Author: Jane Austen
Date Finished: November 19, 2008 #66
Published: 1816 Pages: 386
So, I've kind of noticed that my 4.25 rating is kind of a go-to rating when I really like a book but it just doesn't have that edge (which I can't define). If you do ratings, do you have a difficult time rating books--stacking them all up against one another, rating for the writing as well as entertainment? It's sticky for me and I've thought about just doing away with the ratings, but on the other hand I like having them. Maybe I just need to sit down and define what my ratings mean? Maybe this is a conversation for another post.
Emma. That's what I'm talking about, right? :) Emma is the story of a young woman who has no desire to get married herself, but she loves to play matchmaker to her friends and acquaintances, especially after a particularly successful "match" between her close friend Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston. When her matchmaking endeavors fail between her friend Harriet and Mr. Elton, and she receives criticism from the respected Mr. Knightley, and she becomes tangled up with the strange and elusive Frank Churchill, Emma reevaluates the way that she interacts with others and what she must do to amend the messes and offenses she has created. (Um, really difficult to shortly summarize an Austen novel!)
I really enjoyed Emma. I was kind of dreading it and have put it off for years. Actually, I started it right before grad school, but never picked it back up after the school workload forced me to put it down. Once I did pick it back up, I vowed to take it slowly, and I'm glad I did because this book was really a treat. Austen isn't one of my favorites--I much prefer the darker Bronte sisters (yes, you know I love Wuthering Heights). I was so familiar with the Pride and Prejudice story line, that when I read the book last winter I wasn't very enthralled. I liked it, but it didn't give me the urge to read anything else right away. Now after finishing Emma, I'm excited to visit some of the others that I haven't read. Yes, I'm still intimidated by the language and the fact that it takes me twice as long to read as a regular novel, but overall I did find the reading very easy to swallow (and follow).
I think part of the reason why I liked Emma a little more than I expected was because on some levels I could relate to Emma, the character. There are thing to like about her, but she also definitely has her faults, whereas Elizabeth Bennett is seemingly perfect (other than her pride...and prejudice). Emma sometimes loses sight of what is really important and she is a little bit of a meddler, but I think she has good intentions. She cares about the happiness of people around her, she just doesn't always know how to effectively instill happiness in others--and more importantly that it isn't necessarily her job to make other people happy by "fixing" their lives.
My only complaint, really, with the book is how neatly everything wraps up in the end. Of course I knew what the outcome was going to be (especially having seen the movie Clueless several times in my teenaged years), but to suddenly realize who it is you want to spend the rest of your life with--"duh, I should have known all along!"? I don't think life is really that clean. And certainly the events leading up to Emma's discovery are not necessarily "clean" but really, Jane--can't you write containing the dark sordid details? Why does everything have to fit so well? And what the heck happens to these characters after they are happily married? I guess that's what the modern day sequels are for. :P
I searched and searched for other reviews of Emma--this is what I came up with. Of course, let me know if I've missed yours.
Amanda, Literary Feline, Book Chronicle