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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Specifically Universal Story
How could Jane Austen have thought that the character of Emma would please no one but the author?
I was charmed to enter Emma's world, amused by her wit, stunned by her complacency, sympathetic when she made her mistakes. I finished the book with a real affection for this character, drawn so finely and so lovingly by a truly masterful writer.
I had seen the...
Published on July 10 2000 by Krista

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended but not outstanding
As good as this book is, it is slow to start does not really pick up until after the 150 pages or so. But stick with it. However, those looking for an introduction to Jane Austen might be better suited with faster paced Pride & Prejudice and gradually make your way toward this one.
Two things that I liked very much about this book. The lead character is a likable...
Published on March 9 2004 by Tyler Tanner


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Specifically Universal Story, July 10 2000
This review is from: Emma (Mass Market Paperback)
How could Jane Austen have thought that the character of Emma would please no one but the author?
I was charmed to enter Emma's world, amused by her wit, stunned by her complacency, sympathetic when she made her mistakes. I finished the book with a real affection for this character, drawn so finely and so lovingly by a truly masterful writer.
I had seen the movie version starring Gywneth Paltrow before reading the book. I expected to read the entire book with Paltrow's raspy laugh and swanlike neck in mind. Yet Austen transported me away from my cinematic preconceptions. There is so much more to "Emma" than a movie can capture: the incisive social commentary, the near perfect grasp of human nature, which hasn't changed much since Austen's time, in all its ugliness and sublimity.
There has been much discussion over why Austen remains so popular with readers today. After all, her characters are geographically and socially isolated, immensely concerned with money, and (with a few exceptions) have no discernible occupations other than hunting for mates. It is hard to find similarities between these lives and those of modern Americans. What Austen does so well is to depict her particular place and time with astonishing clarity. Through Austen's (and Emma's) eyes, we see the commonalties that exist among all people, no matter the time or place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended but not outstanding, March 9 2004
By 
Tyler Tanner (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Emma (Mass Market Paperback)
As good as this book is, it is slow to start does not really pick up until after the 150 pages or so. But stick with it. However, those looking for an introduction to Jane Austen might be better suited with faster paced Pride & Prejudice and gradually make your way toward this one.
Two things that I liked very much about this book. The lead character is a likable but strong willed heroine with fixed ideas and the author is not afraid to use that to a disadvantage. Emma is flawed and it makes her interesting to read. Also, you get a stronger sense of community in a small victorian town and how they relied on one another found here than any of her other works that I have read. It's a very charming enjoyable aspect that works in the books favor. As far as premise goes, this is one of the more cohesive and linear of Austen's works and I can see the reason why this has been this has been adapted to film and stage so many times.
What I liked about Bantams edition was there was no droll introduction or afterward by a scholar indicating why the book and author are important and lets the work speak for itself. What they did have was useful footnotes when the characters were referencing now obscure objects, writers and poets making the book more accessible.
But as well as the book starting slowly, the other problem I had was that I found myself not emotionally investing in the characters. Emma is likeable, as stated before, but that was about it. Despite her appeal, she has no impact. Same goes with everyone else save for Miss Bates. The town spinster had me in stitches with her rambling monologues and sweet nature. When someone picks on her, it does make an impact.
A nice story, just not a great one. Outside of the reservations mentioned, I'm glad I read it and recommend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars First Half Slow but Satisfying Overall, June 25 2004
By 
Jennifer B. Barton "Beth Barton" (McKinney, Tx) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Emma (Mass Market Paperback)
Honestly, if I had not read Pride & Prejudice first, I would have thought that I did not like Jane Austen's writing style. Emma is extremely slow to begin with though it picks up about half way through. The story centers on Emma Woodhouse, the unmarried daughter of a man obsessed with ailments to be potentially caught from drafts, rich foods and just about anything that is part of ordinary life. Consequently he does not go out (as a rule) and depends on Emma substantially for companionship and general well being. Despite his eccentricities, he is well loved by the community and is a very genial character. Emma, resolved not to marry, takes up matchmaking after her governess, Miss Taylor, marries friend and neighbor, Mr. Weston and Emma feels that she had contributed to making the happy union come about. Against the advice of family friend and mentor, Mr. Knightly, she "takes under her wing" a young girl at the local school to groom and bring out into good society in hopes of finding her a husband - specifically Mr. Elton of the vicarage. Despite her unknown parentage and lack of good expectations, Emma convinces the girl, Harriet Smith, to aim high in her expectations of a husband and to reject the advances of those of her natural social set in preference for a gentleman.
