These Jane Austen books… 99% of all the covers are atrocious. I read it on Kindle, so I didn’t have the misfortune of flipping open an ugly cover everyday, so I wanted to find a cover that suites the book rather than repulses readers. You’d think after almost two centuries of being in publication the market would step up their cover game. I guess not.
Anyway, back to the book. On my quest to read more classics, I downloaded this freebie and many others, but I began this first because I heard somewhere that the movie Clueless is loosely based on this book. So I thought, it’s time to put on my big girl boots and take a trek up Jane Austen Mountain, and hopefully this one will actually be good. I figured I already knew the basic plot from Clueless, so it couldn’t be that bad. And for the amount of times I’ve promised myself I’d read Pride and Prejudice, something stops me every time, and my next Jane Austen novel will probably be Persuasion. So maybe I read this novel just to stall, which would make this a pretty solid pick, considering it’s 500 pages.
And what, you may ask, fills these 500 pages? Gossip, my dears. Pure, early-1800s, British gossip. Emma, the star of her little neighborhood, tries to set her socially lower friend Harriet up with Mr. Elton. She shockingly finds out Mr. Elton is in love with herself, and drama spirals into the lives of the people surrounding her as she tries to fix her mistake and continue on with her life, refusing to ever marry.
Guys, the only way I got through this book was a. reading it out loud– in voices, of course, and b. regurgitating all the petty gossip to my mom and friends. Seriously, my mom has practically read this book with my vivid play-by-plays. The entire book was dialogue about Mr. this and Mrs. that and don’t forget Miss so-and-so, will she ever find a husband? Seriously, after I got through the first 50 or so pages, and I realized the pattern for the entire book, I just decided to get super invested into it. I talked about this characters like they were my own little clique, I gasped at new information in the same amount of ferocity as Emma herself.
While I just sat here and seemingly bashed the superficial nature of the entire book, I really did enjoy it. Once I got into the book, once I put myself in the characters’ minds, I could read the book with a genuine interest. There is no doubt on the superficiality of the story. Emma, being the main character, holds a certain flair of arrogance that I couldn’t stand, but at the same time, I found myself liking her. I think that’s what Austen was going for– make an unlikable main character and still somehow win the hearts of the readers.
Plus, I made it a game to look for parallels between this novel and Clueless. I never liked the main girl in Clueless, either, so I guess that’s where her pretentious nature comes from. Obviously there’s discrepancies between a high school chick-flick and an 1800-century novel, but I could definitely see how they related to each other.
Overall, there’s not much to say about the book. It’s full of gossip, no action happens, and the main character isn’t likable. Despite these downfalls, I still enjoyed reading it. Admittedly, I wished it was shorter, but it isn’t particularly difficult to read, and it’s a solid classic to pick up. But trust me, don’t try to watch the movie.