Emmeline, by Sarah Holman, was a delightful read. I haven’t read Emma, though I am interested in reading it – even though I suspect I may be able to figure out Emma’s plot quickly now that I’ve read Emmeline. I do admit that I may have enjoyed Emmeline even more had I read the story it was based on first, but that isn’t necessary to enjoy this book.
The writing and characters seemed a bit simplistic. Perhaps some of this was intentional – at least Jane Austen is known for stereotyping and simplifying characters to make a social point. I would have enjoyed more depth and background to all of the characters. Their personalities came through clearly, however. I just wanted more backstory and reason behind their actions – what made them the way they were? Part of the reason I wanted this is that there are so many characters. No doubt were I to read Emma, I would understand the characters immediately, but without any background, it was just slightly difficult to follow at first.
On the other hand, the author did an excellent job of causing us to see life from Emmeline’s eyes, and her actions and reactions were logical and made sense. I enjoyed the character development in Emmeline throughout the story – and Fredrick was quite lovable.
The descriptions and the setting were spot-on. I loved how the author immersed readers into the 1930s society. Choosing this setting was brilliant. It felt fresh and unique, not overdone and cliched as other settings might have done.
The plot was straightforward and simple for the first half of the book, but still engaging enough to keep me interested. The last half of the book held twists and turns that drew me in even further.
I also enjoyed the growth of the characters. They weren’t allowed to act rude or uppity or impulsively or deceitfully and get away with it because it furthered the story – cause and effect came into play, and characters had to deal with guilt, apologies, forgiveness, and consequences.
Overall, Emmeline is a clean family story. I would recommend it.