Printable “Wuthering Heights” Word Find Puzzle

Here’s my word find for Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Wuthering Heights” Word Find Puzzle

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Printable “Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle — Places #3

Here’s my fifth and final word find for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.  There were so many character and place names in this novel!

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle – Places #3

Printable “Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle — Places #2

Here’s my fourth word find for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne!

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle – Places #2

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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Title: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Premise:

As children, Heathcliff and Catherine are inexorably drawn together.  Despite their differing natures and weaknesses of character, one can scarcely exist without the other.  Catherine’s haughtiness drives Heathcliff away and stirs him to make his way in the world.  When Heathcliff returns, life at Wuthering Heights will never be the same.  Heathcliff can’t let go of the past and seeks revenge for every real and imagined slight he suffered there.  He and Catherine are like two stars destined to crash into one another and destroy everything near them.

My thoughts:

I first read Wuthering Heights in high school because it was required reading.  I don’t even remember what I thought of it back then, except that it was a bit spooky.  Reading it now, it’s not the spookiness that struck me so much as the examination of human nature.  Heathcliff is such a diabolical character and seems completely beyond redemption.  And yet, despite the fact that he was a dastardly villain, I couldn’t bring myself to truly dislike him.  There’s a part in all of us which feels satisfaction in seeing someone else get revenge on those who have done them wrong.  I’m not saying I condone it, but something in my psyche wants Heathcliff to avenge himself.  Perhaps that’s the lasting draw of this novel — its ability to make the reader examine good and evil in his fellow man, but also in himself.

When you think about when this book was written, it was a very daring tale for its time.  Especially when you consider that it came from a relatively inexperienced young lady.  It’s impressive that she was so adept at capturing human nature and what makes the human race feel hatred, love, and every shade of emotion in between.

This was such an engrossing read for me, that the last part of the book kept me up until the wee hours of the morning.  I simply couldn’t put it down and had to learn the fate of Heathcliff, as well as his young charges.  The ending is so fitting and perfect.  It was a completely satisfying read.  Highly recommended!

I recommend Wuthering Heights to fans of classic literature and anyone who enjoys a messed up love story.

Possible Objections:

  • A little bit of bad language
  • A derogatory term for a loose female is used a few times
  • Some violence

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

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Title: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Premise:

Phileas Fogg, the stoic and predictable Englishman that he is, decides to go on a trip around the world because of a wager.  He bets his whist companions £20,000 that he can make the trip in eighty days.  Fogg’s servant Passepartout accompanies him, as well as a wily detective who believes Fogg to be a notorious bank robber.  They have many adventures and setbacks along the way, even rescuing a damsel in distress, but will they make it back to London in time to win the bet?

My thoughts:

The first Jules Verne book I read was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  I had my own copy lined up on the shelf in my bunk bed and it was my first introduction to science fiction as a kid.  Ever since then, I’ve loved Jules Verne’s fantastical adventure stories.

Though Jules Verne is best known for his science fiction, this book doesn’t exactly fit into that category.  It capitalizes on elements of the industrial age, such as the great strides made in dependable and quick transportation.  It truly was a marvel how quickly one could traverse the globe, compared to what was possible only a short time previously.

The story is fairly simple — a man travels around the world as quickly as possible, encountering several obstacles along the way.  That’s it in a nutshell.  The character development isn’t stellar and there are a TON of place names, but despite those very slight criticisms, I loved the story.  It’s so very readable and I love a good adventure story!

As far as classic literature goes, this book has fairly accessible language.  It’s also a largely action-driven story, so those two considerations make this a good book to start your journey into classic literature.

I recommend Around the World in Eighty Days to fans of early science fiction and those who enjoy classic literature.

Possible Objections:

  • One character gets high in an opium den
  • Native people referred to as “savages” a few times
  • Overtly English-centric attitude throughout

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Love’s Labor’s Lost by William Shakespeare

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Title: Love’s Labor’s Lost by William Shakespeare

Premise:

The King and his companions have vowed to spend three years in serious study, avoiding the company of women, among other luxuries.  When the Princess and her entourage show up on a diplomatic errand, the King has to foreswear his vow to avoid female company.  Each man is smitten with one of the ladies and sends her a love letter and favor, trying to keep it secret from the others.  In the end all of their romantic maneuvering is made known and the men come clean about their intentions.  The ladies, however, are not so easily swayed.  They demand more serious proof before they are willing to entertain the men’s ideas of romance.

