Emily Hudson is very Bronte in its lengthy recitation of horrors and misfortune visited upon a spirited young woman, her journey from innocence into jaded adulthood and eventually, the gaining of her independence and personal freedom.
It all started very promisingly, but quickly became tedious when I realized how slowly everything was moving. The summary of it made me believe Emily would go to London, realize her cousin was a manipulative creep, and then find adventure as an artist once she escaped to Rome, where the story would really start. But Rome turned out to be at the very end of the book, so the synopses basically gave it all away, which was unusual and not a little disappointing.
Emily herself was at first a character I really liked because she was so spirited and loved to go on adventures with her best friend, but I began to hate her after awhile. It's admirable that she is a pacifist, and hates war on principle, and with good reason. But her absolute refusal to see it as an inevitable necessity was childish and obnoxious.
It's absolutely incredible to me that in the entirety of a book about an American girl during the Civil War there is not one single mention of slavery, or secession, or President Lincoln. What does she think they're fighting the war for? Catfish and cornbread? She was overly naive about pretty much everything, and it seems a massive oversight that nobody ever says anything about the reasons for a war that ate up an entire nation.
Emily was actually pretty dumb, in my opinion. She lives in a self-centered bubble where hanging at the beach, protesting a war that's being fought to secure human freedoms, and looking down on girls who like to giggle and shop for hair accessories makes her really special. She's the original loner girl who thinks she's too cool for everyone because she's got opinions and makes art. If she lived today she'd have a really dumb blog.
Now that I've written that last part of this review (which started at 4 stars) I realize I don't like this book or its heroine as much as I thought I did.