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Emma Woodhouse is beautiful, clever, rich, and quite certain she is immune to romance. Inspired by the recent marriage of her friend and governess, Emma decides to play matchmaker to a young girl, Harriet Smith. Emma's good-hearted, though misdirected, attempts proceed to cause many a comedic misunderstanding. Emma is a timeless tale of a young woman seeking her true nature and finding true love in the process.

Of all Jane Austen's heroines, Emma Woodhouse is the most flawed, the most infuriating, and, in the end, the most endearing. Pride and Prejudice's Lizzie Bennet has more wit and sparkle; Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey more imagination; and Sense and Sensibility's Elinor Dashwood certainly more sense--but Emma is lovable precisely because she is so imperfect. Austen only completed six novels in her lifetime, of which five feature young women whose chances for making a good marriage depend greatly on financial issues, and whose prospects if they fail are rather grim. Emma is the exception: "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." One may be tempted to wonder what Austen could possibly find to say about so fortunate a character. The answer is, quite a lot.

For Emma, raised to think well of herself, has such a high opinion of her own worth that it blinds her to the opinions of others. The story revolves around a comedy of errors: Emma befriends Harriet Smith, a young woman of unknown parentage, and attempts to remake her in her own image. Ignoring the gaping difference in their respective fortunes and stations in life, Emma convinces herself and her friend that Harriet should look as high as Emma herself might for a husband--and she zeroes in on an ambitious vicar as the perfect match. At the same time, she reads too much into a flirtation with Frank Churchill, the newly arrived son of family friends, and thoughtlessly starts a rumor about poor but beautiful Jane Fairfax, the beloved niece of two genteelly impoverished elderly ladies in the village. As Emma's fantastically misguided schemes threaten to surge out of control, the voice of reason is provided by Mr. Knightly, the Woodhouse's longtime friend and neighbor. Though Austen herself described Emma as "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like," she endowed her creation with enough charm to see her through her most egregious behavior, and the saving grace of being able to learn from her mistakes. By the end of the novel Harriet, Frank, and Jane are all properly accounted for, Emma is wiser (though certainly not sadder), and the reader has had the satisfaction of enjoying Jane Austen at the height of her powers. --Alix Wilber

Customer Reviews:

  • Favorite book for light reading
    I appreciated the service I received. My order arrived in a timely manner, well packaged, great service. I'll surely use again....more info
  • Enjoyable Read
    Emma Woodhouse is an atypical heroine for a Jane Austen novel. Usually, we see disadvantaged girls struggle to find happiness through marriage. In Emma's case, we see a girl who has everything in the world she could want. She is rich, pretty, and happy. She has no desire to be married, as it would interfere with the simple life she enjoys with her father and she knows it would break his heart to be parted from her. The story follows Emma's life beginning at 21 as she tries to help a young girl named Harriet Smith marry above her station. Emma also engages in a flirtation with a young man and generally makes a bit of a mess of things whenever she gets involved.

    I have read that Jane Austen felt that Emma was a character only her creator could like. I would have to disagree with that. Emma is certainly flawed, but her heart is almost always in the right place. Pride has blinded her to her own limitations but she is also one who does not shrink from the responsibility of her mistakes and tries very hard to learn from them. I found this admirable and grew to like her more and more as the book progressed.

    Aside from Emma, the rest of the cast was also very well written. Her father is a complete hypochondriac and often engages in behavior that would typically be considered highly rude. Yet, he is motivated so completely by a desire to be kind to others that his misguided application of that desire only endears him to the reader. Mr. Knightley, the no-nonsense friend of the family is admittedly not the most complex character in the world, but he is a very good one and his solidity is a great counterbalance to Emma's wishful thinking.

    In summary, Emma is a nice change of pace from Jane Austen's other novels. It starts off well and grows more engaging as it continues. The characters are interesting and Emma herself grows considerably during the course of the novel....more info
  • Wanders, But Has A Strong Ending
    The present novel is about the young women, Emma Woodhouse, who lives a pampered life with her father in Sussex. The family is well off financially and one of the wealthiest in Hartfield, part of Highbury. Her mother has passed away and her sister has married and left the home. Emma's governess, who is her best friend as well, has gone leaving Emma alone with her father. The story revolves around Emma's social life in the town and the development of Emma as a person. Beyond knowing those facts, you should not read any more about the plot until you read the novel, or you will risk spoiling the read. I will not give away the plot, but will only describe the writing style and structure.

    I read Austen's "Mansfield Park," then read some analysis by Nabokov from his Cornell "Lectures on Literature" and the comments of Jane Stabler from the introduction of the Oxford version. After that I got a bit excited and read Austen's early writing "Sense and Sensibility," along with the analysis by Margaret Doody in the Oxford version. Yes, I guess I am now an Austen fan, and it is a pity that she did not live longer. "Pride and Prejudice" was my third Austen novel and so far the most fun to read.

    Based on the four novels written over two different time periods, it is clear that she developed a certain fixed writing style and a common structure. She uses the early pages to introduce the families, and other characters, and give start the story. She moves characters around from place to place in part for time shifting. She does a wrap up in the last few chapters.

    Those opening chapters are an obstacle for most readers. She uses her own vocabulary and has an unusual way of structuring her prose. That structure is a trademark of Austen's writing. Also, she manages to work in a lot of drama and social issues with some humour and irony.