My thoughts:

I haven’t read Shakespeare for a long time!  Though this story is lighthearted and fluffy, it still manages to make some commentary on the foibles of love and romance.  The King and his men make complete fools of themselves as they pursue the Princess and her ladies in waiting.  The ladies are having none of it and keep their wits about them, even demanding proof of their suitor’s love at the end.  If the men are serious about their love and commitment to the maidens, they must each fulfill a mission given by their respective lady.  This is a refreshing departure from the typical man-wins-woman formula.

I enjoyed the overall tone of the play, which was very playful and upbeat.  The characters have fun with witty wordplay, although I didn’t particularly care for the parts that devolved into suggestive references.  The difficulty of the language and the sometimes suggestive comments make me think this play would be best for readers in high school and older.

It was really helpful to have an introduction to the book and the footnotes throughout.  A good amount of the vocabulary and sayings are completely obsolete in modern English.  Without a bit of help, a lot of the original meaning would be lost on today’s readers.

I recommend Love’s Labor’s Lost to readers who enjoy classic literature and a mental workout all in one!

Possible Objections:

  • Several jokes featuring sexual innuendo

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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Title: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Premise:

Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old man who hates all things cheerful and unprofitable–including and especially Christmas!  Scrooge’s deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, sends three ghostly spirits to visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve.  Can they help him realize the error of his ways before it is too late and he suffers the same torturous fate as his partner?

My thoughts:

Initially I had thought I’d be able to read this book aloud with my 10-year-old son, but about halfway through the first chapter, I realized that his attention was waning.  The language was a bit complex for him and it just wasn’t holding his interest.  He doesn’t have much patience for stories which take a little while to get going.

I decided to read it by myself and it was a really nice story to complement all of the Christmas festivities going on around me.  The story didn’t propel itself forward for me, but it may have been partially due to the fact that I have a lot on my plate right now getting ready for Christmas, and my attention tends to wander to my to-do list.  My favorite aspect of the story is the way it makes you feel about Christmas–all the nostalgia and the appreciation for all of the wonderful things during this time of year.  Dickens’ story actually had an instrumental and lasting influence on our Western ideals about Christmas, the true meaning of the holiday and how we observe it today.

I recommend A Christmas Carol to kids in middle school and up, or to families to enjoy together during Christmas.  If you share it with younger kids, you’ll have to do some explaining about the more complex language.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

The Phantom of the Opera – Movie 2004

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Last night I watched my first film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera.  Let it be said though, that this film is based on the musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber, not the original book.  If you’re looking for a movie that closely mirrors the book, you’re going to be disappointed.  If you want to know more about what I thought of the book, check out my book review.

Even though I’m not a huge fan of musicals, I sat through this one without a problem.  It was so well done that I was willing to put up with a ton of singing just so I could see the story played out.  Gerard Butler was an amazing Phantom and I thought that Emmy Rossum made a very believable Christine.  Their singing was a joy to listen to.

The look of this movie was absolutely magical!  The costumes and sets were perfect and added a wonderful richness to the tapestry of the story.  I thought the Phantom was a little too handsome in his role (when compared to how the book described him), but I’m not going to complain too loudly.  Apparently he’s extremely talented with prosthetics and hairpieces in this version.

As far as differences between the movie and the book, I hesitate to get too critical.  I’ve never seen the musical before, so I can’t comment on how closely this version resembles the original.  It definitely strays from the novel, but that’s what I expected.  There are many changes which push the story even further into the realm of fantasy and theatricality.  Candelabras being held by moving arms originating from the walls?  Oh, yes.

My biggest criticism of the film is that there are a couple of scenes which were shot in such a way as to make you dizzy while watching them (a fight scene and the mirror room).  That is a no-no for me.  If I wanted to feel motion sickness, I’d go take a ride on a roller coaster.

I recommend The Phantom of the Opera to all the ladies out there who enjoy a love story combined with a musical.  If that isn’t you, this movie might be a little over the top for you.

Possible Objections:

  • Brief view of a man’s nude backside (blink, and you’ll miss it)
  • 1 instance of the d-word
  • Some mild sensuality
  • A hanging which is a bit graphic

Rated: PG-13

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

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Title: The Phantom of the Operaby Gaston Leroux

Premise:

The Paris Opera House is haunted by a phantom who seems to hold sway over all that happens there.  Unfortunately, the Opera Ghost becomes enamored of a young lady named Christine, who falls under the spell of the phantom — her “Angel of Music.”  Will Raoul, her true love, be able to save her from the phantom’s spell before tragedy strikes?

