Review: ‘Emma’



by Jane Austen

  • Date finished: Jan. 2, 2013
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Year: 1815
  • Project: Revisiting the Classics Project
  • Reading list: Winter 2012-13
  • Grade: A+
  • Thoughts upon finishing:

I included a picture from the 2009 BBC miniseries of Emma because I checked the series out from the library earlier this week, read like a fool so I could finish and watch it, watched the first two episodes while working out this afternoon, finished the book after dinner, then watched the last two episodes afterward. (What can I say? Joel’s working tonight!) Suffice it to say: I am a HUGE fan of this miniseries, but more on that later.

I included this book as part of my Revisiting the Classics project because when I originally read it, during my freshman year of college, I wasn’t a fan. It wasn’t that I disliked it — it’s hard to dislike anything Jane Austen writes — but it was so…long. Tedious. I had the hardest time getting into the story, following along or getting to know the characters, so I knew I had to give it another try someday. Now, I know to ascribe these iffy feelings toward Emma to the emotional upheaval I felt that first year at Miami (I was severely homesick), so it’s easy to see why I might have been distracted.

I say all that because I definitely liked — no, loved — this second go-around. I still thought it was long; it has to be Austen’s longest book, or maybe it just felt that way because their conversations do have a way of going on at times. And for the romantic, it doesn’t have the tension of Pride and Prejudice, for example: Emma spends all her time worrying about everyone else’s love life and doesn’t consider her’s (the one we’ve all been cheering for) til the very end.

But I liked Emma a lot, and I think it may be because I’m older now, more mature. The love between Emma and Mr. Knightley is one built on friendship, camaraderie, true affection and respect — much like the relationships we aspire to in this modern day and age. So many romances are just that — idealistically romantic. While that can be exciting, it’s also nice to see two people not only fall in love, but be friends with one another, tease each other, argue with each other, give advice and grow frustrated with one another. That’s how real relationships work. You get the sense at the end of Emma that she and Mr. Knightley are going to be really happy with one another, and for some reason, it just made me all so happy as well.

Back to the miniseries, though. When I first saw it a few years ago on TV, it was what convinced me to re-read Emma someday, and I’m so glad I did. And I’m so glad I re-watched the series too. They really did such a good job with this one. The casting is spot on (hel-lo Mr. Knightley, you do not look 40 but that’s OK with me…), the music and settings perfect, and they manage to capture not only the spirit of the book but are surprisingly very true to how Austen wrote it. It’s all in there, including dialogue…fantastic! Really, very impressed. That being said, the ending did make me cry (I’m such a sap), including the extra bit at the end that wasn’t in Austen’s book. But that’s OK. Ahhh, Ms. Austen. How you always manage, nearly 200 years later, to tug on the heartstrings.


3 thoughts on “Review: ‘Emma’

  1. Pingback: ’10 Books I Didn’t Get Until I Was Older’ | Paperback Fool

  2. Pingback: 2013: A Year in Reading | Paperback Fool

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