6492390by Jane Austen
4 of 5 stars

I first read this in high school, and I did not appreciate the satire at all! I came away thinking Emma was a terrible friend (…she is) and far too aggravating for me to love. Rediscovering the delights this book has to offer has been a true pleasure!

Emma is the match-making heroine determined that she will never marry. Her self-proclaimed knowledge of love and relationships leads her to completely bungle life for her friends. Her attempts to pair people off result in comedic moments of awkwardness at parties and so much village drama. Admittedly, it’s a bit slower than some of Austen’s other stories, but her satire on small-town folk and gender roles is still hilarious now! The monologues I found tiresome and pointless as a teenager now make me roll my eyes and snicker. I’ve met, known, overheard people in similar conversations and it’s no wonder such speculations on weather or matching colors of fabric urged the author to vent her boredom with a pen and paper.

Although Emma has many traits that readers could deem “unlikable” I think she’s more honest that other Austen heroines. Her self-deceit is so earnest I couldn’t help but love her. And other times she admits to having no good reason for thinking as she does, such as her dislike of the perfectly amiable Jane Fairfax. Elizabeth Bennet might be sharp-tongued to Mr. Darcy but even she wouldn’t go so far as to admit she dislikes a nice person for no particular reason!

Emma is such a delightful mix of oblivious and self-aware, and Jane Austen’s assertive nature comes through when she defends women and their choices to Mr. Knightley. Both of them have such flawed logic that pushing them together often made me laugh. This has been thoroughly redeemed for me and I’ll revisit it again sometime looking forward to the excessive sarcasm!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Emma is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – In order to guard the secret of his sexuality, Simon is blackmailed into match-making his tormentor with one of his friends while attempting to learn the true identity of the email pen-pal boy he’s crushing on, Blue. If there is a rival for Emma’s sarcasm, it is Simon! See my review here.
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – A sarcastic and funny take on the popular gothic novels of the time. Catherine Morland stays at an old abbey and begins to wonder if the man she’s crushing on is actually part of a dark conspiracy. All the novels she’s read say signs point to yes!
  • The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord – Paige’s first boyfriend died in a swimming accident last year. Her plan to for a better year includes overcoming her fear of swimming and going out with her long-time crush Ryan Chase. But when Ryan’s cousin Max moves to town her plan is quickly upended in the most unlikely ways. See my review here.

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