|"Emma Woodhouse is priviledged. Very priviledged. She comes from the richest, most important family in her small town. Everyone looks up to her, including her indulgent governess and even more indulgent papa. The theme of her life, from the time she was small, has always been "Emma knows best". Emma takes this to heart when she takes an interest in young Harriet Smith, the beautiful, empty-headed daughter of, well, someone. The book follows Emma's misadventures as she tries to marry Harriet off to the local parson and meddles in the lives of her friends and neighbors, eventually learning that perhaps she doesn't always know best.
This is, I think, one of Jane Austen's less popular works, perhaps because there isn't a great deal of romance in it. It is, as I titled the review, more of a character study, as well as a study of society at that time. On first reading, I didn't care for the book or for Emma's self-centered goodness. After reading it again, I grew to enjoy the book as much if not more than her more popular works, like Pride and Prejudice. The wit is sharp as usual (and maybe slightly more ascerbic), and more thought seems to have been put into the secondary characters. Definitely worth a read. "
"Like all of her novels, Jane Austen's EMMA is essentially a comedy of manners, a work in which the characters move inside a highly restrictive code of conduct and must walk a fine line between the socially acceptable and unacceptable if they are to survive, much less reach their goals. But at the same time the central character, Emma Woodhouse, is a marked departure. Not only is she a young woman of considerable wealth and social standing, she is, as critics are fond of pointing out, "flawed."
The nature of Emma's flaw is essentially Austen's observation of the great failing of the upper-class: an assumption that what they think and do is inevitably correct. And although Emma is quick-witted, generous, and kind, she suffers the effect of this blind arrogance when she comes to believe that she is gifted as a matchmaker and can order the romantic lives of her circle to suit her own liking. The result is a series of seriocomic entanglements and disasters that touches virtually every one with whom Emma comes into contact.
The story requires considerable exposition, and consequently the action is slow to gather; add to this the fact that Emma herself is so overbearing and self-assured that you frequently want to give her a slap. The result is a novel that many, including Austen fans, will find an uphill read. Even so, Austen is writing very close to the peak of her powers here, and her amazing talent for observation, subtle irony, and flashing wit endow EMMA with tremendous charm and interest. In many respects a remarkable novel, but one that I recommend more to determined Austen fans than to casual readers.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer "
"I definitely recommend this book to first time Jane Austen readers, and especially to young girls, for it is so cute and so amusing. I wish I were "forced" to read this in High School for I would have surely written good papers on it. I can't see how anyone can dislike this classic. Jane Austen's character "Emma" has her faults of course, be she is a true character that is amusing and utterly charming, unlike those characters in Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, which by no doubt are wonderful books, but Emma truly has to be my favorite Austen work. It is predictable, even without having seen the movie that was based on this work (that mind some of you was written over 200 years before Alicia Silverstone existed...gosh!) but the predictability of it made it all the more enjoyable, like a sort of mystery in romance. I definitely recommend this book to anyone over the age of 11 or 12. I know I'll make my kids read it some day. It is superb! "