Monday, November 28, 2016

Emma by Jane Austen Narrated by Alison Larkin

Title: Emma
Author: Jane Austen
Read by:  Alison Larkin
Publisher: British Classic Audio
Length: Approximately 16 hours and 46 minutes
Source: Review Copy from author Alison Larkin - Thank-you!

Emma is a classic Jane Austen novel about a young independent woman who tries her hand at matchmaking.  Doing so ends up causing more harm than good and makes Emma take a look into her own heart to challenge her own prejudices and to discover who she really loves.  I’ve enjoyed this novel since I was a teenager and I was more than excited to review a new audiobook version narrated by my new favorite Austen book narrator, Alison Larkin.

Alison Larkin is an excellent narrator.  Her voice is pleasant and soothing with a great British accent.  Even better is that she really gets into the characters and gives each character their own voice through the story.  I especially loved her voice for Mrs. Elton in Emma.  It was hilarious and as pompous as you can imagine.  I also enjoyed the snippets of piano music that played between the chapters.

I love listening and reading books that you’ve loved and read before.  I’ve always felt that Austen novels in particular lend themselves quite well to the audiobook format especially as Austen and her family would read her stories out loud to entertain themselves and the books seem to fit that mold.

I was struck this time on my way through Emma just how much class and your level in society really makes a difference for each thing you do.  Emma as a young woman with a fortune of 30,000 pounds does not need to worry about it, but she does spend a lot of time judging everyone else.  She finds the Martins vulgar because they farm for a living, Miss Bates to be despised because she is a single woman with no fortune, the Coles as uppity as they have come into money and think they can mingle with those that are “better” than them, etc.  Mrs. Elton also discusses this as well.  In the United States, money was king as it didn’t really matter where the money came from, but it’s funny in England that your money should be “old.”  How long did it take to go from earning money through trade and buying an estate to being “old” money?  I’m curious.

I’m also curious, where did Emma’s family’s money original come from?  I noticed this time that their estate was just a small one carved out of Donwell abbey and it made me very curious.

Jane Austen’s characters are unparalleled.  From Miss Bates who is the well-meaning person you know who can’t stop talking about boring topics to Mrs. Elton, the person who is sure she is superior to everyone around her, Austen’s characters are superb because they are the people all around us.

I love how just when you think the novel is over with many startling revelations, there was still three hours to go.  I love how Austen completely wraps up the endings for all of the characters.

My Favorite Quotes:
“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”  This quote from Mr. Knightley makes me swoon!
“It’s such a happiness when good people get together.”
“A single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as any body else.”
“Oh! To be sure,” cried Emma, “it is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage.  A man always imagines a woman to be ready for any body who asks her.”
Overall, Emma by Jane Austen is a classic novel not to be missed.  It is wonderful to rediscover a beloved classic by listening to an audiobook rendition.  Alison Larkin is a perfect Austen audiobook narrator with great voices for all of the characters.  She brings the story to life.


  1. Laura,
    I haven't read (or listened to) Emma but I did see a movie version, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It does seem that audio books of Austen novels are a good match, especially with narrators such as Alison Larkin. I enjoyed all of the quotations you included--they'd probably be my favorites, too. Wonderful review as usual, Laura!

  2. Interesting questions! I reckon money never became 'old' on its own in our British class system - really the only way to do it was to marry into an 'old' family. And those 'old' families were usually descended from the great families that surrounded the monarch or the major aristocrats at some time in the past - sometimes very far in the past - and were granted land. So it was more to do with birth and landowning than money, and therefore very difficult for people to climb the social ladder. As for Emma's money, I'm guessing they were a junior branch of a great family (ie, Mr Woodhouse would have been a younger son) - so they wouldn't have inherited the major landholdings, but would have had money as their share. That's why newly rich men were super keen to marry their rich daughters to impoverished aristocracy rather than to other newly rich men - it was the way in...

  3. I love audiobooks and already have two of Alison Larkin's Austen narrations. Looks like this one is worth adding to my TBL list.

    As to "new" versus "old" money, and looking at Jane and Bingley in P&P, she was actually marrying beneath her. She was a gentleman's daughter (no matter that there wasn't much money) and his family's money came from trade. Her status would give his money some respectability for the next generation.