Either you are a Jane Austen fan or you are not. I can’t imagine a reader loving one of her novels and despising the rest, or vice versa. Many (yours truly included) may think no other work in her collection could ever beat out Pride and Prejudice. However, it would be hard to justify the opinion that Pride and Prejudice is brilliant but everything else she wrote is trivial, since so many of the same themes and humor are part and parcel of all her novels. I suppose one could argue it makes her collection a bore, and she should have expanded her horizons – so, one could be a fan of P&P and not an overall Austen enthusiast… regardless, I’m in the #TeamJane camp – which is a little against type for me, but, I’m a sucker for her. As I write this, I realize this is almost exactly how I feel about Quentin Tarantino and Pulp Fiction… that’s another story, let’s get to what I’m here to review: Emma.
The point I was planning to make about Emma, before rudely interrupting myself, was, “If you loved Pride & Prejudice you’ll enjoy Emma.” But, since I interrupted myself, I have changed my tune. Yes, if you like the overall style and romance of Jane Austen’s novels, Emma is a great choice. It is slightly unfair, however, to compare Emma so much to Austen’s other works. From what I’ve read of Austen and (I know, I hate to say this because you should always read the book first) also what I’ve seen portrayed on screen, Emma Woodhouse stands out a bit more than her other heroines. Whether or not she stands out positively is up to the reader.
As stated, Emma plays on many of the common themes in Austen’s writing: societal pressures, class hierarchy, witty banter, secret affairs, independent women going against the norm. However, there is a big difference between Ms. Woodhouse and some of Austen’s other heroines: she isn’t in a position where she is being pressured to get married, and to marry well. Emma is stubborn, snobbish, and sharp, like most of Austen’s leading ladies, but it shines through as a consequence of immaturity rather than the result of oppression. To some, this could easily make her unappealing; for me, well…I kinda love her. There is something refreshing about how unabashedly flawed she is; it adds a bit more realism to the romance, and makes her arc hit home a bit harder than other heroines of the time.
I am not merely #TeamJane, I am full on #TeamEmma.
Rating: 4 Virgins Who Can’t Drive