    From what Nabokov and others are saying, she got her inspiration from Sheridan, Richardson, Henry Fielding, Sir Walter Scott, and the poetry of Cowper. She modulates the complexity of the prose to reflect the characters - such as making the sentences of Sir Thomas Bertram in "Mansfield Park" somewhat elaborate instead of describing how the character is dressed or a similar description to convey qualities and traits, i.e.: she uses the complexity of speech to convey character. Also, she uses lateral shifts and epigrammatic notations and similar literary techniques. These techniques are interesting for some readers but just confusing for others. It is all part of the price of admission to entering the world of Jane Austen, and it is part of the fun in reading her novels.

    Overall, once you get past reading and digesting 50 pages or so and have absorbed the Jane Austen vocabulary (words such as felicity, remonstrance, countenance, etc.) and understand the structure of her prose, the book becomes a compelling read. The second Austen novel seems much easier than the first.

    This was written by a mature Jane Austen and by way of comparison, it is an interesting read but less complicated than "Mansfield Park." It not as interesting nor as witty as "Pride and Prejudice." The read is slow and a bit diffuse since there is no clear set of protagonists other than Emma, her brother-in-law, her reserved father and a few other residents of the town. The novel wanders for 350 pages, then comes together strongly at the end. Overall, it is a delightful and a pleasant read....more info
  • Satisfying Romance
    This book was a pretty funny societal review from Jane Austen's point of view, pointing out the hypocrisies of London at the time but not failing to do justice to the integretity of the characters. I loved the book...what more can I say? It's definitely geared towards females, obviously, but anyone can read it for lighthearted, enjoyable reading. It isn't that long of a book, and, after all, its a classic. So read it as soon as possible!...more info
  • Almost as good as P&P!
    I really enjoyed this a lot. It's not quite as good as Pride and Prejudice, but it is better than Sense and Sensibility. It still has a lot of things to say that are still very much pertinent to modern times. Austen's longest work is an entertaining romp that shows what happens when one young girl gets too involved in the affections of (and between) others. Although overlong, it's still a really, really entertaining read....more info
  • Wonderful!
    For some reason, I always think of Emma as my least favorite Austen, but I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it. Emma is a very imperfect heroine, but Jane Austen was wrong in supposing that no one but herself would like her. I find Emma to be refreshing as a heroine, and she stands is stark contrast to Fanny Price in Mansfield Park (my least favorite Austen heroine). There is none of Fanny's timidness or inability to stand up for herself. Emma is independent and strong, and much more modern than other female characters in classic literature. Her mistakes in pride and arrogance are such as we all make on a daily basis. She presumes to understand people's emotions and thoughts and thinks she has a right to order things as she would have them be...very type "A", in my opinion. But, as her intentions in every case are good, as she only wants those she loves to be happy and prosperous, one cannot really blame her.

    The other characters in this book are also very satisfying, particularly Jane Fairfax and Mr. Knightley. Jane is the poor orphan on whom everyone in Highbury, the village in which Emma lives, dotes upon. Emma, of course, can't stand her at first, but only because of the knowledge that Jane is superior to her in many ways. How many of us have declared that we don't like someone simply because they're better at something than we are? Mr. Knightley, Emma's neighbor and long-time family friend, is her conscience, calling attention to those errors in judgment that Emma constantly seems to make. He often lectures her, but only in an attempt to set her on a better course. When faced with the prospect of losing him, Emma must confront her own feelings and question her own situation in life.

    It's altogether an enjoyable read, with plenty of twists and blunders, and should appeal to any fan of Jane Austen...or just anyone who wants to read the real version of the movie "Clueless"....more info
  • A Good Start To My Austen Book Craze
    I have always loved Emma the movie, the one with Gwyneth Paltrow in it. Her Emma is so clueless, so innocent, yet somehow loveable. I finally decided to pick up the classic novel to see if the movie missed anything and to get the full story straight from the author. The book delighted me just as much as the movie did, as I am pleased to say.
    Emma Woodhouse is a young, rich woman living with her germaphobe father in the town of Highbury. Bored and eager for some sort of excitement, she decides to matchmake her new friend Harriet Smith with the local vicar Mr.Elton. Emma is convinced that her matchmaking skills are among the best, wrongly taking credit for pairing her governess Miss Taylor with their neighbor Mr.Weston. Many mishaps occur, and many hearts broken and confused, but in the end all is well, with all three of the main couples finding happiness.
    It took me a little while to get in the vocabulary of the time, but once I did the book breezed by. Emma is so flawed like all of us; that is why we love her. Just because this book was written almost 200 years ago doesn't make it bad: it makes it better....more info
  • Confusion and Intrigue in Jane Austen's Emma
    Very much like Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Emma, a novel by Jane Austen, is a tale of confusion and intrigue over the universal topic of love. The reader's feelings of befuddlement and captivation, while nonexistent at the beginning of the novel, will grow exponentially until the climax. At the end of the novel, everything finally makes sense and the characters live on happily ever after. This is a very satisfying ending, clearing up all earlier confusion, although it leaves little room for wonder and thought after the reader has finished the book. Though I found this novel very confusing, and therefore unenjoyable at times, the intrigue and vivid setting and characterization overpowered my initial dislike. I would recommend Emma, to seventh through ninth grade students who are capable of deciphering meaning from complicated words and are able to pick out the essential subject matter of passages that do not state the meaning strait out. Readers will enjoy the frenzied, almost comical, characters in all their confusion over who loves whom, as well as all the wonderful descriptions, and the satisfying ending. ...more info
  • Poor KINDLE edition
    I'm writing in reference to the Kindle version of this book. Since I like the book itself, I gave 2 stars; however, this version was lacking in extras. I was seriously disappointed to find no footnotes, no introduction, no nothing. Just the book pure and simple. To top it off, there were many instances of multiple words jammedtogetherlikethis. I wish the 'sample' had been available when I ordered it from my Kindle. I certainly would have chosen another one of the available editions....more info
  • Delightful Reading!
    Austen weaves a brilliant tale of Emma Woodhouse, a young socialite, and her community in Victorian England. Emma cannot resist inserting herself into the affairs and pursuits of her neighbors and dear friends and the resulting chaos is delightful. Emma is indeed a flawed character, but so are the others in this tale, which makes it all the more authentic. Emma's belated realizations of the results of her machinations are humorous as well as often disastrous. Feeling she must match her new protogee, Harriet Smith, with a suitable husband, Emma manages to mangle the situation not once but three separate times. Of course in the end it all comes out well but it is a wonderful ride. Highly recommended....more info
  • EMMA: A Novel Of Growing Self-Awareness
    In the constricted world of Jane Austen's EMMA, there is a general lack of a sense that anything exists beyond that which Emma can see or Austen can relate. Emma, her family, and friends live either in the small town of Hartfield or its equally miniscule environs. The action of the novel is more or less coterminous with the very real events of the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, or even just some whooping and hollering of some village bad boys. This smallness of space is matched by a smallness of psychological depth. Austen tacitly assumes that good is ubiquitous, and where good seems to be lacking, its normal contrary is not evil at all. Those who show a deficiency of good either are merely mischievous or are incapable of doing no more than sputtering about their evil. Further, those who sputter do so in isolation and do not seriously disrupt the social order. They are neither punished nor remorseful. In the interactions among the characters, Austen in EMMA makes a marked change in the basic makeup of her cast. In PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, for example, she shows only the landed gentry. But here, Austen presents a definite variation in character. It is this wider cast of type that allows Austen to play the magician and make the reader think that Austen's world is bigger than it is. And at the center of this static world is Emma herself, who, in the canon of Austen, is the heroine only in the broadest sense of the word.

