Two birds with one stone in this post! Each challenge has slightly different questions, so this’ll make for an interesting review and discussion of Jane Austen’s Emma.
Stacey @ The Pretty Books is hosting the Classics Challenge in an effort to read more classic literature — and you can define “classic” however you wish! Sign up and start reading literature that’s standing the test of time.
Book #1 of 2016:
Emma by Jane Austen (1815)
WHEN I Discovered This Classic
The first time I read Austen must’ve been in middle school, around 12 years old. I bought two volumes that had her six novels, and I’m pretty sure I breezed through all of them. Only four stick out to me and I read often — Emma would not be one of them! It was firmly one of my least-favorite at the time, so I just stuck to the BBC adaptation and called it a day.
WHY I Chose to Read It
It’s been over 14 years, more or less, since I read it, and I love the BBC adaptation. So maybe my adolescent opinion isn’t worth listening to and I ought to re-read this classic again! (Plus, come on, Austen said she loved Emma-the-character. Gotta give her a chance!)
WHAT Makes It A Classic
Because it’s Austen. But I’m not sure what exactly made Austen a classic. Possibly because her stories are universal, satirical, well-written, interesting. Austen understood people.
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I definitely have a higher opinion of Emma! Though it’s still not one of my favorite Austens, it was nice to be back in her style of writing. Mr Knightley is sassy and realistic, I do not like Frank Churchill (what an awful flirt), Mr Woodhouse is far more of a hypochondriac than I remembered or expected, and Emma, though difficult, was fun to watch. Check out my full thoughts in my re-read section!
WILL It Stay A Classic
Of course! It’s Austen, it’s a classic. It inspired one of the greatest 90s movie classics, too: Clueless. That match-making-gone-wrong story is a classic trope as well. Not sure if it started because of Austen, but it’s something that audiences gravitate to.
WHO I’d Recommend It To
Anyone who enjoyed the BBC adaptation, Clueless, or matchmaking stories. Emma is so much more than that, but it’s definitely the draw to the novel.
Kelly @ Belle of the Literati is hosting a fun challenge for bloggers: The Re-Read Challenge! Not much of a “challenge,” per se, because why wouldn’t you want to re-read and re-experience some of your favorites? Sign up and start re-reading!
Book #2 of 2016:
Emma by Jane Austen
WHEN I First Read
As stated before (the one overlap question, yay!), I was probably 12 when I first read Emma.
WHAT I Remember
Nothing particularly detailed in this book except that I found Emma to be snobbish when I first read it. I also remembered Mr Knightley scolding her a lot. (And yet, of course, the BBC adaptation became most of what I remembered. How do you know when a show/movie blurs the original work too much?)
HOW I Felt After Re-Reading
Relieved the BBC stayed true to the work, and pleasantly surprised. I took some notes while I was reading (because who doesn’t do that with a classic?), and here’s what stood out:
HARRIET / MR MARTIN / MR ELTON — Emma’s snobbery clouds Harriet’s judgement of the sweet and perfect Mr Martin in chapter four. How incredibly fast! Harriet was such an impressionable character, but she came to her own by the end. I was also surprised with how large a role Mr Martin had in the books, too, as a tertiary character. His random appearances spark Harriet out of each of her “I love Mr ___” stupors.
EMMA / MR ELTON / FRANK CHURCHILL — What Churchill did to Emma is exactly what Emma did to Mr Elton, in a way. Both characters unknowingly led another on; such flirts! Yet I have a hard time forgiving Churchill the way I could forgive Emma. Emma, at least, didn’t seem like she realized she was flirting with Mr Elton and leading him on. In adaptations it’s quite obvious Elton is infatuated with Emma, but in the book it wasn’t. Despite Churchill’s explanatory letter and apology (side note: I love that Austen has letters from men in her novels so they can explain themselves!), I have a hard time understanding how Jane Fairfax could still marry him after all those months.
EMMA / MR KNIGHTLEY — The confessions to one another before the proposal are awesome. They’re not apologizing for their behavior, but they can explain their conduct and recognize or admit to their faults. It’s huge for Emma to do so. She’s always arguing with Knightley, but he tends to make a fair point. After all of that, she’s still the same kind of Emma — argumentative, observant, nosy — but with growth and wisdom. They don’t completely change at the turn of a page, like many characters in books do. They grew up.
EMMA — You can’t really blame Emma for her pompous attitude and rudeness, though. She has the most hypochondriac of fathers, no travel experience, and the only challenging conversations she has are with Knightley, who, despite his scolding, treats her more like an equal than anything else.
WOULD I Re-Read Again
I’m not sure I would read this Austen again any time soon, but I would definitely reread it again in my lifetime!
What books have you reread recently? What classic have you read recently?
8 thoughts on “Classic & Re-Read: “Emma” by Jane Austen”
I’ve read this before and well… let’s just say I didn’t really liked it. There are some parts I really like, while the rest felt really dull! Glad you enjoyed it more now though!
The BBC adaptation really helped!
Alexa S. (@alexalovesbooks)
I plan on reading this novel this year! But I’m determined to read Austen’s novels in order of publication, so I’ll be rereading the first two novels first 😉
How fun! Let me know what you think — I’m looking forward to seeing the reviews.
Morgan @ Gone with the Words
I’ve only read Emma once, in a Jane Austen lit class I took my senior year of college, and I really enjoyed it! Of course the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma is one of my favorite movies (along with Clueless) and I’ve seen both more times than I can count. I liked how faithful the movie was to the book and it made it a bit easier to follow along. I love the end with Emma and Mr Knightley too! And I do adore Mr Knightley. Emma is such an interesting character too, lots of layers to her. Glad you had a better experience with your reread!
I’m glad I gave the book another chance!
One day I *will* finish Emma. I started it years ago and couldn’t get on with it. Maybe I’ll check out the adaptation though!
The BBC one is fantastic. After watching it several times, it helped me enjoy the book more.