My thoughts:

I was already familiar with this story from having seen the movie, so reading this book was not an entirely new revelation to me.  Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable and worth my while.

The whole love triangle between Christine, Raoul and Erik is very intriguing.  These poor young lovers have to defend themselves against this seemingly omnipotent villain who will do anything to procure the lady he’s obsessed with.  I was struck with just how much genius Erik was blessed with.  Was there anything this man couldn’t do?  Any skills he didn’t have?  He seemed superhuman to me, and perhaps that was the author’s intention.

I’m going to be perfectly honest here and tell you that I wasn’t as impressed with Christine’s character as I thought I’d be.  She was a little too wishy-washy for my taste, never seeming to know what she wanted. While the author tried to explain her shifts in mood and intentions, it seemed like perhaps our heroine was a trifle simple-minded.  This was a girl who needed to get out of that darn Opera House, have a stroll around town, and start to think for herself.  A lesson to all the young ladies out there: Never let a man have control over your mind.  Ahem, back to the book.

The storytelling doesn’t flow quite as seamlessly as I expected, but that could be in part because of the translation from French.  Also, it seemed like there was a lot extraneous information contained in the book.  I think that I prefer the way that the movie took away some of those bits that didn’t seem to add anything to the narrative (to my mind).

I was really captivated with the description of the Paris Opera House, and after I finished the book I sought out a little more information about it.  Just let me say that it is a fascinating building and well worth studying.  The pictures alone will blow your mind!

I recommend The Phantom of the Opera to those who enjoy a good Gothic novel or to fans of classic literature.  I don’t think that it would greatly appeal to the average reader.

Possible Objections:

  • Some violence

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel (Original Text)

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Title: Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel (Original Text) by Charlotte Brontë

Premise:

Jane Eyre has lived a largely loveless and harsh life, first under her aunt’s roof and later at the infamous Lowood School.  When Jane becomes a young adult she ventures forth from her stifled existence, ready for the next chapter in her life.  When she arrives at Thornfield Hall as the new governess, however, she has no idea the pleasures and pain that lie in store for her.

My thoughts:

I wanted to share just a quick note on this book.  It’s a graphic novel which is totally awesome, not only for younger readers, but also for Jane Eyre aficionados.  There is a whole series of these graphic novels based on classic literature, and I will definitely be reviewing more of them in the future.  Also of note, each title comes in at least three different text formats: Original Text, Plain Text, and Quick Text.  These come in handy for different reading levels, making the story accessible to people of all ages.

On to the story!  The story line was followed quite faithfully in the graphic novel version (with only a few minor changes), and this being the Original Text version, the dialogue was also quite faithful.  It’s fun to see the artists’ imagining of how the story looks.  Seeing their imagined facial expressions and the characters’ mannerisms, along with the dialogue, is just another fun way to explore the story of Jane Eyre.  I really enjoyed it!

The illustrations are nice, though for some reason they remind me of 1970’s illustrations.  Don’t ask me why.  Also, the book is divided into chapters, so that provides some good stopping points along the way and keeps the reading manageable for those who want to digest it in stages.

I recommend Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel to young readers who want an easier introduction to the story, as well as to Jane Eyre fans.  It’s a fun way to explore a wonderful classical story.

 

Possible Objections:

  • some violence

 

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Jane Eyre - Graphic Novel - Original Text 2.jpg

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

red-pony

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As I was browsing my parents’ bookshelf the other day, I came across a 1945 copy of The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. I think that old books are awesome, so I decided to read this short novel.

Premise:

Jody lives on a ranch in the Salinas Valley of California with his parents and Billy, a ranch hand.  Jody’s father is a controlling dictator, but Billy connects with Jody in a way that his father cannot.  When Jody wants a pony, Billy does all he can to ensure that he gets one.

My thoughts:

For some reason, I did not think critically about the story before starting.  This will be a fun story about a pony, right?  I forgot to take into account that John Steinbeck was the author!!  No, no, no–this did not turn into a cute and heartwarming pony story.  Stupid me for even thinking that it would.

If you’re familiar with Steinbeck’s other works, you’ll know that he tells sad, often depressing stories.  Life is hard in his books and this one is no different.  Jody, the main character, has some real set-backs in his childhood.  As the reader, you have to read between the lines to see how he’s coping with those challenges and how they ultimately affect him.

One question I want answered: What happens to Nellie’s colt???  And the old paisano??  Steinbeck leaves you in the lurch, guessing about what happened to these characters whom you thought would be important plot elements.  Oh well–I guess his novels are unpredictable, just like real life.

