I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Emma has long played matchmaker for her friends and believes her own heart immune from the lures of love. This is a fascinating, hilarious coming-of-age tale of one woman seeking her true nature and finding true love in the process. (source)
After reading The Jane Austen Book Club together, my tumblr book club decided that we needed to read all of Jane Austen's works. We'd read some of them (as a group, we've read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey), but the only one of us who's ever read all of Jane Austen's novels is my friend Lizzy. So, with Lizzy as our guide, we've decided to read the remaining (finished) novels that we haven't touched on as a group - Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion. We started with Emma, a book that I've attempted on several occasions, but was never able to finish until now.
Emma is the only Austen novel that's named for its protagonist. I think this is really fitting, because Emma Woodhouse is the most vibrant Austen protagonist that I've encountered thus far. She outshines even Lizzy Bennet in her cleverness and stubbornness. At times, she can be infuriatingly dense (see anything involving Harriet Smith as evidence of this), but what I love about Emma is that she's so willing to speak her mind. There can be dire consequences of this, as Emma learns, but I think it's a quality that too many people lack, especially in societies such as Edwardian England. Emma's unafraid to be herself and I love that about her.
However, as I alluded to, there were points in the novel when Emma made really, really stupid decisions - basically anything involving Harriet Smith would qualify for this. Emma's matchmaking definitely gets the better of her on multiple occasions. In fact, the only couple who she successfully matches are the Westons - not a single one of her other proposed matches works out. I enjoyed the irony of Emma's relationship with Mr. Knightley, but I must admit that I think that its formation was anticlimactic. I saw no evidence of Emma feeling anything beyond friendship for Mr. Knightley until Harriet expressed interest in him - and I didn't really see much on Mr. Knightley's side, either. I wish that as much development had gone into their relationship as there had been for every other proposed match in the novel.
This is a book that I think I would have appreciated more if I had read it at a time in my life when I wasn't crazy busy. I read this in the weeks leading up to and days following my wedding and move to Pittsburgh. This meant that I had very little attention to give to a story that I think I would have otherwise loved. As it was, I enjoyed the book, but I wasn't blown away by it. I will most definitely be revisiting this one at some point, and hopefully I'll be able to give it the attention that it deserves. I would recommend this book to fans of classic literature and Jane Austen in particular - but not when in the midst of major life changes!