3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2000
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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 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.
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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.
This seems a somewhat redundant exercise reviewing a book that already stands as an English language classic and example of free indirect speech. Even if most people could not necessarily recount the plot and characters, the countless editions of the book, combined with movies and literary spinoffs stand in testimony to it as a cultural icon. There are not many who would not recognize the book by name and have some sense of its position and impact.
This review then cannot do much more than to echo these commonly known facts and direct attention specifically to the Kindle edition of the book which was downloaded as a free public domain book and which I confess, my first time reading the entire book as originally written. The strength of the book and timeless qualities of it can be affirmed by the attention that it elicited from me. I was able to enter into the plot and see both the masterful writing as well as the true insight into human nature that this book represents. Apart from a few typos and the chapters not being very well differentiated, I had little difficulty wanting to return to my Kindle to continue the read and glad for the experience.
This is one of the most appealing elements of the Kindle in my estimation. There are so many books in the public domain that provides an opportunity for the reader who has heard of and knows the place and importance of a particular book who can then download the book and take the opportunities during the day (and for me of a long commute) and fill the gaps in one's reading by pulling books that have stood the test of time as well as the convenience of the newer books that are available at a considerable discount over the new Hardback price.
What a pleasure to read and more yet to come in the days ahead.
5 Stars for the novel AND the medium!
on August 14, 2009
"Pride and Prejudice" is one of those novels which most people know the plot and the characters even if they haven't read the book. For myself, I had not read it in a long time, and I had also not seen any of the movies made using its plot, with the exception of the musical "Bride and Prejudice" a few years ago. I finally made time for it, and it was better than I had remembered. This was the second of Austen's novels to be published (published on January 28th, 1813), though the original novel (titled "First Impressions") was written between 1796 and 1797. There is no way to determine how much of the original novel remains and how much was rewritten, but clearly the two dealt on a larger scale with the some of the same themes.
The main character of the story is Elizabeth Bennet who lives with her parents and her four sisters in the fictional town of Meryton. Elizabeth is the second eldest of the sisters after Jane. Outside of the Bennets, there is a large cast of characters including the three Bingley's, brother and two sisters, Mr. Collins, The Darcy's, Lady Catherine and her daughter, Colonel Fitzwilliam, the Lucases, Mr. Wickham, and the Gardiner's who are Elizabeth's aunt and uncle. The novel is told in three volumes, the first covers the period at Meryton where most of the key characters meet for the first time, the second covers the period after Bingley leaves Meryton unexpectedly along with those who came with him, and covers the period up to Elizabeth's visit to Mr. Darcy's home know as Pemberley, and the last covers the visit to Pemberley right through to the marriages and beyond.
There are several plots running through the volumes. There is the relationship between Bingley and Jane, which Mr. Darcy tries to put an end to, along with the help of Mr. Bingley's sisters. There is Mr. Collins attempts to marry either Jane or Elizabeth, but ending up with Charlotte Lucas. There is the relationship between Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy as well as between their families. There is Lydia's scandalous running off in volume three. But by far the mail story line is the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.
In volume one, Mr. Darcy arrives as the guest of Mr. Bingley. Mr. Darcy's prideful manner results in a negative first impression with Elizabeth whose pride is hurt by his attitude and she develops her own prejudice against Mr. Darcy as a result. Mr. Darcy becomes intrigued with Elizabeth, but her own negative impression of him is reinforced by stories told by Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy's silent attitude towards her which she takes as his looking down on her. Thus, first impressions play a big role in the story, though to be sure other first impressions, such as the first impression of Mr. Collins which is shared by nearly everyone are fairly accurate.
In volume two, their relationship develops. Mr. Darcy cannot ignore the feelings he has developed for Elizabeth and this results in three key events in this volume. One is Mr. Darcy's declaration of feelings to Elizabeth. The second is Elizabeth's stern rebuke of Mr. Darcy's feelings followed by an attack on his behavior towards the relationship between Jane and Mr. Bingley as well as Mr. Darcy's treatment of Mr. Wickham. This leads to the third key event, which is Mr. Darcy's letter to Elizabeth where he sets the matter straight about his actions. The second event results in Mr. Darcy writing the letter and changing his behavior, though we don't witness the latter until volume three. The third event is important as the reader is privy to Elizabeth's change in attitude resulting from what Mr. Darcy has told her.
In volume three, their relationship completes its change, as Elizabeth gets to know Mr. Darcy from where he lives, and by those who work for him, and she also learns about his character from actions he takes on behalf of her family, which he never means her to learn about. We also witness the change in Mr. Darcy's behavior, not only towards Jane, but towards her entire family. Of course, it is obvious that the two will end up together, but knowing the end does not spoil the journey.
There is good reason why this book is a classic and why it is still read and enjoyed today. The characters are believable and well rounded for the most part. There is humor, societal and family challenges, and moral lessons weaved together throughout the book. I can also recommend the Penguin Classics edition of this book, as it contains an introduction and notes by Vivien Jones, as well as an introduction written by Tony Tanner for an earlier edition of the book. The introductions are both interesting reading, and the notes are useful as well.