Friday, February 11, 2022

Weekend Reads: The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion by Beth Brower (Sarah)


“I’ve arrived in London without incident. There are few triumphs in my recent life, but I count this as one. My existence of the last three years has been nothing but incident.”

Young Emma M. Lion, wholly without sympathetic relatives (but with an unfortunate number of unsympathetic or downright trying ones), at last nears her majority and makes a successful return to London. Yet she soon finds her plans for reclaiming her familial home and becoming an academic thwarted by the dreadful Cousin Archibald and looming financial woes.

The series chronicles her maturation as well as how she processes grief and loss, but it maintains a charming, humorous tone even while dealing with deeper issues. As the name suggests, The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion are diary-style novels, and the intimacy of this perspective suits the journey into the trials and triumphs Emma experiences.

While set in 1883 London, little touches of the fantastic are neatly woven into the fabric of the setting. Emma lives in Lapis Lazuli House, in the neighborhood of St. Crispian’s which is “almost perfectly normal” save for peculiarities like The Roman and objects that disappear and reappear at will. The eccentric inhabitants of St. Crispian’s accept these as part of regular life, and indeed, they perfectly fit the tone of the book.

The interactions between Emma and the rest of quirky cast of characters make these delightful stories, and I look forward to seeing Emma’s adventures continue in volume 6. Short and engaging, these novellas would make an ideal “weekend read.”

Do you enjoy novels told in journal form?

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