Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book 68: Finished.

There is something about reading Jane Austen novels that makes my heart so incredibly happy and full. She never fails to cheer me up with her wit and depth.

I can only wish that there was more to read by her than the six full novels she left behind (I do still have all the smaller and unfinished pieces left to go).

I think the hardest thing about completing an Austen novel is trying to figure out where you place it in line with your other favorite Austen novels. I mean, after all, they are all excellent in their own way. And after I read one, I just cherish it so much more than "those others" I haven't read as recently.

Anyway, on to Emma. The first time I read it, I really didn't see the love connection between Emma and Mr. Knightley. Perhaps it is because I have learned to concentrate a little more on details and underlying themes (you know, that English degree and all). Now, on my third reread, I got it and I am blaming it on the fact that I am a little more experienced in the ways of love nowadays after having to live with a boy and pick up after his messes (really, they should tell you that before you say "I do").

In any case, this time around I still loved Emma just as much as that first time. Again, I was reminded about how love grows and changes, as does our perception of what love is. I can remember being in 7th grade and being "in love" with this boy who absolutely no idea who I was. But I was convinced we were going to get married and live happily ever after. *sigh* We all know that it doesn't work that way, and to be honest, while I remember feeling this way about that boy, I don't remember his name. True love, you know?

But in Emma, Emma Woodhouse does seem to know what love is. She cherishes the solid examples she sees in her own life, but doesn't want it for herself. It is only once she understands what that kind of love does for the people around her that she seems to get it and want it. It makes me a little sad that she waited so long to cave in.

But Emma is about more than that. It is also about overcoming your preferences and beliefs about things you believe you know all about. Emma certainly changes her tune after the debacle with Mr. Elton. She figures out what she did wrong and seems to learn from it. She also gets stung with the whole situation surrounding Frank.

So when she finally realizes just how she feels about Mr. Knightley, she comes to term with her own definition of love and what she really needs.

This is definitely one of my favorite Austen novels, but since I love them all, I have to place this one third (behind Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice). I think one of the reasons I do love this lies in the character traits of Miss Bates. I adore Miss Bates and her silly attitude. She cracked me up every time she shows up in the novel. In terms of secondary Austen characters, she comes in a very close second behind Mr. Collins (because really, he's hilarious).

If you haven't given Emma a try recently, I urge you to. Read deeper than the silly high school nature of Emma Woodhouse and you'll find a far deeper novel. I know I did.

22 comments:

  1. You don't only read 250 classics, but also reread books!
    There's some magic about what you're doing! I wish I could so it some time! I'll follow your steps from Pyrenees! Good luck Ulysses!

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  2. I admit the biggest kick I got out of Emma was realizing Clueless was based on it. I loved Clueless. :D

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  3. "I think the hardest thing about completing an Austen novel is trying to figure out where you place it in line with your other favorite Austen novels." YES! Truer words were never spoken!

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  4. Hey! You've gotten me so excited to read this one. It's on my list for a TBR challenge I'm going over at "Roof Beam Reader". I'm making my way through the Austen novels - slow but sure!

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  5. That's exactly how I rank Austen's books, too! Persuasion was my first, and I think the most brilliant although I have been threatened by Mr. Darcy lovers before for my sacrilidge. Emma is so sophisticated and smart. I know a lot of readers don't like her as a person but I think they judge harshly. Sadly, Mansfield Park remains in last place for me, although the BBC movie of a few years back went a long way towards redeeming it. I think asking Austen fans how they feel about MP tells you everything about them. It's my mother's favorite.

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  6. Clueless is one of my all time favorites, and I couldn't believe in my J.Austen class that more people hadn't made the connection!! Great review!

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  7. My co-bloggers and I read Emma last year--- it had been several years since I had read it and this time I liked it so much more than when I was younger-- yep, it did get bumped up the fave list. I also recently read S&S and just finished two movie versions-- now it is a fave--
    What to do?

    P&P will always be my number one but Persuasion, Emma and S&S will have to play musical chairs for spots 2, 3, and 4!

