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Emma (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – December 23, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Of all Jane Austen's heroines, Emma Woodhouse is the most flawed, the most infuriating, and, in the end, the most endearing. Pride and Prejudice's Lizzie Bennet has more wit and sparkle; Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey more imagination; and Sense and Sensibility's Elinor Dashwood certainly more sense--but Emma is lovable precisely because she is so imperfect. Austen only completed six novels in her lifetime, of which five feature young women whose chances for making a good marriage depend greatly on financial issues, and whose prospects if they fail are rather grim. Emma is the exception: "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." One may be tempted to wonder what Austen could possibly find to say about so fortunate a character. The answer is, quite a lot.

For Emma, raised to think well of herself, has such a high opinion of her own worth that it blinds her to the opinions of others. The story revolves around a comedy of errors: Emma befriends Harriet Smith, a young woman of unknown parentage, and attempts to remake her in her own image. Ignoring the gaping difference in their respective fortunes and stations in life, Emma convinces herself and her friend that Harriet should look as high as Emma herself might for a husband--and she zeroes in on an ambitious vicar as the perfect match. At the same time, she reads too much into a flirtation with Frank Churchill, the newly arrived son of family friends, and thoughtlessly starts a rumor about poor but beautiful Jane Fairfax, the beloved niece of two genteelly impoverished elderly ladies in the village. As Emma's fantastically misguided schemes threaten to surge out of control, the voice of reason is provided by Mr. Knightly, the Woodhouse's longtime friend and neighbor. Though Austen herself described Emma as "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like," she endowed her creation with enough charm to see her through her most egregious behavior, and the saving grace of being able to learn from her mistakes. By the end of the novel Harriet, Frank, and Jane are all properly accounted for, Emma is wiser (though certainly not sadder), and the reader has had the satisfaction of enjoying Jane Austen at the height of her powers. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This is another case where a classic is being reprinted simply as a tie-in to a TV/feature film presentation. Libraries, nonetheless, can benefit by picking up a quality hardcover for a nice price.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (December 23, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486406482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486406480
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (540 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Though the domain of Jane Austen's novels was as circumscribed as her life, her caustic wit and keen observation made her the equal of the greatest novelists in any language. Born the seventh child of the rector of Steventon, Hampshire, on December 16, 1775, she was educated mainly at home. At an early age she began writing sketches and satires of popular novels for her family's entertainment. As a clergyman's daughter from a well-connected family, she had an ample opportunity to study the habits of the middle class, the gentry, and the aristocracy. At twenty-one, she began a novel called "The First Impressions" an early version of Pride and Prejudice. In 1801, on her father's retirement, the family moved to the fashionable resort of Bath. Two years later she sold the first version of Northanger Abby to a London publisher, but the first of her novels to appear was Sense and Sensibility, published at her own expense in 1811. It was followed by Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). After her father died in 1805, the family first moved to Southampton then to Chawton Cottage in Hampshire. Despite this relative retirement, Jane Austen was still in touch with a wider world, mainly through her brothers; one had become a very rich country gentleman, another a London banker, and two were naval officers. Though her many novels were published anonymously, she had many early and devoted readers, among them the Prince Regent and Sir Walter Scott. In 1816, in declining health, Austen wrote Persuasion and revised Northanger Abby, Her last work, Sandition, was left unfinished at her death on July 18, 1817. She was buried in Winchester Cathedral. Austen's identity as an author was announced to the world posthumously by her brother Henry, who supervised the publication of Northanger Abby and Persuasion in 1818.

Customer Reviews

I think one of the things I liked best about this book was the characters.
Amazon Customer
I've had this book on my shelf for over a year, hesitant to read it because I've seen the movie (the Gwyneth version) about 100 times.
S. Thompson
Emma finds a wealthy man, Mr. Elton, that she thinks would be perfect for Harriet.
Penny L. Strobel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Shelby Miller on September 22, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Emma Woodhouse is priviledged. Very priviledged. She comes from the richest, most important family in her small town. Everyone looks up to her, including her indulgent governess and even more indulgent papa. The theme of her life, from the time she was small, has always been "Emma knows best". Emma takes this to heart when she takes an interest in young Harriet Smith, the beautiful, empty-headed daughter of, well, someone. The book follows Emma's misadventures as she tries to marry Harriet off to the local parson and meddles in the lives of her friends and neighbors, eventually learning that perhaps she doesn't always know best.