This goes on for so long that I was convinced that this was going to be the whole of the book. Joyfully, though, the Mr. Elton angle blows up catastrophically and simultaneously several more interesting characters are introduced. The icily reserved Jane Fairfax comes to visit her grandmother and aunt before hiring out as a governess. Though she had been taken in by the Campbells and raised very genteelly along side their own daughter, she has no fortune of her own. The same age as Emma, they are expected to be fast friends but Emma's resentments of Jane's superior abilities and deportment do not bode well for this. Then Mr. Weston's son, Frank Churchill, who was raised by his aunt and uncle after his mother's death, comes to meet his new stepmother and makes a splash in Highbury society. Mrs. Weston has designs for Emma and Frank. Emma meanwhile has designs for Harriet and Frank. No one can figure out Jane's designs though Emma suspects improper attachments between her and her benefactor's daughter's new husband. Mr. Elton then brings in a new wife whose forceful manner and arrogant air threaten to turn everything upside down against Emma when Mrs. Elton tries to force a relationship as Jane's benefactress. Similarities between Emma's presumptions with Harriet and Mrs. Elton's presumptuous behavior with Jane are unavoidable and provide a relatively subtle irony.
In this last half as the intrigues play out, the story takes on the flavor of Pride and Prejudice and becomes infinitely more interesting. Though the first part was slow, it did serve to really build the character of Emma and she becomes very real through her actions in the second half. It also serves to humanize Mrs. Elton's character to some extent while softening Emma's.
This really is a very, very good book and I would have given it 5 stars except for how slow it was in the first half. A patient reader will enjoy this but readers who don't have patience with character studies or slow bits would do better to read Pride and Prejudice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "I seem to have been doomed to blindness.", June 21 2004
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This review is from: Emma (Mass Market Paperback)
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, wrongly, 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 or 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
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5.0 out of 5 stars witty, enjoyable read, May 31 2004
I can never decide whether Pride and Prejudice or Emma is my favourite book by Jane Austen. Emma has all the Jane Austen hallmarks - wit, exuberance, and laugh out loud moments, coupled with realistic, well drawn characters and a real feeling of being in the Regency (which is hardly surprising, as that's when the book was written).
Emma is a spoiled young woman who has everything she can possibly want in life: a doting father who lets her do as she pleases, friends, family and a beautiful home. She is understandably please with herself, and this leads to complications as she tries to sort out everyone else's life. She's meddling and interfering, and yet so well meaning she comes across as a likeable character rather than as a busybody.
She takes up Harriet, a young woman of doubtful birth, and encourages her to set her sights on Mr Elton, the local vicar, as a future husband. Poor Harriet is completely bowled over by Emma, and is persuaded to like Mr Elton over the farmer's son she is really in love with. Emma is oblivious to the fact that Harriet and Mr Elton are completely unsuited, and that Harriet and her farmer are made for each other.
Through a variety of hilarious scenes, Emma comes to realize she doesn't know as much as she thought, and learns that it's better to let other people manage their own lives.
The minor characters are wonderful: Mrs Elton with her barouche landau (anyone who's read the book will know what I mean), sweet Miss Bates, and dreadful Mr Elton, who has designs on Emma.
Eventually, Emma learns how to understand her own feelings, and leaves everyone else free to listen to theirs, which leads to a satisfying ending all round.
Hugely enjoyable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars witty, hugely enjoyable read, May 31 2004
This review is from: Emma (Mass Market Paperback)
I can never decide whether Pride and Prejudice or Emma is my favourite book by Jane Austen. Emma has all the Jane Austen hallmarks - wit, exuberance, and laugh out loud moments, coupled with realistic, well drawn characters and a real feeling of being in the Regency (which is hardly surprising, as that's when the book was written).
Emma is a spoiled young woman who has everything she can possibly want in life: a doting father who lets her do as she pleases, friends, family and a beautiful home. She is understandably please with herself, and this leads to complications as she tries to sort out everyone else's life. She's meddling and interfering, and yet so well meaning she comes across as a likeable character rather than as a busybody.
She takes up Harriet, a young woman of doubtful birth, and encourages her to set her sights on Mr Elton, the local vicar, as a future husband. Poor Harriet is completely bowled over by Emma, and is persuaded to like Mr Elton over the farmer's son she is really in love with. Emma is oblivious to the fact that Harriet and Mr Elton are completely unsuited, and that Harriet and her farmer are made for each other.
Through a variety of hilarious scenes, Emma comes to realize she doesn't know as much as she thought, and learns that it's better to let other people manage their own lives.
The minor characters are wonderful: Mrs Elton with her barouche landau (anyone who's read the book will know what I mean), sweet Miss Bates, and dreadful Mr Elton, who has designs on Emma.
