Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Read-Along of Emma by Jane Austen: Volume 1 and part of Volume 2

Finally! I've managed to get through volume 1 and am now midway through volume 2.  For some reason, I just could not engage with this story at first.  I found it too slow-going and was tempted to give up on the book.  And then, I found myself falling in deep with Emma, Knightley, and Harriet. I am hooked.  I find myself dipping in and out of the story throughout the day.  Part of me wants to keep reading until the end, but the other part enjoys following the pace of  Dolce Bellezza's read-along.  Hmm...curiosity may get the best of me and I'll probably wind up finishing the novel by day's end.  Anyhow, here are my thoughts on what I've read so far:
  • Emma is spoiled and selfish.  She sees only what she wants to see and does as she pleases.  Then again, when everyone dotes on you, how could you not have such a big head?! Thankfully, Mr. Knightley does not hold back and tells her like it really is.  Hmm...I wonder if opposites will attract in the end?
  • Emma is meddlesome beyond belief.   I still can't believe that she talked Harriet into turning down Mr. Martin's marriage proposal!  Yep, her friend who is obviously keen on Mr. Martin gets a letter from him asking her to marry him.  And what does Emma advise?  She urges her to answer 'no'.  She thinks that Harriet (whose family history is unknown) is too good for the Martin family and that she can get a better marriage proposal (perhaps a Mr. Elton).  Ack! I wanted to shake some sense into Emma - how could she do this to her friend?!?!  And, Harriet - you know you love Mr. Martin, why did you say no?!!  Talk about frustrating!
  •  Mr. Knightley tells Emma off when he finds out that she has helped Harriet turn down his friend's marriage proposal.  He tells her she is wrong and leaves her questioning what she has done (if only for a minute).  I was so happy that someone confronted her about her meddling ways and told her that she had screwed up multiple lives with her ridiculous ideas.  Hurrah for Knightley!!
  • Reading Emma's thoughts that Mr. Elton is fond of Harriet made me laugh so much.  He's pretty obvious in his affection for Emma, but she is too blinded by her determination to see what is right in front of her.  And the thought only crosses her mind when Knightley mentions that he's noticed how keen Elton is on her.  Emma dismisses his idea rather quickly, but the thought settles and leaves her feeling rather queasy.  And then Harriet gets ill, misses the party they are all attending, Emma notices Elton noticing her...and then the carriage ride happens.  Yep, he tells her he loves in her the carriage and that he knows she feels the same.  Emma is shocked and upset by this news.  She turns down Mr. Elton, which pretty much ends their acquaintanceship.  He gets so upset that he leaves town straightaway.  Next thing you know, he turns up engaged to another women (who gets 10,000 pounds a year).  Talk about a man after money!
  • Poor Harriet!  All she can do now is talk about Mr. Elton and how handsome, kind, etc. he was.  Emma wishes her to stop talking this nonsense, but realizes that she needs to mend her broken heart (especially as it was all due to Emma's meddlesome ways).  But lo and behold, Harriet begins to mend more than her heart, she reignites her friendship with the Martin family once more.  Hmm... I wonder if Harriet will finally follow her heart instead of Emma's whims?
  • Jane Fairfax is beautiful, talented, good, and just an all around great person - or at least that is according to everyone who knows her. Yep, Emma has competition in town, now that Jane has decided to spend some time with her aunts - the Bates.  An arch-nemesis will definitely bring some drama to this story - love it!
  • Frank Churchill is the son of Emma's BFF Mrs. Weston's husband.  Apparently, he was raised by another family, because his father couldn't handle a son.  Now they are all older and they've kept in touch.  Churchill is always promising to visit his father and new wife, but somehow can never make the trip.  And then, he's suddenly there.  Hmm...is it a coincidence that his trip was around the same time as Jane's?  
  • Emma and Churchill become fast friends, or so he makes it seem that way.  They gossip about Jane and how much they dislike her. Then again, he does manage to visit Jane quite often and bring her up in conversation quite a bit.  Hmm...and didn't he go to London for a day (supposedly to get his haircut, but I'm thinking he went to purchase a pianoforte for a certain young lady with the surname, Fairfax).  I don't find him trustworthy at all and wish that Emma hadn't confided her true feelings about Jane to him.  I wonder if that will come and bite her in the arse later.
  • Emma's father is a hypochondriac who hardly leaves home, so everyone visits him.  Her sister and family come to stay for the holidays and all you hear about is what food they should eat, how they shouldn't go out, and how his doctor is better than his daughter's.  Yeah, he's a bit of a buzzkill at times.  I think Emma is great at handling her father and enjoy their father-daughter bond.  Of course, I don't think its fair for Emma to never be invited places just because everyone knows her father will say no.  He hates leaving the house, especially if its raining, snowing, etc.  So, when The Cole's have a dinner party, Emma is eager to attend.  Reluctantly, her father allows her to go.  It is at the party that we see Emma act jealously with regard to Jane.  She doesn't like that Mrs. Weston is convinced that Knightley likes Jane.  She tells Emma that he was the one who sent his carriage to bring the Bates to the dinner party, that he is always asking or talking about Jane, and that he must be the one who sent the mysterious pianoforte to Jane.  Emma is shocked at the idea of Knightley and Jane.  She tries to make Mrs. Weston see her way and convince her that Knightley has no interest in Jane.  Emma is unsettled at the idea of a married Knightley.  Hmm...I wonder why?  Could Emma have a space in her heart for Knightley?  I must admit that I enjoyed seeing some of Emma's insecurities and meanness played out at this party.  It helped show us just how much more Emma has to grow.   
And now, I'm at the part where Miss Bates wants to show the women and Churchill the mystery pianoforte.  Emma had gone into town with Harriet and bumped into Churchill and her BFF.  The two were going to visit the Bates and ask Emma to join them.  She tells them to go ahead without her.  Not a moment later she finds herself, along with Harriet, Mrs. Weston, and Churchill being ushered inside the Bates' home.  Of course before entering the house, they were privy to a story involving Knightley and his apples.  Apparently, he sends the Bates a bushel of apples every year.  They absolutely love these apples.  Miss Bates mentions how they are nearly out of the apples, since she's been making treats for her niece every day.  Knightley tells her he will send her some more.  Jane gets upset with her aunt - why did she have to mention anything to Knightley?!  Miss Bates finds herself opening the door to more than a bushel of apples.  Seems that he sent the rest of his stash to them and has left himself without any apples.  Talk about providing for your one true love...or not?  Hmm...what does this kind act mean?  Is Knightley just being a good neighbor or is there more to those apples?  And what does Emma make of this story?  Is she losing Knightley to Jane?  I can't wait to find out what happens next!  So, I'm off to read some more. 