There are definitely some deep thoughts, feelings, and life lessons to ponder in this novel.  I don’t know if elementary-age kids will really grasp it all, or if they’ll just think it’s a depressing story.  I came away with a sense of how bleak life is and that our actions are ultimately futile and unimportant.  Steinbeck may have been saying something different–but that was my impression.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading class literature and would like a fuller knowledge of Steinbeck’s work.  I’m not sure that the average reader would enjoy this book.

Possible Objections:

  • A handful of curse words (d-word & J.C.)

Rating: 3 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

red-pony-2

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Northanger Abbey – Movie 1987

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I’m trying to catch up with these movies!  The pile of Jane Eyre adaptations really threw me for a loop!  Well, today we’re talking about Northanger Abbey.  This version stars Katharine Schlesinger as Catherine Morland, and Peter Firth as Henry Tilney.

I was not wowed by any of the characters in this movie.  They all seemed lacking in one way or another.  Catherine was young, naïve and happy.  At times her emotions were not nuanced enough and came across as shallow.  Henry Tilney didn’t get a lot of screen time, and when he did it was difficult to discern his feelings and motivations.  I think they wanted him to come across as somewhat of an enigma, and in that they thoroughly succeeded.  Isabella Thorpe was silly, simpering, flirtatious, shallow, and constantly seeking flattery.  Her method of speaking was inane.  John Thorpe was creepy and lecherous.

There were a couple of characters whom I liked.  Elinor Tilney’s acting was natural, which made it a wonderful relief.  General Tilney’s character was strange, but well-played.  I like how Robert Hardy gave him a very distinct manner of talking and behaving.  He was more eccentric than forbidding.

This adaptation added a character who was a bit strange–General Tilney’s friend from France and her young servant.  If you watch the movie, you’ll see exactly what I mean about her being like a neon light stuck in a film about table lamps.  You just want to say, ‘Huh?’

The look of the movie was alright, but there were a few things that were off.  Look closely at the ball scenes–there is a profusion of tall feathers.  I think it was a little overboard.  You can also see the 80’s style enter into some of the hairstyles and clothing.  And please don’t get me started on the cheesy 80’s music.  Oh Mylanta–saxophone music and mermaid singing!  Are you kidding me?

The beginning of the film is rather strange–starting with Catherine’s daydream of a Frankenstein-like villain preying on a young, helpless heroine.  Catherine’s dreams continue throughout the movie, changing as she meets new characters.  They are melodramatic and feed right into her overexcited imagination, which has been fueled by sensational gothic novels.  The end of the film is not quite to my liking.  I take issue with Henry and Catherine having a make out fest before he has even proposed to her.  Not realistic at all.

In closing, I don’t recommend this film to anyone.  View it at your own risk and be prepared to laugh heartily or groan as appropriate.

I’m curious now to get my hands on an authentic gothic novel to see if they are really that sensational.  Let me know if you have any recommendations!

Possible Objections:

  • The d-word is said several times.
  • Mrs. Allen is shown sewing through her fingers in one of Catherine’s dreams.

Rated: NR

Rating: 1 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Emma – TV Mini-Series 1972

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It took me two nights to finish the last Emma movie in the stack.  It stars Doran Godwin as Emma, and John Carson as Mr. Knightley.  This one is not for the faint of heart–it’s over 4 hours long!

Godwin was technically a decent Emma.  She recited all of her lines well and had great enunciation.  She also had the air of a lady about her.  However, there was an aloofness to her character which I thought didn’t fit Emma well.  The numerous instances where she was downright rude to her father were so out of character.  It also seemed like Godwin was a bit old to play Emma.  Carson was a respectable Mr. Knightley.  His behavior, language and manner all fit.  I just wish his character had been a little more charming, or something that would make the viewer care about him.  He also seemed a little old to me.

I don’t know why this should bother me, but I thought Harriet was much prettier than Emma.  For some reason I think that Emma should be quite pretty.  Emma’s sister was downright annoying–there really is no nice way to put it.  Her voice was grating and I couldn’t take her character seriously.  In fact, there were several characters who just didn’t seem to fit their intended role, including Mrs. Weston and Frank Churchill.  Jane Fairfax was quite an enigma.  Most of the time she seemed to fit, but there were a few instances when she had major emotional outbursts that were mystifying and ridiculous.  Jane’s piano playing and singing were subpar, as well.  I suspect that some of these acting issues stemmed from the use of stage actors who were perhaps unused to acting for TV.

