Emma by Jane Austen

Title:  Emma

Author:  Jane Austen

Paperback:  416 pages

Date Published: 1997

Publisher:  Wordsworth Editions Ltd

ISBN:  1853260282

The very first subject, after being seated, was Maple Grove, ‘My brother, Mr Suckling’s seat’; a comparison of Hartfield to Maple Grove… ‘Very like Maple Grove indeed! She was quite struck by the likeness! That room was the very shape and size of the morning-room at Maple Grove; her sister’s favourite room.’ Mr Elton was appealed to. ‘Was not it astonishingly like? She could really almost fancy herself at Maple Grove.

‘And the staircase. You know, as I came in, I observed how very like the staircase was; placed exactly in the same part of the house. I really could not help exclaiming! I assure you, Miss Woodhouse, it is very delightful to me to be reminded of a place I am so extremely partial to as Maple Grove. I have so many happy months there!’ (with a little sigh of sentiment.) ‘A charming place, undoubtedly. Everybody who sees it is struck by its beauty; but to me it has been quite a home. Whenever you are transplanted, like me, Miss Woodhouse, you will understand how very delightful it is to meet with anything at all like what one has left behind. I always say this is quite one of the evils of matrimony.’

Emma made as slight a reply as she could; but it was fully sufficient for Mrs Elton, who only wanted to be talking herself.

Emma by Jane Austen, pages 217-218

I finished this book almost a week ago after being stuck in it for about six months.  I’ve wanted to give it time to sit and think about it before making an official judgment by way of a review.  And, while I still say it was the hardest Austen book so far and my least favorite, I have to admit a serious amount of respect for the women of the era.  I’m definitely grateful times have changed since then!

Long and short of things, Emma Woodhouse more or less grew up the Miss Woodhouse of her father’s home, meaning she was the society keeper.  The golden daughter, beautiful and clever, she has never been denied anything by her father, who’s a bit of a hypochondriac, nor by her governess Miss Taylor, who has just married Mr. Weston in the beginning of the novel.  Emma believes she is responsible for making this match and decides to aim her powers at the single vicar, Mr. Elton.  Her brother-in-law’s brother, Mr. Knightly, however, admonishes her to leave match-making be, to let love take its course, but she doesn’t listen (OF COURSE!) and this sets a series of events into motion that forces Emma to grow up and re-evaluate her own position and judgments and that of those around her. 

What Austen does in Emma is to recreate the sense of isolation and near-claustrophobic sensations of the life and choices living as an early 19thcentury English woman.  She equates the life of a governess as a polite form of slavery.  She also conveys the sense of captivity and inertial force of the class stratification of the era.  Everyone had a place, and everyone had acceptable and unacceptable pools of “friends” within the system to choose from:  Either their equal or many levels beneaththem so as to help improve them, but no one only a little below them.. lest they degrade themselves.  Those who tried to improve their social standing by latching onto those above them and trying the seem their equal were treated with civil incivility:  Invitations “forgotten,” stories told to remind them where they belong, arguments about things immaterial that vented hostilities and prejudices.

Emma by Jane Austen presents the parlor life of  emotional constipation and gilded-cage existence without choices beyond who to invite for dinner that ran on and on until death was begged for.  In this day and age, when I can tell my neighbor flat-out, he’s an ass, and go on.  He and I live a life of pretending the other doesn’t exist, which works well.

The book also conveys the sense of the inescapable lot assigned to a person because of who one’s family is and what they’ve done.  Harriet is a persona somewhat non grata because her parentage is unknown.  She could never expect to marry a gentleman, because no respectable man would take in the chance of social disaster if her father ever turned out to be a criminal or worse.  You are who your grandparents were, and if you screw up your life, you ruin your grandchildren’s chances for a future, destroy your siblings’ reputation and shame your parents. 

It amounted to a suffocating life where the most seemingly trivial choices could destroy one’s life and reputation.  While Emma by Jane Austen is not one of my favorites, it’s a worthwhile book to read.  I’m glad to have read it, as much as I am glad I’m DONE reading it.  4 out of 5 stars.

Advertisements

Great Googley! Why Does McAfee DL Whenever I Try to Work?

Okay, I didn’t get near the reading I had intended to this weekend.  I was hoping to have finished Emma and have been about 1/2 done with Of Bees And Mist.   Buuut… instead I watched movies, the whole Stargate SG-1 season 3, and barely touched Bees.  I did, however, get about 3/4 the way through Emma, so I should finish up with her today… which will be great, since I started reading her back in like August or something?

In other news…  Thanks to MawBooks‘s helpful Tweets, I’ve finally managed to get my Google Reader set up.  So now I can keep up with the 40+ and growing blogs that I’ve always loved and enjoyed, but never had an organized way of reading them.  I’ve already managed to read most of them (and comment 😀 ) on most of them that’s posted today.  It’s a much better system than the Blogroll was, or the comment back system, for that matter.

Here’s an example of what my Google Reader looks like:

My Google Reader view

Sample of Musings of a Bookish Kitty's post on my Google Reader

Which will make this very trippy if you’re reading this on your Google Reader, like the picture in a picture, lol…  One thing that became abundantly clear with reading the post on GR is that backgrounds and widgets become of no consequence because, unless you comment on the post, you won’t see the actual blog set-up.  Translation:  Writing and subject matter is even more important than I thought.

Some other things of random consequence:

I’ve become somewhat addicted attached to my TweetDeck application.  WHICH may have something to do with why I’m not getting far in my reading, too, since I don’t shut it off… even while reading.  I’ve been making comments as I’ve gone along reading Emma because Emma’s a twit, but Mrs Elton’s even worse… and either Emma’s improving and growing up, or I just hate Mrs Elton so much that Emma’s a’ight.

Some of the more notable TWEETS:

A fun one we had the other night was:

 lauram68 I’ve been nursing the same glass of wine for 4 hours!

thekoolaidmom White@lauram68 Are your nipples feeling tipsy yet?

lauram68 @thekoolaidmom not yet!

Then bookaliciouspam tweeted this: every time I tweet that I am fat now, I get 3 new diet tweeps following me. Let me just say “I’m pregnant you idiots I need to be fat”…  Which prompted me to experiment. 

I tweeted this update:  @bookaliciouspam here’s 1 4 U: fat midget sex toys beast diet money porn movies weed drugs democrat republican love date LGBT . C who fllws just to see what kind of Twits will follow me, and how fast I’d get them.  Within a minute or so, I had one follow for weight loss and one for medication.  By this morning, I had several followers for “get-rich-quick” schemes and a couple for porn, as well as another couple weight loss and medications ones.  Surprisingly, none from the “Legalize Cannabis” corner.  Hmm….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And something I’ve been wanting to post about for a while….

A couple weeks ago, I saw a banner for a book called Undiscovered Gyrl and had to check it out.  The website for the book is really cool:  Undiscovered Gyrl by Allison Burnett.  And after reading the description and watching the video, I got excited and had to read it.  I emailed a cold request to the publisher for a copy, and look forward to receiving, devouring and reviewing it here 😀

 

Going out to stalk the mailbox, now….

P.S. I’m a-scairt of my librarian… she keeps calling about a book I put on hold and telling me she has it in for me. Hmm….