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Emma (Dover Thrift Editions)
Stock image - cover art may vary
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0486406482
ISBN-13: 9780486406480
Publisher: Dover Publications
Release Date: December, 1998
Length: 384 Pages
Weight: 9.12 ounces
Dimensions: 8.11 X 5.12 X 0.79 inches
Language: English

Emma (Dover Thrift Editions)

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Of all Jane Austen's heroines, Emma Woodhouse is the most flawed, the most infuriating, and, in the end, the most endearing. Pride and Prejudice's Lizzie Bennet has more wit and sparkle; Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey more imagination; and Sense and Sensibility's Elinor Dashwood certainly more sense--but Emma is...
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Customer Reviews

  A beautiful story about relationships

I definitely recommend this book to first time Jane Austen readers, and especially to young girls, for it is so cute and so amusing. I wish I were "forced" to read this in High School for I would have surely written good papers on it. I can't see how anyone can dislike this classic. Jane Austen's character "Emma" has her faults of course, be she is a true character that is amusing and utterly charming, unlike those characters in Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, which by no doubt are wonderful books, but Emma truly has to be my favorite Austen work. It is predictable, even without having seen the movie that was based on this work (that mind some of you was written over 200 years before Alicia Silverstone existed...gosh!) but the predictability of it made it all the more enjoyable, like a sort of mystery in romance. I definitely recommend this book to anyone over the age of 11 or 12. I know I'll make my kids read it some day. It is superb!
  "I seem to have been doomed to blindness."

Emma Woodhouse, "handsome, clever, and rich," is the 21-year-old daughter of the elderly owner of Hartfield, the largest estate in Highbury. Though only a couple of hours away from London by carriage, Highbury regards itself as an isolated and virtually self-contained community, with the Woodhouse family the center of social life and at the top of its social ladder. Emma, doting on her hypochondriac father, whom she represents to the outside world, has grown up without a mother's softening influence, and at twenty-one, she is bright, willful, and not a little spoiled. Having too little to do to keep out of trouble, Emma's hobby is matchmaking, "the greatest amusement in the world,." Unfortunately, her sophistication in the social graces does not extend to much insight into human beings.

Taking Harriet Smith, a young woman of "questionable birth" under her wing, Emma makes Harriet her "project," educating her in the social graces, convincing Harriet not to marry farmer Robert Martin, who has courted her, and ultimately persuading Harriet, wrongly, that the vicar, Mr. Elton, is falling in love with her. Bored and without a large circle of "suitable" friends, Emma is an incorrigible meddler, playing with the lives of those around her, snubbing those she considers inferior, gossiping about others in an attempt to divert attention to herself, and misreading intentions. Only Mr. Knightly, sixteen years older than Emma and a friend of her father, stands up to Emma and tells her what he thinks of her behavior, and it is through him that she eventually begins to grow.

Love and the formal protocol of marriage are a major focus here, with marriage more often a merger of "appropriate" families than the result of romance or passion. Class distinctions, acknowledged by all levels of society, limit both personal friendships and romantic possibilities, and as Emma's matchmaking fails again and again, causing grief to many of her victims, Emma begins to recognize that her pride, willfulness, and love of power over others have made her oblivious to her own faults. Austen shines in her depiction of Emma and her upperclass friends, gently satirizing their weaknesses but leaving room for them to learn from their mistakes-if only they can learn to recognize the ironies in their lives. Though Emma may be, in some ways, Austen's least charming heroine, she is certainly vibrant and, with her annoying faults, a most realistic one. Mary Whipple
  Blind Arrogance and the Dance of Love

Like all of her novels, Jane Austen's EMMA is essentially a comedy of manners, a work in which the characters move inside a highly restrictive code of conduct and must walk a fine line between the socially acceptable and unacceptable if they are to survive, much less reach their goals. But at the same time the central character, Emma Woodhouse, is a marked departure. Not only is she a young woman of considerable wealth and social standing, she is, as critics are fond of pointing out, "flawed."

The nature of Emma's flaw is essentially Austen's observation of the great failing of the upper-class: an assumption that what they think and do is inevitably correct. And although Emma is quick-witted, generous, and kind, she suffers the effect of this blind arrogance when she comes to believe that she is gifted as a matchmaker and can order the romantic lives of her circle to suit her own liking. The result is a series of seriocomic entanglements and disasters that touches virtually every one with whom Emma comes into contact.

The story requires considerable exposition, and consequently the action is slow to gather; add to this the fact that Emma herself is so overbearing and self-assured that you frequently want to give her a slap. The result is a novel that many, including Austen fans, will find an uphill read. Even so, Austen is writing very close to the peak of her powers here, and her amazing talent for observation, subtle irony, and flashing wit endow EMMA with tremendous charm and interest. In many respects a remarkable novel, but one that I recommend more to determined Austen fans than to casual readers.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer

  "Emma" is a wonderful book!

"Emma" was the first Jane Austen book I read, and after reading all of Austen's novels, it is still my favorite. The plot is amusing, and it kept my interest from beginning to end. Indeed, I couldn't put the book down until I finished it. For those who think that it is too difficult a read, try it. I was only 12 the first time I read it, and I enjoyed it immensely. Also, I would like to set the record straight concerning the movie Clueless, which was based on "Emma". Clueless was made in the 1990's, while Jane Austen was born in the late 1700's and died in her forties. It is rather obvious that "Emma" came first. I know this at the age of 17, and can only wonder where certain reviewers were during English class. Back to the book, though - I loved it and would recommend it to anyone!
  I'll try not to give away the ending...

Emma is Jane Austen at her best, the work of a writer in her prime. While earlier novels such as Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice are extremely witty and well-plotted, none are as clever, interesting or satisfying as Emma, in its depiction of the frivolous preoccupations of the landed gentry in eighteenth century England.

The plot centres around Emma Woodhouse, the young, beautiful and clever daughter of a hypochondriac father, who amuses herself by attempting to play cupid to her friends and neighbours - with predictably painful results. Austen's characterisation is delightful: characters such as Mr Woodhouse and Miss Bates are brilliant comic creations but are never in danger of becoming caricatures, like Dickens' characters sometimes do. Meanwhile Emma herself is a complex mixture of intelligence and thoughtlessness, kind-heartedness and self-satisfaction, and is superbly realised. Austen's dialogue is as delicious, and frequently hilarious, as ever - she reveals the finer nuances of her characters through the things they say, intentionally or otherwise - and shows how intuitively insightful and compassionate she was.

As in most Jane Austen novels, all situations resolve themselves into a happy ending, though whether this tendency was prompted by a genuine positivity and warmth of feeling or a playful sense of irony, nobody is sure. Regardless, Emma is a tremendously satisfying read.