Hello, my lovely Germ readers! I hope your summer is off to a beautiful start, and I hope your summer reading list is filled with many a new adventure as well as some lovely thoughts from people all over the world. When I was asked to write a review for a good classic novel that I can read over and over again, I had no trouble picking the book I would like to share with you all. It really is a cliché book for someone like me to pick because, if you ask any one person who has had a good one hour conversation with me, I’m one hundred percent positive that the phrase “Jane Austen is my Queen” has been uttered. So, to reinforce the stereotype that I am in fact an Austen Addict, I have the absolute pleasure of reviewing my favorite Jane Austen novel: Emma.
So, before I get into what I absolutely adore about Emma, let me give you a little rundown on what the book is about. Emma is, you’ve guessed it, about a young woman named Emma Woodhouse who lives in a village named Highbury with her father. Emma is very wealthy and perfectly content with her life as a single heiress, and she believes that one of her callings is to make love matches throughout the village. Through a series of events, Emma becomes good friends with a young girl named Harriet, and the book follows their lives as Emma mistakenly matches people up and realizes that she is probably most likely in love with her best guy friend. Oh, and there’s also a subtle undertone of politics concerning the Regency Era and perhaps how Emma is a fictional experiment that poses the question, “What would it be like if we had a Queen running the country of England rather than a King?”
I could go on and on about the political play in Emma, but for now, I’m just going to be a fangirl and tell you why Emma is a must-read.
“So, Priscilla, who is your favorite Jane Austen heroine?”
Without a doubt, “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich…” is my all-time favorite Jane Austen heroine. All you Elizabeth Bennet lovers are grand and beautiful people, but Emma Woodhouse steals my heart every time. The loving and very charming heroine is beautiful, faults and all, and she is a ridiculously complex individual who grows on you despite her “blunders” and matchmaking mistakes. When writing about the character Emma, Jane Austen said, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” To a certain extent, this is quite a true statement.When people first read Emma after I recommend it to them, they come to me mid-read and say, “Why is Emma so obnoxious?” And the minute those words leave their mouths, I stick my pointer finger to their lips and superiorly tell them to “Shhhhh.” Because the perfection of Emma is the fact that Austen has created an imperfect character who will learn from her mistakes and become a better and spunkier individual.
What’s lovely about Emma is that, although she makes mistakes, makes reading lists that she will never stick to, and feels the need to control the love lives of everyone in Highbury, she does what she does as a genuine act of kindness. There really is no malice when it comes to Emma trying to better the lives of those around her. Even though she finds herself in a pickle at every single turn, you still find yourself rooting for her, no matter how clueless she is about the truth that is actually staring her right in the face.
Another interesting thing about Emma — which I always feel the need to point out in heated conversations where someone is trying to bash my Queen — is the fact that some readers have a very hard time accepting Emma for being controlling. They believe that she must be cured of her meddling when, really, she’s doing exactly what Mr. Darcy does in Pride and Prejudice. Emma is a snobby elitist (and yes, I still love her) who believes that she knows who should be together and who shouldn’t, but you don’t see people criticizing Darcy for the similar actions he takes in P&P. Juuussst something for you to think about as I move on to…
*Sigh* Mr. Knightley:
Just call me a loved-up 22-year-old with a schoolgirl crush on one of the seemingly blandest people in the Austen-verse.
Part of the reason that Mr. Knightley comes off as an old fart who doesn’t like to have fun is because of the charming and persuasive Frank Churchill; but, Mr. Knightley is genuinely one of the kindest and most compassionate characters in Emma. He’s also incredibly sassy. I mean, I am sassy, but Mr. Knightley would give me a run for my money. Just read: “Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.”
Anyway, Mr. Knightley is one of Emma’s oldest friends (quite literally, he’s been in her life since she was born), and he is also the person who calls Emma out for her meddling. Their banter is so witty and quick, and despite the fact that Emma ruffles his feathers tremendously, their bromance always remains intact.
And in the end (SPOILER ALERT AHEAD), Mr. Knightley finally wins the heart of his most “wonderful, darling friend.” Which just tugs on my heartstrings because of the fact that they enter their marriage as true partners who have genuinely always cared for one another since the very beginning, and UGH!
I could go on, but I fear that my love for these two will just break my heart and cause a gush overload.
The Best Character Ensemble EVER:
Emma truly has the quirkiest cast of characters ever. I don’t really dislike anyone in the novel despite the gossip and hearsay that twists the plot because it’s what makes Emma such a fun read. It’s legitimately like opening the flood gates to small town life, and who goes around talking about who, and who is getting married or needs to leave town unexpectedly for mysterious reasons. It’s so much fun!
From the suave Frank Churchill to the most odious woman ever, Mrs. Elton.
From the humble and lovely Jane Fairfax to the even sassier eldest Mr. Knightley.
Oh, and let us not forget Mrs. Bates (I want to cry every time she wants to read Jane’s letters to Emma).
I love them all.
Don’t get me wrong: The novel tackles several serious issues that I already hinted at; but, what I really love the most about Emma is the fact that it is truly a novel that helps you escape from the real world and welcomes you to the quirky, fun, charming, and lovely world of Highbury.
I give Emma a 10/10 (Can I do that? Do I have that authority? I feel so powerful). Please, please read this lovely book written by my real life heroine. I promise you: You will not regret it!
Happy reading, Germies!
*All Emma quotes are from Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/158/158-h/158-h.htm
*Jane Austen quote about Emma, the character: http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/opno3/eggleston.html