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VINE VOICEon 9 September 2017
I bought this Kindle edition because it claimed to be annotated, and it's always interesting to learn more about the context of a book through such footnotes. It isn't, however, and there are no notes beyond one page at the back explaining how it came to be published for the first time shortly after Jane Austen's death. There is nothing special about it - and I am minded to seek my money back as a matter of principle. Reading other reviews I have a strong suspicion that different versions of the book, some abridged, some not, some annotated, others not, have been provided over time.

Get one of the free versions - after all the basic book has been out of copyright for a long time!
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on 21 October 2016
I liked it and found it mostly enjoyable, though the last few chapters felt lacking in something. It's like it had died down once certain things are discovered and understood. I like the formality of the time, but at times the dialogue becomes tiresome and every now and then my concentration would falter.

Emma was more likeable to me earlier on in the book, as it progresses I got to see more of the real Emma. It didn't put me off her though.

The notes at the back of the book are handy and the illustrations are nice too. Overall a good read, just not a fabulous ending.
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on 31 August 2013
It's been pointed out to me that I was rather harsh on Fanny Price in my review of Mansfield Park (Oxford World's Classics), and maybe I was. Can I make amends by extolling the virtues of Emma (both the novel and the character)? It's hard to know where to begin, so many and varied are the qualities of this lovely book! This is now my fourth Jane Austen-novel in a row, and to me personally it's probably the one I liked best (though Pride and Prejudice (Oxford World's Classics) is delightful reading too of course, and so is Sense and Sensibility (Oxford World's Classics)).

From page one I was captivated not just by Emma but by all characters, it's amazing how Austen succeeds in making fictional characters come to life: the enchanting but fallible heroine, her father Mr. Woodhouse (at times hilarious), Mr. Knightley, Mrs. Bates, and so on and so forth. They all become very rapidly people you can very well imagine meeting in real life or, stronger still, are convinced to have met in reincarnation. I think that the reason why I like Emma so much is that she is portrayed as very much 'human': apt to make mistakes (all too many one could argue, as another reviewer said I too at times felt like giving Emma a good talking-to) but able to learn from them.

I think this is deservedly a classic, given the fact that it so captivatingly, with just a very limited number of characters and without any grand historical or dramatic events taking place to liven up the plot, draws a timeless portrait of very 'real' people struggling with being in love (or not). My only regret is not having read these novels earlier in life. Have I know become a Janeite? A citizen of the Republic of Pemberley? My wife decidely thinks so ;-)
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on 11 March 2016
I'd forgotten what it is like to read a classic.

A bit difficult, some things long winded some things just inferred. The beauty of them they draw you in requiring your attention. You could read it again and see whole new angles.

A good story Emma portrays events through the lead character. It shows how one side of a story is never enough for a realistic picture. How easily we can be deceived.

I liked it most as I believed it showed that though times have changed immensely since it was written. Love is a constant, we still make matches for ourselves and others, edge around the subject to avoid rejection, don't realise who we care about until something happens and feel incomplete without it.
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on 17 January 2016
I enjoy period drama both on screen and on the page but this is one of the few books that I gave up on half way through.

Virtually nothing happens and it relies upon description of pretty innocuous events most of which are just too similar. On-screen that is fine because the description is replaced by often glorious images.

I obviously knew the story in advance but this was my first Jane Austen 'read'. It will be a while before I bother again.
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on 27 September 2015
Lots of fun here for anyone who's read Austen's Emma. McCall Smith gets the social mores right and translates the story into a contemporary setting with humour and ease. His picture of Emma as the interior designer who, back living at home with Daddy, isn't quite ready to give up her social life for her career. Far more interesting is a spot of matchmaking and playing Lady Bountiful to her governess and to her unfortunate friend who teaches at a kind of pop-up language school.

As usual, McCall Smith reveals his wry and humorous observation of class classics and behaviour, while bringing Jane's characters back to life in the twenty-first century. Great holiday or fireside reading.
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on 28 August 2017
Having settled into the wordiness and sentiments of the early nineteenth century, the characters in this book leapt off the page and became real and believable. Just as irritating in the 21st century! Anne's tortured feelings are finely described and demonstrate a deep understanding of a strong and enduring love, as well as a discerning appreciation of human nature. Given the restricted life of an early 19th century woman, her perception is all the more astonishing. A brilliant and clever book - most enjoyable.
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on 29 November 2015
These updates of the originals are fun. I've read them all so far, and this is as good as the rest. McCall Smith doesn't follow the plot slavishly, starting rather earlier than the incomparable Jane did, but this just adds to the fun. He gets round the inevitable 'vicar problem' with aplomb, for vicars aren't quite the people they were 200 years ago. There's a few red herrings along the way, just to stir things a bit.

I doubt if it will be read in a century from now, though I'm sure the original will; no matter, just get it and enjoy!
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on 6 September 2016
Maybe it's my working class roots or just the plot, but whilst I cannot deny this is very much a literary classic, what I took away from it was that the main characters were stuck up snobs.
Emma does redeem herself somewhat at the end, when she accepts that her 'friend' was in fact well suited to be with the gentleman farmer.
It definitely is a book of its time and opens the shutters on the upper middle classes.
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on 14 June 2012
I'm only two discs into this set yet, so I'm making my remarks 4 star - but the signs are good.

I'm enjoying the clear diction of Jenny Agutter, and as I've been reading the first chapters along with her on CD, I can confirm that it really is word-for- word.

Audio books can take a bit of getting used to. I've listened to some where the voice of the auditor is plain wearying especially after listening to it for hours. Until you find a favourite "voice" to follow it can be a hit-and-miss choice.

So - I'll look for more of J.A's unabridged work ... both Austen, and Agutter.

Downside? It may be personal thing, but I found at first that the story is narrated at a faster clip than I would have read it myself. Of course, there is a whole book to narrate, and it's 12 discs long, already! I'm getting used to the brisker pace.
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