Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Book 1 of 2015: Emma by Jane Austen

At the end of last year I happened to stumble across the Popsugar Reading Challenge list. I don't even remember how I first found it. I think I was looking for some sort of list of books to read and it just jumped out at me. Within a couple of days I'd joined the Goodreads group and was planning out options for the books I was going to read through the year.

I decided that I would try not to buy too many books for the challenge, instead giving priority to books that I already owned but hadn't read and free classics available on the Kindle or through Project Gutenberg. There are an awful lot of classics which I've never actually read and it was something I wanted to remedy.

The Goodreads group intended to read through the list from begin to end, one week for each book, in the order that they appeared on the list. And I do love a good challenge.
So the first book I tackled was Emma by Jane Austen, which ticked pretty much all of my requirements; a free Kindle copy which was also available on Project Gutenberg, a classic, and one which I'd never read before. And it met the requirement for the reading challenge; it had more than five hundred pages.

Emma is the titular heroine who makes it her mission to set up pretty much all the single women she knows, whilst not having much interest in hooking up with anyone herself. It all goes horribly wrong when she tries to set up her friend Harriet and then ends up finding herself in quite the romantic tangle.

This is only the second Jane Austen book that I'd ever read (the first being Northanger Abbey which was also for a challenge) and I really enjoyed it. I got totally drawn in and kept on wanting to read more. The reading challenge gave me the motivation to keep going at it so after starting it on January the first, I finished it on the fourth. This was definitely helped by the fact that I was able to load it up on my phone on Project Gutenberg so I was able to read when I was out and about, on my breaks at work and even while I was in the car; times that weren't really practical for reading on my Kindle.

By about halfway through the book I figured out the direction that things were heading in for Emma and Mr Knightley. It didn't take anything away from the story though, because even though I could see it was coming, it was interesting seeing how they were going to get there.

I was also pretty surprised by how funny it was in places. I always find myself being surprised when older books make me laugh, which I guess is kind of silly because while humour has changed over time, it's not changed all that much. It was also funny that Emma thought she was a great matchmaker but she really wasn't that good at it after all.

I know that Clueless is based on Emma but it's been years since I last saw it (though I watched it so much in my early teens that you'd think I'd have it memorised now). It left me really wanting to see the film adaptation of it as well as feeling really determined to read more Jane Austen this year, something which so far I'm managing to do quite well.


  1. I absolutely adore Emma! She is my favourite Austen heroine, and I'd take Mr Knightley over Mr Darcy any day (except for the Colin Firth version). There was a TV adaptation a few years ago with Romola Garai which was the only one I've seen that made Mr Woodhouse anything other than an annoying old man (it was Michael Gambon). The Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale films are both a bit meh. I actually have the 70s version I grew up with on DVD so that's the one for me, but I'd recommend Romola Garai if you have the time. As you can tell, I'm a big Austen fan. I hope you read and enjoy the rest of the books.
    Anabel's Travel Blog

    1. I think she's probably one of my favourite Austen heroines as well. I've not seen any of the film versions but I was aware of the Romola Garai version so I'll keep an eye out for that.

      I'm really pleased at the number of Austen books I've managed to read this year. I can't believe I avoided her for so long!

  2. Emma is one of my three favorite Austen novels (the other two being Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion). In fact, that was the only reason I went to see Clueless--because it was based on Emma. I liked how the main plot was pretty much translated to contemporary times.

    1. I'd seen Clueless years and years ago, and loved it as a young teen, but I didn't really remember much of it while I was reading Emma. I'd definitely say it's one of my favourites now. I read Pride & Prejudice a week afterwards and didn't enjoy it as much as Emma.


Let me know what you think. :-)