Austen August is nearly at an end and although I haven’t read as many Jane Austen books as I’d hoped (more on that in my wrap-up blogpost…), I’ve just finished reading another; Emma.
I knew that Emma was the inspiration for on one of my favourite 90’s films, Clueless and, naturally, this made me very excited to read it. HOWEVER, Emma was definitely my least favourite of Austen’s work that I have read so far. It is one of her biggest books and, for me, the pace was too slow. Add that on to the fact that there’s not much of a plot in the book and you’re set for, what was to me, sometimes a boring novel.
I’m not saying that I hated the book. I didn’t even dislike Emma outright (though many reviews and even the blurb warned me that I might). It was just verrryyyyy slow.
Emma Woodhouse is a reasonably well-off woman who lives with her father. Emma has always declared that she would never marry because she could never imagine leaving her father and forfeiting the house and power that she already has. Emma loves to try and organise relationships to blossom between her friends and, according to her, she’s been very successful. That’s up until a new girl arrives called Harriet. Emma sort of takes Harriet under her wing and makes her a puppet. Not everything goes as smoothly as Emma would hope and soon she’s regretting her role in the matchmaking.
At times, the story was amusing. I found Emma to be very vivacious and opinionated (like most of Jane Austen’s heroines). However, there was something qutie different about Emma in comparison to the likes of Fanny and Lizzie Bennett… For me, I found Emma to be occassionally nasty and self-absorbed but at other times, compassionate and empathetic. I couldn’t work out if I was supposed to hate her or feel sorry for her? Upon reading this book, I could definitely tell that something in Jane Austen had changed; her writing style was slightly different, more “grown-up”…
I could also definitely understand how Emma was seen as a very progressive novel; the themes, the idea and the plot of the book are very modern and relevant. The popular and rich girl enjoying the power and popularity she has from her wealth, while others struggle along behind her is an age-old tale.
Overall, I would give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. I can see both how some people adore this book and why others dislike it. I’m not an expert in literature so for me, the rating is based on the difficulty I had staying hooked and involved in the story.
Have you read Emma? What were your thoughts on it?
Thanks for reading!