Emma (Austen)

Book Reviews 
(Classic works have few, if any, mainstream press reviews online. See Amazon and Barnes & Noble for helpful customer reviews.)

A brilliant, complex dance—with skip-steps, turns, and sashays. Emma is Austen’s masterpiece, a story in which triple strands of plot bob and weave in and around one another, and Austen never misses a step. Austen’s witty, critical eye is in fine fiddle, drawing sharp-edged portraits of types: hypochondriacs, garrulous elders, social climbers, handsome rakes, and salt-of-the-earth yeoman farmers. Of course, what makes Austen so rewarding and endlessly funny is that we recognize these same types in our own era—some 200 years later.
A LitLovers LitPick (Jan. '07)

A masterpiece ... the fusing of moral consideration and human drama achieves perfect pitch.'
Carol Shields, author

Jane Austen exercises her taste for cutting social observation and her talent for investing seemingly trivial events with profound moral significance as Emma traverses a gentle satire of provincial balls and drawing rooms, along the way encountering the sweet Harriet Smith, the chatty and tedious Miss Bates, and Emma's absurd father Mr. Woodhouse—a memorable gallery of Austen's finest personages. Thinking herself impervious to romance of any kind, Emma tries to arrange a wealthy marriage for poor Harriet, but refuses to recognize her own feelings for the gallant Mr. Knightley. What ensues is a delightful series of scheming escapades in which every social machination and bit of "tittle-tattle" is steeped in Austen's delicious irony. Ultimately, Emma discovers that "Perfect happiness, even in memory, is not common." Virginia Woolf called Jane Austen "the most perfect artist among women," and Emma Woodhouse is arguably her most perfect creation. Though Austen found her heroine to be a person whom "no one but myself will much like," Emma is her most cleverly woven, riotously comedic, and pleasing novel of manners.
Steven Marcus - Barnes & Noble Classics edition

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