley's sensible yet thoughtful character, filling his days with the duties of a landowner and magistrate, parish business, and visits to Hartfield, of course, and his mind with learned and appropriate literary references! The perfect quotation for George Knightley has to be 'Charm strikes the sight, but merit wins the soul' from Pope. I also enjoyed his witty and ironic comparison of his own matchmaking attempts with Cesario and Orsino in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, because of course Harriet does fall for the messenger, albeit only briefly. Changing perspective from Emma's youthful admiration to Knightley's more honest and critical view of himself is also revealing - this Mr Knightley has moments of weakness, mostly related to his feelings for Emma, and occasionally makes errors of judgement! Shock horror! The episode with the telescope made me cringe - how embarrassing for poor, perfect Mr Knightley! To err is human, however, and Cornthwaite only makes Mr Knightley more loveable, if that is possible, by opening up his heart to the reader.
The romance between Mr Knightley and Emma Woodhouse - mostly one-sided for most of the story - is beautifully explored. He spends rather more time pining after Emma than I would have thought, but his lonely moping and constant devotion makes his hard-won happiness all the more satisfying. We also get to witness more of Knightley's declaration - or Emma's return, at least - than Austen allowed, and find out just what a lady should say!
I can't recommend Barbara Cornthwaite's George Knightley, Esquire books enough - especially for devoted fans of Mr Knightley himself! Although faithful to the original - bar adding a few years to John Knightley's age! - Ms Cornthwaite does not cleave to Austen's distinctive narrative, but instead complements the humour (the Knightley brothers' letters to each other are witty and playful), style, warmth and clever dialogue that makes 'Emma' such a classic. New characters, or names overlooked in the original, are added to create suspenseful subplots and provide Mr Knightley with an active life away from Hartfield, and I appreciated the instructive reference to Tuke's asylum in York. Educational, entertaining and well written - the perfect match for Jane Austen's 'Emma'.
Les plus : l'intrigue de Jane Austen est fidèlement suivie et les ajouts de personnages de l'auteur son pertinents et intéressants. On découvre toujours un côté méconnu de Knightley et la manière dont il gère ses affaires. J'ai aimé aussi le fait qu'on ait le récit de la réconciliation Martin /Harriet
Les moins : La scène des fameuses lettres de bois, un peu trop longue.
En bref : Un second tome à la hauteur du premier, des personnages très fidèles et bien rendus