This week’s chat brought us through chapter 23. You can always join in at any time! Next Sunday we will be meeting in the chat room at 6 PST / 9 EST to discuss through chapter 31. Join us!
Mr. Elton = Moron
Jess: So where do we want to start? With what a moron Mr. Elton is? We did the proposal last week, but this week it starts with the recovery from it…and on CHRISTMAS EVE! Way to ruin a holiday, jerk.
Lynne: I really liked that she saw that he wasn’t brokenhearted.
Liz: She misjudged, he’s there proclaiming his love, she rejects him, and then they’re still stuck in the carriage. I cringed back from the pages.
Jess: So awkward, Liz. Yeah, Lynne she could tell right away and she was right, he was offended but not brokenhearted
Farida: He was awful and so unpleasant!
Samantha: So funny how certain Elton was that Emma loved him.
Jess: And I think it’s interesting how Emma considers him as much lower than her as he thinks Harriet is lower than him.
Nancy (via Liz): Actually, that does show Emma’s snobbishness towards Harriet– You could have a friend who was lower than you by a few social degrees but not marry a man who is lower than you. That’s an interesting distinction.
Farida: It’s a bit difficult to keep in mind their social standing and what is due to each of them… does anyone else have this problem? I have to remind myself that they are not modern people and there are all these rules..
Emma = Back in the Saddle Again
Lynne: So Emma is just starting to think “maybe I’m not a good matchmaker. But maybe I’m wrong about being wrong. Maybe I am a good one after all. Next!”
Liz: *facepalm* to Emma.
Jess: Yeah, she certainly rebounds to it fast. Even with the entrance of Jane Fairfax she thinks “oh, it’s too bad there’s no one to set her up with.”
Nancy (via Liz): Maybe Emma is projecting her need to see romantic love onto other people. [Hence the matchmaking.] She’s sublimated her own romantic love needs due to having to be with her father all the time.
Jess: Possibly, because she feels like she needs to stay with her father. He’s so upset still by his first daughter leaving – and she’s been gone long enough to have 5 kids
Lynne: Yeah, if I had to spend time with her father, romance would NOT be on my mind. Quick death would be.
*Brief confusion on how many kids Isabella actually has*
*Jennifer confirms there are 5 but only three named*
Jennifer: They were there, but not there. But oh how they love visiting Mr. Woodhouse.
Jane and Those Who Can’t, Write:
Samantha: So if Emma is matchmaking because she can’e marry, is Austen writing romance because she can’t get any? Interesting. . .
Jess: That is an interesting thought, Samantha. Those who can’t ….write.
Lynne: Could Austen resist writing about romance? But I had a similar thought regarding Emma. Was Jane a bit like her, watching romance from a disjointed pov?
Nancy (via Liz): Jane did give strict advice to her nieces– And it wasn’t “Marry the richest” but “Marry the guy you can stand living with.
Jennifer: I agree with Nancy/Liz, whom I will refer to as the Borg for no reason. She had a message to women who just married morons for money.
Jess: I feel like with Mr. W and Miss Bates Austen just LET LOOSE with all the ridiculous stuff she’s been forced to hear over the years.
Jennifer: I can’t believe how long those food conversations went!
When in Doubt, Kill the Parents:
Samantha: Anyone else notice how many characters are orphans in this novel?
Jess: YES, EVERYONE IS DEAD. Mr. W is like the only remaining parent.
Samantha: Not necessarily orphans missing both parents, but at least one. Even Mrs. Elton has no parents.
Liz: How common was that, back then?
Lynne: Lots of death in childbirth.
Samantha: Where are Mr. Elton’s parents? Any mention?
Jess: Knightley Brothers – Parents dead, Jane Fairfax – parents dead, the new Mrs. Elton – parents dead, Harriet – Parents UNKNOWN, Emma – Mom Dead, Churchill – Mom dead, The Martins – Dad dead…
Jennifer: Mr. Elton – hatched.
Samantha: But Mr. Woodhouse lives on and on and on. How old it that guy anyway?
Lynne: Mr. Woodhouse is about 103.
Patty: It’s because Mr. Woodhouse takes care of himself
Jess: It’s the gruel, Sam.
Patty: And stays away from snow.
Samantha: Long live gruel! This book could be renamed The Woodhouse Diet.
Jennifer: Gruel for everybody, along with some nice fried pork. No cake.
Jess: Fried pork: with just a little oil…lightly salted.
Why does Knightley fall in love with Emma?
Is his relationship with her too paternal?
Did he keep correcting her all the time once they got married? Or were they a happy, content couple?
Why did Austen spend so much time on a physical description of Jane Fairfax when she usually doesn’t spend much time on them at all?
