By Jane Austen
“She is, in fact, a beautiful girl, and must be thought so by ninety-nine out of an hundred; and till it appears that men are much more philosophic on the subject of beauty than they are generally supposed; till they do fall in love with well-informed minds instead of handsome faces, a girl with such loveliness as Harriet, has a certainty of being admired and sought after.” 
“Miss Harriet Smith may not find offers of marriage flow in so fast, though she is a very pretty girl.  Men of sense, whatever you may choose to say, do not want silly wives.”

Emma is rich, young, and beautiful.  Due to her position in society she has no need or want to marry but enjoys matching her friends, and the novel follows them through the English countryside as they fall in and out of love with each other.  Jane Austen, perhaps most famous for her novel Pride and Prejudice, is the master of writing about absolutely nothing.  How can nearly 400 pages of balls and visiting neighbors and gossiping about every one’s love lives be so charming?  Her characters have a certain normalcy and everyday charm about them that makes them more relatable than characters in fantasies or dramas.  Emma herself isn’t your typical romance novel heroine.  She can be selfish and thoughtless at times and even Jane Austen believed she was “a heroine that only I will like much.”  However, Emma’s faults are what make her so accessible.  While perfectly composed characters like Pride and Prejudice‘s Lizzy Bennett are someone readers aspire to be, her grace and poise often seems unattainable.  Emma, however, is the perfect mix of compassion and pride, generosity and ego-centricism.

Granted, Jane Austen’s works are not for everyone.  Emma’s plot is simple and slow, and its characters are perfectly average.  There is no magic or mystery, no great obstacle to overcome.  If you’re looking for a book full of intrigue and page-turning plot twists, Emma is as far from that as possible.  But as for clever commentary on human nature, love and relationships, this book takes the cake.  Watching Emma mature from a self-occupied girl into a lady worthy of a gentleman is utterly delightful.  Emma is like the water park’s lazy river.  It’s calm, relaxing and seemingly anti-climatic, but you keep coming back to it time and time again.


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