Showing posts with label Emma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emma. Show all posts

Monday, 15 February 2021

Death in Highbury by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Death in Highbury by Riana Everly
I’m happy to be welcoming Riana Everly back to the blog with her latest Miss Mary Investigates book, Death in Highbury. As the name suggests, Mary Bennet goes to pay Emma Woodhouse a visit. We have a guest post from Riana, and an excerpt of Death in Highbury. There’s a giveaway too! Read on for details.

Book Description

When political chaos in London forces Mary Bennet to take refuge in the picturesque town of Highbury, Surrey, she quickly finds herself safe among friends. Emma Woodhouse welcomes her as a guest at Hartfield, Jane Fairfax is delighted by her love of music, and Frank Churchill can’t stop flirting with her. But it is not long before Mary starts to suspect that beneath the charming surface, Highbury hides some dark secrets.

Alexander Lyons is sent to Surrey on an investigation, and at his friend Darcy’s request, heads to Highbury to make certain Mary is comfortable and safe. But no sooner does he arrive than one local man dies, and then another!

Soon Alexander and Mary are thrust into the middle of a baffling series of deaths. Are they accidents? Or is there a very clever murderer hiding in their midst? And can they put their personal differences aside in time to prevent yet another death in Highbury?

Saturday, 14 December 2019

The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant - Review

Today I'm pleased to be bringing you a seasonal post. It's always satisfying when you are blogging about something at the right time of year! Marilyn Brant has brought out an Emma-influenced story which is set at Christmas time, The Knight Before Christmas, and she was so kind as to give me a copy to read and review. Let's look at the blurb and then I'll tell you what I thought of the book :)

Book cover: The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant
Book Description

THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is a light contemporary romance by New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Marilyn Brant, who also penned the award-winning and Jane Austen-inspired novels ACCORDING TO JANE and PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH.

When successful building contractor Austin Knightley returns to his hometown of Crystal Corners, Minnesota after a decade away, he vows to avoid pampered and popular types like his old high-school crush Emma Westwood—the town's biggest queen bee and self-appointed matchmaker—only to get swept into a community Christmas project she's now organizing.

With nods to Jane Austen's classic novel EMMA, this modern heroine may be a little "clueless" in the Midwest, but she's got gifts to share and plenty to learn from the boy next door, who's all grown up and handsomer than ever. Even when a snowstorm threatens to derail her plans, she's determined to figure out how to set things right and save THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

This sweet and heartwarming holiday romance is a story that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

The Knight Before Christmas - Review

It’s been ages since I’ve read a Marilyn Brant book, so I was very interested to hear about this one, which I thought at first was a modernisation of Austen’s Emma. However, if you read the blurb, it’s clear that it’s a story with nods to Emma rather than replicating the story.

We start with the heroine, Emma Westwood, who is basically the princess of Crystal Corners, the small town where she has always lived in Minnesota. She is from a rich background, and her family uses their money for good; they run a charitable organisation, which Emma manages. Emma is very much a people person. She is genuinely interested in others, and tries to use her influence for good. It’s fair to say that Emma is a little spoilt, but she is a good person with good motives.

One of the ways that she has shown interest in making others happy is in her matchmaking. She’s made a fair few matches, often deciding that men she has dated would be a better fit with other people! Despite all her friends Emma is a little lonely. She has never met anybody that she would like to settle down with but she longs for a loving relationship that she sees all around her. Emma is very close with her parents, but this year, for their wedding anniversary, they are taking a holiday to Europe and will be away over Christmas, so she is more alone than usual.

Emma has a community project that she is focusing on completing; having fond memories of a knight statuette that she received as a small child, she works throughout the year to give every child in the town a personalised statuette, which reflects their interests. These are presented at Christmas time.

Emma has always had a soft spot for knights in shining armour:
One day, though, she wanted a real-life knight. 
And, with the certainty of someone well accustomed to getting what she desired, young Emma Westwood figured it was only a matter of time until her fantasy became a reality.
When there is a problem with the custom cabinet that Emma has ordered for the statuettes she could do with a knight in shining armour to help….

