Emma Book Review || The Book You Need to Gift to ‘That’ Meddling Aunty

I ain’t no auntie, but I am a meddler.

“She is faultless, in spite of all her faults.”

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma cover

Genre: Classic, Romance

I love this book. This is my favourite Jane Austen novel and I’ve reread this a good 3-4 times now. It’s the only Jane Austen novel I’ve reread, so you can guess exactly what I’m going to rate it. No? Issa 5 blessed stars. This is Jane Austen’s most flawless work in my personal opinion. It is fun to note that Clueless is an adaptation of Emma and Clueless has to be one of the best 90’s films ever!

Set in Highbury, London, in the early 18th century, Emma is a novel about a fascinatingly flawed heroine. After her recent success in matchmaking, Emma believes herself to not only be a matchmaker extraordinaire, but an expert in human nature. As Emma has no intentions of marrying, she takes on the naive, sweet and grateful Harriet Smith as her protégé and sets about finding her a husband in Mr Elton instead. Her dear and long-time friend, Mr Knightley, the only one who seems to find flaws in our spoiled, but well-meaning heroine, is always ready to inform Emma that she is not quite right. The arrival of Jane Fairfax captures her fanciful imagination, but the arrival of Frank Churchill opens up the possibility of Emma falling in love. This is a novel of Emma coming to the discovery as to not only how little she truly knows about others, but also about how little she knows herself.

emma gifer

Emma has a wild imagination and sudden hunches that tend to turn out wrong, she is a gossip, she is a meddler, she thinks she knows better than others… but she learns. She learns that she isn’t the expert in love and human relationships she thought she was as Mr Elton turns out to be quite a foul character, and thus begins her self-caution. Every single time I read Emma, I always find Emma so insufferable at the start. And as always, as the novel progresses, I come to love her. When she is proven wrong, she will not staunchly deny it, but self-reflect, learn and show how much she has learnt. She is thoroughly unlikeable at the start, but she is completely loveable by the end. I stan a heroine who grows!

The strength of this book lies in its characters. We have Mr Knightley and y’all know how much I love Mr Knightley, he is dreamy, chivalrous, strong, sensible and all things delicious and good! He is the perfect English gentleman, and if you’re like me and you like good manners, consideration of others’ feelings, and characters who talk sense, then you will love him. Frank Churchill, who is said to represent France (I mean his name if Frank, so I see what you did there, Jane!) is too spontaneous, doesn’t think about the repercussions of his actions, but he is charming, flirtatious and therefore, easily loved. It is basically England v France… and since this is a British novel, I’ll leave you to decide which one wins.

giphy emma

Frank and Emma have a bad influence on each other. They hurt people both indirectly and, on one occasion, quite directly. One of them is Miss Bates. I did find Miss Bates quite annoying because ooh, boy, is she a talker! But, she is harmless, so it was completely uncalled for. But, Emma does make amends. The other person they hurt is Jane Fairfax. Jane is resented by Emma because of her reserve and her superior musical talent, but I couldn’t understand why she dislikes her for the former reason and I will say I can at least tolerate the latter. I really like Jane, she manages to remain true to herself. Emma, also, indirectly hurts Harriet by taking over her life and managing it when she would have been perfectly happy if Emma had left her alone to manage herself.

The ending is perfect, everything is very neatly wrapped up as Austen ties up all loose ends. Everybody ends up with who they should be with and with who they love. There is a certain melancholy in the ending too. The arrival of Harriet, Frank and Jane gave Emma companions of her own age and throughout the course of the novel, you realise how lonely Emma really is. She is often ensuring her father, a hypochondriac (or as the novel states: valetudinarian), is healthy and happy and Highbury doesn’t afford her an equal in age, sex and intellect. She realises Jane could have been that had she not dismissed her. Despite this, she does find a lifetime of companionship with the people who truly love her.

emma series

If you enjoy classics, romance and character-driven stories set in Britain this book is for you. Emma is essentially a coming-of-age novel. The writing style can be hard to get accustomed to if you aren’t well acquainted with classics and especially British classics as the language is very formal. The writing style is vastly different to what you would see in YA, so bear that in mind. But, one must read at least one Jane Austen novel in their lifetime as her novels and characters are timeless, and for me, if I had to pick one to read over and over again, it would easily be Emma.

