Monday, July 20, 2009

Emma by Jane Austen (Audio)

I have never listened to a Jane Austen audio book before; therefore I thought it was the appropriate time to do it for the Everything Austen Challenge. Listening to this audio book is the second item on my challenge list.

After finishing listening to this novel, I wondered why I had never listened to Jane Austen before. Indeed, it seems that Emma was written to be an audio book. I know Jane and her family loved to read her books out loud, and hearing Emma made me think that this was how it was meant to be read. Most of the novel is conversations between people, and the dialogue sounds wonderful read aloud. The version I listened to was read by Prunella Scales who does an excellent job putting a unique voice to each character.

As for the story itself, it has been about ten years since I have read Emma. Emma is a unique female lead in a Jane Austen novel as she is “handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition.” She has no desire to marry and instead designates herself as a matchmaker to her friends. While she is successful with her governess Miss Taylor and neighbor Mr. Weston, she is less successful with her new friend Harriet Smith. Through many misunderstandings and mishaps, Emma learns to think less of herself and more of other people.

SPOILER ALERT She also learns to love her older dear friend and neighbor, Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley has one of the great romantic lines an Austen novel, “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. – You hear nothing but truth from me. – I have blamed you, lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it. . . But you understand me. – Yes, you see, you understand my feelings – and will return them if you can.” Sigh. SPOILER END.

Jane Austen is a master at creating great characters. Two hundred years after this novel was written, I recognize many of the characters as family members or people I know in my own small town. I believe this is one of the many reasons that her stories have remained with us and are so timeless. Emma is a great novel with great characters. I greatly enjoyed “reading” it again and found myself excited to hear what was next. I wonder if anyone else has been accused of “blaring” Jane Austen before by their spouse.

I am on an Emma spree as you will see from future book and movie reviews. I also plan on continuing to listen to Jane Austen on audio now that I know what I have been missing!


  1. Love this book but I've never listened to any Austen on audio. I'll have to try one for the challenge.

  2. What an interesting idea! This would be perfect for a road trip.

  3. I also have never listened to Austen. Thanks for your review!

  4. I haven't ever listen to Austen either (although I tend to fall alseep with audio books)!

  5. This audiobook was great as Prunella Scales did such a great job with the voices, you never wanted to fall asleep! :-)

  6. I've never listened to ANY audio book (shocking, I know!)...

    I found an edition of Emma on audio book available on iTunes... narrated by Jeremy Northam (who plays Mr Knightley in the movie version w/ Gwyneth Paltrow)... I think that one would be an interesting version!