Austin Knightley was in school with Emma but he was never a fan, despite her attempts to win him over. Austin moved away from Crystal Corners and has made a successful building company. He’s moving back to the area for family reasons, as the health of Austin’s parents is starting to cause concern. Austin has 3 younger siblings, who all live locally, and only child Emma can’t help but be attracted by the warmth she sees in his family. Although Emma is interested in Austin and being friends, she is well aware that the feeling isn’t mutual:
It was strange that after all these years, it still rankled that she couldn’t win Austin over. It was as if he’d made a judgement call against her when she was a kid and refused to reverse that verdict. 
It’s a shame then, that he might be the person with the skills available to help her out when she needs a new cabinet made at short notice. Austin is willing to help for the good of the community, but he’s not working for Emma. He wants her to roll up her sleeves and pitch in. To his surprise she is happy to do just that. The unfortunate side-effect of this might be that his perception of her changes…

This is a very sweet romance which develops quickly. Emma is far more likeable than Austen’s Emma, but the flipside of this was making Austin a little less likeable than Mr Knightley - or perhaps less admirable, as Austin isn't unlikeable by any means. Austen’s Mr Knightley didn’t need to change throughout the arc of the novel, but in this book, the opposite was true. Emma didn’t change much at all, but Austin had to make some attitude re-adjustments and get rid of long-held misconceptions.

I liked the nods to Emma but sometimes I wished they were stronger. For example, there were some characters which shared names with characters in Austen’s book and I expected them to have some of the same sort of roles that they did in Austen but that wasn’t the case.

I found the book reminiscent of a Christmas feelgood film in that that the relationship developed very quickly. I would have preferred a slower pace, which may partly have been because I was looking for it to be like Emma, where friends develop into more, rather than the relationship being romantic from early on.

If you are in need of some festive feelgood, with a sprinkle of Austen, and even a Christmas miracle then this book is certainly worth a go. I’d rate it as a 3½ star read.

3.5 star read
*I received an ebook of this story from the author for my honest review.

Author Marilyn Brant
Author Bio

Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of over 20 books in the genres of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy, and mystery. Her debut novel about Jane Austen won the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart Award® (2007), and she was named Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She’s a travel addict, a music junkie, and an insatiable book collector, who loves to discuss story structure and periodically contributes novel beat sheets to the popular screenwriting website, SaveTheCat.com. Marilyn’s family believes she’s lost unquantifiable hours to the allure of “Tasty” videos on Facebook, but she refuses to substantiate this claim. For more about her writing, visit Marilyn’s website: www.marilynbrant.com


Book cover: The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant
Buy Links

The Knight Before Christmas is available to buy now in both ebook and paperback - Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Add to Goodreads shelf

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Monday, 20 May 2019

Dear Jane by Allie Cresswell - Author Interview and US Giveaway

Book cover: Dear Jane by Allie Cresswell I'm welcoming author Allie Cresswell to the blog for the first time. Allie has written 3 books based in the world of Jane Austen's Emma. These books focus on the ladies from the Bates family. The first, Mrs Bates of Highbury is about Mrs Bates when she was younger, The Other Miss Bates is about Jane Fairfax's mother, and Dear Jane is about Jane Fairfax herself.

Book Description

The final installment of the Highbury trilogy, Dear Jane narrates the history of Jane Fairfax, recounting the events hinted at but never actually described in Jane Austen’s Emma.

Orphaned Jane seems likely to be brought up in parochial Highbury until adoption by her papa’s old friend Colonel Campbell opens to her all the excitement and opportunities of London. The velvet path of her early years is finite, however and tarnished by the knowledge that she must earn her own independence one day.

Frank Weston is also transplanted from Highbury, adopted as heir to the wealthy Churchills and taken to their drear and inhospitable Yorkshire estate. The glimmer of the prize which will one day be his is all but obliterated by the stony path he must walk to claim it.

Their paths meet at Weymouth, and readers of Emma will be familiar with the finale of Jane and Frank’s story. Dear Jane pulls back the veil which Jane Austen drew over their early lives, their meeting in Weymouth and the agony of their secret engagement.

