Emma, Jane Austen

“I have observed…in the course of my life, that if things are going outwardly one month, they are sure to mend the next.”

Another Austen book makes for one happy reader! Emma is most definitely my favourite Austen novel so far.

I was excited to read this from the first page, not only from hearing my friends own opinions on the book, but also because Austen plunges her readers straight into the action from the very first chapter. One of the few things I dislike about Austen is how she spends an entire chapter giving us needless background history that is of no real importance to the rest of the novel. So, it seems this time Austen had learnt from her previous writing. I can’t deny it wasn’t a welcome change!

The action throughout the story is brilliantly sustained. Like any good fictional story, there were plot twists, and Emma is a novel that contains practically as many twists and turns as a roller coaster! Yet, although there were many revelations I had foreseen quite a few chapters in advance, there was one that I didn’t see. (Well done, Ms Austen.)

In terms of characters, the protagonist and title character, Emma, is possibly one of my favourite of all Austen’s heroines (I’m sorry Elizabeth Bennett). Emma’s imperfections are what primarily attracted me to her as a female figure: her lack of ability to learn from her mistakes (despite trying so hard), her high regard of herself, her ignorance of her silliness and imperfections and her complete misunderstanding of men, somehow, make me love her more! Yet, like any good Austen woman, she has her positive aspects too: her loyalty and devotion to those she loves – doing whatever she feels she can to help them – is clear throughout the novel, most notably for Miss Smith, Mrs Weston and her own dear father. Although Austen described Emma as a character “whom no one but myself will much like”, I disagree; I like her too! (Well, at least I’m with good company.)

I found Austen’s development of her characters to be brilliantly done. Usually, I become confused as to which character is which – hindered by her use of referring to characters by their surnames, despite often involving complex families – and this novel is no exception. Yet, Austen has created such individual and interesting characters, and developed them so well, that I did not feel the same confusion I normally experience. I particularly enjoyed her maintenance of the comedic character Miss Bates and the pretentiousness of Mrs Elton.

This is a fabulously compelling book, full of beautiful writing by Austen at, potentially, the height of her genius. I like to believe she had fun writing this story – there are certainly moments when Emma’s thoughts are most definitely from the voice of Austen. (Emma doesn’t want to marry, Austen didn’t… a coincidence? I doubt it!) I certainly had fun reading it, that I do know for sure!
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