Emma Woodhouse, the heroine of Jane Austen’s fourth and perhaps greatest novel, is one of her most delightful creations, but one which the author feared that “no one but myself will much like.” The daughter of an invalid widower, Emma is “handsome, clever, and rich”; she is bright and well-intentioned, but also wilful and manipulative, convinced of the infallibility of her own judgment. As the author describes her, “The real evils of Emma’s situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages that threatened alloy to her many enjoyments.”
An obsessional matchmaker, Emma’s idle and misguided attempts to connect pretty, “decidedly not clever” Harriet Smith with the clergyman Mr. Elton are compounded by further misperceptions of character and mistaken first impressions. As a result, Emma is faced with a series of comeuppances and humiliations—all of which serve as stages in an education about her own heart.
Generous, humane, sharply observed, and brilliantly plotted, Emma is Austen's masterpiece.
This is a used copy in very good condition, with minimal general wear to the dust jacket.
By Jane Austen. Hardcover. 539 pages. Published by State Street Press, 1996.