I begin already to weigh my words & sentences more than I did, & am looking about for a sentiment, an illustration, or a metaphor in every corner of the room. Could my Ideas flow as fast as the rain in the Storecloset it would be charming. – Letter to her sister Cassandra, 1809
Emma by Jane Austen
Dover, 1999 (originally published in 1816)
Fiction; 328 pgs
Rating: (Very Good)
First Sentence: 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.
Where Book Came From: TBR Shelves (where it has sat since 07/2005, when I went through a “must buy and eventually read” all of Jane Austen’s novels).
Reason for Reading: I had been meaning to read another Jane Austen novel for quite some time. Emma is my 4th selection for the Winter Classics Challenge and my 2nd for the 2007 TBR Challenge.
From the Publisher: Emma is the story of the eponymous Miss Woodhouse who, having lost her close companion Anne Taylor to marriage, sets out on an ill-fated career of match-making in the town of Highbury. Taking as her subject the pretty but dreary Harriet Smith, she manages to cause misunderstandings with every new tactic she employs. Though precious and spoilt, Emma is charming to all around her and so it takes her some time to learn her lesson and profit from spending less time worrying about how other people should live their lives.
Comments: What a delightful read! As much as I protested in the beginning over Emma’s character, her conceit and meddlesome nature, I was quite aware that this was exactly as she was supposed to be and would be what gave the novel it’s purpose. And while I never grew to love Emma, I did eventually find myself liking her as the novel went on. Her zest for life, her kind heart, however misguided at times, and her devotion to her family were what eventually won me over. There were a number of other wonderful characters who stole my heart even more so: the older and gentlemanly Mr. Knightley, the reserved but good natured Jane Fairfax, the chatty Miss Bates, and, of course, Mr. Woodhouse with all his grumbling and concerns about health, just to name a few.
Once I settled myself down to spend quality time with Emma, I was immediately swept away by Jane Austen’s novel. I like her style of writing, a product in part of her times no doubt. Like with Pride and Prejudice, I was transported back to England in the early 1800’s. The culture, atmosphere and the characters all brought to life amongst the pages.
Emma is a comedy of sorts and very much a love story. A perfect novel to read in time for Valentine’s Day, I must say. Upon completion of the novel, I found myself smiling with a little tear at the corner of my eye. Jane Austen is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.
Favorite Part: I admit to being immediately smitten with Mr. Knightley. The arguments between Mr. Knightley and Emma were quite entertaining.
Mr. Woodhouse could have been annoying with his complaints and concerns, however, I found him charming. His sympathy towards the former family governess and his daughter Isabella over their marriages brought to mind my own father’s tradition of sending sympathy cards instead of wedding cards to newly married couples.
Miscellaneous: I have a copy of the movie Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow already to watch now that I have finished the novel. I am tempted to run out in this glorious rain to find a copy of Clueless so that I can watch that too. Although I have seen both movies before, it has been a number of years and my memory of them is faltering. I admit that as I read Emma, Alicia Silverstone and Gwyneth Paltrow’s faces popped up in my mind repeatedly.
My lovable dog is doing better. He has regained his full energy even though all his wounds have yet to heal. Thanks to all who expressed their concerns and good wishes!