Jane Austen – Emma
10. Emma by Jane Austen (1815)
Read By: Victoria Morgan
Length: 15hr 40min (512 pages)
Genre: Classic; Romance
Started: 02 January 2009
Finished: 24 January 2009
sharp satirical humor:
untempered by warmth
Summary: Emma Woodhouse is a relatively wealthy young woman with very little to occupy her, who likes nothing more than being the queen bee of her social circle. Although she herself has no interest in marrying, she’s an inveterate matchmaker when it comes to her friends and acquaintences. Unfortunately, her judgment of other people’s thoughts and feelings is not as sound as she thinks it is, and she finds that her meddling causes more problems for her friends – and herself – than it solves.
Review: I’m going to make three rather embarassing revelations. First, this is my first time reading Emma, and only the third Austen I’ve read. Second, I love pretty much every film adaptation of Austen’s books, even those I haven’t read. And third… I spent almost the entirety of listening to Emma trying to figure out how well it matched the corresponding scenes from the movie Clueless. *shame!*
Austen said about Emma that she was going to create “a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like.” And, at least in my case, she was pretty much right. I mean, I wanted Emma to be happy, and I realize that she’s at heart a good person, but the constant snobbery (even towards the end, after she’s mostly reformed) really got on my nerves. Perhaps this effect was intensified since I didn’t find any of the other characters particularly likeable, either. Well-drawn, comic, and sharply satirical, yes, but not likeable. Morgan’s choice of voices for the characters, though apt, didn’t help either, especially in the middle of yet another of Miss Bates’s interminable and screechy rambles. I feel like I can’t criticize Austen without seeming like a philistine, but for me, Emma just lacked the sparkle of Pride and Prejudice, and it felt like there wasn’t enough warmth to soften the sharp edge of the satirical humor. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Good writing, of course, and reliably funny, but it never made me anxious to go back and listen to more.
First Line: Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.