Eventually, Emma learns how to understand her own feelings, and leaves everyone else free to listen to theirs, which leads to a satisfying ending all round.
Hugely enjoyable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Of lines, ranks and propriety..., March 4 2004
This review is from: Emma (Mass Market Paperback)
Nothing struck me more about this book than its pre-occupation with class boundaries, dwarfing even its other principal obsession - the question of matrimony.
Coming from a society often criticized for its rigid caste hierarchy, I cannot help wondering whether comparisons of social equations in India and England in the 18th century would yield many remarkable differences. Emma's disregard for the "insignificant" classes would do the most caste-conscious Brahmin proud.
One of the questions that stems from a first reading is the position of Ms. Austen herself. Emma's character is obviously intended to come across as more than moderately conceited. Is the opinion she, and other characters imbued with the darker shades of gray, hold, of the importance of nobility and high birth, intended to reflect the authoress' own disapproval of the social rigidity of pre-Victorian England...or is it merely the use of an existing social situation as a tool to bring into focus, the underlying moral theme of the ills of conceit and indiscretion?
Either way, it is a little disappointing to note the apparent indifference which marks the book's attitude towards the same class distinctions which it so effectively delineates. It would have been considerably more interesting for instance, if Ms. Austen's sparkling prose could have been employed to contrast the characters and social circumstances of Emma and Jane Fairfax, who is superior to the eponymous protagonist in merit but inferior in social standing, instead of restricting her role to a supporting one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book females will love, Jan. 28 2004
This review is from: Emma (Mass Market Paperback)
I first learned of 'Emma' by watching the movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow - I was instantly captivated by the high-class style of that era, Emma's life and her relationship with Mr. Knightly. After watching the movie probably 16 times, I went and read the book and was so glad I did! It's become one of my all-time favorite books simply because I love Emma's character and get lost in her life and world every time, and come back later craving to read it again! The book expands and clarifies so much we don't get to see in the movie and gives you the original view of Emma - apart from the movie. As a woman, I love romance and tales of older times where nobility and class presided yet values were down to earth, respectable and loving. 'Emma' combines both nobility and the 'down to earthness' in Mr. Knightly. If you love romance, strong female characters and getting lost in another world of balls, dances, society - definitely read this and watch the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow! It's gorgeous and guaranteed to uplift you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Novel that isn't boring, Jan. 5 2004
By 
Summeroz (sacramento, california) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Emma (Mass Market Paperback)
I will admit that when it comes to reading things that are regarding as "classics" I usually want to kill myself. I find the language and story etc. boring. Emma, is actually the exception to that.
Emma was written in the late 1800's by Austen who is known for her work Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Emma is a young woman who prides herself on setting up her friend/governess with her new husband. Emma decides to continue her matchmaking skills by taking on a new protege. Her new protege has a crush on Mr. Martin whom Emma deems as not acceptable. Emma tries to persuade Harriet's interest to others and well it is a fisaco. The first man actually likes Emma. The second man Harriet is interested in ends up being the man that Emma herself discovers she likes. Of course all ends well with all the characters getting what they deserve.
It is an amusing read. The theme seems to be that although Emma in the beginning seems like a shallow, selfish girl, in the end she realizes that she was snobby and wrong and tries to rectify her mistakes. She doesn't want to hurt her friends and realizes that what she thought was best for them was wrong.
If you are looking for some "quality fiction" or if you have a school report to write, this is an excellent book to read. you won't be bored.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Perfect, Jan. 2 2004
By 
H. A Truett "Wordy Girl" (Mississippi) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Emma (Mass Market Paperback)
Having recently read Pride and Prejudice in under a week, I expected Emma to suck me in and spit me out just as easily. It didn't. I had to work to read Emma.
For starters, I didn't like Emma, the character, very much in the beginning. She came off as stuck on herself and very know-it-all. But, I was determined to give her a chance b/c a friend of mine named her daughter Emma for this book. So, I trudged on, and did begin to like the girl. I also read the commentary on the book and constantly compared it to scenes from Clueless (since Clueless is a modern-day Emma).
The story dragged on a lot longer than I normally would be comfortable with, but once I got into a good pace for reading, that was fine. More than anything, I just wanted to know what was going on with Jane Fairfax. The outcome was very welcome, and I enjoyed Emma's love-life conclusion.
It was a very enjoyable book, though I wouldn't call it "the most perfect of Jane Austen's perfect novels," as was written on the inside flap of the book.
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Emma
Emma by Jane Austen (Hardcover - Oct. 26 2010)
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