    For the first time in any of her novels, Austen gives the reader a heroine who has numerous grievous faults. Emma is a young headstrong woman who comes across as a huge snob. Emma describes Mrs. Elton, who is more purposeful in her mischief, as "self-important, presuming, familiar, ignorant, and ill-bred." Emma might as well have been talking about herself. Readers who note Emma's genteel manner allow that surface patina of gentility to suggest that there is a basic difference between her and Mrs. Elton. This difference is more a matter of degree than in kind. In her harsh treatment of Harriet Smith and disparagement of Jane Fairfax, Emma is more than thoughtless; she is downright sadistic. The best that can be said for her is that in the benevolent atmosphere of Jane Austen, nastiness is not permitted to materially affect the outcome. Those who are nasty are rendered impotent in their nastiness, like Mrs. Elton, or are allowed to improve by degrees through a slow process of self-realization, like Emma. And it is this growing understanding of Emma's own faults that is at heart the theme of the book. The plot, which is really an incredibly contorted series of misunderstandings based mostly on Emma's constant misapprehensions of who loves whom, is the hook by which the theme comes into play. Regardless of who tries mightily to set things aright, the only one who can teach Emma to look inwardly for wisdom is Emma herself. The comedy that results from all these miscalculations sets up the satire which arises from the contrast between the way Emma misreads relationships and the way that the readers do not. Despite the fact that some readers complain that the smallness of setting renders the smallness of the morality as insignificant is to misunderstand why each new generation of reader finds Emma to be an uplifting vision of the regeneration of a woman that is probably not unlike many of her readers.
    ...more info
  • Terrible
    This is the first time that I am writing an Amazon review, and I am doing it because this novel is possibly the worst book that I have ever read. The book has no plot. It is simply a love story with some irony mixed into the plot. Jane Austen is a terrible writer who takes three pages to describe a simple idea, and clearly she does not know that run-on sentences are not appealing to readers. Some sentences even go on for pages. Please do not read this book or any of Jane Austen's books! They are all trash with no plotline and shallow characters. Yes, I do hate Jane Austen....more info
  • Aunt Jane, Georgian Spinster Queen of English Prose
    I'm reading Emma again for the third time. It happened like this: I thought I'd try an audio book on CD for the first time, something to listen to in the car besides music. Scanning the shelves at the local bookstore, I saw loads of contemporary best sellers, self and financial help, new age and evangelical Christian spirituality, and Jane Austen's Emma in MP3 format, all on one disc. Austen! Water in the desert! I scooped her up.

    For the last week I've been listening to her in my car. At the beginning it was without much concentration. Over the next few days my attention gradually increased. Now I'm hooked. Down the throat. Through the gut. Again. It happens to me every time I return to Jane. I just can't get enough. The last two nights I've gone to bed reading ahead of where I've listened. Even though the story is coming back to me, I'm still taken by it, hook line & sinker. Jane's reeling me in, and the line is utterly slack.

    Now, I am a guy. I break out in hives if I happen to accidentally brush a romance novel. As far as I am concerned, bodice rippers where the tall olive skinned duke inevitably has his forceful yet gentle way with the heroine are good only as ammunition with which to tease the women in my life who enjoy such tripe. Having said this, I realize a lot of people also refer to Jane Austen as "Chick Lit," equating her with the likes of Nicolas Sparks. For the record, those people are on crack.

