Day 3…Jane Austen Week……Emma
Today I’m going to review my second favorite Jane Austen novel, Emma. It’s also included in the book of the week, The Collected Works of Jane Austen by Jane Austen, Penguin Press edition. A bit of trivia, the movie Clueless, was a modern, Beverly Hills update of the plot of Emma. Which is a good movie by the way.
Emma Wodehouse, our heroine, has been raised as a girl who pretty much got her way, due to the death of her mother, her hypochondriac father, mild tempered younger sister, and a governess who became as much of her friend as her governess. The only one who would talk straight and confront Emma was her neighbor and cousin Mr. Knightly. Emma’s younger sister married Mr Knightly’s younger brother , John Knightly several years prior to the novels beginning. The novel begins with the marriage of Emma’s governess, which Emma herself had played matchmaker for.
Emma, being the proud woman she is befriends a girl who’s background no one knows, who’d be left at a local boarding school. One Harriet Smith by name.. After trying to match Harriet up with a local parson, who mistakes Emma’s attempt to matchmake him with Harriet as Emma herself being interested in him. Which ends disastrously in a Carriage ride where Emma has to set him straight after being haughtily insulted by his interpretation of her attempts.
Then Jane Fairfax arrives, a young woman who Emma has never had much regard for, but is the niece of a pair of elderly spinsters. Miss Fairfax is secretly engaged to Frank Churchill, who is the son of the man Emma’s governess married. He arrives in town and proceeds to flirt seriously with Emma. But Emma doesn’t really fall for him or the flirting. She has proclaimed that she will never marry due to her father’s “condition”. Poor Jane suffers in silence and it doesn’t make her receptive to the attempts at friendship by Emma.
After a number of events, including a disastrous picnic at Mr Knightly’s estate, people seem to think Emma has fallen for Mr Churchill. Which she hasn’t. After Mr Knightly scolds her for her behavior towards one of the elderly spinsters, she realizes she is in love with Mr Knightly. But is led by circumstances to believe that Mr Knightly is in love with Harriet.
When the secret engagement of Mr Churchill and Miss Fairfax comes to light, Emma’s ex-governess and her new husband are afraid the news of it will hurt Emma. Emma then tells them that she never fell for Churchill. And is happy for Miss Fairfax. Mr Knightly is under the same impression, but when Emma tells him that she never cared for Churchill, he realizes his feelings for Emma. And proposes. And is accepted. And he even agrees to remotely tend to his estate and live with Emma and her father, so Emma doesn’t have to leave her father alone.
Happy ending abounds for all involved. Churchill and Fairfax married, Emma and Knightly married, Harriet ends up married to the farmer who’d asked her to marry him but Emma made her reject since she thought Harriet could do better. Which is one of the reasons I like this Book.
Emma one of the Collected Works of Jane Austen by Jane Austen is/are Highly Recommended.