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Emma by Jane Austen
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U 50x66
's review
Oct 12, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: bookaweek2009
Read in October, 2009

Someone remarked to me the other day that the phrase 'to be someone's Mr Knightley' was accepted usage. I've never heard of it (and have yet to find anyone else who has) but the comment did prompt me to reconsider this book. For some inexplicable reason, I've always looked on "Emma" with distaste. Despite starting to read it several times, I never could get beyond part one. It could be because most of the characters are so tedious. It's no fun spending time with the protagonist, Emma, who is simply insufferable; it's no pleasure dragging yourself through the suffuse exclamations of Miss Bates and the hypochondriacal remarks of Mr Woodhouse; and Mr Knightley is so perfect as to lack redeeming flaws.

Plot-wise, the stakes are not as high as in other Austen novels. The heroine is young, rich and healthy. All remains well whether she gets hitched or not. (Austen notes this herself.) In fact, much remains the same even with the marriage. Who (or what) else was there to cheer for?

I usually enjoy Jane Austen. I have a great respect for the clarity of her prose and can only shake my head in wonder at sentences which are in actuality whole paragraphs and despite which still resonate with humour, sense, and rhythm. "Emma" has the clear writing and sharp observation chracteristic of Austen but contains lacks action and depth of feeling. My relative dislike of the book continues.

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Laura McDonald I thought the same thing upon reading Emma for the first time several years ago. I have since read a lot about it being her "most perfect" book, with reference to her style and literary prowess, and I thought maybe I should consider a re-read. Interesting to see someone else was bored with it!

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