    Austen is much more a comedic writer than a writer of what we call romances. She is simply a hoot. Subtle disjunctures and ironies build to exquisite crescendos. She has me laughing every other page. Her characters, even her unpleasant and ridiculous ones, tend to breed sympathy. Like most of my favorite books, she creates worlds, or a world, really (all of her books are set in the same historic and geographic milieu,) which comforts and gladdens. The feeling I get from her is much like the feeling I get when I read Tolkien describe the Shire or Last Homely House, or something like the children's book Frog & Toad to my niece.

    It's an eating poached egg on toast snuggled up inside under a quilt on the couch with a cup of tea on a rainy day kind of feeling. (Don't you just love English prepositions and phrasal verbs? Try doing that in French! Austen and phrasal verbs: two of the many reasons English speakers ought to rejoice in their language, I say!)

    Anyway, during all of her stories, including Emma, Europe was being blown apart by the Napoleonic Wars, and the only oblique references in any of her stories to that maelstrom is that Great Britain has a mobilized Army (Pride & Prejudice) and an active Navy (Persuasion.) The reason the military is important has nothing to do with Austerlitz, Waterloo, Trafalgar or any of that nonsense. Rather, it is that both services have officers which make very suitable suitors for women of her heroines' social positions (Lt. Wickham & Capt. Wentworth, for example.)

    Some brand this awful: elitist, sexist, parochial. I, for one, find it beautiful. Small, intimate, ordered, secure, anchored. Very human and sane, that is.

    What matters most is not what some silly diminutive one armed Corsican with maniacal delusions of world conquest is doing; no. What really matters is whether and how Mr. Woodhouse takes his gruel, or if Mr. Elton will propose to Harriet. Or if Mr. Knightly and Mrs. Weston have come to visit yet, today. Will Mr. Frank Churchill come, and what is he like? Has Emma truly foiled Mr. Martin's advances on her friend, he being an entirely unsuitable yeoman farmer? Harriet must marry a gentleman, you see.

    Just so. Indeed, these are truly the things that mattered- and still matter- most. Don't let the history books and the reverse snobbery of some critics fool you.

    Instead go read this book, and every other that Jane wrote, and prepare to be enchanted. ...more info
  • What's Love Got To Do With It?

    One could hardly have lived in a more constricted and insular world than did Jane Austen and yet she managed to bring her world to life with wit, vividness and insight that are rarely found in the works of today's modern authors.

    Although PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is generally considered Austen's masterpiece as well as her "sunniest" novel, I believe I like EMMA just a little more because it is a little more complex. The overly indulged daughter of a self-indulgent man, Emma, though well-intentioned and always displaying impeccable manners, certainly isn't without fault. She is, to put it mildly, accustomed to "having her own way" and she's possessed of a "disposition to think a little too well of herself." A "little too well of herself," indeed. Residing at the pinnacle of society, Emma believes if the world doesn't revolve around her, rather than the sun, then it should.

    The plot of EMMA centers around romance and courtship and showcases the distinctions of gender and class as well as the importance of manners and decorum that were so prevalent in Austen's England. Although encompassing a rather convoluted plot, EMMA is really the story of Emma, herself, and how she evolves from a self-indulgent and shallow girl, albeit a very intelligent and clever one, into a considerate and giving woman, one who is able to make the compromises love and marriage require.

    As the novel opens, Emma, who lives with her widowed father on a large estate called Hartfield, near the village of Highbury, has just lost her longtime governess and companion, Anne Taylor, to marriage with a wealthy denizen of Highbury society, Mr. Weston.

    The vain and self-centered Emma feels adrift without someone to amuse her, so, to fill the void left by Miss Taylor, Emma "adopts" seventeen-year-old Harriet Smith as her "new" best friend.

    At first glance, Harriet would seem to be a rather odd choice as a friend for Emma, for the two girls could hardly be more different. Harriet is an orphan whose parental origins are unknown, and she lives at the boarding school where she is an assistant to its headmistress, Mrs. Goddard. Worse yet, Harriet is both immature and insecure, and as such, she indulges all of Emma's worst qualities. An inveterate meddler, Emma, immediately upon taking Harriet under her wing, decides to play matchmaker and prevails upon her to refuse a very good and sincere proposal of marriage from Robert Martin, a local farmer. Harriet, Emma tells her, should set her sights a bit higher. In fact, Emma already has the "perfect" husband-to-be chosen for Harriet...Philip Elton, the local vicar. The only problem is...Philip Elton has set his sights set on Emma.

    Enter Mr. George Knightly, a thirty-seven-year-old bachelor and master of Donwell Abbey. Mr. Knightly's older brother, John, is married to Emma's older sister, Isabella, and while John can be quite severe and impatient, George is a paragon of sincerity and good breeding. Throughout the book, George Knightly will function as the one voice of calm, level-headed reason, and, additionally, he'll be the only person not afraid to point out Emma's faults to her and criticize her when he thinks necessary.

    Of all the many characters in EMMA, George Knightly is the most consistent, the one who doesn't undergo much change. In this respect, EMMA differs greatly from typical romance novels, even romances of Austen's day. Books with strong romantic subplots, both then and now, usually require the male character, rather than the female, to change before he's capable of mature love.

    Mr. Knightly first shows us his criticism of Emma when he opposes her friendship with Harriet Smith, for he has the insight to see that the friendship not only does neither girl any good, but brings about harm, instead. Furthermore, Mr. Knightly's insights are shown to be correct when Philip Elton breaks Harriet Smith's heart and surprises Emma and marries the vulgar-but-wealthy Augusta Hawkins.

