on March 9, 2004
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.
on December 30, 2014
Listening to this outstanding production it is abundantly clear that Jane Austen's books are best when read out loud. Prunella Scales is magnificent, playing every part with masterful precision and LOL comedic moments. Her Miss Bates and Mr Elton are beyond delightful. A must-have for any Austenite. Truly a shame that it's no longer available in CD format.
on May 26, 2004
This is an amazing book; when I read it I just can't seem to put it down. This edition which is published by "Penguin Classics" proves to be a wonderful read because of the information included in the back.
Ms. Jane Austen does an impeccable job of describing the characters in the story. Each one has their own distinct personality which is part of what makes this book such a classic. Mrs. Bennet is especially cute, the way that she is always talking about the fact that she'd like her daughters to marry, and seems to think that it would prove to be the pinnacle of her life if one of them married into wealth. When Mr. Collins comes into the picture and decides to marry Charlotte, he can't stop praising the house in which will one day be his.
This is where the book really picks up. At the conclusion of volume one, an individual is left only to imagine what could possibly be happening with Mr. Bingley and his beloved Jane.
In this charming love story, two people learn to "get over themselves" and develop feelings for one another.
on November 9, 2003
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, follows society's elite through the trials and tribulations of love, pride, money, and marriage negotiations. This novel takes place in 19th century England and revolves around the slow development of love found between two characters. The first of these characters is Elizabeth Bennet, a clever, beautiful, and spirited young woman. Pride and Prejudice begins, when Mrs. Bennet asks Mr. Bennet to call on their new neighbor, Mr. Bingley. Mr. Bingley has an income of 5 thousand pounds a year and is not married, so Mrs. Bennet hopes to marry one of her 5 daughters to him. Jane, the eldest daughter, and Mr. Bingley begin to like each other during a ball. Elizabeth, the second oldest, meets Mr. Darcy at the same ball. Darcy initially does not care for Elizabeth, and refuses to even dance with her.
However, as Elizabeth grows to dislike Darcy, Darcy starts to become very fond of her. She and Darcy meet again when she stays with Mr. Bingley, because her sister, Jane, has taken ill at their house. Ms. Bingley, the sister of Mr. Bingley, herself hopes to wed Darcy, and seeks to make Elizabeth less appealing to Darcy. After Jane's recovery she and Elizabeth return home. There they welcomed to their home by their cousin Mr. Collins, who, because of the inheritance customs of the times (the Bennet girls had no brothers), was the heir to the Bennet family home. Together, Elizabeth and her family travel to town, where they met Mr. Wickham. Mr. Wickham notices Elizabeth, who he found charming, and describes to her a terrible deed he alleges Darcy had committed against him. Wickham claimed that Darcy owed him money and had denied him of a promised avocation. This new information causes Elizabeth to despise Darcy even more.
Soon Mr. Collins, the rather odd clergyman, proposes to Elizabeth. To her mother's dismay, she refuses him. Instead, her friend Charlotte Lucas marries Mr. Collins, and Elizabeth goes to visit them and their neighbor the great Lady Catherine De Bourgh. During her stay Elizabeth sees Darcy again, and he proposes. Elizabeth refuses, reciting all the terrible things he had done, including the mistreatment of Wickham. In response, Darcy writes Elizabeth explaining how Wickham had tried to elope with his sister because of her money. Elizabeth is forced to rethink, her opinions relating to Darcy and Wickham.
That summer Elizabeth traveled to Pemberly on holiday with her aunt and uncle, and while there her aunt and uncle wanted to see the beautiful Darcy estate. While visiting, Darcy showed up. Darcy and his sister heartily welcomed Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle, and invited them to dinner. Elizabeth began to grow fonder of Darcy. Dreadful news arrived during Elizabeth's stay at Pemberly. Her frivolous younger sister Lydia had run off with Wickham. Upon learning of the circumstances, Darcy sought out and found Wickham and Lydia, forcing them to marry. Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle returned to the Bennet home.