If you’re looking to watch the film/series: I didn’t enjoy Gwyneth Paltrow’s melancholy portrayal of Emma but Romola Garai portrayed Emma exactly how I imagined her to be in the 2009 BBC series which I watched for the second time after finishing the book. Romola adds liveliness and humour to the character and her facial expressions are just fab (they remind me of Kareena Kapoor!).


All in all, I am one very satisfied reader.

What are your thoughts on Emma? Did you like Emma, the character? Which other Jane Austen novels did you enjoy? What are your thoughts on whether everyone should read at least one Jane Austen novel in their lifetime? Feed my brain in the comments!

Before this Sophski is Out, I have been busy in the last few days because of unforeseen circumstances in my family life, so that has had to take priority and may do so for the next few days. I will respond to everyone soon, and now:
Sophski Out.

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27 Comments

  1. The only reason why I like this novel of Austen is because of characters like Mr. Knightly, Jane and believe me also Miss Bates. (I like talkative people). As for Emma I think people can only love her or hate her, with no between. And my intolerance towards her goes way beyond the end, even though she learned from her mistakes. (I think I might be just as biased as she was in most of the story – I wonder.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All three of those characters are wonderful. I wish we got to read more about Jane Fairfax, I would have loved a novel from her viewpoint. She’s very reserved so we could have gotten to know more about her through her stream of consciousness.

      Emma is definitely a very marmite character. However, I think I’m quite a tolerant person, people are human at the end of the day, none of us are perfect. What matters is whether or not they can acknowledge their mistakes and actively work on it, and no one can deny that Emma does that. I want a heroine that makes mistakes and learns, and alleviates the harm that she causes others. Justice is delivered through her learning and rectifications, now mercy must be applied by the reader, and you know I’m Muslim, so I’m going to do that. ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I totally wanted more of Mr. Knightley and Jane Fairfax. But, then Austen may have wanted us to look through the eyes of Emma.
        I’m not a tolerant person, that’s for sure. But I really wanted Emma to realise her mistakes sooner.

        I agree with you about the nobody being perfect. But I do believe we all are given a kind of buzzer that goes off when something’s not right. I have a problem with Emma for not realising how she’s trying to control other people’s life, sooner. And yes, she does it later on but only after the worse had already begun. I’m a Muslim too, but I guess I’ll have to read the book again to see if I’m ready to give her that second chance or not.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Islam is the religion of kindness and mercy. Our Lord is Ar-Raheem, the most merciful. It said that Allah (SWT) will not be Merciful to those who are not merciful. We should be tolerant. Far be it for me to judge someone who has repented and not only repented, actively stops herself from making the same mistakes. If I’m no longer doing a sin, have repented, made amends, and then imagine someone slanders me on my past mistakes… that’s unfair, I’m no longer who I was. When the Prophet (SAWS) finally got people to come around to Islam and they apologised, he accepted with happiness and peace. No grudges held. Otherwise you’re flogging a dead horse.

          We are all given the light that lets us know what we’re doing is wrong, but we all sin anyway. We are all sinners, we are nowhere near the standard of the Sahabah’s. If you want mercy, you have to be merciful. This sounds really long-winded, but I have had someone punish me for something I did ten years ago and apologised for sincerely and didn’t make that mistake again. I feel like it’s a deflection really when someone brings up the past because I have seen it done to have others forget their own mistakes, deflection by bringing up the past is a narcissist’s game. There are significantly worse characters like Hermione who violently attacked Ron with birds, didn’t apologise, physically attacked him again in the next book and threatened to attack again using the same birds that pecked away at his skin (ripping his skin basically) if Ron upsets her again. These are the characters who don’t learn, who are truly so bad that they cannot see their wrongs, not even in the moment. Emma is human, she makes mistakes, and she learns. Other than what she said to Miss Bates, she doesn’t actually cause emotional or physical harm to others. She just thought she knew so much when in reality she didn’t. At the first sign she was wrong when Mr Elton confesses his love, she learnt to curb her imagination and not meddle any longer. Anyway, I’ve written a whole essay, this is a fun discussion though. There are better things to be intolerant about: physical/sexual/emotional abuse, murder, etc. Let’s save our intolerance for the things we should never tolerate. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, you are absolutely right. I didn’t really think of it that way. Because the people I’ve seen commit the same mistakes again and again, and don’t even accept their faults. It’s frustrating really. But, as you said if someone refrained him/herself after making amends – then it is unfair to bring old things up again. To be honest I never looked at it that way. So I thank you for showing me the other side. 🙂

