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Emma (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 6, 2003
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"Jane Austen is my favorite author! ... Shut up in measureless content, I greet her by the name of most kind hostess, while criticism slumbers." —EM Forster
About the Author
Jane Austen (1775-1817) was extremely modest about her own genius but has become one of English literature's most famous women writers. She is the author of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey.
Fiona Stafford is a Fellow and Tutor in English at Somerville College, Oxford.
Tony Tanner was a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and Professor of English and American Literature at Cambridge.
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I have SUCH a girl crush on Elinor Dashwood. Good, kind, practical Elinor - empathetic, compassionate to a fault, and as capable of deep feeling as her demonstrative mother and sister Marianne. She was the ideal prism through which to experience this story of the love and devotion between sisters, through romantic trials and disappointments. I loved this book to pieces.
I never thought a novel by Jane Austen could leave me in so much suspense, put me through so much agony for the fate of its characters, and make me laugh out loud so often. I didn't know Austen could be so sharp, witty and sarcastic.
Her novel contains very little of what we would think of as action. Plot details are revealed through conversations between different characters. Oh, those conversations! Austen's insight into human nature and foibles was absolutely first rate. Her novel left me wondering what effusive Mrs. Jenningses, selfish Mr. Willoughbys and sly Lucy Steeles she must have known in real life.
I never could get through an Austen novel before trying this audiobook. The formal language in which she wrote left me befuddled, sure I was missing the meanings beneath the surface of her words. Juliet Stevenson's incredible narration freed me from that difficulty. Her performance was fresh, nuanced and lively, teasing out all the irony, humor and pathos of the words.
I finished the book with a little sigh of happiness for Elinor and Marianne and regret to have to leave their world so soon. I cannot wait to listen to more Jane Austen.
Much of the joy of this book for me was that there is more to it than just the typical characteristics of an Austen novel--finding romance in a world of rigid class distinctions and wealth disparities. This book contains all of this, but also plays up the idiosyncrasies of people which have nothing to do with class or wealth--such things as food preferences, desire for home life over social life, aversion to certain types of weather, and a tendency to talk almost continuously about virtually nothing. These parts of the novel are some of my favorites because some of the characters with their phobias and addictions remind me of people in my family so it's a truly entertaining aspect for me.
I was very pleased with the ending. Jane Austen ties things up neatly. She's not like so many of our modern writers today who are in love with the ambiguous ending (I've read many such books and have enjoyed them), but it's so nice to read an old-fashioned story occasionally and to know that it's all going to work out and that you may even cry as I did at some of the touching, romantic parts at the end (even though there was not so much as a kiss!), Austen has a way of communicating deep emotion. The couple can deeply move the reader, just in the way they look at one another or join hands.
Even though the ending is satisfying, the book keeps us on edge and makes us wonder how it will all work out to everyone's satisfaction. Lots of plot twists and surprises. You'll feel for the characters and long for them to find love.
There's only one minor problem, which is the fact that the book is so huge that it's no good for people who hold their books when they read, but that's no problem for people who read like me, with the book lying flat on a pillow or resting on my lap.
So if you want an easy way to get a hold of all six of Jane Austen's completed novels (plus one of her unfinished, with nice additional materials), and you're not at all put off by the size and weight of something like this, I would highly recommend, this is an excellent product.