Bingley and Darcy together visited the Bennet household to call upon Jane and Elizbeth. Jane became engaged to Bingley, and when Darcy proposed to Elizabeth, her heart had changed, so she said yes. Elizabeth had fallen in love Darcy. They had both seen past their pride and past the prejudices that they had learned from society. Elizabeth and Darcy were happy in marriage, and remained forever grateful to Elisabeth's aunt and uncle for uniting them.
I would recommend the book Pride and Prejudice. It forces each of us to think about our roles in life. The novel also makes us think about our own pride and our own prejudices against others, and the need for us to learn more about people before we judge them. This book is also one of the greatest Romances of all time, bringing to life the love that a man and a woman held for each other from another era. It provides meaningful messages that all of us should learn. The characters are also interesting. This book is good for people who understand the use of language in the 19th century. Pride and Prejudice is a classic novel that I love, and believe everyone would enjoy.
on February 29, 2016
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." - Thus begins Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners. If you notice, the very first sentence itself is a masterpiece of tongue-in-cheek social commentary, and instantly paints a picture of the socio-cultural situation of the era.
You would think that it is representative of what is to follow; and to an extent, I would agree, but not really. It is just a very tiny glimpse of the mastery that Austen has over her craft. I could rave endlessly about the excellent plotting, or characterization, or even about how Austen's wit and the wisdom reflects in the narrative. But I realize that anything that has to be said about this book, has already been said, in much fancier language than I can ever hope to express.
Nonetheless, I am not going to let that stop me from gushing over it, because this has been more than just a book for me - it has been an experience - a very special one.
It is special for many reasons - for one, the language is delightful beyond comparison. I used to be intimidated by old texts as they are often dry and difficult to read, but I truly loved the way some words are used in this book, and wished language would still be dealt with in the same manner. But I also wonder - is it really the language of the era, or a superior skill of presentation that Austen possessed?
And secondly, I am amazed at how relatable and relevant this book is (even after 200 years of it being written!). The characters are interesting, the family dynamic is amusing, and kind of all over the place (but that is really how it is with all of us) - there's love, loyalty, concern, annoyance, and exasperation even!
Having said that, the first half of the book was kind of a slow burner, and while it was still interesting, it was going nowhere fast. But I labored through it, and the book just got better and better! The romance between Mr. Darcy and Miss. Bennet is not one that I am going to forget anytime soon.
Read full review at SHANAYA TALES DOT COM.
on June 30, 2013
The last of her novels published when she was alive, Jane Austen’s Emma depicts the life of this 21 year-old woman, who lives with her father assuming the role of mistress of the house. As one of the “belles” of Highbury she believes herself entitle to every of her fantasies, including matchmaking just about everyone. The long-time family friend Mr Knightley does not approve of all this, especially when it concerns the projects she has for the future of Harriet Smith or the fancy she takes to Mr Frank Churchill. But it seems that nothing is to stop her, except maybe love...
I used to think this longest novel, the less of 2 evils when compared to Mansfield Park but I must admit that on the second reading, I like it less that I thought I originally did. Probably because of all the 6 novels, this one is the lightest of all in terms of its characters psyche. You do not need to as dig deep to understand the essence of Emma Woodhouse's character, as you would have with others. Everything is written on the surface, which is why I recommend you read it in a very light mood, a vacation mood.
For more about this book and many more, visit my blog :
on June 30, 2013
In her second novel, Jane Austen tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet, a bright 21 year-old woman, who is determined to marry only if she has the deepest love and respect for her future husband. Those are not her feelings when she first encounters Mr Darcy, who at first seems like a pride and cold gentleman. In fact she prefers Mr Wickham, an old acquaintance of Mr Darcy who considers himself as having been wrongfully treated by him. But is this truly the case or will Mr Darcy, upon further acquaintance, reveal himself to be more than the personification of pride itself?