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Allie has kindly joined us for an author interview, which is fantastic as I get to ask her lots of nosey questions. She's also brought a US giveaway for a copy of Dear Jane. Read on for details!

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Unexpected Friends & Relations by Jayne Bamber - Blog Tour - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book Cover: Unexpected Friends & Relations by Jayne Bamber
A few months ago I took part in Jayne Bamber's blog tour for Happier in Her Friends Than Relations, which featured characters from more of Austen's books than just Pride & Prejudice. When that book was released Jayne made it clear that there would be a sequel and I'm happy to tell you that this has now been released - Unexpected Friends & Relations. Jayne has popped in to visit us today with a guest post and giveaway, which is below.

I'll share the blurb with you and then hand over to Jayne. Just to warn you, though, that this book is a sequel; therefore the blurb and the excerpt could contain spoilers for book one and the guest post certainly does, so if you haven't read book one yet but would still like to enter the giveaway, scroll down quickly!

Book Description

Following their marriage and a cozy Christmas at Pemberley, Elizabeth & Fitzwilliam Darcy return to London with their family. As new dilemmas arise, the story shifts its focus to three of Austen’s beloved secondary characters, one of her less exalted heroines, a familiar villainess, and the fan-favorite original character Lady Rebecca.

Georgiana Darcy continues to suffer the consequences of her folly at Ramsgate, as well as the peril of following some well-intended but ill-advised counsel that jeopardizes her chance at true love.

Caroline Bingley, now unhappily married and desperate to salvage her position in society, takes on the arduous task of reforming her wild and willful young ward, though it’s anybody’s guess which of the two of them is in greater need of transformation.

Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam travels to Surrey on a mission of mercy, but she and her cousin Emma embroil one another, and many familiar faces in in area, in a web of romantic entanglements from which not everyone will escape unscathed.

Mary Bennet struggles with matters of morality and self-discovery, attempting to find good in the world, as well as her own place in it, but must do so on her own terms, always tip-toeing around the dramas and difficulties of those she loves.

Amidst the complex maneuverings of a diverse and demanding family, an unexpected heiress emerges, and with her rise in station come all the glittering delights of the fashionable world, as wells as the challenge of navigating the uncharted territories of high society, extended family, and even her own heart.

After attaining a Happily Ever After, the Darcys retreat into the background as their friends and relations purse destinies of their own. Equal measures of mishap and miracle result in several alternately paired couples, while some stories are left to be resolved in Book Three, and a wide array of Austen characters will make an appearance in this tale of six unlikely heroines.

Monday, 10 December 2018

I Could Write a Book by Karen M Cox - Audio

I am a big admirer of Karen M Cox's works, which generally take Austen's works to another era. The books I have read are mainly based on Pride & Prejudice, but last year Karen released I Could Write a Book, which transported Emma to the 1970s. I loved the book, and you can read my review of it here. Karen is currently going through the process of having I Could Write a Book converted to audiobook, and has come here to post about that. I'll share the book description with you first, and then hand over to Karen.

Book cover: I Could Write a Book by Karen M Cox
Book Description

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich…”

Thus began Jane Austen’s classic, a light and lively tale set in an English village two hundred years ago. Yet every era has its share of Emmas: young women trying to find themselves in their own corners of the world.

I Could Write a Book is the story of a self-proclaimed modern woman: Emma Katherine Woodhouse, a 1970s co-ed whose life is pleasant, ordered, and predictable, if a bit confining.

Her friend George Knightley is a man of the world who’s come home to fulfill his destiny: run his father’s thriving law practice and oversee the sprawling Donwell Farms, his family legacy in Central Kentucky horse country.

Since childhood, George’s and Emma’s lives have meshed and separated time and again. But now they’re adults with grown-up challenges and obligations. As Emma orchestrates life in quaint Highbury, George becomes less amused with her antics and struggles with a growing attraction to the young woman she’s become.

