Book Review: Emma

By Jane Austen

4 Stars

The novel follows the life of Emma, a young lady who gets into a series of mishaps as she meddles in the romantic lives of her friends and family with her self-proclaimed matchmaking abilities. Emma, as a privileged, financially stable young woman, spends most of her days taking care of her valetudinarian father and connecting socially with the other people of Highbury, the fictional village in which the story is set. When new characters disrupt the typical life Emma has experienced thus far, she takes up the role of matchmaker; in the process, she comes to learn more about herself and finds her own personal happiness. Upon my first read of this book, I struggled to get past the first half of the book. I felt that the plot dragged considerably, and the characters — particularly Emma — were boring, arrogant, and spoiled. But as the novel began nearing the end, I became more and more engrossed in the book, as I began to understand more of Emma's character and the motives behind her incessant matchmaking. In the end, Emma's mishaps and encounters with characters who were foils to her own personality served to make her more mature, and to my surprise, Emma became more likable. Further, although the readers are limited to a single setting for most of the book, the plots eventually end up progressing and becoming more complicated, to the extent that you cannot help but be engaged in the novel. I am giving this book a 4-star rating, only for the ending, which made me completely revise my initial perceptions of the book. Upon rereading Emma in the future, I may come to appreciate the scenes in the first half, which I had found difficult to engage myself in. Overall, Emma is a timeless novel with an unforgettable cast of characters who bring to life the fictional setting of Highbury, England. To any readers who are interested in Jane Austen's books: don't be intimidated by her writing style and book-length! The process of reading the book is extremely rewarding and well worth the effort. Emma is just one example of the classic, compelling books that Jane Austen has crafted.   

Reviewed by Amal 

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