Publication Date: Originally published 1815
Publisher: 2008, Random House
Age Group: Adult/Young Adult
Emma is wealthy, beautiful, accomplished and a self-proclaimed matchmaker. When Emma meets Harriet Smith, a young girl of unknown parentage, Emma is convinced she can find Harriet a suitable husband. But, in her quest to find Harriet the perfect match, Emma jeopardizes Harriet's happiness and, much to her surprise, her own happiness too.The last of my 'favourite' Austen novels, I can never really decide if I like Emma more or less than Sense and Sensibility. More, I think, probably because Emma Townsend and George Knightley are far more interesting, and possibly more dynamic than any of Austen's other romances.
George was a teenager when Emma was born and has always acted as more of a guardian than a lover, until a rival for her attentions arrives on the scene turning their lives upside down.
What I Liked: Emma is fun. I don't want her as a best friend like Elizabeth Bennet, or sisterly like Anne Elliot, but she's the sort of 'see once a month' friend where you would spend the whole time together laughing. We all need more friends like that.
Sure, she has a bit of a superiority complex, look at her relationship with Miss Smith, and she can be a bit of a bitch to those below her station, but ultimately Emma has pounds of affection for everyone around her,
An appealing part of this novel is the secret relationship between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. You can't picture them together until the very moment of the reveal when, suddenly, its impossible to imagine them with anyone else.
What I Didn't Like: Sometimes George Knightley gives me the shits. He is constantly grooming Emma into his ideas of perfection. Does he want her to be a better person, or is he preparing her to become his bride?
Check out the 2009 BBC mini-series for a beautifully made, true to the book, edition of Emma. Or if you want something a little easier, try Clueless.