Rich with humor, poignancy, and the camaraderie of life in a small, Southern town, I Could Write a Book is a coming of age romance with side helpings of self-discovery, friendship, and finding true love in the most unlikely places.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges - My Review

Amy Hilliges recently visited the blog with an guest post plus an excerpt and giveaway of Emma and the City. Today I'm sharing my review of the book. Read on for my review, and for an opportunity to enter Amy's generous giveaway.

Book Description

When arrows fly, Cupid better get out of the way . . . or risk being shot

Book cover: Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges
It-girl and blogger Emma Worth appears to have it all: beauty, brains, connections and a fabulous Manhattan apartment. Emma makes it her business to tell others what to wear and who to date because she knows best. Obviously.

Despite her designer outfits and glitzy New York lifestyle, something's missing . . . If she only knew what it was. That is, until a hot A-lister swoops into her life and sends Emma's pulse racing and fills her head with red-carpet fantasies.

Emma's neighbor Adam Knightley is disapproving, telling her she needs to fix her priorities and stop chasing celebrity pipe dreams. The man would look hot on a red carpet himself, if only he’d stop frowning for more than five seconds.

When Emma’s matchmaking backfires and her meddling causes mischief, what's a girl to do? Try to lie her way out of it, of course.  Anyway, who cares, right? Because Emma's finally getting the kind of attention she deserves. Except in her fantasies, things looked a lot different. And it didn’t feel this heartrendingly painful . . .

Love her or hate her, Emma is back––with a sexy makeover, 21st-century problems, and another chance to redeem herself in this grippingly entertaining, thoroughly original retelling of the Jane Austen classic.

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Friday, 21 September 2018

Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges - Guest Post and Giveaway


Book Cover: Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges
Today I'm welcoming an author to the blog for the first time. Amy Hilliges has written an Emma update, moving Miss Woodhouse to modern day New York. Think a cross between Emma and Sex and the City. Amy has visited here today with a guest post and giveaway. of Emma and the City I'll share the blurb with you and then hand over to Amy for her guest post, excerpt and giveaway!

Book Description

When arrows fly, Cupid better get out of the way . . . or risk being shot

It-girl and blogger Emma Worth appears to have it all: beauty, brains, connections and a fabulous Manhattan apartment. Emma makes it her business to tell others what to wear and who to date because she knows best. Obviously.

Despite her designer outfits and glitzy New York lifestyle, something's missing . . . If she only knew what it was. That is, until a hot A-lister swoops into her life and sends Emma's pulse racing and fills her head with red-carpet fantasies.

Emma's neighbor Adam Knightley is disapproving, telling her she needs to fix her priorities and stop chasing celebrity pipe dreams. The man would look hot on a red carpet himself, if only he’d stop frowning for more than five seconds.

When Emma’s matchmaking backfires and her meddling causes mischief, what's a girl to do? Try to lie her way out of it, of course.  Anyway, who cares, right? Because Emma's finally getting the kind of attention she deserves. Except in her fantasies, things looked a lot different. And it didn’t feel this heartrendingly painful . . .

Love her or hate her, Emma is back––with a sexy makeover, 21st-century problems, and another chance to redeem herself in this grippingly entertaining, thoroughly original retelling of the Jane Austen classic.

Friday, 22 September 2017

I Could Write a Book by Karen M Cox - Blog Tour, Review and Giveaway

I Could Write a Book by Karen M Cox - Blog Tour
Today the blog tour for Karen M Cox's updated version of 'Emma' drops by with my review of the book and an international giveaway opportunity. I'll share the book blurb with you first, and then let you know what I thought of it.


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Guest Post from Karen M Cox: Jane Austen’s Emma: a Novel of Firsts

Author Karen M Cox
Today I'm welcoming the very talented Karen M Cox, author of some wonderful JAFF reads such as 1932 and Undeceived (Spy Darcy!). I heard that Karen was writing a new book and I was so excited. Firstly, because it's a Karen M Cox book; secondly, it's based on Emma - much as I love P&P, I love the others too and it's good to visit another book. Thirdly, it's not Regency or contemporary - like many of Karen's other books, she's gone for a different time period, which is such fun! This latest one is based in the 70s. While I was around for part of that decade, I don't really remember it, and I am so looking forward to being transported to the decade when little Ceri made an appearance!

