I very quickly finished Jane Austen's Emma which was book 11 on the list. After reading so many 1000 pages novels, a novel sitting at just under 400 pages was a piece of cake! The book was also an easy read because their didn't appear to be any great meaning behind the words. At least none that I could discern. This was simply a novel about Emma, a 21 year old girl with wit, charm and money. I hated her character at the beginning because she had decided she was good at matchmaking and royally messed up one of her friends relationships with a guy who proposed to marry her. I was so annoyed with her! However, part way through the novel you find that you like Emma despite all of her many weaknesses. After I wrote the majority of this review I went back and read what Daniel S. Burt had to say about Emma. In his book he talked about how Emma is a novel showing how you can have everything in your favor, but still need to experience the world in order to mature and grow. So Emma is a book about her progress and development into a mature women. The main purpose of the novel is her development and not the seemingly trivial things that happen throughout it.
The novel is also filled with various other people who populate the small town of Highbury. Her father who is a hypochondriac, Miss Bates who has a penchant for rambling on and on, Mr. Knightley a dashing young man who is the only one to ever point out Emma's many faults and several other people. The one thing I found odd was that the novel doesn't really describe the character's looks. I wouldn't have had a clue what any of the characters wore, or looked like except for the lithographs that were scattered throughout the novel. The novel does talk about various characters complexions, and possibly how a person's hair was styled, but not much that other novels normally discuss (eye colour, hair colour, height etc).
I can't say I loved Emma, but I didn't really expect to. Jane Austen's novels are some of the most popular classic novels, but in my mind they are the equivalent of a modern day fluffy novel. Their only distinguishing feature is that they happened to be written a long time ago. That being said, I didn't hate the novel either.
The one redeeming part of the novel is that I really liked Mr. Knightley. He seemed like a really nice guy. He always had interesting and intelligent things to say, and he was calm and steady.
Here are a few quotes of interest:
"my being charming, Harriet, is not quite enough to induce me to marry; I must find other people charming-one other at least" (I thought this amusing, because it was such a conceited thing to say)
"Oh to be sure' cried Emma, ' it is always incomprehsible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage. A man always imagines a woman to be ready for anybody who asks her"
Several of the last few novels have made this point about women and I don' think it is true. They have all made comments along the lines that women choose men who have first chosen them. At least in my case this has never been true. I am not swept off my feet by the people who have been interested me. I decide whether I am interested based on what I am looking for and their characteristics. I do know that it can be true in some cases that women date because they are flattered by the attention, but find it offensive that it appears to be a common sweeping generalization.
And lastly, "I meant self command. You have somehow or other, broken bounds yesterday and run away from your own management; but today you are got back again".
Emma said this comment when Frank blamed her for his irritability and anger the day before.