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By Jane Austen

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By Jane Austen
Charnwood Large Print (1996)
ISBN 10: 0-7089-8258-1
ISBN 13: 978-0-7089-8258-7
Genre: Classic Fiction

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - August 13, 2007

Emma is the story of Emma Woodhouse, a strong-willed and pampered young lady who likes to play match-maker for all those around her. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this endeavor, however Emma has the unfortunate habit of mismatching people. The result is broken hearts, failed relationships, and awkward encounters. Emma's machinations also foster humorous and heart-warming moments, as well as unique insights into the realms of Regency era flirtation, courtship, and romance.

Emma was written by Jane Austen (1775-1817), and like her other books, it is a comedy of manners. However, unlike most of her books which feature an upper-middle class heroines, Emma is an aristocrat and unlike Jane and Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice fame, Emma is not interested in getting a husband for herself - just those around her.

For most women of this period, getting a husband was an essential accomplishment. Without a husband they would be bereft of home, financial support, and proper status in society if the spinster survived her parents. Emma, however, has an income of her own and knows that she will always be provided for, whether or not she is ever married. As a consequence, she has the luxury to pursue her own inclinations. Of middle-class origins herself, Austen's view of Emma was perhaps influenced in part by fantasy and in part by envy. Austen herself died a spinster at the age of 41, and money, or the lack thereof, was a constant concern most of her life.

The main players in this comedy of errors are Emma and her widowed father, Mr. Knightly an old family friend who cares deeply for Emma but does not like the spoilt young lady she has turned into. There is also the poor but well-educated and cultured Jane Fairfax, the wealthy Frank Churchill, the step-son of Emma's former governess, Mr. Elton, a young and snooty Vicar, Harriet Smith, a silly girl that Emma takes under her wings, and Robert Martin a hard-working country lad who would make someone the most ideal of husbands. At one time or another throughout this novel, each of the above becomes the focus of the attention from another on the list, whom they do not care fore. These marital and flirtatious machinations are delightful and result in a witty and urbane story that will enthrall all fans of Jane Austen.

Emma can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Charnwood Large Print.

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