We have reached part 4 of James' six-month Austen binge. Last month, you may recall, I found myself very pleasantly surprised by my first-ever reading of Mansfield Park. This month, however, I took on my second reading (first was many, many years ago) of Emma. I remember liking it a lot, all those years ago.
But things change. This time around? Lord, what a slog. It goes on and on and on and ON AND ON AND ON. It's filled with the fussy, irritating side characters that Austen does so well, but she bestows so many pages on them in this book that they cease to be amusing. I could hardly stand one more of Mr. Woodhouse's silly ruminations about illness or Miss Bates' ramblings about nothing or Mrs. Elton's self-aggrandizing conversations.
Worst of all, though, is I simply did not care for Emma Woodhouse. I didn't enjoy her company. Yeah, she learned a few things in the book and grew up a little, but not nearly enough for my taste. She's a spoiled, self-centered young woman who thinks very highly of herself. I'd much rather spend time with Fanny Price than Miss Woodhouse.
I think it's safe to say I won't revisit this book again.
But in the meantime, while I wait for November's book (Northanger Abbey), here's an Emma recipe for Dinner with Mr. Darcy.
Roast Loin of Pork with Onions
3 1/2 pound loin of pork
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp vinegar
1-2 tsp olive oil
2 1/4 pound onions
1 tbsp good wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard or 1 tsp English mustard
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Score the skin of the pork, rub it with salt, pepper, and a little vinegar and olive oil, and roast in a large roasting pan for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel and slice the onions into thin rings. After 20 minutes, reduce the oven heat to 325F. Take the pork out of the oven and transfer to a plate, add a little olive oil to the pan and put it back in the oven for 5 minutes to heat. Then add the onion rings, stirring them so they separate into rings and get coated in oil. Put the pork back into the pan and roast for an additional 25 minutes per each pound.
- The onions should cook very slowly and become deliciously sweet and sticky. Stir them from time to time, and add a tablespoon of water if they are starting to brown too early, or are looking dry.
- When the pork is done, take it out of the oven, cover with foil, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Lift the onions into a saucepan, leaving the fat behind in the roasting pan for gravy. Put the saucepan over low heat and let the onions finish cooking for 10 minutes, then add the wine vinegar and mustard, and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- To serve, carve the pork into thick slices, and put the onions in a serving dish to let people help themselves.