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  8. Emma is such a comparison of naive first love and mature love, isn't it? I'm so glad you loved it!

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  9. What a great review...it makes me want to pull my Jane Austen collection down from my bookshelf.

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  10. I'm going to make an admission here, and it's a scandal, I tell you. I've only read two of Austen's novels. I own them all, but I've only read P&P and Emma because I don't want to whiz through them all at once and then be Austenless.

    I read P&P several years ago, Emma just last year, but I started watching the Emma movie adaptation years ago. Mr. Knightly is quite the dish, and I've had a super-crush on him for years, but that's the movie Knightly and not the book Knightly. While I like them both, book hero #1 will remain Mr. Darcy.

    Which one would you recommend I read next?

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  11. I love the sound of this one. I really do need to read all of Jane Austen's books.

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  12. I think a lot of us come to 'Emma' too young to see the love story between her and Knightly. If you read this for the first time in your teens as I did love isn't about a slow growing understanding of the worth of someone and your feeling for them, it's about passion. I got on much better with 'Emma' returning to it a decade or so later. These days I'd even prefer Knightly to Darcy. At least I'd be reasonably certain he'd be polite to my relatives.

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  13. Emma and Sense & Sensibility are the only tow Austens I haven't re-read. S&S I'll do for sure this year to commemorate its anniversary. Maybe I'll try Emma on an audiobook format?

    Have you see he recent adaptation? It's lurvely!

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  14. I've only read Pride & Prejudice. I do own Emma though so maybe that will be my next Austen novel. I found P&P so endearing so I have a feeling, from your review, that I will enjoy this one as well.

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  15. I think I'm gonna read this one now :) I love Jane Austen, even though the only book I read from her so far was Pride and Prejudice..BUT STILL.

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  16. I studied this for the HSC (final school leaving exams in Australia) and found is fascinating. There is so much to this book that you don't ititally see I think it would be impossible to every stop discovering something new in it.

    We also compared it with Clueless, and although I seen that movie now more times than i will ever need to, I was actually really surprised at just how clever and subtle it is a remake of Emma. There is more to it than meets the eye, just like the book :-)

    Glad you enjoyed it again third time around.

    PS. I am fortunate enough to have lived with my partner for 4.5 years now, so I am fully aware of the messes I will no doubt still be cleaning up once we are married ;-)

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  17. I agree with the above commenters. I decided to read Emma when I learned that Clueless was based on it. Paul Rudd was the love of my pre-adolescent life. LOL. Maybe they should make a "modern" Pride and Prejudice...

    Your thoughts make me want to reread Emma all over again. I personally found her annoying, but maybe another reading will change my mind. :)

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  18. You summed up both Austen and Emma perfectly. I've read all 6 of Austen's novels and they always cheer me up and leave me wishing for more. I read The Watsons last year and enjoyed it. Persuaion and P&P and S&S sit before Emma for me, but I agree that it's wonderful. The beauty lies in the fact that her intentions are good, even if she is "clueless." Great post!

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  19. Good thoughts on this. You have me curious. I was afraid I'd like this one least... :-)

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  20. I love them all (the ones I've read thus far.)like my own children. They are all different, and can't be compared to one another, and I praise them all for their unique strengths and idiosyncrasies.

    Right now I'm reading Emma and I do love the charming, misdirected Emma. Her voice is the last in my head before I turn out the lights and drift off to sleep.

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  21. "There is something about reading Jane Austen novels that makes my heart so incredibly happy and full. She never fails to cheer me up with her wit and depth."

    Precisely! I don't think I could have said it as well as you have. It is as pity Austen only left us six novels, but at least we always have the joys of re-reads. I really don't remember Emma that well from when I first read it, but your comments about the novel are really tempting me to a re-read. I'd been thinking of revisiting P&P again, but maybe I'll have to prioritize this one instead.

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  22. I adored P&P so I'm finding myself disappointed with the other Austen's I'm reading. So sad. In this one, Emma bugged the heck out of me. She was so shallow. Sigh. I do need to give Emma and Persuasion another chance, though.

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