Book review - Emma by Jane Austen
Emma is a book by Jane Austen based during the Regency period of England. It is the story of a strong, independent vivacious twenty- three year old living in the village of Highbury in Surrey, England. She is the mistress of Hartfield, where she resides with her father. Her mother passed away when she was young. Her older sister, Isabella is married to a barrister, Mr. John Knightley in London. Mr. John Knightley’s older brother Mr. George Knightley (referred to as Mr. Knightley throughout the book) resides at Donwell Abbey in Highbury and is a frequent visitor to Hartfield. He is good friends with Emma.
The story starts with the marriage of Emma’s governess, Miss Taylor with Mr. Weston. Emma misses her companionship acutely, and, as a result when a young, naïve seventeen year old Harriet enters her world, she immediately takes her under her wing and makes her a project for her to keep busy. Everybody is happy that she has found a friend, only Mr. Knightley realizes that this friendship will not benefit either one of them.
The story revolves around Emma and her relationships with her father, Mr. Knightley, Mr. Churchill, Mrs. Weston, Miss Fairfax and Miss Harriet. Emma comes across as a young woman who knows her mind and takes decisions for her house and the people around her. Her father and her sister are both of a nervous disposition, so the running of the house fell to her at a young age. During Regency times, portraying such a strong feminist character was quite daring for Austen. In her youthful hubris she makes mistakes, but upon realizing them, she tries to make amends.
The book presents a beautiful picture of life in a village during the Regency. I like the descriptions of the village, the balls and the picnics. Most of all, I enjoyed the character sketches that Austen gave for all the people in the book. She explains them in such a way that even as readers we can predict what and what not a character will do. Though it is a bit long, for lovers of English this is a most enjoyable read.