Emma by Jane Austen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Wonderful thing about an Austen is that to be honest not a great deal actually happens, but yet it manages to remain entertaining. What I like to call frothy nonesense. Its all Bonnets at Dawn and Whos scheming to marry who to who, who fallen head over heels but has ideas above their station, who looks down on everyone but has the manners of a cart horse, who needs a good lie down or a turn around the garden etc etc.
Austens dialoge is superb and very entertaining.. Her hypochondriac father is a favourite :
"A man," said he, "must have a very good opinion of himself when he asks
people to leave their own fireside, and encounter such a day as
this, for the sake of coming to see him. He must think himself a most
agreeable fellow; I could not do such a thing. It is the greatest
absurdity--Actually snowing at this moment!--The folly of not allowing
people to be comfortable at home--and the folly of people's not staying
comfortably at home when they can!..."
And another example of her wit and way with words
"Some change of countenance was necessary for each gentleman as they walked into Mrs Westons drawing room - mr Elton must compose his joyous looks, and mr John Knightly disperse his ill humour. Mr Elton must smile les, and mr John Knightly more, to fit them for the place - Emma only might be as nature prompted, and shew herself just as happy as she was. "
And more entertaining nonesense :
"Emmas very good opinion of Frank Churchill was a little shaken the following day, by hearing that he was gone off to London, merely to have his hair cut. A sudden freak seemed to have seized him at breakfast, and he had sendf for a chaise and set off intending to return to dinner, but with no more important vie that appeared than having his hair cut. There was certainly no harm in his travelling sixteen miles twice over on such and errand; but there was an air of foppery and nonesense in it which she could not approve."
Mrs Bates never shuting up and finishing a scentece and Mrs Eltons stuck up mutton dressed as lamb were other favourites.
Emma herself is quite flawed - a total snob. But i find Austens books to be such a fascinating glimpse into another society. This really was how life was like amongst a certain set. It certainly has none of the gritty realism of Gaskell - -none of these folk have done a stroke of work in their lives, about as far as anyone will fall is to have to contemplate being a governess. But nonetheless its facinating to see the trials and tribulations of ladies in the country with nothing much better to do with themselves that visit each others houses and matchmake.
Its probably a four and a half - I wouldnt want any more of it, and you definately have to be in the mood for it, but i loved it none the less.
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