Emma by Jane Austen


As a rule, I reread some of my favorite books this time of year. I never fail to include at least three Austen’s in this rereading, and this time around I started with Emma.

What is there to say about Emma that hasn’t been said hundreds of times over in hundreds of reviews? I don’t have any particularly unique insights into Emma that someone somewhere has undoubtedly laid claim to. I simply love this novel, and want to flail around about it for a bit.

Jane Austen is my greatest writing influence, as well as the best model of what I aim to accomplish in my own writing. A style that is quick, witty, engaging, deep, and meaningful. Characters that are realistic and command the story. Everything, EVERYTHING about all of Austen’s novels are brilliant. Absolute perfection. There is no escaping it. I don’t trust people who don’t think Austen to be a genius, sorry.

Mr. John Knightly continues to be my favorite of the supporting cast. His homebody-ness is so right-on-the-mark that I can’t help but laugh to myself whenever he come into the story, probably because I am admittedly the most homebody homebody there ever was. In the scene where he is dropping the boys off for their stay at Hartfield, and Mr. Weston arrives late to the dinner party at Hartfield after a long day traveling back and forth to London, Mr. John Knightly’s shocked reaction to his attendance is so exactly what I would have thought in that situation.

I love Emma. Her character is so fresh. She is obviously vain, obviously loving of the spotlight, obviously severe on those she deems beneath her, but that doesn’t stop you from loving her. The analysis of her faults is, what I consider to be, the essence of the novel, and her realization, and subsequent resolve to become a better person, its shining conclusion. Emma Woodhouse is a real person, through and through. She loves her father and family, she is proud, she is generous. She is truly perfection.

Mr. Knightly as the ‘surprise’ love – what is there to say? He is the ideal companion and lover.

I’m considering watching the Emma miniseries with JLM. I don’t want to be disappointed, but I’m also not ready to come out of Emma‘s world, so I need some way of continuing it.


Who has read Emma? How do you stack it against Austen’s other works?


2 thoughts on “Emma by Jane Austen

  1. MLC says:

    I have read ‘Emma’ – and like you, I find Austen to be perfect for re-reading especially when I am down or ill. Her novels always lift my spirits. The heroines are flawed but fearless and so admirable you just wish you could be their friend. ‘Emma’ is not top of my list. My personal favourite is ‘Persuasion’ because poor Anne is so filled with self-doubt (which rings true with me – I am that woman) but I get Emma too. She just wants the best for everyone and she has been allowed to take the lead for as long as she can remember. Spoiled daughter syndrome. Lucky she has the perfect, sensible, articulate, worldly-wise, generous, kind, gorgeous man on hand to keep her in line… 😀

    • annaherlihy says:

      Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion tie for my number 1 spot, Emma my second, then Mansfield Park, Sense & Sensibility, and finally Northanger Abbey. However, like you, I turn to Austen especially when I am sick or feeling particularly down. Northanger Abbey is great for when I need something to cheer me up; Sense & Sensibility, for whatever reason, comforts me like no other when I’m sick; Mansfield Park when I am in a great mood; and on and on. While I have my rankings, they are all such masterpieces that they are interchangeable to some degree (below the huber 2 spot, haha).

      Emma was particularly great in supporting characters – Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. John Knightly being particular favorites. Harriet, I thought, was a kind girl I would very much like to be friends with. Mrs. Elton was downright insufferable, good lord. … It’s funny how my opinions on the supporting characters are in line with Emma’s feelings about them haha 🙂

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