Favorite quote: “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
Emma was published in 1815 and takes place in Regency-era England. Our main character, 20-year-old Emma Woodhouse, is rich, beautiful, and popular, and consequently she is also spoiled and bossy, convinced that she is always right. The only person who ever argues with her is her calm and down-to-earth brother-in-law, Mr. Knightly. She lives with her father, and the book opens with Emma’s governess, Miss Taylor, marrying a man called Mr. Weston and moving away from the Woodhouse estate. Both Emma and her father are lonely now that Miss Taylor has left; Miss Taylor had doubled as Emma’s governess and best friend. The Woodhouses host a dinner party and invite everyone in their social circle (something that happens pretty often throughout the book) and Emma becomes acquainted with a young girl named Harriet, who is boarding with one of Emma’s neighbors.
Harriet is a few years younger than Emma; she’s naive and isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. In an attempt to replace Miss Taylor, Emma decides to take Harriet under her wing and introduce her into high society. Emma considers herself an unparalleled matchmaker because she thinks she’s responsible for getting Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston together. So, she decides her next order of business is to get Harriet a rich husband. She persuades Harriet to drop Mr. Martin, a poor farmer, and assures her that Mr. Elton, a snobbish, rich man, is her lover. It’s obvious that Mr. Elton has feelings for Harriet- or at least that’s what Emma thinks.
More drama ensues once new characters are introduced, like young, handsome Mr. Frank Churchill (Mr. Weston’s son from his former marriage) and quiet, “perfect” Jane Fairfax. As the book is a romantic comedy, there are a quite a few spectacular mix-ups, and the question predominantly driving the plot is “who will end up with who?”
The old-fashioned language takes some getting used to, and that’s one reason why this book took me a really long time to read. There were a few words I had to look up, but expanding your vocabulary is never a bad thing. The plot moves pretty slowly, though. The first half of the book took me three weeks to get through, and that’s a really long time for me. Sure, I was reading other books at the same time, but I just couldn’t get into the storyline. Once the plot starting picking up, I finished the last 200 pages in one afternoon (I had absolutely nothing else to do because of social distancing), and I would definitely say the second half of the book is more entertaining. Now I can watch the new movie, which I’m super excited about!
This was my second Austen novel and is apparently on the more long-winded side; I read Pride & Prejudice in January and next on my list is Northanger Abbey, so I’m excited to see how it is!