This is, I think, one of Jane Austen's less popular works, perhaps because there isn't a great deal of romance in it. It is, as I titled the review, more of a character study, as well as a study of society at that time. On first reading, I didn't care for the book or for Emma's self-centered goodness. After reading it again, I grew to enjoy the book as much if not more than her more popular works, like Pride and Prejudice. The wit is sharp as usual (and maybe slightly more ascerbic), and more thought seems to have been put into the secondary characters. Definitely worth a read.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Natalie on June 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I definitely recommend this book to first time Jane Austen readers, and especially to young girls, for it is so cute and so amusing. I wish I were "forced" to read this in High School for I would have surely written good papers on it. I can't see how anyone can dislike this classic. Jane Austen's character "Emma" has her faults of course, be she is a true character that is amusing and utterly charming, unlike those characters in Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, which by no doubt are wonderful books, but Emma truly has to be my favorite Austen work. It is predictable, even without having seen the movie that was based on this work (that mind some of you was written over 200 years before Alicia Silverstone existed...gosh!) but the predictability of it made it all the more enjoyable, like a sort of mystery in romance. I definitely recommend this book to anyone over the age of 11 or 12. I know I'll make my kids read it some day. It is superb!
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kat on March 7, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If I could do it over again, I would read Jane Austen's Emma before I read her Pride and Prejudice. Unfortuanately that was not the case. I loved it nonetheless. Emma combines witty humor and a fun cast of characters that makes for very enjoyable reading. It does not read as quickly or as easily as Pride and Prejudice, but it is still great fun!
If you have seen the movie Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone, then you know the basic plot. The 1995 movie was adapted from Jane Austen's novel, which was published in the 1800s. The Miramax version of Emma is done very well and should be viewed after reading the novel, not before. It would make the reading even slower.
Emma Woodhouse is a young woman who is the socialite of her small English town of Highbury. She is beautiful and wealthy and popular; everything that girls nowadays want to be or imagine themselves to be, so she is not terribly hard to relate to. She is not terribly smart but humorously clever and witty.
This novel displays this young woman's journey to self-discovery and love; along the way she humorously meddles in everyone's lives. Her romantic blunders are extremely fun to read about. I recommend this novel to any avid reader, but I should caution you against reading Pride and Prejudice beforehand, but if it is too late, do not hesitate to read it. And even though it may drag a bit, bear with it; the ending is reward itself!
Needless to say Emma will always have a place in my heart and on my bookshelf.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By James Schwartz on October 30, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Of all of the books by Jane Austen this was my least favorite. The central character is not likeable and you can't sympathasize with her. It is a long and tedious book and it was constantly set aside to read something else when a new book arrived. If you are truly a fan of the 18th century period writings yes go ahead and read it but Pride and Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and Northlanger Abbey are far better reading.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Charles Curtis on October 25, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm reading Emma again for the third time. It happened like this: I thought I'd try an audio book on CD for the first time, something to listen to in the car besides music. Scanning the shelves at the local bookstore, I saw loads of contemporary best sellers, self and financial help, new age and evangelical Christian spirituality, and Jane Austen's Emma in MP3 format, all on one disc. Austen! Water in the desert! I scooped her up.

For the last week I've been listening to her in my car. At the beginning it was without much concentration. Over the next few days my attention gradually increased. Now I'm hooked. Down the throat. Through the gut. Again. It happens to me every time I return to Jane. I just can't get enough. The last two nights I've gone to bed reading ahead of where I've listened. Even though the story is coming back to me, I'm still taken by it, hook line & sinker. Jane's reeling me in, and the line is utterly slack.

Now, I am a guy. I break out in hives if I happen to accidentally brush a romance novel. As far as I am concerned, bodice rippers where the tall olive skinned duke inevitably has his forceful yet gentle way with the heroine are good only as ammunition with which to tease the women in my life who enjoy such tripe. Having said this, I realize a lot of people also refer to Jane Austen as "Chick Lit," equating her with the likes of Nicolas Sparks. For the record, those people are on crack.

Austen is much more a comedic writer than a writer of what we call romances. She is simply a hoot. Subtle disjunctures and ironies build to exquisite crescendos. She has me laughing every other page. Her characters, even her unpleasant and ridiculous ones, tend to breed sympathy.
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