The Big Read

No.40 – Emma, Jane Austen Read 12/10/13

I have a bizarre feeling of patriotic love for Jane Austen and I think it is because I live 4 villages down from where she lived in Hampshire. I feel connected to her through a shared love of this part of the country and so I am always a little bit biased about her. I am especially biased about Emma because it is set in West Sussex, the county neighbouring Hampshire, and it was written in its entirety at her house in Chawton.

You won’t be surprised to hear then that I found this a comforting and familiar read. I had just left for University when I started reading this and it was a lovely way to keep the home sickness at bay. I had watched some years ago a BBC adaptation and I half remembered the story going in but I had forgotten enough about it to still be caught out by the twist. I must admit it started of for me a bit slow. This novel is all about the character progression of Emma and to start off with I found I really didn’t like being in her company; she was conceited and annoying. But that’s good! That’s the whole point of the story, Emma grows up and develops as a person so she can’t start of as a perfect heroine can she?

For me there is also less of Austen’s humour in this novel. The satire is a lot more subtle than it is in say Sense and Sensibility  mostly because the person that is being satirised is the protagonist. Emma doesn’t need to be ridiculed as Mrs Bennett is because she learns the error of her ways and I like that, although it provides less comedy. I also noticed how boring life must have been because the events that occur in Emma are so much more trivial than in the rest of Austen’s work. Yes there is a bit of scandal but most of the plot is going into the village, having such and such to visit, going to visit such and such. I feel it’s no wonder Emma starts meddling in people’s love lives because she must have been bored out of her brains.

This felt to me to be much less social commentary and much more in the tradition of ‘chick-lit’. It is a really pleasant, enjoyable read which isn’t too taxing and is rounded of nicely with everyone getting together. But what I loved most of all was the idea that people can change and you can make up for your mistakes. Emma is a wonderful 3-D character; she has flaws and she grows. She is the kind of women I want to read about even if I would avoid her company at the beginning.

Rating 4/5

Would recommend to: read on holiday.

 

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