Hope you are enjoying a good book! Happy reading!!


Bellezza said...

I love your bullet points and observations! Even after finishing the novel, which I did just yesterday, I can't say that I like Emma as some readers do. I like Jane. I like Mr. Knightley, a lot! But, Emma? I think I'll always perceive her as meddlesome and annoying, even though I'm sure she's well intentioned. I ended up liking this book very much, even though it is slow. I think that's just the way Victorian authors are, and I have to slow my pace to match theirs or we'll never get along. So glad you got hooked!

Nadia said...

M, thanks! I can definitely understand not liking Emma - she is beyond meddlesome and always thinking she knows best (when really she knows nothing). I love Knightley. I'm not so sure about Jane just yet, but time will tell. I'm so glad you wound up enjoying this book - I was a bit reluctant to read it at first, but am so glad I'm reading it. Thank you for hosting this read-along! I think you are right about Victorian authors - everything takes time to happen (too much time!). I'm glad I got hooked, too :)

JoAnn said...

I feel like I could just copy and past Bellezza's comment! I finished Emma yesterday, too...downloaded the audio in preparation for 6 hours in the car. I ended up loving the book, but not really caring for the main character.

Nadia said...

JoAnn, I'm planning on finishing the book this weekend. I just have to find out what happens between Emma and Knightley. I'm so glad you loved the book :) The more I read, the more I can definitely understand disliking Emma - LOL!

Laurie C said...

I love this summary of the book so far! You've really put each story line in a nutshell. I can't dislike Emma for her fatal flaw of pride, being prone to it myself, unfortunately! So far, she is a much more interesting and entertaining character than Jane Fairfax, although I expect she will be sensible enough in the end to overcome her inferiority complex around Jane and they will become fast friends!

Nadia said...

Laurie, thanks so much! You make a good point about her pride being her flaw - it really is. And as much as I dislike her at times, there are moments when I can relate to her musings. She's definitely an interesting character, whom I'm thinking I'll wind up loving by novel's end. Jane Fairfax appears rather dull to me at the moment - although her insistence about walking to the post office is rather interesting. Hmm...I wonder what letters she's hiding? I'm with you and hope that Emma gets over being jealous of Jane and that they become fast friends. My fingers are crossed for Emma and Knightley :)