Saturday, April 9, 2011

Emma by Jane Austen


I enjoyed this book at least as much as Pride and Prejudice - maybe even more!

Where Pride and Prejudice had wit, Emma has humor. Emma is downright funny! It is a light-hearted and entertaining read; very approachable. I was delightfully engaged from the beginning, and Jane Austen's characteristic dialogue did not disappoint. As usual, I was impressed by Austen's keen insight into human nature and by the timelessness of the described emotions. She skillfully leads the reader through the evolution of Emma's self-awareness and feelings towards others, and she ties everything up nicely in the end, in a very satisfying way, just the way I like it. There was a full cast of characters with idiosyncrasies and neuroses, and I dare say I saw in Mr. Woodhouse a bit of what I might become, if I don't keep myself in check!

Addendum: Now that I've watched three screen adaptations, I have to admit that the adaptations opened my eyes to more significant meanings behind several scenes in the book! Many small hints were dropped along the way regarding a surprise towards the end, and I'd like to think that I would have discovered these meanings myself upon subsequent readings. :P In any case, these discoveries only increase my regard for Jane Austen's writing, because she didn't lay everything open at the very end; while she did provide sufficient explanation to answer lingering questions, she still gave her readers credit and left some things unsaid for the readers to interpret themselves.


  1. Which scenes do you mean? I'm watching the 1996 movie....curious which ones you thought showed more meanings that were missed in the book? Knowing now that mr. Knightley liked her, I do feel like if I had paid attention some, I would've seen it coming. I did suspect at one point, not sure which scene,but I thought, hm, he seems to be taking an interest in her more so than necessary. Or maybe I thought, hm, Emma might think more of him than she shows....something....wish I could pinpoint when it was an AHA! Moment,but I can't. It was just a mild suspicion somewhat early on.

  2. Oh, I meant the twist about Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, not Emma and Mr. Knightley! I was totally surprised by Frank and Jane's relationship when it was revealed in the book, but when watching the movies, knowing that they were involved, I realized that their earlier behavior provided lots of hints. I even went back and re-read some of the corresponding parts in the book and thought, "Oh!!! That's what that conversation was about!"

    As for specific scenes... The biggest one I can remember is when everyone was out on that Box Hill picnic, when Emma insulted Miss Bates. There were some roundabout exchanges between Frank and Jane then, I think... And then there was another scene, I think when they went strawberry picking on a very hot day? I can't remember exactly, but Frank arrived late to some kind of party, and he was all upset because of something that had happened between him and Jane, but it wasn't really clear to me at the time that it involved Jane.

    So which 1996 movie are you watching? There was one in the theaters with Gwenyth Paltrow, but there was also a TV movie with Kate Beckinsale, and I actually like the Kate Beckinsale version better!

  3. Oh I was watching the Gwyneth Paltrow one. I think they made the Jane and Frank connection a little more noticeable in the movie than in the book, because I was taken by surprise too, except for that mention that Frank had heard something, and mistakenly attributed it to someone lee, but then it seemed like he must've had correspondence with Jane as the source of that info. And Knowingqbout the engagement, it makes their behavior more understandable, like why Jane didn't answer much when Emma asked her if she knew Frank at Weymouth. I'll look for thE TV movie if I can find it on netlfix.

  4. I like knightly and all, but did you find it odd he said he's been in love with her since she was 13?!!? Maybe that was normal back then when girls got married young?

  5. Yeah, it's a little weird, and unsettling to think about in these days. There was that huge age difference in "Sense and Sensibility", too. And even in "Little House", between Laura and her husband! You just have to keep it in context, I guess. It's creepy now, but it was apparently normal back then.