One of the best classes I took in college was a freshman seminar on Jane Austen. We read everything she’d written, from the Juvenalia to Sanditon, all six major novels–we watched Clueless, it was a whole thing. I truly regret not being in that class this spring so that we could watch the new Emma movie together, because I’ve heard such rave reviews about it. Obviously, with COVID-19, it went to VOD rentals pretty quickly, and I haven’t seen it yet, but I am probably going to purchase it because I think it’s going to be a new favorite!
‘I wonder what will become of her!’
So speculate the friends and neighbours of Emma Woodhouse, the lovely, lively, wilful,and fallible heroine of Jane Austen’s fourth published novel. Confident that she knows best, Emma schemes to find a suitable husband for her pliant friend Harriet, only to discover that she understands the feelings of others as little as she does her own heart. As Emma puzzles and blunders her way through the mysteries of her social world, Austen evokes for her readers a cast of unforgettable characters and a detailed portrait of a small town undergoing historical transition.
Written with matchless wit and irony, judged by many to be her finest novel, Emmahas been adapted many times for film and television. This new edition shows how Austen brilliantly turns the everyday into the exceptional.
Oh: a note on editions. I prefer the Oxford World Classic of just about every classic novel. I now order from OUP directly when I KNOW I want a good edition of the book.
Incoming controversial opinion: Emma is my favorite Jane Austen novel. Yes, more than Pride and Prejudice. Emma Woodhouse is just SO interesting, ya know? Also, you don’t get beaten over the head with it growing up, and the adaptation into Clueless is brilliant….so don’t shoot.
Anyway, there have been several adaptations. The 1996 with Gwyneth Paltrow, obviously, and Clueless, and now the 2020 directed by Autumn de Wilde.
The film, which you can rent for a stupid high price for 48 hours, stars Anya Taylor Joy as Emma, Johnny Flynn as Knightley ( I was suspicious at first), Bill Nighy as Mr Woodhouse (are there only 10 old men in England?), and everyone I know that has seen it has really enjoyed it. I want to see it in a group though, you know, a true Jane Austen movie night, and obviously that couldn’t couldn’t happen during COVID, so I will probably try and just buy it on Blu-Ray and schedule a movie night when things calm down.
Anya Taylor Joy is definitely not an obvious choice for this role, but I remember seeing her in Thoroughbreds and LOVED it so I’m willing to give this a shot!