This is the tied winner of the February poll of what you, my lovely readers, wanted to see read and reviewed this month. I love Emma. The character AND the book. Seems to be a rarity in the reviews, but I really enjoyed Emma and her snobbery.
Emma Woodhouse is a rich, delusional young lady who thinks that she is exceptionally gifted at match-making. She decides to meddle in the romantic affairs of her new friend, Harriet Smith – a poor girl whose family connections are unknown. Of course, she makes a blunder of everything as she misinterprets almost all of the romantic intentions of those around her, until finally realizing to stop intruding on her friends and focus more on her own romantic feelings.
Emma is described by many as spoiled, but I didn’t really think she was. At least not in the terms that I’m used to – she didn’t throw any fits, she wasn’t constantly wanting and grabbing at material things, etc. Overall, she was a very sweet person – particularly caring towards her father (so much so that she says she’ll never marry, because she cannot leave him), and she’s generally sweet towards her friends. She does however have very petty feelings towards some of her acquaintances (Jane Fairfax, for example), but I loved that about her. Maybe because it makes her a much more realistic character, and maybe because I tend to be a petty, jealous type of person myself. But I loved her inward snide thoughts and cheek-in-tongue remarks. It was nice to see an Austen character that wasn’t so perfectly perfect.
Another thing I loved about this book is that there was so much interaction between herself and her intended hero of the book, Mr. Knightly. They are close friends, able to tease and scold each other. This was refreshingly different from the set-up of Pride & Prejudice, in which Lizzie and Darcy only have a few awkward social interactions. The friendship between them seemed honest, and I immediately took a liking to Mr. Knightley. It was also nice to see a heroine who didn’t need to marry to escape financial ruin. Of course, there were other women in the book who did, but not our main character. I’m usually the type that cheers for the underdog / poorer people in books, but it was a nice change to see Emma’s richness and not have to deal with the drudgery of her life being so hard.
Overall, this was a delightful book. I really enjoyed Emma, Mr. Knightley, and the more awkward characters such as Mr. Woodhouse and Miss Bates. The only bad thing I could say about it is that it was long-winded at times, and there are a few passages or scenes that could have been shortened or left out altogether.
The more Jane Austen I read, the more I fall in love with her and realize who talented she is. I just can’t pick a favorite of hers anymore, but this one would be close. Also, I should note that about halfway through the book, I watched the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma. I thought that it was really well done, although I don’t think Toni Collette was a good choice for Harriet. And, reading Emma gave me a deeper appreciation of the teen movie Clueless. I liked Clueless as a teen and kind of learned to accept it as a cheesy young girl movie. But now I see just how closely they really based it off of Emma, and I have to say, I’m dying to re-watch it!
Anyways, read Emma if you like Austen. Or if you like a heroine with a little snarky–ness :o)
Sarah Says: 5 stars!