August Travels: Emma – Going Nowhere Fast by Mary Simonsen — 17 Comments

  1. Like you, I only read Emma once. I just don’t like her. The Paltrow production was good,though.BTW,I thought Churchill’s first name was Frank, not John.😊

    • It is Frank Churchill. My mistake. It’s interesting that JA knew people wouldn’t like Emma, but stuck by her character.

    • What helped me with Emma was watching Clueless. The character was obviously a conceited teenager, but she grew, as, hopefully, most teenagers do. If Emma were living today, she would be in college. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Emma has always been among my favorites of JA’s novels. I would prefer Mr. Knightley to Mr. Darcy (…and now despise me if you dare… ;-)). All that said, I had to just laugh loudly at your last statement. I think Emma herself would be glad when her much loved father went on to his reward and she got to do the things that she and her “caro sposo” would desire. But on the other hand, I don’t think she minded as long as her father was comfortable. I don’t think I could have said no to Mr. Knightley in favor of my father and then hoped he had enough love and the patience of a saint.

    • What strikes me about Emma is that she isn’t the dutiful daughter, exclusively. She takes great joy in being with her father. Although Persuasion is my favorite, I find I like Emma more the older I get. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Mary, you have made me a little sympathetic towards Emma which Gwyneth Paltrow couldn’t do! I loved Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley though. I think Ms. Paltrow was just too whiny/nasally in her speech and it was annoying for me. The book…dare I say I have yet to read it! Though I do own it. I think the embarrassment aspect for Emma was also my issue. Her consideration and love for her father does speak well of her. I do enjoy the different characters within the book, so I may yet read it!

    • When I think of how the “mean girl” Emma denigrated her friend, Miss Bates, and then rose above it, I find that this very young lady has great capacity for growth. I read Emma during a snowstorm when I couldn’t get out of the house. 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

  4. The only way in which I can remotely stomach Emma is via Clueless. I’ve watched the movies and have read the novel more than once, flummoxed regarding how I could possibly not adore a Jane Austen heroine. I had to read it again a few years later to make sure. Yep, still couldn’t stand Emma….

    Thanks for a wonderful exploration of the heroine who goes nowhere, Mary! BTW, I just finished reading Darcy Goes to War this week, and it was stunning; I couldn’t put it down (so my teaching prep took the hit, I’m afraid). Thank you for writing an amazing book!!

    Susanne 🙂

    • I think I was less sympathetic to Emma when I read the book because I was so shy as a teenager that Emma seemed to be a “mean girl” to me. As I got older, I cut her more slack b/c, after all, she was only about twenty-one. That’s pretty darn young.

      I am so glad you enjoyed Darcy Goes to War. I always wanted to write a WWII book, but never thought it would involve an Austen character. I was concerned that in doing so, I would trivialize the subject. I think it worked out okay. Thanks for letting me know.

  5. Your description of Knightley as a saint is so very apt, Mary! I have always admired Mr. Knightley, though how he retains his patience and good humor, seeing beyond Emma’s self absorption and conceit, never ceases to amaze me. What I do like in Emma’s character is her potential for growth and development, a theme seemingly dear to Jane Austen’s heart.

    • I agree. The key here is “growth.” But I have to admit that, other than a physical attraction, I don’t know what Knightley saw in Emma. But then age differences in Regency times didn’t yawn wide like it does now. Hopefully, Emma kept on getting better. Thanks for commenting.

  6. I have the same problem with Emma as a character. When people ask me to write an Emma variation, I cringe at the very thought of having to think about Emma every day for months! But I hope she does get the chance to travel someday.

    • My big problem with Emma is her treatment of Harriet Smith. Emma’s arrogance could have cost Harriet any chance of happiness in her impoverished life. And then there’s Miss Bates. I could never write an Emma sequel, but I did enjoy Clueless.

  7. Emma is one of my favorite of Jane Austen’s novel. I particularly enjoyed this post because it was so very right on. I say that not because I agreed with the writer on Emma as much as I enjoyed that it was fact based, true to to the words that Austen wrote. There are a couple of Austen sequels, one in which Miss Bates come to live with the Woodhouses, Mrs bates having died. Misss Bates presence enables the Knightly to get away on a honeymoon, and eventually Mr Woodhouse marries her, allowing Emma and Mr Knightly go live at the Abbey

    • Hurrah! Mr. and Mrs. Knightley get to go on a honeymoon together. I am very happy for the couple b/c I think Emma will continue to grow with her husband their to make sure of it.

  8. I have read Emma twice: once for a JA reading group so we discussed it at length. I have also watched all the movies based on this book. I am amused that only one version shows the age difference in the choice of actors. Emma is mettlesome but her world was so limited, as you said, that I can imagine how she had few diversions. Too bad she never took up reading that list, as Mr. Knightly recommended or practiced her piano. One variation shows how deficient her accomplishments were in comparison to Jane Fairfax. (Joan Aiken’s Jane Fairfax) Jonny Lee Miller’s Mr. Knightly did take her to the seashore in that movie version for their honeymoon. Thanks for sharing.

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