Friday, 6 January 2012
Emma by Jane Austen
Now, some of you may have noticed the lack of spoiler warning that I always put in the title of my post as a 'just in case'. This is because I think this book is old enough to not warrant one - you can find the entire plotline online anyway - and also due to me not thinking I'll really spoil it anyway. I'll do my best to stick to that.
Emma is a well off lady of leisure who enjoys nothing better than using her supposed 'match-making abilities' to ensure her friends end up with those she thinks would suit them. However, Emma herself doesn't believe she'll marry and would rather stay at home looking after her father. This all seems to unravel when her abilities seem to leave her and she is blind to someone who has his sights (and heart) set on her.
When Jane Austen said that she'd create "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." she hit the nail on the head for me. We are introduced to Emma and I quickly found myself seething at the way she acted, she wasn't what I expected from an Austen heroine! Rich, clever and so unbelievably spoilt that I had to take breaks to begin with because I started to loathe the woman's actions. However, after a slow start and some rather bad actions on Miss Woodhouse's part I found that it all started coming to a head and I wanted to keep reading. Suddenly the spoilt little girl showed more character, revealed vulnerabilities and even admitted to making mistakes.
Jane Austen knew just the point where it'd become too much for the reader and so added some light on matters and made us able to see what Emma couldn't. Austen turns her cynical view onto the shallow social etiquettes of the time so they become minefileds that have you cringing if anyone goes against them, which one or two do. Every character has a flaw that she is more than happy to point out - even handsome Mr Knightley - and makes them seem that little more approachable and likeable to the reader.
This book starts to follow the classic Austen way that leaves you feeling glad that you prevailed through the beginning and managed to follow the ups and downs in little Highbury all the way to the end.
I finished this book feeling glad that I had read it; if you have never read a classic before and want to know where to start then I suggest this as a good book for you. It'll give you an idea of what to expect from classics, is shorter than many of the others and will help you to understand the sentence structure and wider language that you'll find in the other books you will want to pick up afterwards.