Emma by Jane Austen

November 1st, 2020

I’m pretty sure I tried to read Emma in high school and didn’t get very far: I think I found it dull and put it down in a hurry. This second attempt at reading it was much more enjoyable, maybe in part because I saw Autumn de Wilde’s film adaptation of it earlier this year and felt better able to keep the characters straight because they were fairly fresh in my mind.

You probably already know the story: Emma is 21 and sheltered, and likes to think of herself as good at matchmaking. But as she tries to get people together, she oversteps in various ways, and learns the danger of trying to meddle with affairs of the heart, especially when you don’t even know your own desires.

What I like about Emma is how excellent the dialogue is, throughout, and how many very funny moments there are—especially around poor Miss Bates, someone’s spinster aunt who is forever rambling whenever she opens her mouth. Austen clearly had a keen eye for social interactions, and the way she captures moments between people—and the gaps between what people think and what they say/do—is great. Overall, though, Emma is not the kind of book I love best: I often read for setting and mood as much as for character and plot, and I’m a sucker for beautiful descriptive writing, which isn’t really Austen’s style.

One Response to “Emma by Jane Austen”

  1. Jenny @ Reading the End Says:

    Oh gosh, I love Emma, and I’m glad you reread it and were able to get something out of it. I can never decide if I love this or Pride and Prejudice better, out of Jane Austen’s books — I do love Emma for how well-intentioned but also completely wrong she is. Bless her.

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