|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Published: 1815 (mine is the Penguin Classics hardcover edition pictured here)
Started: Dec. 14, 2011
Finished: Dec. 24, 2011 (11 days)
Where Found: Chapters-Indigo
Why Read: I love Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice, so when I spotted this copy (on sale to boot!), I snatched it up.
Summary: A young lady successful (for the most part) at matchmaking struggles to settle conflicts interfering with her own love life.
Jane Austen is definitely master of the genre comedy of manners. She is able to weave together complex social dramas with tongue permanently implanted in cheek. Formalities and niceties aside, there are glimpses of social situations that are just as sticky to be caught in now as they were then.
Unlike Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice, I wasn't taken with any particular character in Emma but the story is fun and lively. I found Emma very self-involved, and not very reliable or sympathetic, whereas the turmoils of Elinor & Marianne Dashwood and Elizabeth Bennet were at the heart of the other two novels. Oh, Knightley...I wish there had been more of him! He was a sweet, decent character, and I liked him better than Edward Ferrars (not as stuffy) but not quite as much as Mr. Darcy or Col. Brandon. There is always a secondary character that provides comic relief from the tense romantic plot, and in Emma, it's the bubbly, constantly talkative Miss Bates, who is just hilarious, especially how she describes everything she notices as they walk from the front door to the dining room of the Woodhouse estate, including warning the person just behind her that there is a step down from the floor!
The best moments of Emma are where mistakes are either made or fixed surrounding a person's demeanor, and the humour comes from the extremities between what was once thought and what is actually true. Judgment, especially about a person's physical appearance, behaviour, or past, is a recurring theme in Austen's novels, and it is especially important in Emma.
Not the best of Jane Austen, but an enjoyable romp. Dive in and enjoy :)
Some memorable quotations:
"What did she say? Just what she ought of course. A lady always does."
"And with all her advantages, natural and domestic, she was now in great danger of suffering from intellectual solitude."
"Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken."
Rank: (B)- Good, Recommend