The idea of reading Jane Austen’s Emma this December has grown from a few friends I have blogged with, to many I’ve just been introduced to for the first time.
What a wonderful gathering we have for the reading of Emma‘s 200th anniversary! — Dolce Bellezza
I’ve just come to the end of the first book, or volume, in Emma: A Novel in Three Volumes by Jane Austen, which I’m reading for a readalong hosted by book blogger Bellezza at Dolce Bellezza. I’m just about a third of the way into the book and am enjoying the wit and humor of it immensely!
If you’re not familiar with the character of Emma Woodhouse, she prides herself on her wit and perception and fancies herself a talented matchmaker while vowing never to marry herself. At the same time, she’s keenly aware of her social status and eligibility in the neighborhood. She coddles and dotes on her timid, anxious father, and takes up a new friend, Harriet – sweet, but Emma’s social and intellectual inferior – to replace her better-matched companion from her childhood, Miss Taylor, after Miss Taylor (forever to be “poor Miss Taylor” to Emma’s father) up and married an older man, moving a mile or so away.
Mr. Knightley, Emma’s brother-in-law, is a handsome young man who visits the Woodhouses frequently, and is always gracious and respectful to the fretful Mr. Woodhouse. She thinks much more highly of him and his comportment than of her other brother-in-law, Mr. John Knightley, who married her sister Isabella and sometimes becomes impatient with her father. In fact the younger Mr. Knightley meets Emma’s extremely high standards for a gentleman in almost every respect except that he will insist on expressing opinions that differ, rather too often, from her own.
“Mr. Knightley , in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them: and though this was not particularly agreeable to Emma herself, she knew it would be so much less so to her father, that she would not have him really suspect such a circumstance as her not being thought perfect by every body.”
In Volume 1, Emma’s pet project is making a match for Harriet and has set her sights on Mr. Elton for her. Mr. Elton seems to Emma to be falling in with her plan, acting extremely interested in Emma’s good friend Harriet. But readers (and the annoying Mr. Knightley) can tell what Emma cannot…where Mr. Elton’s interest actually lies!
Visit Dolce Bellezza for her thoughts on Volume 1. She quotes a long passage about attending parties in bad weather that I had also made note of, and a few other shorter lines that I had marked in my copy, but was too lazy to type out!