Of all Jane Austen’s novels, this one remains my absolute favorite for here she depicts with wit and humor all that she sees of human stupidity in Mr Collins , silliness in Mrs Bennet and her 3 younger daughters, as well as cynicism in Mr Bennet. This romantic novel is also a parade of the most bizarre of marriages: from loveless to senseless, without forgetting a catastrophic elopement, Pride and Prejudice has it all. But all this would be nothing without the presence of the spirited Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy who’s many encounters and witty/intellectual matches makes me love them and consider them as one of Jane Austen’s most powerful couple. This is simply a masterpiece.
For more about this book and many more, visit my blog at :
on July 13, 2010
Published in 1817, twenty years before Queen Victoria came to the throne, this novel allows the reader to travel through time to a bygone era where the pace of life was much, much slower than what we experience today. News came only through the mail or newspapers; travel was by horse-drawn coach. Listening to this work is thus a truly refreshing experience.
In addition, the main characters, the Bennett sisters, have limited interests. With no educational, professional or political concerns, their only concern is to get married, what will guarantee their future social and financial status. They lead simple, sheltered lives and apparently have no notion of the work and efforts put in by servants to produce dinners, balls, gowns, etc.
The writing style is congruent with the times. The work itself is very long, meticulously written with very slow, restricted action.
The audio book's narrator is truly excellent and succeeds, while remaining unaffected, to add dramatic interest by very astutely modifying her voice for each character.
All in all, this novel is heartily recommended for a worthwhile escape from our hectic 21st century.
"Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition" is a suitable heroine for Jane Austen's lightest, frothiest novel. While "Emma" is not nearly as dramatic as Austen's other works, it is an enchanting little comedy of manners in which a young woman with the best intentions meddles in others' love lives... with only the faintest idea of how people (including herself) actually feel.
After matchmaking her governess Miss Taylor, Emma Woodhouse considers herself a natural at bringing people together. She soon becomes best buddies with Harriet, a sweet (if not very bright) young woman who is the "natural daughter of somebody." Emma becomes determined to pair Harriet with someone deserving of her (even derailing a gentleman-farmer's proposal), such as the smarmy, charming Mr. Elton. When Emma's latest attempt falls apart, she finds that getting someone OUT of love is a lot harder than getting them INTO it.
At around the same time, two people that Emma has heard about her entire life have arrived -- the charming Frank Churchill, and the reserved, remote Miss Jane Fairfax (along with rumors of a married man's interest in her). Emma begins a flirtatious friendship with Frank, but for some reason is unable to get close to Miss Fairfax. As she navigates the secrets and rumors of other people's romantic lives, she begins to realize who she has been in love with all along.
Out of all Jane Austen's books, "Emma" is the frothiest and lightest -- there aren't any major scandals, lives ruined, reputations destroyed, financial crises or sinister schemes. There's just a little intertwined circle of people living in a country village, and how one young woman tries to rearrange them in the manner that she genuinely thinks is best. Of course, in true comedy style everything goes completely wrong.
And despite the formal stuffiness of the time, Austen wrote the book in a languidly sunny style, threading it with a complex web of cleverly orchestrated rumors and romantic tangles. There's some moments of seriousness (such as Emma's rudeness to kind, silly Miss Bates), but it's also laced with some entertaining dialogue ("Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way") and barbed humor (the ridiculous and obnoxious Mrs. Elton).
Modern readers tend to be squicked by the idea of Emma falling for a guy who's known her literally all her life, but Austen makes the subtle relationship between Knightley and Emma one of affectionate bickering and beautiful romantic moments ("If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me").
Emma is a character who is likable despite her flaws -- she's young, bright, well-meaning and assured of her own knowledge of the human heart, but also naive and sometimes snobbish. She flits around like a clumsy butterfly, but is endearing even when she screws up. Mr. Knightley is her ideal counterpoint, being enjoyably blunt and sharp-witted at all times. And there's a fairly colorful supporting cast -- Emma's neurotic but sweet dad, her kindly ex-governess, the charming Frank, the fluttery Miss Bates, and even the smarmy Mr. Elton and his bulldozing wife.
