Monday, December 28, 2015

Emma ... at last


Now I have read them all...

That's it. No more new Jane Austen novels to discover... and that makes me a little sad.

Jane and I go way back. I fell in love with her novels decades ago after reading Pride and Prejudice, went on to read Sense and Sensibility,  Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park. About ten years ago, after finally reading Persuasion, I realized I was on the verge of running out of her novels and made the decision to "save" Emma.

So I began to read Jane's minor works (Sandition, The Watsons, and Lady Susan) and reread my favorites Pride and Prejudice (yet again), and Northanger Abbey (Jane at her funniest).

Finally, a few years ago I started to wonder what, exactly, I was saving Emma  for.  My 50th birthday had come and gone and the whole idea was starting to seem a little foolish. I decided to read Emma and added it to my Classics Club list... that was four years ago.

Sometime last summer or fall, in anticipation of the 200th anniversary, talk of an Emma  readalong began. Penguin released the gorgeous commemorative edition you see pictured above, and I knew the time had finally come.

I approached Emma as a read/listen combination - my favorite way to read classics these days. I listened to Juliet Stevenson's narration on my walks, in the car, in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, and then read whenever possible.

I fell into the story very easily and comfortably, found Emma herself to be endlessly annoying, and yet enjoyed everything about this comedy of manners. Very fitting, and totally coincidental, I finished reading Emma  on December 16, Jane Austen's birthday.

Now I will savor the pleasures of rereading Jane's works.

All that is left to say is thank you... to Bellezza for hosting this readalong and to you, my bookish friends, for all of your thoughtful blog posts and comments, but mostly just for the pleasure of reading Jane Austen together.


36 comments:

  1. I think I've only read Sense and Sensibility. Shame on me!

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    1. Kathy - No... no shame on you! Wait until they happen to call you.

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  2. I haven't read a Jane Austen novel in many many years and wish I could claim to have read all of them. There is something about the writing styles in the classics that is just so stunningly beautiful, isn't there?

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    1. Kathy - Definitely! Each one is beautiful, yet distinct in its own way.

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  3. I also think that Northanger Abbey is Jane at her funniest! And that Emma can be most annoying. But I also think she improves as the novels nears the end, as her self-awareness finally begins to grow and turn outward a bit. Always fun to read with you and hear your thoughts!

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    1. Frances - Oh, yes... Emma definitely grows and becomes less annoying as the novel progresses. That's one of the things I will be following more closely when I get around to rereading.

      Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Austen, probably because I read it first and have shared it with my daughters. But Northanger Abbey is right up there, too!

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  4. I'm so glad that you've read and enjoyed this one. I fell in love with it when I was 16, and I'm always puzzled when people don't like it. I know Emma is annoying - and I was stuck with a Miss Bates today - but as you & Frances were saying above, she does learn & grow. And there's so much fun in the book - I love Miss Bates as a character :)

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    1. Lisa - Oh, no... a Miss Bates?! She was quite a character. Juliet Stevenson's narration of her speaking made me laugh out loud!

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  5. I also did the read along and enjoyed it. I listened and read and Miss Bates character was hilarious the way the reader read it. I am not a Jane Austen person but am slowly becoming one. I have now read Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Will look forward to the others. It was easy to get in the mood along with the others joining in. My first read along and I would certainly do it again.

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    1. Pam - Did you listen to the Juliet Stevenson narration? She was hilarious reading Miss Bates! Jane Austen certainly does grow on readers. I just love her. Glad you enjoyed the readalong, too. They are one of the main reasons I keep blogging.

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  6. I'm glad you still loved Emma (the novel) in spite of Emma (the character)! I still have Mansfield Park and the minor works to read. Hoping to get to some of those in 2016.

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    1. Sharon - This novel was just so much fun, I couldn't help but love it in spite of Emma herself. I was pleased with the way she grew up toward the end. I wasn't wild about Mansfield Park, but am thinking it deserves a reread to be sure ;-)

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  7. I've never read Emma! The read along was a great idea and if one comes up again I may join in. The classics club sounds good too

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    1. Tina - Readalongs are the best! I always say classics are much more fun with friends :)

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  8. Great post JoAnn

    I read this for the first time myself about a year and a half ago.

    The fact that Emma's personality cab be a little annoying yet a compelling character is a one of the things that make this such a great novel.

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    1. Thank you, Brian... and I agree. Jane did a wonderful job with the character of Emma!

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  9. Aw, this is lovely. I think Emma might have been my first Austen but it was so long ago I can't recall. I so wish I had kept better track of my books when I was a teen and YA.

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    1. Thanks, Care. Seems like Emma is one of the first Austens for most readers. Strange it took me so long... happy to finally read it!

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  10. Love your thoughts about both Emma and Jane, I really hate that I don't reread...perhaps someday?

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    1. Patty - Thanks. I used to reread a lot when I was younger (there was a time in middle school where I read Harriet the Spy once a month!), but I seem to reread less and less the older I get. And talk about it more ;-)

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  11. I hope you enjoy Emma. After reading Mansfield Park earlier this year I sadly have no more novels to discover. I do still have Austen's minor works, Sandition, The Watsons and Lady Susan, to read though.

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    1. Jessicabookworm - I loved Emma... you're in for a treat with Lady Susan!

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  12. I love the idea of saving a book by a favorite author. Sadly, I haven't read any Austen yet, but I will. Happy New Year!

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    1. Vasilly - Hope you love Jane as much as I do when you get her. Happy New Year!

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  13. You're now an official Janeite! The older I get, the more I love Emma, the character. When I first met her, I was a bit younger than she was, and I didn't really like her at all. Now, I think she is an absolute delight.

    I shared this article with my JASNA group, and thought it really captured so much of why I do love Emma:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/20/opinion/jane-austens-guide-to-alzheimers.html?_r=1

    I'm starting a reread of Emma this weekend and am so looking forward to the new annotated version--the one you read.

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    1. JaneGS - Hooray! I'm finally official... have been inching toward it for years! It's funny that Emma was the book I wound up saving for so long, especially since its usually a book readers that draws younger readers.

      Thank you for the article... I'll read it this evening. Hope you enjoy the annotated reread!

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  14. I think Emma has been my least favorite so far. I only have 1eft and I'm reluctant to start it for the very reason that it's the last one! But I put it on my Classics Club List so it'll be coming around :)

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    1. Stacy - Now I'm wondering which one you saved for last... I'll have to check your Classics Club list ;-)

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  15. There's such joy in rereading, too! :) I still have a few minor Jane Austen's left, but Emma is one of my favorite together with P&P and Northanger Abbey.

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    1. Ifyoucanreadthis - I totally agree about the pleasures of rereading. P&P and Northanger Abbey are my favorites, but Emma is right up there with them :)

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  16. I just finished Northanger Abbey myself - the only others I've read so far are Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion, but I'm planning to read the rest. These are books I can imagine reading over again, so I don't think I'll be sad when I've read them all.

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    1. 3goodrats - Rereading Jane Austen is always rewarding. I keep finding things I missed the first (or second, or third...) time around. Just read your post about Northanger Abbey and I want to grab it off my shelf right now!!

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  17. I think I've only read Sense & Sensibility (or maybe it was Pride & Prejudice!). Anyhow, if I ever read Emma, I'll have to get this edition. I love the cover art! :)

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    1. Les - This edition made me happy just holding it... so much nicer than my ancient paperback!

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  18. I was so sad when I finished my last Austen, too. Fortunately, Austen is one author that more than stands up to rereading!

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    1. Lisa - I'm sure that must be one of the reasons for her enduring appeal!

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