            As per the character discussion – what really matters to me is not what they did, but how they made me feel. I’m not a person who remembers every detail of the story. So, I go with my emotions to judge a character. (May not be the ideal way, I agree.) But, I feel we shouldn’t be comparing Emma with Hermione as they belong to completely different worlds. I do accept that I may have been harsh on Emma. It’s also true that I never got any bad vibe from Hermione. She’s not my favourite female character as such. (Luna takes that spot). But I do like her a lot. If there’s a character in HP which annoys me (other than the obvious antagonists, of course) I’d say it’s Harry. I found him to be very selfish.

            Okay I may not be remembering every detail of what Hermione did. This is the reason why I didn’t comment in your previous post about her. I thought I’ll do it once I go through the books once again. This really is a fun discussion if only I could sharpen my memory instantly! And as a lesson learned I will try to be tolerant and look past people’s faults. (but only if they change.)

            Liked by 1 person

            1. For all we know, they already hate themselves for it and if we see someone working on themselves, we should try and encourage it because it is better to be united and it means another person we have for whatever causes we are striving for, another person to contribute to the betterment of society. But those who don’t admit their faults are different because they will continue harming people, we can only pray that God helps them. Emma aside, I love that you are open-minded and of course, when you do see wrong (including me), trumpet it so we can learn and I have no doubts that you do do that as we can see.

              I completely agree with you on going by feelings! I just think that sometimes in our hearts we just know, right? We can agree that Luna is awesome! I think everyone can agree on that front. But I must admit I got a bad vibe from Hermione from the third book (but in that book, I must rectify that she did apologise to Ron) and moving forward, still did. I just cannot condone someone who is unjustifiably physically violent. I try to imagine how would I feel if the person Hermione did those things to were my sister and I thought if Hermione was a boy and like Hermione, he attacked my sister because he felt entitled to her, I would rip that guy to shreds and never let him come anywhere near my sister again. And she threatens Ron in the final book again and it’s passed off like a joke & I thought no. Harry is annoying, I will admit, and there are parts that he approves of Hermione’s love of (unjustifiable) vengeance and recently I’ve turned off from him. I much prefer Ron, he is the sanest of the trio and he shows character growth. And don’t worry about commenting, you do not have to, if you wish to comment that’s up to you, I hope none of my followers ever feel obliged to comment or like my posts unless they themselves wish to.

              And completely agreed, you put it well, “look past peoples fault but only if they change.”

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I do understand hating oneself for past mistakes. Because we’ve all been there right? We do hate ourselves for being naive in past. But, hating is not the solution here nor is it necessary to do. As we learn to forgive somebody else, maybe we should also learn to forgive ourselves. We only point out mistakes because we care, because we want them to be better. We can never hate someone we care about, we only want them to do better – because we believe they can. We should all try to stop hating ourselves and help each other getting better. (As you said).

                Thank you so much. And I love how you actively put out everything you feel, it’s like you radiate warmth everywhere to everyone. People may have pointed out recently a mistake you did ten years ago, don’t beat yourself because of it. I reckon we all have a tendency to do so, so I just really hope you’ve forgiven yourself.

                No no. I wanted to comment by myself. Because I wanted to read the books again and see if or not I see Hermione,Emma in different light. I could never do something if I feel it is obligatory. I only do it if I want to. Hey! Ron is my favourite too! And everything Hermione did, I may have brushed it off aside because – it is a fantasy world and so I may have used different set of rules there. (And also because bearing Harry was annoying enough already).
                I just want to see if I could see a different side of Emma and Hermione when I re-read them. That’s a totally personal task I want to set myself up to.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Yes, I completely agree! True love and caring is knowing they can do better and helping them to become better. We definitely need to stop punishing ourselves, that in itself can be quite hard, but as Rag’n’Bone man said: we’re only human after all. May Allah (SWT) guide us to become better.

