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Miss Emma Woodhouse
on 7 December 2017
This for me is one of those books akin to putting on an old cosy pullover, simply because I find myself transported straight into Highbury and its characters. Although this wasn’t the last of Austen’s novels to be published, it was the last in her lifetime.
Set in and around the fictional village of Highbury, Surrey so we also take in the bigger houses and estates in the area. At one of the larger houses lives Emma with her father, her sister being already married. Jane Austen before she started writing this had already said that she was going to create a character that people would probably not like, but in fact Emma has been liked, and still is, as we see her develop in this tale.
Thinking herself a matchmaker so we see Emma going about trying to find a suitable suitor for Harriet, although she has one, which so Emma believes is beneath her. And with her dabbling and outspoken manner so we see the consequences of her actions, not even realising when others are in thrall to her charms.
With some unforgettable characters, such as the fussy, dithering and rather old maidenish Mr Woodhouse, we also have the non-stop talking Miss Bates, who makes a great comic character, as well as others. With Highbury also appearing here quite a bit, so the place really comes to life, instead of being just a backdrop, showing Austen was on top form and creating something with a bit more realism and substance.
Full of wit and insight into the characters this has some great sparkling dialogue and is a joy to read. A comedy of manners, as well as what we nowadays term a romantic comedy, this also takes in the place of women at the period and social status. There is lots of incident here with its dances and other events, as well as a lot of eating – so probably not the best book to read if you are on a diet.
With so many adaptations most people have already seen this, if not read it before, but it certainly pays to read this and come back to it, as it is something that is just so enjoyable.