The blog tour for Karen's new book will take place next month, including a visit here, but in the meantime Karen has joined us today to talk about Emma. Emma is known for being a heroine that Austen herself described as being "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like" but I've always been very fond of her because her intentions were so good!

I'll now hand over to Karen M Cox for a post about Emma:

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

George Knightley Esquire, Book One, Charity Envieth Not by Barbara Cornthwaite - Review

Book cover: George Knightley Esquire, Book 1, Charity Envieth Not by Barbara Cornthwaite
When I first discovered JAFF, this book and its partner, ‘George Knightley, Esquire, Book Two, Lend Me Leave’ were amongst the first books that I became aware of. They appeared to be books that many people had read and rated highly, so they went on to my wishlist as books I wanted to read soon. Over time, they slipped lower and lower as books I’d bought while they were on sale for reduced price and newer releases clamoured for the top spots. When the Austenesque TBR group on Goodreads chose this as a group read book for March I was really pleased to be given the impetus to finally read them. It's taken me a while to post my review as April was such a busy month here and I wanted to post my reviews for both books close together. I'll post my review of book two later this week, but read on to see what I thought of the first book in this series...

Friday, 8 January 2016

Manga Classics: Emma by Jane Austen, Po Tse, Crystle S Chan and Stacy King - Review

Book Cover: Manga Classics: Emma by Jane Austen, Po Tse, Crystle S Chan and Stacy King
I downloaded this Manga version of Jane Austen's 'Emma' with a sense of real curiosity – I love Jane Austen’s works and if I try to analyse why I like them one of the the things that jumps out most is her style and humour. To me, the most important things about an Austen story is not so much what happens but the enjoyment I get from how she describes it, so I was interested to see how well this enjoyment would translate to a graphic novel with far fewer words, particularly as (by the highly scientific method of glancing at my hard copies), ‘Emma’ is one of Austen’s longer novels.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Emma – BBC Version, 2009

DVD Cover: Emma 2009, starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller
Although everybody seems to love this version of ‘Emma’ I have held off watching it because of Jonny Lee Miller, who plays Mr Knightley in this version. I am a big admirer of his work, but to me he is Edmund Bertram, who he played in ‘Mansfield Park’ in the 1999 version. That Mansfield Park wasn’t the best version I’ve seen but, in my opinion, Jonny Lee Miller completely nailed the role. However, being currently chair-bound, it seemed like fate that I should catch up with my DVD ‘To Be Watched’ list.

I watched this with my husband, who is not familiar with the book, and felt that the beginning of this adaptation would be a little bewildering to somebody who doesn’t know the background, as we rattle through the dearth of parents that Jane Fairfax, Frank Churchill and Emma have. This way of showing it though, directly comparing the three characters, who all faced losses at such a young age, really underlined how lucky Emma was for the time. Of the three, she is the only one who stays in the same home. She is doted upon and loved unconditionally. Soon we see Emma as a grown adult and start to appreciate the restricted life she has to live, day after day, with no holidays, no visits outside her very small circle of acquaintances and no likelihood of it ever changing, not that she yearns for anything different.

Emma 2009 - Romola Garai
I thought this was a very soft portrayal of Emma – it’s quite a sympathetic view, and you don’t get the full blast of her self-importance and just how much everybody around her (with the exception of Mr Knightley) inflates her ego and her idea of her infallibility. Here, Emma, played by Romola Garai, is quite funny, and though her flaws are clear, she is still very loveable, rather than Austen’s character ‘whom no-one but myself will much like’. Personally, I always quite liked Emma, as at heart she meant well, and when you consider she’d been brought up being told everything she said and did was perfect, it’s no wonder that she believed it. I wonder if, had she married differently, the book Emma may have ended up being somewhat like ‘Pride & Prejudice’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh? The Emma in this adaptation was probably never in danger of that.

