[Everything Austen II] Emma

Everything Austen II is a challenge hosted by Stephanie over at Stephanie's Written Word.
The goal: To read 6 Austen-themed works between July 1, 2010 and January 1, 2011.
The progress so far:
1: Persuasion (Jane Austen)
2: Emma (Jane Austen)

Jane Austen
Bantam Classics, 1984 (original publication 1815)

I read Emma ages ago, back in early high school. Probably sophomore year? I remember liking the story at the time, but at 15 there was no way I could possibly appreciate it the way I did now, rereading at the ripe old age of 25. This go-round, I was able to not only delight in the writing itself -- this may be the best written of Austen's novels, in my opinion -- but to lose my heart to the story, the characters, the whole shebang.

Perhaps one of the reasons I got so much more out of the novel this time was because for the first time in my life, I can actually relate to Emma Woodhouse. (I've watched the movies a dozen times, so I'm intimately acquainted with the story itself, if not as familiar with reading the words). I keep hearing that people do not like Emma as a character, and I'm not sure why. She's no Lizzie Bennett, but I find Emma refreshingly human. So she's spoiled and vain - she has every reason to be, and there is a good heart underneath the silliness. I found her a bit flippant at times, but attributed it to her youth and comparative isolation from society. What I did get a wee bit frustrated with was her inability to see Mr. Knightley. I fell in love with Mr. Knightley, really and truly, and found him to be a rival of Mr. Darcy for the title of "Perfect Romantic Hero".

Emma has much to offer the ready reader: a love story of aching sweetness and possibility; a host of characters that reflect all the best and worst of humanity; moments of dialogue that could be overheard in any college hall or coffee shop; and that special flavor that Jane gives to her best work. A delightful experience, and I shall revisit Emma again before another 10 years passes.

Book provided by my personal library.

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