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Emma (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 6, 2003
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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 alternate Paperback edition.
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 alternate Paperback edition.
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Glad to have revisited this book and will revisit others but don't think they will be by Jane Austen. My book was downloaded onto my Kindle from Amazon.
I recently reread this again - courtesy of a series of long airplane ride, and watched the two recent BBC adaptations because I like seeing how different playwrites and directors adapt classic works. I like the older, darker one better - the blond in the newer one pouts her way through every scene. Scene one - she is perturbed. Scene two - she is perturbed. Scene three - she is perturbed. You get the idea. In the older one, Fanny grows from being unsure of herself to a woman of confidence, as she should. Plus the excruciating interaction with Mrs. Norris reminds the audience of Fanny's uncertain role in the household again and again. Don't worry, everybody except the rake gets what they deserve eventually, even Mrs. Norris (after whom Filch's cat is named in the Harry Potter series).
Jane Austen’s writing style was very witty, short, and sweet. She used clever wording that packs a punch in short sentences. The sentences could be unfinished and have dashed, which was used for emphasis on the urgentness and feeling of the character talking. The mood of the story is somewhat ironic. The author seems to have a deep connection with the characters, but likes to show their flaws and insecurities by making fun of them. All the characters seemed believable. I could relate them to people in my life. Their actions and such would be different considering it was written in the 1800s, but if I just changed some things around it made me think of my friends and family. The place was believable. It was based in a tiny town in England called Highbury. The setting of a small town gave you a closer look into the lives, funny quirks, and personalities of the characters presented. In small towns everyone knows everyone, so it shows us a look into the ordinary people's lives with a twist because you’re getting such a zoomed in view.
This story teaches young people about how to find themselves and focus on what really matter. Emma was a novel that I wouldn’t pick up at first sight and be excited to read. Emma learned by the end of the story that she needed to learn to not meddle in everyone else's love life and try to make connections, but rather come to terms with her own feelings. This changed her as a person. She found the love of her life and got married. She finally came to terms with who she was and who she actually had feelings for all along.