Author: Jane Austen
Date Finished: 29/04/12
Re-Read? : First time read
Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club
Overall: 4/5 – rather good
I feel like it to me a very long time to read Emma – I can barely remember starting it. I think this is because a) it did take me quite a long time to read b) so much has been going on in my life recently, there hasn’t been much room for anything else c) I read it whilst on holiday in Vienna and that seems like a very long time ago.
Anyway, this book was definitely a pleasant introduction to Jane Austen for me. It wasn’t as hard to read as I feared it may have been, but was certainly not something that I could just speed through. Although there was not a Dickensian amount of description, it certainly didn’t have the fast moving plot-line that induces you to steam through the pages.
I was really really impressed by the plot of Emma. I honestly thought that it would be a bunch of snobs waltzing around talking about marriage and money and not a lot else. While this is certainly true to an extent, the depth of feeling and unpredictability of the storyline were a pleasant surprise. Although I did suspect that Emma would end up with Mr. Knightly from about chapter 4, it was intriguing to see how long it actually took her to realise that. The various twists and turns were always surprising to me and I feel compelled to read other Jane Austen novels in the future.
In terms of characters, I was also impressed. There were quite a few similar characters and at the start of the book I did feel slightly confused and overwhelmed as to who was who, who was married to whom and what everyone was like. However, as the story progressed I had no trouble remembering who every was and there were some characters who vividly stood out. Jane Fairfax was intriguing, Mr. Woodhouse slightly irritating, Mrs Elton insufferable (as Emma might say) and many others who I don’t think I’ll forget in a hurry.
The prose, as would be expected of an accepted classic, was superb and (for me) surprisingly readable for a text written two hundred years ago. It is always a pleasure, I find, to read a book by someone who, like Austen, Dickens, the Brontës etc, writes impeccable prose – you never frown at a badly worded or badly structured sentence, and I just love the old and proper English that they all use.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Emma and although I took it at a leisurely pace (nice way of saying ‘slowly’) it did have me interested. I couldn’t really award 5/5, as I wasn’t exactly gripped and occasionally just had no desire to read it – too much like hard work to read the language sometimes.
But yes, it has made me please I chose so many Jane Austens for my Classics Club list – I will be on the look out for some nice copies of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, ideally to read around Christmas of this year – it seems like an Austeny season to me!