As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

September 30, 2010

EMMA by Jane Austen, 1815

EmmaAusten 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 . . . The story revolves around a comedy of errors. (Amazon Review/Product Description)

Review by Amy Finnegan - writer, reader, housewife.

Of all the timeless novels Jane Austen wrote, EMMA is my favorite. Austen knew Emma Woodhouse wouldn't be an instantly sympathetic character - a girl who mostly seeks to do good, but usually on her own terms, and with the ultimate goal of looking incomparably clever in the eyes of her friends. But even though Emma is conceited, spoiled, and the worst matchmaker in history, she is still entirely lovable. I have yet to see another author pull that off with a main character as well as Austen does in this story.

Emma’s friend, Mr. Knightly, is my favorite of Austen’s male characters: he speaks his mind, but always with the best intentions, and he isn’t the least bit broody as so many other Regency era male characters tend to be. And when the love story truly starts to unfold . . . well, I’m a gonner, every time.

As a reader, I can’t help but cheer for Emma Woodhouse, while at the same time hope she trips on her own feet and face plants in the mud. And when Emma is at last humbled, her regret is so sincere and complete, it makes me ache for all wrongs to be resolved for our heroine.

One of the very rare gifts Austen had was creating a cast of characters that make you think, "I know someone just like this!" And here you're reading a story which takes place nearly 200 years ago. But who doesn't know someone like Miss Bates, a woman who goes on and on and on about a topic that no one else is the least bit interested in. And then there’s the excessive worrier, Mr. Woodhouse. Emma's father comes up with every excuse he can to convince those he loves that they should stay put in the only place they're sure to be safe - right next to him. Forever.

In my opinion, there are more twists and turns in EMMA than any of Austen’s other novels, leading one to guess again and again who will end up with whom. And I also think it’s the most humorous of her novels.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY are Austen's most famous works, but if you've never read EMMA, be sure to give this poor little rich girl a try!

Market: Adult Fiction
Language: Mild
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: None
Mature Themes: Classic Austen—marriage, marriage, and more marriage

Book formats:
Emma (Paperback)
Emma (Kindle) (it's $.99. Or you can download all of Austen's works for FREE on iTunes!)

Learn more about Jane Austen and her novels here.

Extra Gush: I can’t miss this opportunity to point out two excellent film adaptations of EMMA. For many years, I didn’t think anyone could touch the 1999 film with Gwyneth Paltrow, but the more I watch the 2010 BBC mini-series (with Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightly!), I believe they’ve topped it. Both versions are available through Netflix, or you can find them on Amazon by clicking the following icons:

Emma (2009)Emma

2 comments:

Heather B. Moore said...

Okay, this is one of Austen's books that the film creations only capture a slice of the novel. EMMA is completely hilarious and utterly charming.

Amy Finnegan said...

I knew I couldn't have been the only person in the world to think EMMA is "hilarious." I think it's by far Austen's most humorous novel. She was one of the best ever "comedy of error" writers.