December 15th, 2013


Book Review: Emma, by Jane Austen

Jane Austen's most "unlikable" protagonist, a matchmaking busybody, makes this book more likable and funny than any modern romcom.


Published in 1815, approximately 160,000 words. Available for free on Project Gutenberg.

Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work.

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Verdict: Now my second-favorite Austen novel (after Pride and Prejudice), Emma is a fine example of a flawed protagonist who grows on you, with a supporting cast of endearing, annoying, and comic characters. While there are mild surprises and genteel plot twists, it's hard to spoil an Austen novel, since if you've read one, you know how they all will end. I remain a fan of her dialog and her character development.

Also by Jane Austen: My reviews of Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park.

My complete list of book reviews.