Friday, June 7, 2013

Emma by Jane Austen

I've been trying to get through Emma for decades but always tire of its annoying heroine by the fifth chapter. So when I heard that Elizabeth Klett (at Librivox) had done Emma, I was sure I would finally get through it. (Klett had changed my mind completely about Northanger Abbey, another Austen novel I did not enjoy.)

Emma Wodehouse is an impressionable young woman who lives alone with her hypochondriac father.  She has never been in love, but thinks she knows everyone else's hearts and has chosen matchmaking as a hobby.  The book is about her "insufferable vanity and unpardonable arrogance" in arranging everybody's destinies (Emma's own words later in the book).

If you can make it past Chapter Fifteen, you'll see Emma becoming aware of her shortcomings; and by the end of the book you'll even like her. Even so, my favorite character in the book is Mr. Knightly, an old family friend, and a gentleman to the core.

Miss Klett does an amazing job with voices, portraying each characters personality with aplomb.  But she surpasses herself with the voice of Miss Bates, the talkative empty-headed spinster.

I was intrigued by the fact that Peter Leitharth calls this the "most Christian" of Austen's novels.  I think it's because two of the characters act very wrongly and are shown much grace by the book's end.

I'm glad I finally got through this one. Thank you, Elizabeth Klett, for making it possible.


Girl Detective said...

If you haven't, watch the movie Clueless, which is a surprisingly faithful riff on Emma, and a fun movie to boot!

Barbara H. said...

My son felt the same way about the movie version - couldn't stand Emma. But I kept trying to convince him that she changed by the end.

Mr. Knightly is my favorite Austen hero.

It does help hearing them read. I liked P&P and S&S much more as audiobooks.

Heather said...

With only one more Austen book to read, Persuasion, I am comfortable saying that Emma is my favorite with P&P right behind that. I also felt the same about Emma and wrote similarly on my book post last month,

Audio books do not work as well for me at this stage of life, I tend to enjoy the silence when it is available! But I can see myself getting back into it when the kids are older and the house is quieter for longer periods of time. :)

Vintage Reading said...

Oh I adore Mr Knightly. Not sure that Emma deserves him!