This post actually started with my trip a few months ago to Barnes&Noble for end of the year teacher presents. Now that I think about it, it’s quite strange that I decided to do that. Back in elementary school when giving teachers gifts was normal, I was never into it. Now in high school when almost nobody does it anymore, I decide it’s time.
Anyways, while I was there, I saw this table full of classics that were 2 for $10. (By the way, it’s still going on right now. It stops in September I think. If I don’t restrain myself, I’m going to use up all my Barnes&Noble giftcards on that deal. It’s too good, I can’t resist.) I couldn’t help myself and got six of them, one of them being Emma.
Then I mentioned the sale in a comment on Olivia’s blog, and it turned into a BUDDY READ (which just means we read the same book at the same time and then talked about it during and afterwards). It was awesome. Her thoughts on Emma are here, and also, this post that she wrote is one of nudges that pushed me to put Children of Blood and Bone on hold at the library. There’s sixteen holds on it already, if that tells you anything.
Sidenote: here’s a great bit from our discussion on the shared Google doc we made:
Olivia: I loved this one random part where (annoying) Mrs. Elton was trying to invite some people to a party that Mr. Kn
Me: and he said the only person who could was Mrs.
Olivia: YES HAHAHAHHAHAHAH
Me: I GOT YOU AHH THIS IS AMAZING
Olivia: GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE
Okay, now onto the actual book. :))
First line: Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
Last line: But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.
Keywords: society, England, friendship, misunderstandings, marriage, daily life
Thoughts on the characters after reading the first five chapters
Emma Woodhouse: During the first chapter, I was like ‘she has a best friend that’s basically a sister, she takes care of her father, she jokes with Mr. Knightley- hey, she seems cool.’ But, as of right now at the end of chapter five, I like her way less than I did at the beginning.
Mr. Knightley: I like him.
Mr. Woodhouse (AKA Emma’s dad): He’s a bit clueless and quirky, but I like him too.
Harriet Smith (AKA this girl that Emma has taken under her wing to make her all high societyish- or in present day terms, cool): I feel a little sorry for her with Emma all trying to change her up.
Thoughts on the characters after reading the entire book
Emma: I didn’t like her at the beginning, but by the end, I actually did like her- I just wish Harriet didn’t have to go through what she did
Mr. Knightley: He’s a good guy. The only thing is that the age difference between him and Emma is huge. I know that it must’ve been different back then, but it’s still weird. I’ve decided to block that detail out.
Mr. Woodhouse: He was such a typical Asian mom, like how he was always worried about people getting cold and how he wholeheartedly trusted his doctor and no one else. I love how Mr. Knightley and Emma took him so carefully in consideration. I think maybe Jane Austen included that relationship in there to show that Emma really isn’t a rude, selfish person.
Harriet Smith: I just feel bad that everything that happened to her in this book happened to her.
Jane Fairfax: I think Jane might be my favorite character out of everybody.
Mr. Elton: Mrs. Elton is not someone I would ever want to be around, but I think I dislike Mr. Elton even more. He seems like such a sketchy guy. I don’t understand how him and Mr. Knightley are friends.
Thoughts on the book in general
In my opinion, there are classics that are confusing (ahem, hello Shakespeare) and classics that are boring (my friends would place The Scarlet Letter or The Count of Monte Cristo in that category), but for me, Emma doesn’t fit in either of those camps- partly because that book is definitely not the camping type.
Even though there were some sections that I had to read twice and even though it’s about people with very normal lives (well, as normal as it’s going to get in a book), it never lost me in either a “I just read every word on that page, but I still have zero idea what’s going on” or a “nothing is happening, I’m going to go eat some ice-cream now” way.
Emma might be a non-thriller, non-mystery book whose storyline flows from social call to social call, but it had a serious plot twist that I genuinely never saw coming.
Also, I really liked Jane Austen’s writing. I would describe the feeling I got reading it as being similar to the how nice it feels to have a paper copy of something at school instead of an electronic one. It’s slower in tempo than a lot of contemporary books, but it felt good to read- kind of like being outside and talking a walk (in nice weather) after a very busy week. Okay, I’m done with the metaphors now.
In conclusion: I liked Emma. It was a good book.
Have you read Emma or any of Jane Austen’s books?
What’s the best classic you’ve read?
Did you know that the movie Clueless is an adaptation of Emma?