Thursday, 7 December 2017

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen
First published in England by John Murray in December 1815.

I read my first Jane Austen book, Persuasion, in January, having previously only watched TV or film adaptations. Realising that 2017 is the 200th anniversary year of Austen's death, I challenged myself to read all six of her novels within the year - and have now done so!

How I got this book:
Downloaded the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her. (...) The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments.The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her.

Completely by chance I managed to leave two of the best Jane Austen novels - to my mind at least - until last so have finished my 2017 Jane Austen Challenge on a high note! I think Northanger Abbey is still very much my favourite, but I was pleasantly surprised by Emma. I had expected this book to be as slow as Sense And Sensibility. However I found it more energetic and I loved Emma's unlikeable traits. Her father's total inability to empathise with anyone who doesn't share his narrow views, particularly on ideal diet and exercise, entertained me and raised several chuckles. The small town life of Highbury is cleverly and often wickedly evoked. Austen's portrayal of Miss Bates frequently seemed uncharitable, but I have known a couple of women who chattered away in a remarkably similar fashion.

I did feel a little disappointed in Austen's abandonment of Harriet. I felt as though, having served her purpose to Emma, she became then just a minor plot point to tidy away. I would have preferred a stronger resolution to her storyline. Despite being one of the longer books, I felt Emma maintained a pretty good pace throughout, only seeming to drag in the last few chapters, and I wasn't so frustrated with inane conversations as I had been in previous books. Perhaps I have become more attuned to Austen's writing style this year!

Looking back over my challenge I am glad to have finally read all six of Austen's novels - and even more glad than I can't envisage myself ever having to read certain of them again! I will now have a far greater understanding when Austen characters are alluded to in other novels and may even recognise her storylines and plot devices being 'recycled'.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Jane Austen / Women's fiction / Books from England


  1. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed this! Ever since reading Northanger Abbey, I've been slightly hesitant to read Austen's other novels just because of the potential for overlap in terms of the characteristics of the characters and such. I think I may take a cue from you, though, and also do an Austen challenge! It seems, from reading your reviews, that it's been really good to read them all in a row to really get a sense of the type of writer Austen was. Lovely review, Stephanie!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Thanks Laura!
      Austen does revisit her themes, but the novels are all different so it didn't feel like reading the same book six times. I definitely felt I had a strong understanding of her work by the end of my challenge.

  2. I read this one earlier this year I believe! I'm glad you are happy having read the 6 main Austen novels. I think this one is really good and sweet, but I never really thought about the way Harriet was discarded. I think you're on to something there...

    1. I preferred the Harriet character to Emma so was disappointed when she just faded out. I'd hoped for a bit of a showdown!