    As Mr. Knightly points out, a more fitting friend for Emma would be Jane Fairfax, an orphan of much higher social status than Harriet, but below Emma. Emma, though, is annoyed by Jane Fairfax, but not because of any negative qualities inherent in Jane, herself. Quite the opposite; Jane Fairfax is, like Emma, herself, charming, intelligent and beautiful...qualities that certainly don't please the vain and self-centered Emma. While Harriet's company allows Emma to shine, Emma would most likely have to share the limelight with Jane and sharing the limelight is not something Emma is accustomed to do, nor does she want to become accustomed to doing it.

    Although EMMA may seem to be a fairly straightforward story of love, courtship, and marriage, it would be doing the book, and Austen, a grave injustice if one failed to delve more deeply into the social dynamics that govern its world.

    In EMMA, one's status in society is of paramount importance. With the exception of royalty, the landed gentry, as exemplified by the Woodhouse and Knightly families, stand at the top of the social ladder. Those engaged in trade, no matter how wealthy, can never hope to achieve the status of the landowners, a fact that places Mr. Weston (the husband of Anne Taylor) just below them. Each person must know his or her own place in society and keep to it, adhering to its dictates and conventions. When one attempts to "break societal rank" as did poor Harriet Smith, nothing but heartbreak can follow.

    Very interestingly, the characters show an almost total disregard for love and affection, even where marriage is concerned. Especially where marriage is concerned. Once again, both class and social status are the prime motivators. This is shown most clearly when Emma, herself, decides that a character named Frank Churchill would make an ideal husband for her even though she has never even met him. She knows Frank Churchill's status in society, she knows his reputation, she knows his family. Whether or not Emma "loves" Frank Churchill is beside the point and not really taken into consideration. This is made all the more curious, at least to modern day readers, by the fact that Emma, as a wealthy heiress and one very highly placed in society, could really marry anyone she chooses and get away with it, unlike poor Harriet Smith or even the impoverished Jane Fairfax who must choose their spouses wisely and "make a good match." Even when a woman does acquire a fianc¨¦, in Emma's world, propriety and decorum dictate that she not call him by his first name until after they are man and wife.

    The most complex characters in the book are, undoubtedly, Emma Woodhouse, herself, and Frank Churchill. Frank Churchill is something of an enigma, as is Jane Fairfax, for much of the novel, but Austen eventually makes all motivations clear.

    EMMA is primarily Emma Woodhouse's book, but it is not hers entirely. Austen skillfully weaves the stories of George Knightly, Harriet Smith, Robert Martin, Jane Fairfax, Frank Churchill, Philip Elton, Augusta Hawkins and several others around Emma's. At times, especially when character motivations are clouded, the book almost has the air of a mystery novel about it, though, as in all of Austen's books, social comedy and irony take center stage.

    During the time Jane Austen was writing, the Romantic movement was approaching its zenith. Wordsworth and Beethoven were contemporaries of Austen. Austen, however, never really indulged in the intense emotionalism of Romanticism, preferring, instead, to concentrate on the foibles of domesticity. Order was far more important to Austen than was emotion, and in EMMA, order is far more important to both Emma and her father, and to George Knightly, than is change. The realization of making a "good" marriage is far more important than the experience of love.

    EMMA richly deserves its place among the classics of English literature. Not only does the book encompass a timeless story, it is set against the backdrop of the English social strata. Most importantly, however, is the novel's centerpiece...Emma, herself, a woman who seems to have all the answers, except those that concern her own heart.


    Recommended: To all lovers of great literature.
    ...more info
  • Bargain on a classic
    I purchased 10 of these for my reading club.
    They were delighted with the attactive, light
    weight book, and the great price!...more info
  • "I seem to have been doomed to blindness."
    Emma Woodhouse, "handsome, clever, and rich," is the 21-year-old daughter of the elderly owner of Hartfield, the largest estate in Highbury. Though only a couple of hours away from London by carriage, Highbury regards itself as an isolated and virtually self-contained community, with the Woodhouse family the center of social life and at the top of its social ladder. Emma, doting on her hypochondriac father, whom she represents to the outside world, has grown up without a mother's softening influence, and at twenty-one, she is bright, willful, and not a little spoiled.

    Having too little to do to keep out of trouble, Emma's hobby is matchmaking, "the greatest amusement in the world." Unfortunately, her sophistication in the social graces does not extend to much insight into human beings. Taking Harriet Smith, a young woman of "questionable birth" under her wing, Emma makes Harriet her "project," educating her in the social graces, convincing Harriet not to marry farmer Robert Martin, who has courted her, and ultimately persuading Harriet that the vicar, Mr. Elton, is falling in love with her.

    Bored and without a large circle of "suitable" friends, Emma is an incorrigible meddler, playing with the lives of those around her, snubbing those she considers inferior, gossiping about others in an attempt to divert attention to herself, and misreading intentions. Only Mr. Knightly, sixteen years older than Emma and a friend of her father, stands up to Emma and tells her what he thinks of her behavior, and it is through him that she eventually begins to grow.