I am always interested to see what is made of Jane Fairfax and here I was a little disappointed, as she is not prominent, which is a shame, as I find her an interesting character. Frank Churchill is not sympathetically portrayed at all – usually I am pretty ambivalent towards him, but here I joined Mr Knightley in disliking him heartily!

Emma 2009 - Michael Gambon as Mr Woodhouse
My favourite character in this adaptation was definitely Mr Woodhouse. He is a good character in the book, being affectionately portrayed as a slightly ridiculous old fusspot. I loved Michael Gambon’s performance. It was very humorous; he had some great lines which he delivered wonderfully.

Jonny Lee Miller - Bertram or Knightley
Bertram or Knightley?!
As for Mr Knightley – well, he’s a likeable fellow and he and Emma have a lovely rapport on screen. Although the characters have a 16 year age gap you don’t really feel it. This may partly be because the age gap between the actors is less but to me there was another, more major reason. I liked Jonny Lee Miller’s Knightley, I really did, but to me, he wasn’t quite Mr Knightley. He was missing something, the air of authority, the sense that he’s a man who has been master of his surroundings for years, the essence of Knightley wasn’t there for me.

Emma 1996 - Mark Strong as Mr Knightley
Mark Strong from the 1996 mini series of Emma
It probably doesn’t help that the 1996 mini-series of ‘Emma’, starring Kate Beckinsale, also starred Mark Strong, and when I first read ‘Emma’, probably a couple of years before that version was made, I imagined Mr Knightley pretty much exactly like him. He just has more of an air of self-confidence and experience that I think Mr Knightley would exude.

This version of Emma is really beautiful to watch, the costumes are gorgeous and the locations are a feast for the eyes. The house chosen for Hartfield, for example, couldn’t have been more perfect, and it is lovely to think that they were able to use the same building for the interior and exterior filming, at least in Emma's home. This adaptation is a bit more of a ‘comfortable’ watch than other versions, having less cringeworthy scenes than there could be, and some people may prefer the Mr Knightley character to be toned down, especially if they aren’t a fan of age gaps. For me, although the Knightley wasn’t quite Knightley enough, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the humour, the chemistry, the costumes and settings. I’d certainly recommend it, and I’d really enjoy watching it again. 4½ stars from me.

4.5 star watch


Friday, 7 March 2014

Emma & Knightley by Rachel Billington

This is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Emma, beginning around 18 months into the Knightley’s marriage and all is not well in Highbury.  The story begins really quite depressingly; news of a death, and the realisation that Emma and Knightley are emotionally not very close – they have kept up their respective roles of spoiled child and advisor. The story then moves onto a bankruptcy and another death.  I had to take a break from this book and come back to it, misery piles upon misery and through it all Emma and Knightley get further and further apart. 

At the end of ‘Emma’ I felt that Emma had matured somewhat and gained a better level of understanding but here the character has reverted to the clueless character of two years before. It is also disappointing to see Mr Knightley constantly pulling away from his wife, he is hardly ever there, and when he is he’s usually leaving!  Since Mr Knightley provides Emma with so little friendship it is comprehendible that she wouldn’t confide in him but I don’t feel that would be in line with Emma’s character, I think in the circumstances in the story Emma would have felt obliged to tell him of certain events. There was also a reliance on the couple mistaking the other’s feelings in the same way that was cleared up in ‘Emma’ and I felt it was unlikely that they’d both do this again.  Plus all this was cleared up in literally five pages, and there must have been so many opportunities for this to be cleared up much more quickly, it seemed unlikely to me that it would have dragged on for so long.


There were some things I liked very much about this book; the style of the writing is really very good, it’s witty and ironic and it reminded me of the original book. Emma’s sister Isabella is a very minor character in ‘Emma’ and here she is fleshed out much more, which I thought was done really well.  There are also some original characters, most notably Mrs Philomena Tidmarsh, who is an intelligent widow who befriends Emma for a mixture of reasons.  However, despite all these positives, the sad subject matter and bad state of the relationship between Emma and Knightley, which I felt was unlikely, meant that I found this book hard going to read.