Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Copyright date: N/A
Set in the small village of Highbury in England in the early nineteenth century, Emma is the story of Emma Woodhouse, the daughter of a wealthy widower who is the center of Highbury society. Emma is a young, well-born, beautiful, if slightly vain girl, who believes herself to be an excellent matchmaker, attributing the recent wedding of her governess as her greatest accomplishment, and sets her sights on the local vicar as the next person she wishes to be married and settled.
Harriet Smith is a newcomer to Highbury, educated at the local boarding house, whose parentage is unknown. Emma takes it upon herself to show Harriet the ways of the world and begins to turn her head away from a previous suitor, a farmer, and to look towards the vicar, Mr. Elton, as a more appropriate match.
What ensues is the sometimes-comical misunderstandings of a girl who wants everyone to be in love, yet has no clue what is truly going on around her. The supporting cast of Emma includes her neighbor, Mr. Knightly who at times is brotherly, while also being the object of everyone’s affection, Mrs. Weston, Emma’s ex governess who dotes on her, Frank Churchill, the charming, yet deceitful step son of Mrs. Weston, as well as members of Highbury society who get caught up in Emma’s antics.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that” Jane Austen’s writing is as witty as you’ve been told. It is easy to forget that this book was originally published in 1815 because the female characters are so well represented, Emma has a goodness in her heart but is still so young that she can’t see what is right in front of her. The tone of the story is light, with balls, dinner, and picnics being the majority of events, but the language shows that there is more going on than what appears to be seen.
What Austen does best in Emma is to tell a story from the point of view from the most flawed character that we encounter and still gets the reader to love her. The main plot or conflict in Emma is that she herself is unaware of the mistakes she is making and through the course of the story there is the realization that she knows much less than she previously believed. The evolution of the main character from “clueless” matchmaker to falling into her own love trap will delight the reader.
Though not the most complex writing or storyline, it is easy to see why Emma is a book that has been popular for almost two hundred years. Rich with characters and dialogue that never leaves the reader doubting what the character is thinking, Emma is one of Austen’s most entertaining reads while also highlighting the idea that as young people we think we might have all the answers, but perhaps we should stop and listen to what is really going on around us.
Emma Woodhouse wants those around her to be happy and in love, and she will stop at nothing to push two people together, regardless of their own feelings, but what happens when she realizes she’s gone too far?
Who Should Read It
Mostly geared towards women, Emma has a little romance, but is more a story of a young woman finding her path. Set in the early 1800’s you can’t help but picture the period costumes and the village of Highbury as you read.
Why I Read It
I had read both Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility and loved them and I wanted to expand my relationship with Jane Austen.
Jane Austen was a writer who was born in 1775 and who wrote until her death in 1817. Born into a family whose patriarch was a reverend, Austen was one of seven children and her father was always supportive of Jane’s love of writing. Though she was writing seriously well before her first novel Sense & Sensibility was published in 1811. Austen went on to publish Pride & Predjudice, Mansfield Park, Emma before she died with her sister Cassandra and brother Henry getting her final two works, Persuasion and Northhanger Abbey, published after her death.
*Coming of Age
*Frank Churchill: friend or foe?
*Discuss Emma’s treatment of Ms. Bates.
Reading Level/Interest Age