    Love and the formal protocol of marriage are a major focus here, with marriage more often a merger of "appropriate" families than the result of romance or passion. Class distinctions, acknowledged by all levels of society, limit both personal friendships and romantic possibilities, and as Emma's matchmaking fails again and again, causing grief to many of her victims, Emma begins to recognize that her pride, willfulness, and love of power over others have made her oblivious to her own faults. Austen shines in her depiction of Emma and her upperclass friends, gently satirizing their weaknesses but leaving room for them to learn from their mistakes-if only they can learn to recognize the ironies in their lives. Though Emma may be, in some ways, Austen's least charming heroine, she is certainly vibrant and, with her annoying faults, a most realistic one. Mary Whipple

    Lady Susan, 1794
    Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics), 1811
    Pride and Prejudice, 1813
    Mansfield Park, 1814
    Northanger Abbey, 1817 (posthumously)
    Persuasion, 1817 (posthumously)

    ...more info
  • Emma
    Emma, written by Jane Austen is story about a clever, rich, and high society woman, named Emma Woodhouse. Throughout the beginning of the novel, Emma is portrayed a na?ve child, with a broad imagination. Due to her broad imagination, Emma bases her own happiness solely upon her matchmaking abilities. However, although Emma has the best intentions, her actions eventually lead to the worst results.
    Through the key marriages of Mr. Elton, Mr. Churchill, and Mr. Knightley, the theme of self-revelation through the actions of marriage is revealed in the novel, Emma.
    Emma attempts to make a match between When Harriet Smith and Mr. Elton. However she is blinded in noticing Mr. Elton's love for her. Mr. Elton does declare his love for Emma, which leaves her bewildered. After this incident, Emma's first revelation is that her matchmaking abilities are flawed and resolves that she will no longer match-make.
    Emma then meets Frank Churchill. Emma soon begins to realize that she might be in love with Frank Churchill. However, soon after Emma learns of the impending marriage between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax.
    However, soon after this event, Emma's third revelation begins to arise. Emma recovers from the disappointing event concerning the marriage of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, and finds herself suddenly appreciating Mr. Knightley. Emma now begins to realize at this point in the novel that Mr. Knightley is her true love.
    In the beginning of the novel, Emma Woodhouse is portrayed as a conceited and imaginative child, who lacks the knowledge of true love and self-respect. At the end of the novel, through the events of marriage between Mr. Elton, Mr. Churchill, and Mr. Knightley, Emma ironically becomes a mature and selfless woman. Although Emma's character throughout the novel changes dramatically from a spoiled heiress to a mature and selfless woman, I believe that Emma's endurance and triumph of numerous obstacles of oppression, gave her the strength to liberate herself from her stereotypically society, thus allowing her to realize and attain her own desires and dreams.
    In conclusion, I would consider Emma a very good book. However, I think the novel's only faults are that it was extremely long and at some points very difficult to understand.

    ...more info
  • Terrible
    This is the first time that I am writing an Amazon review, and I am doing it because this novel is possibly the worst book that I have ever read. The book has no plot. It is simply a love story with some irony mixed into the plot. Jane Austen is a terrible writer who takes three pages to describe a simple idea, and clearly she does not know that run-on sentences are not appealing to readers. Some sentences even go on for pages. Please do not read this book or any of Jane Austen's books! They are all trash with no plotline and shallow characters. Yes, I do hate Jane Austen....more info
  • Priceless Gem
    I saw the BBC film adaptation of this (not the one with Gwyneth Paltrow) AND Clueless before reading this, so I was expecting to have some difficulty, as tends to happen when I've seen the film first.

    However, I really enjoyed reading and although it takes some getting used to, I enjoyed the rich and interesting dialogue and language.

    This is the third Jane Austen book I have read - after Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. This is by far my favourite as I thought the character of Emma was very well developed and very enjoyable - I couldn't help but love her despite her pride and prejudices. Haha.

    I did attempt to read Pride & Prejudice a few years back and gave up because of Austen's writing style. Emma has encouraged me to persevere, and I just love the P&P BBC series - it's amazing!

    Emma (the book and the character) is not to everyone's taste but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this....more info
  • classic
    It was a good book, but older writing styles are hard for me to get used to. I liked the characters, but the movie ruined it for me. ALWAYS read the book before you see the movie....more info
  • Emma
    Jane Austen's, Emma, is about an upper-class young woman from the 18th century. She is the protagonist and makes a hobby out of match making. By doing so she injures her companion, because she is blind to other peoples' feelings and opinions. Emma is a benevolent character, but she is incredibly misguided. The only person who can criticize her is Mr. George Knightly. They have grown-up together and their relationship develops as the novel progresses.
    Most of the plot is propelled by Emma's antics and schemes to contro the people around her. Comical witticisms pervade the novel. The more Emma attempts to steer her peers toward certain paths the more she discovers her own lack of direction. The theme of marriage is evidents as it is the central focus for nearly every character. Some renounce it while others advise prudent matches. In the end, Emma must stop wielding others and concentrate on her own ambitions regarding marriage.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Emma. I also read Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. Both of these paled in comparison to Emma. I found myself with a perpetual smile on my face as Emma got herself in and out of mischief. She is so likable that I was constantly rooting for her. She was great because of her fallibility. Her mistakes weer always out of good intentions.
    The novel is romantic, yet not in an effusive way where there is some Adonis spouting sonnets. It is more subtle and underplayed. It is above all a story about society. I learned a lot about the role of women in this time period. Emma is extremely intellectual and her only outlet for her intellect is in trying to play Cupid. Also, a woman's solitary means of advancing her situation is though matrimony. This explained the emphasis on connections.
    The only character that slightly peeved me was Mr. Knightly. He is the handsome "prince charming" and mentor to Emma. It is his infallibility that makes him so aggravating. Knightly was always right and Emma was always wrong. I wanted her to be right for once and laugh at him for being precocious. This, of course, never happened. Ultimately, Emma is one of my favorite historical fiction novels....more info
  • Emma Woodhouse
    Emma complete illustrated novel by Jane Austen

