1816 – Classics
The Story: Emma Woodhouse has everything a girl could possibly want. She is young, clever, and beautiful. She lives alone with her father and has the whole household at her disposal. She is the most popular girl in town. And to top it all off, she’s rich. She’s also single, but has convinced herself that she will never marry. Instead, she plays matchmaker to her friends and acquaintances. However, her efforts to bring people together often end in sorrow and heartbreak for the affected individuals. And eventually, she falls in love herself, adding more complication to the mix.
The Opening Line: 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.
What I Loved: This is going to sound really stupid. But I really like the movie Clueless, which is a modern interpretation of the book. So I really enjoyed making the connections between book and film. Within the parameters of the book itself, I loved that everyone had a happy ending. But I kind of expected that. I mean, it’s Austen. It always happens. And I liked Mr. Knightley – his character always held Emma in check but never really took pleasure in gloating over her being wrong. He was a solid, reliable character.
What I Didn’t Love: These characters. Emma won’t stop meddling in other people’s affairs and is also a bit shallow and vain. Her father has so many restrictions and rules that everyone in the book abides by (really, why do they let him run the show? It’s ridiculous!) Harriet is an airhead. Frank willingly sought Emma’s affections while he was engaged. I mean, every character was flawed, but not necessarily in a good way. I found myself disliking most of the characters overall, including Emma at times.
Final Thoughts: Not impressed. Typical Jane Austen fare, but much longer than her other stuff. The plain truth is that most of the characters were so shallow and consumed with their own interests that I just didn’t enjoy the book as a whole. There was so much drama and confusion that I just dreaded picking the book up. Also, this consumed my entire reading week. That never happens, and it’s left me quite displeased. I’m glad to be moving on.