Friday, January 23, 2009

Emma


Emma by Jane Austen. 1815.

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.

I have a love-hate relationship with Emma. You see, I don't like Emma, the character. On the other hand, Emma is a fun treat because she's so very clueless. She is unaware of herself. She's unaware of the world around her. She just doesn't get it. Once the reader is aware of this, knows that Emma is the joke of the book--an inside joke shared between the reader and the author, then it's a fun book. The reader has a clue while the heroine is helplessly stuck on herself and her misconceptions about reality. Emma may think she's wise in matters of the world, of the heart, of the home. But the reader knows better!

The plot of this one is relatively simple: Emma thinks she's good at matchmaking. Pairing up single men and women. But the fact that she misreads signs of affection and devotion left and right mean that the unfortunate soul she's trying to do good by is in for a messy few months. Emma is the last person who should be giving out advice. In a way, the relationship between Emma and Harriet reminds me of that of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Emma is promising Harriet a fine match with a good man, a man of some means, a true gentleman, and handsome too. Just like Don Quixote keeps promising Sancho that he'll reward his service by making him a governor of some province (or the like). But in reality, the faith that their loyal friends place in them is hopelessly misguided.

Of course, the book is more than just about Emma and Harriet. It also features the much-praised Jane Fairfax and the mysterious Frank Churchill. I don't have an opinion of Jane Fairfax really. She's much more patient than I would expect any girl to be under the circumstances. But since we only see her through Emma's eyes, it's hard to know what she's really like. Frank Churchill, I definitely have an opinion of...I think he was awful...and I really have no sympathy at all for him. I think both Emma and Jane have reason to be ticked. And he wouldn't have gotten off that easy if I'd been Austen. Then there is the true hero of Emma, Mr. Knightley. If there is redemption in Emma it is found in the character of Mr. Knightley. He kept me reading.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

8 comments:

Josette 9:03 PM  

I love Emma, especially the movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Haven't read the book yet though.

Anonymous,  12:00 AM  

When I was scrolling down and saw that you'd reviewed "Emma" I just thought: "You did it! Oh, well done!" I'm so glad. :)

And the review is wonderful - I loved it! :) L.

Melissa 8:59 AM  

I wonder if some of the reason I really like Emma, the book, is because Mr. Knightly is such the perfect foil for her. I like him. Even though -- as a friend put it -- he can be patronizing at times.

ibeeeg 3:07 PM  

I tried reading Emma this past week. I just could not get into it. I did skim through it as I wanted to know the plot line but beyond that ...it did nothing for me. That was disappointing as I so loved Pride and Prejudice and wanted to love Emma.

Your review was well done. Now, how well did you like the book?

Becky 3:10 PM  

I just love, love, love Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. I am lukewarm on Emma. I don't hate it. I don't love it. I came to appreciate certain aspects of it more than I've done in the past. But it's not love. I just dislike the character too much for it be love.

Sarah M. 3:47 PM  

Becky, I'm with you -- I love, love, love Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice (and I also really enjoyed Sense and Sensibility), but I just have never gotten into Emma. However I am determined to read it this year. Thanks for the great review.

hopeinbrazil 1:21 PM  

Thank you, Becky, for helping me to understand why I did not like Emma. She was a heroine I could not love (because of her inability to see her own faults). I'm pretty sure I've tried to read the book more than once, but couldn't get past her personality. Maybe now I'll give it another try.

Shona 4:08 AM  

I must have read Emma around 5 times now and my views are similar to what you have said.We can't like Emma ,she is prejudiced, near sighted and has all the qualities the rich ppl of that period showed.But still there is a charm about her,she makes you laugh because you know she is gonna end up in a soup due to her rather immature match making talents.I read it when I feel I need to relax a bit.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP