Book Review: Emma by Jane Austen

Before I get to my review I wanted to let you know how my book tour for my latest novel, Marionette, is going. On Saturday, Cindy wrote a wonderful review on her blog. And yesterday, I guest posted on The Guat’s (TG) blog. Visit her blog and find out how TG helped me climb a mountain.

I am almost done with my Jane Austen challenge. My goal was to read all of her novels before the end of this year. This weekend I completed Emma. I’m reading Persuasion, the last one, now. I just might make it!

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Beautiful, clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.

When I started reading Emma I was concerned. At first I couldn’t get into the story. I found Emma to be spoiled, Mr. Knightley dull, and Mr. Woohouse annoying. It was unsettling for me since I love Jane Austen. I’m such a huge fan and I didn’t want to find a book of hers that I couldn’t stand. I set the book aside for a couple of days thinking I just wasn’t in the right mood.

Turns out I was right. Whew! I ended up liking most of the characters and I enjoyed hating the ones that are really annoying, such as Mr. and Mrs. Elton. I didn’t really like Harriet all that much, but she’s essential to the story so I just let her slide for the most part. And I really started to like Mr. Woodhouse, even though he was such a worrier and that normally annoys me. But deep down he was such a charming man who really cares about those around him. He just worries way too much! And I ended up liking Emma and found her quite funny and loved the situations she got herself in.

As for Persuasion, once again I’m having a hard time getting into it. What about you folks, do you like Persuasion? Emma? What’s your favorite Jane Austen novel?

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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57 Responses to Book Review: Emma by Jane Austen

  1. I think I liked Emma inasmuch as I like any Austen. Which means, in simple English, that I do not like Austen. I’m sure she has a bigger following in America. You all seem to love her. I did Persuasion for A level ie sixth form exams before leaving school for university. It was OK, again inasmuch as any Austen is. I re-read a lot of books, but Austen is not on my re-read list. Not my most helpful or positive comment. Doesn’t get anywhere near Meyer! 😀

    • TBM says:

      Do you think since students in England have to study her more in depth for A levels it kinda ruins her novels for many? I know when I was in school when some American authors were forced on me I wasn’t so gung ho about them and didn’t want to search out all the themes and such.

      You are right, this is much different from Meyer’s writing style!

      • No. I just don’t like Austen. We did a few American playrights, Miller, Williams, Albee, some old Brit ones, apart from Shakespeare, we did Eliot, for poetry we did Wordsworth, Owen, Hughes, Betjeman, and I liked all of everything, except for Miller, Betjeman I was ambivalent about. I think we did P&P for O level (exams aged 15/16, we take up to ten of them usually) and I didn’t enjoy that either. I’m just a rebel without a cause in the case of Ms Austen. Someone recently gave me all her books in one volume plus the letter novel thing (I may have written about it on rough seas, not sure). I meant to have a go at reading them all again, and I felt faint even looking at them. I did read the letter thing though.

        Did I tell you I went to our local bookshop to ask about Breaking Dawn?

      • TBM says:

        You’ve listed some authors I haven’t heard of, at least I don’t think I have. Albee and Betjeman don’t ring a bell at all.

        What did the bookseller say?

      • Bookseller said – as I dashed in on the stroke of six when it closes – ‘can I help’ – as she obviously didn’t want me spending half an hour browsing. ‘Who are you looking for?’
        Me – Stephanie Meyer.
        Her – No. Nothing of hers left. 😀

        Edward Albee – American playwright, ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?’
        John Betjemen (dec) – British poet and Poet Laureate

      • TBM says:

        Will she order Meyer for you?

  2. PS Different from. Very impressive, I really struggle with that. It rarely sounds right. I veer towards different to, even though I know from is accurate.

  3. It’s been YEARS, as in decades, since I’ve read Austen. I’m not a huge fan, either, but I did teach Persuasion as part of a senior seminar I taught on women writers–again, long, long ago.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • TBM says:

      I didn’t know you taught. And about women writers. That’s cool! Don’t worry, we’ll still be BFFs even though you aren’t an Austen fan. I know many aren’t but I am such a sucker for her characters and wit. I actually like it when people argue with me. It’s fun so feel free to tell me what you really think. It’s really hard to hurt my feelings.

  4. Stick with Persuasion – it’s worth it! And now I need to get Emma out of the library as it’s been way too long. Well done with the book and the reviews 🙂

    • TBM says:

      Well sticking with Emma worked out in the long run. So far, I just can’t see where Austen is taking me with Persuasion. Won’t give up though!

  5. I read Persuasion and it is similar to all the others — she gets her man in the end, but you do have to be patient getting into it. I’d rather read the Bronte sisters….;)

  6. FictionFan says:

    Emma and Persuasion are my two least favourite of the Austens, though I still find them well worth reading. I’m glad you got to like Emma herself in the end – she’s the one I have most problem liking. And Mr Knightley just isn’t Mr Darcy… 😉

    • TBM says:

      Mr Knightley is nothing like Mr Darcy. Sigh. But then again, in the end, I really ended up liking Mr Knightley. I should have written in my review that even though I had a hard time getting into Emma, it’s still a dang good novel. Austen has a way with her characters and wit and she pulls me in and captivates me. However, compared to P&P it just took some effort to get into it.

  7. I have read Emma many , many times.I have seen so many film/TV adaptations of the novel too. It is one of my favorites. I did not like Persuasion that much. I also like Sense and Sensibility. There was a Tamil adaptation of Senses and Sensibility and I loved that too because Aishwarya Rai acted in it.

  8. Geoff W says:

    Emma is by far one of my least favorite Austen’s, but I think that stems more from Gwenyth Paltrow than anything else which isn’t good. The good thing about Persuasion is how short it is, but I do love the unrequited/finally realized love, I mean Captain Wentworth? A military man?!? 😀

    • TBM says:

      I haven’t seen Paltrow’s version of Emma. It was on the telly the other night, but my TV won’t record things right now, which is causing some frustration.

  9. hillarypat says:

    I got Emma in the mail earlier this week; I’m saving it for January though as I think I will enjoy it and want to start of my new year reading with a good one!

  10. easyondeyes says:

    I’ve read Emma a few times, primarily because I like Austen so much and while it’s much better than Sense and Sensibilty (which, honestly, gave me a headache) it was, obviously, not as good as P&P (which is, without competition, the favourite, of course!).

    Emmaaa, to be honest, she’s quite irritating, isn’t she? I don’t like interfering know-it-alls but I guess she means well. But then again Austen, apparently, wanted to create a heroine “nobody but me would much like” (sic) so I’d say she succeeded. (In fact, in that sense she was probably the precursor of Scarlett O’Hara; not the most likeable heroine herself. What do you think?) Mr Knightley, of course, is the saving grace.

    Another Jane Austen I do like is Mansfield Park inspite of the preachiness of much of it; I like that the underdog does win!

  11. Caroline says:

    I loved Persuasion, Mansfiled Park and Pride and Prejudice.
    The one next would be Emma but I wasn’t soo keen on the other two.
    Maybe you’re just not in an Austen mood if this is the second you have a hard time getting into.
    I’m finishing her biography and am oddly moved. I hope to write about it.

    • TBM says:

      Who wrote the biography? I would be interested in reading it. I’m curious what her relationship was like with her mother. Looking forward to your review, if you write a post on it.

  12. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Phew Emma is my favourite so I’m really pleased you liked it!

  13. Robin says:

    I’ve read only one Jane Austen novel and I think it was Persuasion. I remember little of it. I’m going to have a look at the library one of these days and start reading Austen’s novel. Thank you for the idea. 🙂

  14. Loved Emma, but couldn’t get into Persuasion either. Will give it a try some day, but my list is already so long. Congrats on reading so many this year!

  15. pattisj says:

    I got a 4-book collection of Austen’s that I look forward to reading this winter (I hope). We read some of her work in high school, but I don’t remember much of it.

    • TBM says:

      Sounds like a great winter project! I hope you enjoy. Geez, I can’t remember books I read last year, so trying to recall books from high school is out of the question now.

  16. Rorybore says:

    Well certainly Pride and Prejudice is the gold standard…. after that I would take Mansfield Park, and then Emma. But Emma did take more of a “getting used to” I guess. Somebody already mentioned Scarlett and Gone With The Wind, and that is who Emma reminded me of; somewhat. You grow to love both of these female characters, despite first thinking them silly and spoiled.

  17. The poetry loving sister’s intro song in the Tamil adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.
    You should remember, our Indian films are replete with songs and dance routine. That is their speciality.

  18. I’ve read Emma a few years ago and didn’t like it very much. I wouldn’t say I disliked it but…let’s just say I’m somewhere in the middle. I’ve always said I should give Austen another try, perhaps one day. I loved the movies, though.

  19. I have to set books aside sometimes, too, if I notice I’m just not in the right mood for them. Glad you ended up liking EMMA, since you were afraid you wouldn’t!

  20. Jane Austen is such a beloved author. I can’t think of anything I don’t just love. Sense and Sensibility ranks near the top for me. But I don’t remember Northanger Abbey. Hmmm. I may have to give this one a second look.

    • TBM says:

      Northanger was the first book that she wrote, but due to issues with the publisher, it wasn’t the first book that was published. It’s good, but you can tell it’s the first book.

  21. Vishy says:

    I am late in commenting, TBM. Beautiful review! I haven’t read ‘Emma’ yet. But from the Goodreads blurb you have posted, it looks like I will like Emma. She is independent and strong and she is a heroine from the beginning of the 19th century – there is so much to admire. I hope to read it sometime soon. So glad to know that though you didn’t like the book much when you started, it grew in you and you ended up liking it. I should do a Jane Austen month sometime and read all her books one after another. Otherwise, I will just keep waiting for the right time to pick one of her books to read.

  22. It’s tough to start with P&P then move onto the others, I think because the bar is so high on that piece. Is it because of the wittier conversations in it? Glad you did end up liking Emma though.

    • TBM says:

      I should have saved P&P for last, but I read it so many years ago and have reread it so many times. I think it is the witty conversation–that’s what I enjoy the most.

  23. Darlene says:

    I love all of JA’s novels but Emma is my favourite. I love how she realizes how awful she has been and how she was so wrong about a number of things. I now have a great granddaughter named Emma! How cool is that. You will be very pleased with Persuasion when you are finished with it.

    • TBM says:

      Persuasion is starting to pick up luckily. I did enjoy that Emma finally realized that she was not as smart as she thought she was. We all go through that learning process when we’re young.

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