October 20

Jane-Emily Review

Emily was a selfish, willful, hateful child who died before her thirteenth birthday. But that was a long time ago.

Jane is nine years old and an orphan when she and her young Aunt Louisa come to spend the summer at Jane’s grandmother’s house, a large, mysterious mansion in Massachusetts. Then one day . . . Jane stares into a reflecting ball in the garden—and the face that looks back at her is not her own.

Many years earlier, a child of rage and malevolence lived in this place. And she never left. Now Emily has dark plans for little Jane—a blood-chilling purpose that Louisa, just a girl herself, must battle with all her heart, soul, and spirit . . . or she will lose her innocent, helpless niece forever.

One of the most adored ghost stories of all time is available again after thirty years—to thrill and chill a new generation!

The story was good but slow and predictable. This is probably because it was written in 1969. Louisa is set up as the heroine in this story, and while she is observant, she doesn’t save the day.  I won’t say who does for those who may be interested in this book.

This book does do a good job of letting readers learn about Emily through second-source reports.  Clapp has Emily’s doctor, Emily’s mother and Emily’s best friend talk about Emily, share stories that paint a convincing picture of a selfish little girl. If you have problems conveying information about a character that NEVER makes a physical appearance but whose presence is felt throughout the novel, this one would be a good one to study.

For those who want more than a horror story, Louisa and another character do fall in love throughout the small book. Though the way she does in the story, does not put Louisa in a flattering light. She has a boyfriend at the beginning of the story and starts dating the new guy before any issues arrived between them.  Only after the romance begins does she have problems with her first beau and they never officially “break up.” Granted, I don’t believe Louisa intended to cheat on her boyfriend but being more open, and not just when she feels jealous at her boyfriend, would have put her in a better light.

This story has a love triangle in it. Louisa falls in love with the same person Emily proclaimed she’d marry before she died 12 years ago. Emily then decides the best way to break up Louisa’s relationship was to arrange Jane’s death.  Jane doesn’t die, but again, it wasn’t because of anything Louisa did to stop it. I am glad to report the boyfriend isn’t the one who stops it either.

If you don’t mind books with a slightly slower pace than we’ve grown accustomed to and a story that has become predictable, again probably because of a change in society, you may find this book worth the read.

October 16

Jane-Emily Critical Review

Reflective Ball Symbolizes Unobtainable Desires

Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp is about two girls, Jane and Louisa, visiting their family and the long-deceased, malevolent twelve-year-old girl, Emily, that haunts the grounds. The reflective ball that Emily frequently uses is a symbol of her demand for the unattainable and her ability to get it, even after death.

Emily’s father was highly indulgent of his daughter. Emily’s mother, Lydia Canfield, and doctor both admit this to Louisa at different stages in the book. Emily’s doctor, Dr. Frost, even gives a great example of how her father overindulged her daughter.

In his eyes she was the most wonderful creature ever born, and when she asked for the moon he gave it to her!”
“The moon,” I repeated. “That silver ball in the garden. It’s rather the same he gave it to her!”
“It was the same. Jack took Emily outside one night to look at the moon. He told me she thought it was pretty, and she wanted it. Jack almost tore his hair out wondering what to do (95).”

The phrase “I’d give you the moon,” is popular because it is a nice way of saying “I’ll give you everything I can.” The moon is not something you can have, and Emily’s desire to own it, though understandable does not make it any less unattainable. However, this knowledge does not deter her father. He can’t give her the moon, but he does give her something that looks similar, something that can stand in its place. He gives her a silver reflective ball, which apparently was not enough for her.

When she’s about ten, Emily broke the reflective ball. Her father than asked what her why she broke the reflective ball.

…she said that when she looked into it she saw a face that wasn’t hers. It was an ugly face, she said, and she insisted that it must have been the face of someone else who had looked into the ball (59.)

Her father tried to explain things, but eventually he replaced the broken reflective ball. The replacement was a reaffirmation that he would still “give her the moon,” so long as he was capable, but he sweetened the lesson, put more value on the gift, when he “assured her that no one except Emily would ever look into it. That it was all hers (59).”

In doing so he gave the idea that if she wanted something, she could make it hers and hers alone.

This mindset, these lessons, brought about Emily’s death. While sick with a cold, Emily wanted the son of her Doctor, Adam Frost, to play with her. He refused, using his father as an excuse to leave the house. Believing getting Doctor Frost would bring her son back to her, she told her mother she felt even worse and that she should call Doctor Frost back. When Lydia Canfield told her she would not call Doctor Frost, Emily asked if Doctor Frost would come if she’d get sicker. Her mother said yes. As a result, Emily, when alone, opened her window in the middle of winter and poured water over her body. She made herself as cold as possible. She contracted pneumonia and died.

Even death did not keep her from getting what she wanted. During one of many conversations Louisa shared with Lydia Canfield, she learned that Emily’s father and brother–both precious to Emily, died under circumstances that are mysterious and were unexplainable. Lydia Canfield wonders if Emily somehow took them so they’d be with her. The one other person Emily was attached to was Adam Frost, the boy she killed herself over and the boy she made perfectly clear, she intended to marry.

Adam Frost is now a doctor and he’s proposed to Louisa. Readers, like Louisa, can imagine Emily’s thinking: she is the only one allowed to marry Adam. Thus, Louisa hesitates to accept his proposal. She explains her fears, that Emily took her brother and father and that she would do whatever she could to stop her and Adam getting married. She tells him: “If Emily reached Jane-if she hurt her in any way, any way–I couldn’t marry you! You know I couldn’t. And Emily knows it too (117).” Despite her fears, Adam convinces Louisa to accept her proposal.

That night reflective ball glows and Jane is certain she hears Emily crying. The nine-year-old goes outside in the rain to investigate to get trapped outdoors. The next night she contracts pneumonia and seems to be following in Emily’s footsteps. Lydia Canfield recognizes this, believes Emily is about to take Jane away, and a fit of protective rage, she charges outside and destroys the reflective ball.-In destroying Emily’s father’s testament that she can always have the attainable, Emily loses her powers, her strength and her greed. It symbolizes the end to Emily receiving the unattainable.

Work Cited
Clapp, Patricia, and Patricia Clapp. Jane-Emily and Witches’ Children. New York: HarperPaperbacks, 2007. Print.