Book Review: Emma by Jane Austen

Posted May 12, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: Emma by Jane AustenEmma by Jane Austen
Published by John Murray on December 25th, 1815
Genres: Classics, Literature, Romance
Pages: 523
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

'I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.'

Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work.

5 Stars

I have a bit of a rocky relationship with classics. Basically, we rarely get along. Mostly it’s just because I was forced to read many classics in grade school and the simple act of being forced to go through books I was not ready to read and analyze made me despise reading. But, now that I love to read more than anything, I do want to explore more classics on my own time, which is why I suggested to my book club that we read 1 classic every few months. I still need that added pressure of a commitment to read a classic to actually go through with it. But anyway – Emma was our first classic pick.

I’m not an Austen newbie, having read and loved Pride and Prejudice back in 2012. What I love so much about her is that even though her books are classics, they are still easily relatable. They speak truths about people and society that are still relevant today, to a certain extent. I actually adored Emma, the main character, even though she may not have been the most likable character. She is a bit conceited and naive, but she truly has a good heart and a personality that just drew me in.

And who hasn’t had to deal with such characters as Mrs. Elton and Miss Bates – who drive you up the wall with their stuck up attitudes or incessant talking, but who you have to just deal with anyway. The scenes with them did drag on and on, I must say. Probably the weakest part of this novel is its length. There’s quite a few scenes that are just tediously long and boring and almost make you want to tear your hair out, but it’s all worth it in the end.

It’s all worth it, because you’re in it for this killer slow burn romance. *happy sigh* So basically Jane Austen is my classic author soulmate because she gets me. Two of my favorite romantic tropes are hate-to-love romance and slow burn best friend romance. Hate-to-love we got with Pride and Prejudice, and now we have the other in Emma. I could cry tears of joy at how beautiful this romance is. Knightley absolutely destroyed me. I like him more than Darcy – there, I said it!

What I love so much about how Austen write romance is that it’s subtle and beautiful. It doesn’t smack you in the face, because that just wouldn’t fit in that time period and this style of novel, but it’s there. There’s subtle hints, and just standalone sentences that have me sitting on the edge of my seat, tingling with feels. This from a classic, I know, I can hardly believe it myself. But Knightley and Emma are amazing and one of my favorite literary couples for sure. They just complement each other so well, and Knightley is great in giving Emma the reality checks she needs. I could go on and on about how much I love this romance for days.

I will say that Austen’s language still isn’t a cakewalk for me. It’s something you have to take time for and really delve into, but I found a way that makes it so much easier for me. I found a public domain (free) audiobook of Emma with a full cast. Listening to the story, with the characters each having their own unique voices (and DROOLING FOREVER for Knightley’s voice), occasionally following along in my e-book, was the perfect mix for me. So if you want to experience the classics, but like me, sometimes just have too much trouble with the language, consider an audiobook! Librivox has many more free audiobooks of classics that I’m definitely going to be checking out.

Summing Up:

I adored this book, and I’m so happy that I finally strove to read more classics. Emma even beats Pride and Prejudice for me, at this point – something I never thought possible. Not only does it portray a society so well and thoroughly that is also still relevant to today and give us characters that we see our friends and neighbors in, but it also has one of my favorite romances ever. My feels are through the roof. This was totally worth it and a great first experience of an audiobook for me.

GIF it to me straight!

Kind reminder that you should be watching Emma Approved.

Recommended To:

Fans of slow burn romance.

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6 responses to “Book Review: Emma by Jane Austen

  1. OMG, I never thought to audiobook Jane Austen! I know what you mean about the language, but I guess when you’re totally raised on those books, like i was, and have seen every adaptation, it’s like… I don’t know, I speak it. It’s like learning Shakespeare, I guess, but you’re not stupid if you don’t speak it. BUT OMG YESSSSS I ADORE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. KNIGHTLEY. EMMA. BOTH PERFECT. FAULTLESS IN SPITE OF ALL OF HER FAULTS. PERFECT SHIP IS PERFECT. And character growth! And very likable unlikable heroine! And hilariousness! And yeah, omg, Miss Bates’ speeches can go on for PAGES, but I’m just going to assume people in Regency England were far more patient and had far longer attention spans. But yeah, Jane is thoroughly modern in most other ways, and her romances are perfect, and this book is perfect. And you are perfect. And your review is perfect. Wahoooooo

  2. I read this book in high school and recently reread it for pleasure…and it was so much better! Oh, little Emma, who thinks she’s a matchmaker extraordinaire but winds up just messing up things. And Knightly!! I do love how Austen really takes her time with the romance. The slow build is fantastic and I appreciate it.

  3. I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice, but I might give Emma a try one day. I feel like both of these books were like the YA of Jane Austen’s time hahahaha.

  4. I agree! The romance is fantastic. They really do balance each other nicely.

    I read this because I was enjoying Emma Approved. I’m loving EA SO much more now that I have that ‘background’. I can’t wait to see where the series goes.

  5. This is my first time here and I definitely want to second your ranking of Emma ahead of Pride and Prejudice. It’s a wonderful book, complex and sparkling, and probably Austen’s most complete achievement.

  6. Upon finishing this book, it dawned upon me that Austen had skillfully weaved in details to make us blind to what was right in front of us (which in my opinion made the novel even more entertaining). I will most definitely be reading more of Austen’s books!