Emma by Jane Austen

Back in November, last year, I took part in The Classics Club’s 19th Spin event, which chose Emma by Jane Austen for me. Having loved all of Austen’s finished novels, I took the opportunity, when creating my new list for the club, to include them all for a re-read.

I was thrilled with my result, as Emma, the final novel published during Austen’s lifetime, was the second Austen novel I read, many years ago. Often said to be Austen’s most perfect read about a very imperfect – albeit lovable – heroine… The beautiful, rich and intelligent, Emma Woodhouse, who, having been cosseted by her affectionate father and faithful governess, Miss Taylor, believes it is her duty to help others arrange things just as she thinks they should be. Oh I understand Emma annoys some readers, however I can’t help but love her! While she is spoilt, she is naïve and so, makes some disastrous decisions, through it all her heart is in the right place.

The real trouble starts when – ignoring the advice of good family friend Mr Knightley – Emma sets out to play cupid for her new, favourite companion: the lovely, shy Harriet Smith. In addition, Emma makes a hasty, close intimacy with newcomer Frank Churchill, the estranged son of their convivial neighbour Mr Weston, whose arrival into small, quiet Highbury causes quite the stir. And these two decisions are to lead Emma into schemes and actions that are to fail miserably, and inadvertently hurt people she cares about. If only she could hear us saying stop! Or if only she would listen to the stalwart Mr Knightley!

However through all the trouble and strife, Emma is resilient, makes amends for the hurt she has caused and learns from it all too. In particular, she learns a lot about others and more importantly about herself. Actually if it hadn’t been for her foolish mistakes some important secrets may not have come to light and she may never have discovered a very important thing about herself: where her heart truly lay and always had! Naww, it all ends happily! However some readers do wonder if Emma has really learnt her lesson, I can’t answer that for definite, but I think she has and she now has someone beside her to help her stick to the path.

All in all, I think Emma is an utterly charming, witty and slightly farcical classic, about the coming-of-age pains of a young woman in Regency England. It just makes me smile and it made for a wonderfully comforting re-read – getting re-acquainted with its colourful collection of characters was like meeting up with old friends. I can’t wait to re-read more! Great read.

Have you read this? Or any of Austen’s other novels?

This is book 6/50 for my Classics Club II reading challenge.

24 thoughts on “Emma by Jane Austen

  1. Finally catching up on blogs – I’ve read them all multiple times. This has always been my least favorite. I appreciated it more when I re-read it a second time, but for some reason the characters (all of them) just annoyed me to no end. Maybe another re-read will lessen the annoyance.

  2. I tried this one years ago but could not get far in it. I think I was expecting Clueless, the movie and found it moved too slowly for me. Your review makes me want to try again.

    1. Well Judy, Clueless does stick fairly closely to this novel, even though it transposes it to another time period. However I do think books generally are slower than films, because films have to fit everything into in a couple of hours. If you try this again, I hope you enjoy it more.

  3. I’m one of the ones who struggles to like spoilt Emma, though that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I always think Emma probably turns into Lady Catherine de Bourgh when she gets older… 😉

    1. FF, I am relieved you are still able to enjoy this even though you struggle to like Emma. However I can’t ever see the lively, witty – albeit spoilt – Emma turn into the cold, dry and mean Lady Catherine, sorry!

  4. I haven’t read any Jane Austen novel but have several on my TBR. Have you seen the adaptation starring a young Gwyneth Paltrow? It was one of my favorites in the past.

    1. Carmen, I think you should read them, immediately! 😛 And no I haven’t seen the film adaptation starring Gwyneth Paltrow – I did start watching, but it didn’t really grab me. That is probably because I had already watched and fell in love with the BBC’s 2009 adaptation, starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller ❤

  5. I’ve read all of Austen’s novels, saving Emma for last. Silly logic, but after putting it off for ages because I didn’t want to ‘run out’ of new Jane Austens, I finally read it in 2015. I remember loving everything about it, but found Emma herself rather annoying.

    1. JoAnn, I think that’s lovely how you saved this up to slow down running out of Austen novels 🙂 I didn’t think to do that! However now I am looking forward to re-read them all.

  6. I didn’t like this book the first time I read it because I found Emma such an annoying character. A few years ago I decided to re-read it and really enjoyed it the second time. I’m glad this was such a good Spin result for you! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.