                  You’re so kind, thank you, I had no idea I was radiating warmth, so that’s such a wonderful thing for you to say about me. ❤️ You, yourself, radiate maturity (and a lot of fun!). ☺️ I have forgiven myself and I try my hardest to not make the same mistake again… it’s only one person who has made it difficult by bringing it up to deflect their own guilt… and I don’t surround myself with negativity, so I don’t have to deal with that persons negativity anymore, Alhumdulillah.

                  I hope to see your reviews of them one day if and when you do read it! Who knows how you might feel if you reread? 🙂 Yay, I love that you love Ron, he’s so underrated! Yeah, I do think that can happen when we read fantasy, but I try to think how would I react if this happened in real life and remember, they may not be real people but we are very much real. ☺️ Harry definitely can be very annoying!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. I checked out the song, I’m in love with its lyrics now. Yes, truly. May Allah (SWT) help us all.

                    I’m truly happy for you 💙. You did the right thing. Life’s too short to let the negativity seep in.

                    Thank you so much Sophia! I am not sure about maturity, but I guess we all learn.

                    Hey! I have never reviewed a book in my life. But I guess I could give it a try sometime, during my summer break. 😁 Thank you again.
                    I know right. Harry is so.. I’ll leave it there.
                    Yayy! Ronald Weasley.🎈

                    Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely love this book too- it’s one of my favourites. I definitely agree that it’s Austen’s finest (imo). I really agree that the strength of this lies in its characters- particularly Knightley! And I adored the ending. Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I remember you said you enjoyed it! 🙂 I think this edition also states that this is Jane Austen’s favourite, and that “it’s the favourite of real Austen fans” by Vox and others, I don’t know about “real” but the novel truly is flawless. And thank you, means a lot coming from you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Thomas Hardy almost as much as Jane Austen and have read most of his books but excluding Far from the Madding Crowd. I watched the recent movie version of it the other night and was somewhat disappointed. I don’t feel like the director did Hardy’s writing justice. That never happens to Jane Austen!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember that you’re a Thomas Hardy fan! 😉 I think the film adaptation released last year, no? I haven’t checked the reviews. It’s a lot different to Tess of the D’ubervilles as Bathsheba is a lot more successful than poor Tess, but like TotD, FFtMC follows in the vein of the struggles of women. I don’t think it made me think as much as Tess of the D’ubervilles did which was so heart-breaking that I wanted to stop reading. You can give it your reading pages test and see how it works out. 🙂

      Austen’s popularity is still soaring, and directors are aware that Austen fans will be unhappy if their films do not match up to the level that is expected. But I will say the Pride and Prejudice mini-series was almost terrible because Elizabeth didn’t seem like Elizabeth. But Keira Knightley did her justice. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Clueless. I think it works because of the setting. A high school. But Emma. Emma, Emma, Emma. She’s just so insufferable. I can’t get past it even though I know she has some growth. Because where does she get off thinking she knows better than others? I’ve had people meddle in my life. So her actions always always strike a nerve. I know I should cut her some slack. Because she does learn from her mistakes. But at the very least, I can tolerate her by the end.

    I try to reread one Austen novel every year. A while back I decided Emma would be my reread for next year lol. I haven’t read it in so long (I think college). I’ve changed a lot since then so I guess we’ll see how the reread goes. I do watch Clueless all the time though lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see why she would get to think she does know best because Emma was definitely spoilt by Miss Taylor and her father and she is only used to hearing praise… trust me, that definitely happens in real life. Emma does do it with the best intentions though with two people she believes to be of good character, and after that fails, she just stops meddling completely, she gets off her high horse and realises that she doesn’t know better to be meddling. She learns! There have been worse characters who genuinely mean harm with terrible intentions and commit the harm intend… Emma doesn’t, so I love her for that. A character who learns and amends, just like in real life, these are the truly mature and trustworthy people, so I friggin love Emma. ❤️

      That’s so strange, I was thinking the other day that I should try and reread an Austen novel each year Paha! I’d love to see what you think of Emma in your next reread so I look forward to the review which I hope you’ll do! Clueless is the best Jane Austen adaptation. Ever.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. How did she manage to find that? I’d love to know! It would be really amazing to have all the books in one, I’ve seen one where they have all the novels, but they were abridged version sadly. I hope you enjoy her novels as much I did. 🙂

      Like

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