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Emma (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 6, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (May 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439587
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (466 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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.

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Customer Reviews

For me, reading Jane Austen's novel EMMA is a delight.
Laurel Ann
Emma combines witty humor and a fun cast of characters that makes for very enjoyable reading.
Kat
Other examples of characters like Emma are Jain Fairfax, Harriet Smith, and Mr. Elton.
S. Olszewski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 127 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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92 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Like all of her novels, Jane Austen's EMMA is essentially a comedy of manners, a work in which the characters move inside a highly restrictive code of conduct and must walk a fine line between the socially acceptable and unacceptable if they are to survive, much less reach their goals. But at the same time the central character, Emma Woodhouse, is a marked departure. Not only is she a young woman of considerable wealth and social standing, she is, as critics are fond of pointing out, "flawed."
The nature of Emma's flaw is essentially Austen's observation of the great failing of the upper-class: an assumption that what they think and do is inevitably correct. And although Emma is quick-witted, generous, and kind, she suffers the effect of this blind arrogance when she comes to believe that she is gifted as a matchmaker and can order the romantic lives of her circle to suit her own liking. The result is a series of seriocomic entanglements and disasters that touches virtually every one with whom Emma comes into contact.
The story requires considerable exposition, and consequently the action is slow to gather; add to this the fact that Emma herself is so overbearing and self-assured that you frequently want to give her a slap. The result is a novel that many, including Austen fans, will find an uphill read. Even so, Austen is writing very close to the peak of her powers here, and her amazing talent for observation, subtle irony, and flashing wit endow EMMA with tremendous charm and interest. In many respects a remarkable novel, but one that I recommend more to determined Austen fans than to casual readers.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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58 of 64 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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