I love Jane Austen, I do. Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice are both favorite books of mine. But to be honest, I've never really been in love with Emma. I saw the movie first (yes, bad, I know) - the one with Gwyneth Paltrow that came out in 1996. And I liked the movie. I also loved Clueless, which is Emma in modern form.
So as part of my 101 in 1001 list, I decided to re-read the three Austen novels which I've only read once - Emma, Pride & Prejudice (I know, GASP!), and Persuasion. I chose Emma first because it really is my least favorite of Austen's works and I kind of wanted to get it out of the way. At the same time, I was hoping that I would enjoy it more than I did the first time. That I would see something in it that I missed all those years ago.
Others have said that Emma is Jane Austen's finest, most genius work. Maybe they're right. It is certainly her most satirical and probably also her happiest. But I'm just not a big fan. The characters are basically all annoying and/or insipid and the main love story is by far the weakest of Austen's love stories.
That said, as novels as a whole go this book does far exceed most of what has been published since, and so many people seem to love it that I almost can't NOT suggest it. 3.5/5 stars.
"There are people who, the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves."
"...where little minds belong to rich people in authority, I think they have a knack of swelling out, till they are quite as unmanageable as great ones."
"'One would rather have a stranger preferred than one's very particular friend: with a stranger it might not recur again; but the misery of having a very particular friend always at hand, to do everything better than one does one's self!'"
"'And then, her reserve; I never could attach myself to any one so completely reserved.'
'It is a most repulsive quality, indeed,' said he. 'Oftentimes very convenient, no doubt, but never pleasing. There is safety in reserve, but no attraction. One cannot love a reserved person.'"
"Perfect happiness, even in memory, is not common."
"'This sensation of listlessness, weariness, stupidity, this disinclination to sit down and employ myself, this feeling of every thing being dull and insipid about the house!--I must be in love.'"
"Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken."