64. Baum, L. Frank. The Road to Oz (Oz, bk. 5) (268 p.)
65. Austen, Jane. Emma (471 p.)
December total: 739 pages
2014 total: 17,846 pages
Another "short" month, but it just shows how busy my December was as well as how long it takes me to get through some books. Looks like for 2015 I'll need to revise my main & stretch goals, as there's very little on my to-read list that will be quick reads.
By this point in the Oz sequence, the milieu is in the final stages of settling into the concrete of continuity, wherein the main characters of a fictional universe can still experience exciting adventures, but can never, ever permanently change in significant ways for risk of killing the goose that's laying golden eggs (with the primary exception being that some characters get to permanently stay in Oz); only newly-introduced characters can undergo character growth arcs, and even those will often be shallower than those in the first few books. Don't get me wrong, there are some very fun anecdotes and some biting puns & quips in this one, as well as the introduction of some very inventive & interesting characters & set-pieces, but the story itself is mostly an animatronic amusement-park ride, with the characters being lurched along a railroad from scene to scene in strict order, with each character hitting his or her marks exactly on schedule. I like the characters here, but the basic structure bothered me. (Especially after Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz used nearly the exactly same structure, and did so more successfully.)
Emma is the sort of book one would normally write a school essay about, rather than this sort of a brief review, but I'll endeavor to keep this short. It's basically a story of upper-middle-class small-ish town life in England a few years before or during the Regency, and involves some match-making, wooing, and romance, but it's either not really a "Regency romance", or it's one of the archetypes from which sprang the rest of the genre, depending on one's point of view. I was only able to read it in small chunks, and it took quite a while to complete at that rate, which combined with a somewhat large cast made it difficult for me to keep up with some of the characters and remember not only who's who, but also who knows what, what's really going on vs. what each character thinks is going on, and so forth. I could definitely see where many characters, and a few entire scenes, were lifted pretty much intact and adapted into the movie Clueless--which isn't a bad thing in this case. All in all, I enjoyed it, and would recommend it as a basically readable "classic".
Feudalism: Serf & Turf