Emma Woodhouse, the title character of this wonderful book, thinks that she would be a good matchmaker. She lives on an estate in the English countryside with her father, her sister, and, until recently, her best friend and former governess, Miss Taylor. Miss Taylor recently married a man Emma introduced her to. So, with this success, Emma feels that her matchmaking career has begun.
Unfortunately, Emma is lacking in two essential qualities for the job. As Austen says she is "handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition.." but she is not very observant and does not yet understand the human heart.
It can be difficult for today's reader to get into books by Jane Austen. She wrote her books in the early 19th century and often wrote about life in the English countryside, a setting far from our own experience. The pace of the books is slower and the descriptions longer than we are used to, and the characters are often not able to say quite exactly what they mean. The books were written for a different audience at a much different time.
Also, the books are long; they are definitely not the fast-paced, action-packed thrillers we love to read today. Austen's books require a different kind of reader: one who has some time: one who can slow down and savor the characters and the story.
Because, unlike her heroine, Jane Austen is observant and does understand the human heart. The characters she describes are the principal joy of this book and, once you get to know them, you will find that you already know others like them. Besides bright but slightly bored Emma, we find here the eccentric Mr. Woodhouse, always concerned about his health and the health of other, the dull Miss Bates, always chattering away about nothing, the pliant Harriet, whose life Jane almost ruins, the ambitious Mr. Elton, a self-centered social climber, and Mr. Knightly, Emma's friend and gentle critic.
This book will reward those who can make their way into the story, who can step away a little from the fast pace of life today and enjoy some familiar people who lived long ago.
Caution, get a cup of java, cause you wont want to put it down once you start reading it. The compelling story of a young woman coming-of-age and the compelling story of her seeking her true nature and finding true love in the process.
Abridged to 3 hours on 2 cassettes. Read by Sophie Thompson, who played Miss Bates in the film version that starred Gwyneth Paltrow. I thought the abridgement (is that the word?) was well done, and Thompson does a great job reading (especially the Miss Bates character, of course).
Great book for those of us who love Jane Austin, if you have never read her--this is the place to start--this is one of her better novels. Emma is quite the little vixen, in a meddelsome way, she has no time or wish for love or marriage, but this does not stop her from meddeling in others romances. She has been warned and does not listen, her carefully laid plan soon backfire and unravel and there are consequences. this is so well written--flawless.
Jane Austen has never let me down. Oh wait, yes she did. She died young.
Don't think of this as 'chick lit'; this is a peek into a world of strict etiquette, nonsenical mores, complex social relationships, where money and status are valued above all us, and of course, love.
Best of all, it's readable. The characters are all too human. And with the slightest shift of mental gears, could be taking place, this very minute, under our own noses. Read it.
Sorry, Miss Austen. It's a guilty admission for a lover of English novels, but this was the first of your books I simply couldn't make it through. I really tried, and I did enjoy the glimpse into the lives, times, and stimulating conversation of Emma, Mr. Knightly, and the rest. But my overall feeling was that the book was too insubstantial, an interminable series of visits, gossip, and matchmaking that was of interest only to the participants.
I am reading Emma as part of a book club classic book choice. I remember from High School not caring for any of Jane Austen's books. But since much time has passed, I thought maybe my impressions of Jane Austen's books might have changed. Not so much! I still cannot stand her characters or her style of writing. I am really having to force myself to finish this book.
First published in 1816, Jane Austen's EMMA is about an unconventional heroine--and one whom Austen thought no one but herself would like. Emma Woodhouse is bright, beautiful, and rich; she is also snobbish and judgmental, and she can be cruel, with a tendency to interfere in other people's lives. The novel chronicles Emma's attempts to make a match between a hapless vicar who is, in fact, enamored of Emma herself, and her friend Harriet, a poor and simple young woman in love with a farmer. Unlike many of Austen's heroines, Emma is possessed of very little good sense; her absurd machinations complicate the lives of everyone involved--and, needless to say, get nowhere. Emma, however, learns from her mistakes and gains some badly needed insight into herself as she discovers her feelings for the older, steady, aristocratic Mr. Knightley. The novel moves toward a not unexpected but perfectly satisfying conclusion, and in the process introduces Austen's usual cast of amusing, pretentious, hypocritical, and/or dim-witted characters, including the appalling, nouveau riche Mrs. Elton, and Emma's widowed father, one of the most insufferable (and delightful) neurotics in literature.
It is one of the most whimsical and felicitous books Jane Austen wrote. It is also the easiest of all of her books to read. If you are going to read Jane Austen books, start with Emma. Itll actually have you dancing around the room.