Book Review: Emma By Jane Austen

Title: Emma | Author: Jane Austen | First Publication: December, 1815 (I read the free Kindle Edition, Published  2012) | Rating: 4/5


Emma by Jane Austen is an age-old fairy tale about a group of women getting their happily ever-after told in dry wit and excellent prose. The dragons of this fairy tale comes in the form of misconceptions, prejudice and simply bad timing.

Emma Jane Austen

Emma as the protagonist is shown at the beginning as a rich, spoilt and prejudiced young woman of twenty. She lives in a quaint little fictional town of Highbury. With the little societal influence, an indulgent governess and a doting father it doesn’t make us at all wonder about misguided notions of her.

She made me gasp in indignation with her meddling of Harriet’s love affair. She certainly made me cringe with her ideas of class and privileges. She made me frown with her misconstrued ideas of Miss. Jane Fairfax and Mr. Dixon with only her over active mind as any sort of evidence.

Ms. Emma Woodhouse didn’t possess any qualities that may endear herself to anyone except the privileges provided to her by the circumstance of her birth. She is beautiful, exceptionally clever and had the advantage of ruling over Hartfield (The Woodhouses’ estate) as to her mother passing away at her very young age.

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The 1996 ‘Emma’ Movie adaptation

But as the pages flew by, my indignation lessened and Emma grew on me with her disposition to her family and how quickly she realises with the clever brain of hers that she has indeed been in the wrong and soon changes her views. She certainly was a loving Aunt and Sister. Her relationship with Harriet is soon changes to one of a true friendship. But the praise should be saved for her doting care towards her vexing father.

Mr. Woodhouse may be a warmhearted fellow but he is one prickly individual package. He thinks of no one else except his own comfort and feelings, even those very close to him. I was half expecting an outburst or a scold towards him at some point. But, even Mr. John Knightley who came so very close disappointed me. The end especially was a true vexation for me considering how beautiful Donwell Abbey was.

Harriet Smith was another person who grew into her character – She became to be woman of resolve and character from dependence and indecisiveness. Yes, she sheds a lot of tears. But who doesn’t. She stands unbending in her trials with a strength of character that does her credit.

Talking of various characters, something certainly has to be said of Mr. Knightley. A man of good fortune and generous good will. A true gentleman towards all. (except one – A jealous heart can be forgiven, can’t it?)It is his acute sense of perception that moves forward the story and gives the readers the reality from the garbled version of Emma’s zealous imagination.

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The 2009 ‘Emma’ television adaptation

Overall Impression

The novel doesn’t have much plot, except for ‘who’s for whom?’. It moves from dinners, balls, tea times to morning visits. It is a story of yester year gentility and their interactions. Class and privilege plays a great role in the characters perceptions. A place that is far removed from the ‘fast moving society’ of big cities has nothing to interest except for weddings, prodigal sons and exploration parties of strawberry patches. Do I make it sound dull? It certainly isn’t. Austen’s wit shines through the dialogues and some of the characterisations does pinches our conscience at times.  Through dry wit and droll Austen takes us about it in pure articulation of a spectacular show of the Regency era.

Rating: 4/5

P.S: I heard it through an audio book as well. My first audio book. amazing experience. Download the Librivox recording here for free.

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