Mr. Woodhouse was an interesting character in this version.  He was quite active and sprightly, though worrying about everybody’s health all the while.  Something that I thought didn’t fit is that he was largely ignored by Emma and Mr. Knightley.  That simply isn’t true to the book at all.

The costumes were alright, though some looked chintzy.  There were a few frocks trimmed with white feather boas that caused me some consternation.

The overall plot of the story was fairly faithful to the book, with only a few scenes left out or changed.  The dialogue was also very similar to the book, though I did notice some additions.

Probably the biggest letdown was the scene in which Mr. Knightley declares his love to Emma.  It was so devoid of real emotion that he could have been talking about what he had eaten for dinner that day.

So, I would not recommend this version unless you are one of the most stalwart Jane Austen fans on the planet.  You’ll be bored.  😦

Rated: NR

Rating: 1 Star

 

Until next time…

Lori

 

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Jane Eyre – Movie 1973

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I never thought I’d be so glad to be done watching Jane Eyre (though I discovered that there is still one version I haven’t seen yet). Last night I finished the version that stars Sorcha Cusack as Jane, and Michael Jayston as Mr. Rochester.

The film quality is very good, especially when you consider how old it is.  There was something amiss in the look of the movie, however.  The 70’s intruded in clothing and hairstyles, and even some props.  In one of the scenes at Lowood, all of the girls are distinctly seen wearing dresses with long zippers down the back.  In the pajama scene when Rochester’s guests assemble in the hall because of the nighttime scream, the 1970’s take over.  The women’s robes are all shiny fabric and gauzy necklines.

The dialogue is mostly true to the book, however, there were a few parts that were added or changed.  If you’re looking for an adaptation that is most like the book, this would be the movie for you.  It is very long and hits on all the major points of the book, sticking quite faithfully to the original plot.

The characters were mostly well done.  Adele was charming and likable, and her accent was believable.  Rochester was surly, impatient, and commanding.  Jayston did a great job in his role as Rochester, and it was easy to see his interest in Jane throughout.  Cusack was a fairly good Jane, but I felt there was something lacking in her performance.  Maybe it was a flatness in expressing emotion at times.  For some reason, I was particularly gratified by the kitchen scene between Jane and St. John’s servant, Hannah.

There were only a couple of things that really bugged me about this movie.  The first would be Jane’s somewhat shallow evidence of her attachment to Mr. Rochester.  Nothing in her performance really made me believe that she felt strongly about him.  The second thing is very trivial.  For some reason I couldn’t take my eyes off of Sorcha’s eyebrows.  You’ll know what I’m talking about if you watch the movie.  It was a distraction to me.

Rated: NR

Rating: 3 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

 

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Emma – TV Mini-Series 2009

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Wouldn’t you know it, I watched another version of Emma?  This one stars Romola Garai as Emma, and Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley.

Garai was a superb Emma!  She was self-assured, lively, full of wit, charming, and knew how to get her way, as only Emma could.  Miller was a very good Knightley.  He was mature, thoughtful, warm, and genuinely concerned for the welfare of Emma and her father.  In relation to Emma, Miller acts like a concerned older brother for much of the movie.

This movie had some very strong supporting characters.  Mr. Woodhouse’s character was developed more than even the book does.  We are shown the reason for his overwhelming concerns for the health of his family and friends.  I also like how they added depth to Miss Bates’ character.  Though she prattles, she is delicate and thoughtful.  The suffering of both herself and her mother are shown, though subtly.  Jane Fairfax is very likable in this adaptation, in my opinion.  She is more warm and open, and enjoys a healthier relationship with Emma than in other versions (though opposed to the book itself).  Mr. Elton is humorous in his affected gallantry.  Miss Taylor/Mrs. Weston is wonderful in her ease and familiarity.  Okay, I’ll stop now.  I don’t really need to comment on every character, do I?

The overall look of the movie was fantastic–really nice scenery, furnishings, and costuming!  There were some dialogue changes, but I think they were meant to update the story a bit for modern audiences.  I noticed that in this version there is much more interaction between Emma and Mr. Knightley than in other versions.  I’m sure this is made easier because of the extended length of it.  The dance scene was nice and lively–much more spirited than generally seen in movies depicting this time period. The final thing I’d like to comment on is the believability of the relationships between the different characters.  It is easy to imagine their relationships and attachments to be real.  I love that in a good movie!

In case you couldn’t tell, this is my favorite version of Emma.  I would suggest it to all Jane Austen fans and those who enjoy a good romantic story.  Happy viewing!

Rated: NR

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

 

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