"Emma" is the most lightweight and openly comedic of all Jane Austen's novels, with a likable (if clueless) heroine and a multilayered plot full of half-hidden feelings. A lesser delight.
"Pride and Prejudice" is undoubtedly one of the most beloved classic novels in history -- it's had countless adaptations, sequels and homages lavished on it over the years.
And Jane Austen's grand opus is still beloved for a good reason. While it's rather stuffily written much of the time, it has a vibrant core of witty dialogue and strong characters that shine like lanterns in the night -- and the best part of it is the interplay between the two strong-willed main characters, whose initial dislike of one another blossoms into love once they learn how to overcome his pride and her prejudice.
The Bennett family is in an uproar when wealthy Mr. Bingley moves into the neighborhood, and Mrs. Bennett is especially happy when he takes a liking to the eldest Bennett daughter Jane -- since their estate is entailed and there is no Mr. Bennett Jr., a good marriage is considered essential for at least one of the girls. But her forthright, independent sister Lizzie immediately butts heads with wealthy, aloof Mr. Darcy, who scorns the rural village and seems haughty about everything.
A flurry of proposals, road trips and friendships happen over the course of the following months, with Lizzie fending off her slimy cousin Mr. Collins, and befriending the flirty, hunky Wickham, who claims to have been wronged by Darcy. Lizzie believes Wickham's account -- and she's in for a shock when Darcy unexpectedly proposes, and reveals what Wickham won't tell her about both of their past lives, and what Wickham did to offend Darcy.
And finally things take a scandalous turn when Lizzie's idiotic younger sister Lydia elopes with Wickham, while staying with a friend in Brighton. The family is plunged into disgrace, which also wrecks any chances of a halfway decent marriage for the other daughters. The only one who can set things right is Darcy, who will do whatever he must to make amends to Lizzie -- and unwittingly establish himself as the man she loves as well...
Reading "Pride and Prejudice" is a bit like watching someone embroider a piece of cloth with subtle, intricate designs. Lots of balls, dances, visits and drawing room banter between Lizzie and virtually everyone else, and interwoven with some rather opinions from Jane Austen about haughty aristocrats, marriages of security, entailment, and the whole idea of what an ideal woman has (intellect and strength).
The only real problem: Jane Austen writes very much in the style of her literary era -- it's rather formal and stuffy much of the time, and the narrative is kept distant from the characters. So, not for casual readers.
But despite that formality, Austen's brilliance as a writer is evident -- she slowly unfolds the plot one act at a time, with several intricate subplots that tie together and play off each other. She also wrote some unbelievably sharp-edged dialogue with plenty of witty banter between Lizzie and Darcy ("I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine"). But Austen also weaves in startlingly romantic moments between them ("No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you, can think anything wanting").
It's hard to imagine a better fictional couple than Lizzie and Darcy, despite their rocky start (a major-league snub at a dance). Both are witty, smart, and a bit snotty in their own ways, with quick minds and even quicker tongues. Darcy is a selfish, rather haughty man man who gradually becomes warm and kind, while Lizzie is strong, independent, and Darcy's equal in every way. And neither will marry for anything but true love.
It also has a solid supporting cast: the painfully practical Charlotte Lucas, slimy clerics, virtuous-looking rakes, sisters ranging from saintly to snobby, and the lovable Mr. Bingley and perpetually optimistic Jane. Lizzie's family also adds plenty of color to the story, including the screechy and hilariously mercurial Mrs. Bennett and the barb-tongued Mr. Bennett ("Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do").
Despite its mildly stuffy style, "Pride and Prejudice" is the ultimate Jane Austen novel -- a powerful and romantic story about two people who grow and change because of love. An absolute must-read.