by Jane Austen
(1815 | 268 p)
"Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her."
It has been Emma Woodhouse's distinct privilege to live twenty years with all the high society that her modest village home can provide. From the outset we learn that Miss Woodhouse has no faults other than her sincere conviction that she is, in fact, without a fault. Coddled her entire life by a doting and hypochondriacal father and an ever loving but soft governess -- Miss Woodhouse has little knowledge of anything other than her own perfection. The only exception to this is the critical eye of Mr. Knightley, a family friend whose remonstrations are an ongoing irritation in our heroine's otherwise peaceful existence.
Being a woman of some leisure, Miss Woodhouse decides to pass her time by orchestrating the romantic lives of her friends. Unfortunately for her friends, Miss Woodhouse proves to be a pitiful matchmaker. She is so unaccustomed to failing at any endeavor that she stubbornly tries again and again before eventually seeing the error of her ways.
Jane Austen's works appeal to different people for many different reasons. I find myself attracted to her depictions of daily life in England during the early 19th century. The characters in her story live such simple lives compared to the hustle and bustle of the modern world, but still they resonate with me. I'm also forever amused by the sarcasm of Jane Austen. While the surface of her stories may be all innocence, the undercurrents are thick with sardonic wit. Without being preachy Jane Austen pokes fun at the social norms of her day, many of which left women no actual control over their own lives.
If you've not tried Jane Austen yet, please do. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
P.S. It's certainly not necessary but it's heaps more fun if you read her books with an English accent.