FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Emma, by Jane Austen

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). I last read Emma during my master’s program in England in 2013 (where has the time gone???), but with the release of the film this year, I want to revisit it and see how my opinions and views have changed since I read it last.

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate, indulgent father, and had, in consequence of her sister’s marriage, been mistress of his house from a very early period. Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses, and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in affection.

Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr Woodhouse’s family, less as a governess than a friend, very fond of both daughters, but particularly of Emma. Between them it was more the intimacy of sisters. Even before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominal office of governess, the mildness of her temper had hardly allowed her to impose any restraint; and the shadow of authority being now long passed away, they had been living together as friend and friend very mutually attached, and Emma doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor’s judgment, but directed chiefly by her own.

Have you seen Emma.? What is your favorite Jane Austen adaptation?

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). I have been wanting to read Thomas Hardy for a few years now, and while I’ve bought several of his books, I’ve yet to read any of them. Whoops.

When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread, till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to mere chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.

His Christian name was Gabriel, and on working days he was a young man of sound judgment, easy motions, proper dress, and general good character. On Sundays he was a man of misty views, rather given to a postponing treatment of things, whose best clothes and seven-and-six-penny umbrella were always hampering him: upon the whole one who felt himself to occupy morally that vast middle space of Laodicean neutrality which lay between the Sacrament people of the parish and the drunken division of its inhabitants — that is, he went to church, but yawned privately by the time the congregation reached the Nicene creed, and thought of what there was for dinner when he meant to be listening to the sermon. Or, to state his character as it stood in the scale of public opinion, when his friends and critics were in tantrums he was considered rather a bad man; when they were neither he was a man whose moral colour was a kind of pepper and salt mixture.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). I still have never read anything of Elizabeth Gaskell’s work, and sometimes I question myself about it as she’s a contemporary of Charlotte Bronte. However, I am working on expanding my horizons during this quarantine time, and I placed an order for Wives and Daughters for my #12decades12books challenge.

To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood. In a country there was a shire, and in that shire there was a town, and in that town there was a house, and in that house there was a room, and in that room there was a bed, and in that bed there lay a little girl; wide awake and longing to get up, but not daring to do so for fear of the unseen power in the next room; a certain Betty, whose slumbers must not be disturbed until six o’clock struck, when she wakened of herself ‘as sure as clockwork,’ and left the household very little peace afterwards. It was a June morning, and early as it was, the room was full of sunny warmth and light.

On the drawers opposite to the little white dimity bed in which Molly Gibson lay, was a primitive kind of bonnet-stand on which was hung a bonnet, carefully covered over from any chance of dust with a large cotton handkerchief; of so heavy and serviceable a texture that if the thing underneath it had been a flimsy fabric of gauze and lace and flowers, it would have been altogether ‘scomfished.’

This is the last of her novels, published serially before she died and completely posthumously, and this was the title of hers (aside from North & South) that spoke to me.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Notre-Dame de Paris, by Victor Hugo

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). I bought, like a lot of people I think, Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris last April when the Notre-Dame Cathedral caught fire, but like a lot of my purchases, I didn’t read this right away, even though I kept looking at it. I have started reading it now and am looking forward to taking my time with it, especially because I have a lot of time to fill! This is from the John Sturrock translation (ISBN: 978-0-140-44353-0).

Three hundred and forty-eight years, six months and nineteen days ago today, the people of Paris awoke to hear all the church-bells in the triple enclosure of the City, the University and the Town in full voice.

Not that 6 January 1482 is a day of which history has kept any record. There was nothing noteworthy about the event that had set the burgesses and bells of Paris in motion from early morning. It was not an assault by Picards or Burgundians, it was not a reliquary being carried in procession, it was not a student revolt in the vineyard of Laas, it was not an entry by ‘our most redoubtable Lord Monsieur the King’, it was not even a fine hanging of male and female thieves on the gallows of Paris. Nor was it the arrival, so frequent in the fifteenth century, of an embassy, in all its plumes and finery. It was barely two days since the last cavalcade of this kind, that of the Flemish ambassadors charged with concluding the marriage between the dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders, had made its entry into Paris, much to the annoyance of Monsieur the Cardinal of Bourbon, who, to please the king, had had to put on a smile for this uncouth mob of Flemish burgomasters, and entertain them, in his Hotel de Bourbon, with a ‘very fine morality, satire and farce’, as driving rain drenched the magnificent tapestries in his doorway.

So far, I’ve found this translation to be good and easy to read, and I can’t wait to spend more time with it!