So, while I am a fan of Pride and Prejudice, I have never really read other Jane Austen books. So when I heard that the production of Emma was free on Audible, I jumped on it. And I’m super glad I did! This is an awesome production, and a production indeed it is. I have no idea how big the cast is, but this is quality work. There are sound effects in the background, like horses and crowds and paper rustling and fire crackling! Emma Thompson is amazing as the narrator, to the surprise of absolutely no one. And the rest of the cast is phenomenal as well! (I can’t seem to link to it from Amazon, but you should check it out!)
So, Emma means well. She thinks she’s doing what’s best, but she wants things to go her way. And she’s very good at manipulating people, or at least she thinks she is. It’s obvious to me that her ‘friend’ Harriet should marry the farmer, Mr. Martin, who obviously adores her and can comfortably provide for her. It may not be the life Emma would want, but it would suit Harriet just fine. Instead, Emma is trying to push her off on the vicar, who obviously is trying to win Emma over. With the added inflection offered by the actors, I can tell halfway into chapter 2 that this is not going to work out well. The vicar seems slightly creepy, a la Mr. Collins. (What did Austen have against clergymen?) I mean, I guess he could just be a bit over-enthusiastic and not great with women, but the poor thing would not survive Emma. Emma should end up with Mr. Knightley, because he calls her out on her nonsense. We’ll see…
So I have two chapters left to go, and things are turning out mainly as I thought they would. Mr. Knightley is usually right, Mr. Elton is not as good a man as he and many others think he is, Mr. and Mrs. Weston seem like the only people who are not blatantly involved in scheming, Mr. Frank Churchill is indeed hiding something (but he’s having a good time while he’s doing it), and indeed, Poor Harriet! Harriet would have been better off being left alone at the beginning, a fact that Emma acknowledges. But this will perhaps open Emma’s circle to include people she previously would not have associated with, and she will probably discover that they are fine people. Emma is a bit spoiled, but she is not malicious, and only wants what she thinks is the best for people. She has a good heart, but not the best judgement in matters of love. I feel like the relationship she has with Mr. Frank Churchill is a bit of a modern one. They both acknowledged the fact, without speaking, that they were not going to be together, and then just enjoy each other’s company. They flirt with each other knowing that nothing will come of it, the problem being that no one else knows that.
So, I got to the end, and it seems a little rushed. We have one character’s actual declaration of love, and all we get from the other is that they ‘responded in a favorable manner’ or something. We don’t get the actual response! And poor Harriet. I mean, everything turns out well, but it feels like she’s been jerked around, poor thing, and most of it is of her own doing, with some occasional encouragement from Emma. And it appears that when all is said and done, Emma is going to be a poor friend to Harriet indeed. Everything turns out for the best, I suppose.
So 5 stars for the production, but only 4 for the actual content.
Published in 1815, this fulfills the CBR10 Bingo square of “This Old Thing”