    Austen's witty exploration of social relationships in "Emma" is both humorous and insightful. An enjoyable read for everyone....more info
  • A Wonderful Novel
    Siri Amster- Olszewski
    August 24, 2006

    Emma, by Jane Austen, was one of the most enjoyable books I have read recently. I chose to read Emma because, having read and loved Pride and Prejudice by the same author, I wanted to explore her other books as well. The characters in Austen's stories are both intriguing and comical and her description of the era in which they take place creates a clear view of society in those times
    I was enchanted with Emma because Austen beautifully blends together a simple story of a girl and a documentation of the societal behaviors of the time. It provides insights into the life and social customs of a lady living in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
    One of the book's principle topics is marriage. The main character, Emma, approves of matchmaking for marriage and, through her, the reader gets a view into the different motives for marriage. For some people, marriage was simply a way to advance in social status; for others, marriage was for love. In Emma's time, marriages had to be matched according to social status. One could not marry below their status. Marrying too far above one's status could end up disastrously.
    The book tells the story of Emma Woodhouse who is a pretty, wealthy, poised, and clever young woman. Her mother died when she was too young to remember or miss her and was raised mainly by her governess, Miss Taylor. Miss Taylor behaved like a best friend rather than a governess due to her mild temper and love for Emma. Therefore, Emma grew up without any firm rules or structure. This freedom caused her to think quite highly of herself and of her opinions. It was her excessive self-confidence that led her to often make mistakes creating misfortunes for others and embarrassment for herself.
    Jane Austen, by the style of her writing, creates some well-defined character while including other character that are left more open to the reader interpretations. For example, while Emma's faults are very apparent, I found her innocence to be charming and it created sympathy for her character. Other examples of characters like Emma are Jain Fairfax, Harriet Smith, and Mr. Elton. In contrast the character of Mr. Knightly, the family friend is set in stone. Within the first few pages of the book he is established as the moral role model of the story. Mr. Woodhouse, Mr. Weston, Mrs. Weston (the former Miss Taylor), Frank Churchill, and Miss Bates are all other characters that give off a particular feeling, the feeling that Austen intended. These characters all have good and bad qualities, all of which are left up to the interpretation of the reader. The novel is written in third person, however the detached narrator often sees through Emma's point of view. Having the effect of a not so neutral bystander.
    I highly recommend Emma to anyone who enjoys a light-hearted, witty book that captivates and enchants. While reading this book you will find yourself captivated in the pages of one of Jane Austen's masterpieces. ...more info
  • Romantic Mystery
    Like most of Jane Austen's novels, the theme is around young women and how to obtain marriages with suitable men and be in love with them at the same time. In Emma, we have a heroine who not just sits around and speculates on who would pair up with who, but actively strives to influence and guide the matchmaking. She takes on a protege, Harriet Smith, a young woman of unknown parentage and sees into every interaction with the various gentlemen, more than is actually there. Unfortunately for poor Harriet, whose emotions get tangled around various men "who are all above her socially", Emma learns that manipulation and scheming is doing more to hurt her dear friend than to have left things alone.

    The reason I read this book as a mystery, is that the reader is left to speculate (without peeking) which man would pair up with which lady. There are red herrings, where the characters other than Emma, misspeculate, to lead the reader into examining the clues to see if it were the case. Also, one of the male characters purposely set out to mislead where his affections are placed, and there is also a misunderstanding between Emma and Harriet on which gentleman she admires, with Emma giving encouragement because of mistaken identity.

    The scheming finally crashes to a sequence of revelations brought about by a sequence of events. One after another, the couples pair off with a sequence of marriages, assuring the reader that the correct matches were made and happiness for the future guaranteed. Even though the middle of the book is very slow, the reader can go back and look at the clues and events after knowing the ending to see where inclinations rested and secrets lay buried....more info
  • The first Austen I ever read...
    ...and still my favorite (yes, even over Pride and Prejudice). It a good one to start with if you've never read one of Austen's novels before....more info
  • Wonderful!
    For some reason, I always think of Emma as my least favorite Austen, but I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it. Emma is a very imperfect heroine, but Jane Austen was wrong in supposing that no one but herself would like her. I find Emma to be refreshing as a heroine, and she stands is stark contrast to Fanny Price in Mansfield Park (my least favorite Austen heroine). There is none of Fanny's timidness or inability to stand up for herself. Emma is independent and strong, and much more modern than other female characters in classic literature. Her mistakes in pride and arrogance are such as we all make on a daily basis. She presumes to understand people's emotions and thoughts and thinks she has a right to order things as she would have them be...very type "A", in my opinion. But, as her intentions in every case are good, as she only wants those she loves to be happy and prosperous, one cannot really blame her.

    The other characters in this book are also very satisfying, particularly Jane Fairfax and Mr. Knightley. Jane is the poor orphan on whom everyone in Highbury, the village in which Emma lives, dotes upon. Emma, of course, can't stand her at first, but only because of the knowledge that Jane is superior to her in many ways. How many of us have declared that we don't like someone simply because they're better at something than we are? Mr. Knightley, Emma's neighbor and long-time family friend, is her conscience, calling attention to those errors in judgment that Emma constantly seems to make. He often lectures her, but only in an attempt to set her on a better course. When faced with the prospect of losing him, Emma must confront her own feelings and question her own situation in life.

