Thursday, August 4, 2011

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma Woodhouse is a wealthy, exquisite, and thoroughly self-deluded young woman who has "lived in the world with very little to distress or vex her." Jane Austen exercises her taste for gently satiric social observation and her talent for investing seemingly trival events with profound moral significance as Emma tries to arrange a wealthy marriage for her poor friend Harriet, but refuses to recognize her own feelings for the gallant Mr. Knightley. Though Austen found her heroine to be a person whom "no one but myself will much like," Emma is her most cleverly woven, riotously comedic, and pleasing novel of manners. (from back cover)

I really enjoyed reading Pride and Prejudice last year, so I thought I would give Emma a try. I was glad that I did, because Emma was a great novel.

Obviously Emma is a classic, and I'm happy to report it's one of the classics that I like. The writing is a little bit harder to read than modern English, but it's really not that bad. One thing I've noticed about older writing is that they tend to have really long sentences, but that's about the only thing that's different. It's funny, because in terms of plot not that much happens in Emma (even though it's over 400 pages) but the book is still interesting to read. The narration is very well-written and even though a lot of the book is Emma's thoughts, I still liked to read about them.

Emma paints a very accurate picture of the life of gentry in 19th century England, and even moreso because it's actually written during that time. I could actually get a feel of the lives of these people which mostly was sitting around chatting with friends, but it all seemed very leisurely.

One of the plot points in Emma is that she is constantly matchmaking her friends and neighbors. This goes badly as she is usually wrong and then someone's feelings end up getting hurt. Even though I already knew who was getting together (I was spoiled sometime in the past, not sure where) it was still interesting to see how everything happened.

If you enjoyed any of Jane Austen's previous novels, I would definitely recommend Emma. Even if you haven't read any of Austen's other books, Emma is still a great place to begin.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library

1815/Barnes and Noble Classic/462 pages.

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