Book summary: Emma

1815 BY JANE AUSTEN

When her former governess finds happiness as the bride of a local widower, the brilliant and beautiful Emma Woodhouse — one of Jane Austen's immortal creations — flatters herself that she alone has secured the marriage and that she possesses a special talent for bringing lovers together. The young heiress next busies herself with finding a suitable husband for her friend and protégé, Harriet Smith, setting off an entertaining sequence of comic mishaps and misunderstanding in this sparkling comedy of English-village romance. Beneath its considerable wit, the novel is also the story of a young woman's progress toward self-understanding.

Emma abounds in the droll character sketches at which Jane Austen excelled. In addition to the well-intentional heroine and her hypochondriacal father, the village of Highbury during the Regency period is populated by an amusing circle of friends and family — kindhearted but tedious Miss Bates, a chatterbox spinster; ambitious Mr. Elton, a social-climbing parson; Frank Churchill, an enigmatic Romeo; Mr. Knightley, Emma's brother-in-law and the voice of her better nature; and a cluster of other finely drawn, unforgettable personalities.

The author's skill at depicting the follies of human nature in a manner both realistic and affectionate elevates this tale of provincial matchmaking to the heights of scintillating satire. A classic of English literature that has delighted readers since its 1816 publication, the novel is now available in this high-quality, inexpensive edition sure to charm a new generation.

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