    It's altogether an enjoyable read, with plenty of twists and blunders, and should appeal to any fan of Jane Austen...or just anyone who wants to read the real version of the movie "Clueless"....more info
  • Comedy of Errors on a Georgian Stage
    A smug but goodhearted society girl learns her judgment isn't as incisive as she thinks it is. "Emma" is a fun, lighthearted version of Jane Austen, with enough misunderstandings and crossed signals to form the basis of a modern sitcom. For all its pleasant enjoyability, however, the novel is also a fascinating character study of one woman being elevated to a nobler level by being taken down several notches.

    In this respect, "Emma" is a prime example of the fact that although many see Jane Austen as something of a proto-feminist, she often gave her male characters the most admirable constitutions of her entire cast. Although the female Emma may be the heroine we hope will triumph, the male Mr. Knightley (like Colonel Brandon of "Sense and Sensibility") is the unimpeachably noble person, and the one who helps Emma ascend to a higher plane of virtue when she might otherwise have been left in despair at her failures. In the end, Austen's fourth novel (and the last published during her lifetime) is not a feminist manifesto. Rather, it transcends the gender wars and remains a touching comedy of errors with a profoundly subtle commentary on human pride and folly....more info
  • Delightful! Read it and read it again!
    I haven't read a Jane Austen novel in years. The last time I read one of her novels I was very young and it was not by choice. If you want to rediscover Jane Austen, start with Emma. This novel is about a very snobby, spoiled, and at times malicious young lady by the name of Emma Woodhouse. Emma lives in the village of Highbury with her hypchondriac father. After Emma's Governess, who throughout the book is known as Mrs Weston marries, Emma is left with a lot of time on her hands. I'm afraid she does not use this time wisely.

    Emma finds a new friend and protege in Harriet Smith, a young lady with an unknown past who Emma takes under her wing. Emma brings it upon herself to give young Harriet somewhat of a social makeover. She induces her to aspire to greatness and put on airs proper to a lady of Emma's class, although she's not even sure what class Harriet belongs to. When Harriet is offered marriage by a farmer by the name of Mr Martin, Emma is horrified! She convinces Harrriet that such a man is hardly worthy of her and intices her to find romance with the handsome but vain vicor, Mr Elton. Emma's disasterous matchmaking decison is the focus of the book.

    I found this novel incredibly amusing! Emma's unbashed snobbery, Harriet's ignorance, Mr Woodhouse's constant worry of illness befalling every character in the book. This book is literally laugh out loud funny at times. The novel features many other equally amusing characters. Mr Knightley, Emma's sister's brother-in-law, who is the one person in the novel to always tell Emma how it really is. The chatty and annoying Mrs Bates, the insufferable Augusta Elton who is almost as full of herself as Emma.

    When Jane Austen wrote this book she claimed no one but herself would like Emma Woodhouse. Emma is conceited and selfish, but the beauty of this book is that Emma is forced to come to terms with what her behavior has caused her and those she loves. The Emma you meet at the beginning of the novel is not the same Emma that you say goodbye to at the end.

    If you want a simple description of what this novel is about I will tell you that it is about a young lady's road to maturity and growth. Jane Austen isn't for everyone, but if you are curious or want to give her novels another try, start with Emma. It's guaranteed to renew your interest in one of the greatest writers in English literature. Five stars!!...more info
  • Very Cute
    Jane Austen is the most amazing author. The Plot is good and the writting brillant. This goes on my list of top ten best book ever written. Emma is nothing but entertaining, adorable, romantic ,and everything wonderful. I have read a lot of books so I know what I'm talking about. I highly recommend this book. Like in all of jane austen's other books i almost cried(except for the history of England and her unfinished works). Read it. That's good advice...more info
  • Emma Enchanting
    "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings in existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress ir vex her."
    So begins Jane Austen's classic novel of the mishaps of matchmaking. Upon the marriage of her governess, a match Emma purports to have arranged herself, Emma next turns to finding a suitable husband for her new young friend, Harriet Smith. She encourages Harriet into an infatuation with the vicar, Mr. Elton. Her plans fall apart, however, when Elton reveals to Emma that she is the true object of his affections. Rejected, Mr. Elton flees to Bath and finds a wife almost immediately. When the long-awaited Frank Churchill finally comes to visit, the entire social set of Highbury is swept into a tangle of suspicion, charm and deceit. Although Frank is commonly viewed as a perfect match for Emma, she feels only friendship for him, and views him instead as a potential husband for Harriet. In spite of Emma's multiple failed attempts at matchmaking, there are two couples married and one engaged by the end of the novel.
    Jane Austen was one of eight children, the daughter of an upper middle-class clergyman. Although her family was not wealthy, they led comfortable, socially respectable lives. Well-educated and with a love of reading, Jane Austen began to write at the age of twelve. She never married. Her first novel, Sense & Sensibility, was published in 1811, followed by Pride & Prejudice. All of her novels were published anonymously. She died in 1817, and is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
    I found this book to be as charming and delightful as the film, which I first fell in love with long ago. Jane Austen's wit is very much in evidence throughout the novel, and greatly improves what might otherwise be a somewhat dry style. Austen referred to Emma as "a heroine whom no one but myself will like much." However, I found Emma to be engaging and delightful. I recommend this book to all fans of Jane Austen....more info
  • Emma
    I had already read this Jane Austen classic twice. I decided to buy a copy of my own so that when I want to read it again, I will have a copy here at home. This is one of my favorites.

    ...more info
  • EMMA
    Emma (Barnes & Noble Classics)
    Great Book if you like the classics as I do. Quality of the pages is very good (acid free should you wish to keep it and, smooth texture)....more info