Finding Emma

Mar 10, 2014 by

Emma was the third Austen novel that I read (following P&P and S&S, naturally). I really wanted to like but I didn’t. Why? Because I had seen the movie “Clueless” several years earlier and learned that the movie was based on the book. Since I didn’t care for the movie, I wasn’t super enthusiastic about the book. The problem was compounded after I watched the Gwyneth Paltrow version of “Emma.” Again with my non-love for the movie and transferring that to the book. By the time I *finally* read the book for the first time, I wasn’t in a happy mindset towards poor Emma.



Ten years later, I re-read EMMA during (another) Austen book reading fest. I was so surprised to find that I liked it! I didn’t see Emma as a nosy little matchmaker busybody anymore. I saw more of her depth, maybe because I was now older, too? I saw how much Emma cared for her father, to the point that she’d rather not get married and leave him alone in that huge house. I saw that she knew how to make a match for two (willing) parties and helped them out. (If she was thrusting her help on unwilling people, I’d dislike her.) I saw that for all that she knew about helping out others find their true love, she was still so innocent and naïve when it came to her own love life. She helps out the poor, visits the ill, and just generally makes a room happier by being in it.


My friend had a copy of the newest EMMA film, made by BBC, starring Romola Garai. She lent it to me and WOW! I was so very impressed by the level of acting in that mini-series. MUCH better than any other versions of “Emma” out there. I ended up buying myself a copy of the mini-series with a gift card I received on my birthday. My husband watched it with me and he didn’t leave the room or fall asleep. (Which is high praise towards a “girl movie” in my household.) I love it when a movie actually follows the book’s storyline.


If you’ve never read EMMA, I highly recommend it. Give poor matchmaking Emma Woodhouse the benefit of the doubt. (And don’t watch inferior book adaptations!)


Favorite quotes from EMMA:

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”

“Mr. Knightley, if I have not spoken, it is because I am afraid I will awaken myself from this dream.”

“I don’t approve of surprises. The pleasure is never enhanced and the inconvenience is considerable.”



Melissa Buell lives in Southern California with her husband and kids. She loves to read, bake, and take photographs.  She writes young adult novels and is currently working on a modern Pride and Prejudice adaptation.  You can follow Melissa on Twitter or find her on her website.


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  1. A friend of mine and I have discussed Emma quite seriously, and we came to the conclusion that the book is an journey for Emma from being Mr Woodhouse’s daughter, with all his inability to see the point of view of others, and assuming that what she wants is what others want, as he is so very parochial, towards being Mr Knightley’s wife, where her loving and kind nature learns to be thoughtful and see the point of view of others.

  2. Robin Helm

    I also like the latest version of Emma, but my favorite is the Kate Beckinsale/Mark Strong movie. If you haven’t seen it, do you self a favor.

    I totally agree with you about Clueless and the Gwyneth version.

  3. Well, I love Clueless, but I agree that Emma can take a time or two to really get behind. She’s a great character with lots of layers…like an onion or a parfait ;)

    Thanks for posting with us, Melissa!

  4. I’m glad I’m not the only one who took my time loving Austen. It’s so worth it in the end:). I also loved the Romola Garai version. Your husband sounds like mine! Good luck with your book.

  5. I still haven’t seen the Mark Strong version. I’m saving it for a special occasion. :):)

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