Emma and Frank – sometimes it’s not a perfect match even if everyone ships it.
Emma is written more like a mystery than a romance.
The weekly Emma chats continue! This week we discussed chapters 9-15. Here are some of the topics we touched on…
Family dynamics and conversation:
Jess: They’re definitely the smoother outers of the family…every family has those.
Lynne: Oh yes, the whole discussion on gruel was just so funny. I imagine Jane laughed when she wrote that. And I bet she overheard similar ones in real life.
Samantha: Yeah, Lynne. I always imagine her scribbling in a corner while people say ridiculous things.
Jess: When there’s no tv or twitter one must endure hour long discussions on gruel.
Nancy: I can’t imagine being Emma and having this be her life.
Lynne: Yes, and slowly dying inside at the lack of interesting conversation.
Jennifer: it sort of explains why she finally snaps at Miss Bates later on. She hears nonsense constantly
Jess: Yes, you can definitely sympathize with her. I’d be poking my eye out nightly. It’s surprising she doesn’t snap earlier.
The horrors of SNOW aka is John Knightley a nut job?:
Lynne: Was John Knightley really afraid of snow or was he trying to manipulate the group?
Nancy: Or was he expressing the concern he knew his wife and father-in-law would feel? Because he’s always surrounded by these two, so he’d be super aware of their phobias.
Samantha: John was the first to tell Emma that Elton loved her though. At least this gave her a bit of warning.
Jennifer: Also, how dangerous was that snow? I mean ATL got shut down in 2 inches. Maybe it really was scary to them.
Jess: “YES, BAD SNOW IS BAD,” says the girl who got stuck a few weeks ago.
Nancy: And Mr. Woodhouse freaks out about everything. I imagine John Knightley organises his life in a manner to avoid freak outs from those two. Because he doesn’t have the patience for them, let’s be honest–he’s a bit short tempered.
Samantha: Just think of the shoes those girls had to wear. Satin slippers would make snow frightening.
Lynne: True, they didn’t have UGGS
Jennifer: Yeah, you don’t want to be in a life and death situation with panickers. Makes everything worse.
Nancy: Even driving through light snow would not be fun because the whole way they’d be wailing about how horrible it was, and how the carriage could turn over.
Lynne: Maybe he was freaking out by the prospect of being snowed in with that crew.
Jess: I’d be a raging alcoholic if I was stuck in this novel
Emma vs. Lizzy
Jess: Poor Emma loves them all so she can’t just laugh at them like Lizzy laughed at Collins.
Samantha: There was that scene where Emma had to leave the room to laugh. End of chapter 9. She was laughing at Elton. Ha!
Lynne: Elton deserves mocking.
Jess: Yes, he does. Court. Ship. *stabs eye*
Nancy: Emma is also much more reserved than Elizabeth. They’d get along well, but I think Emma is more… oh, aware of “proper” behavior.
Samantha: More reserved than Elizabeth? Hmm. Does Lizzy laugh in front of people or only with her family?
Jess: I think Emma sees herself as the head of society in her area and Lizzy doesn’t, so that gives her more leeway.
Nancy: Lizzy laughs with people, even if not in front of the person she’s laughing at. Emma is proper enough to laugh alone.
Jess: Lizzy definitely talks back to people.
Vicars then vs. pastors now – more of a profession and less of a calling.
Is Mr. Elton a gold digger?
Why did Mr. Elton think proposing to Emma was a good idea?
What is the proper response when trapped in a carriage with a man who is proposing and you wish to decline?
Why is there no Lady Catherine / Mr. Collins fanfic? (We looked.)
And so much more!
It’s not too late to join our weekly group read chats for Emma! Next Sunday we will be discussing chapters 16-23. Make sure to join us in the chat room Sunday at 6 PST / 9 EST.
This week, I found a Buzzfeed quiz asking, “Which Jane Austen Hero is Your Soul Mate?” Well, of course I took it, and as expected, I got Mr. Knightley. Yes, I love Mr. Darcy, but to be honest, he’s a bit high maintenance. Knightley is much more my speed.
So then the question is, which Knightley do I get?
I watched a handful of Emma Approved episodes last week, and hands down, Alex Knightley is my favorite part of the show. Just like the Knightley we know and love, he knows Emma and can predict some of her more unique behavior patterns. He obviously loves her too, which made me swoon a bit.
Jonny Lee Miller played Mr. Knightley in the 2009 BBC miniseries. Four hours of Mr. Knightley… yes please!
And finally, my choice–Jeremy Northam, who played Mr. Knightley opposite Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma. Why is he my favorite? Because of this scene. He really nails the delivery of the best line: “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
Which version of Mr. Knightley is your favorite, and why? Have you enjoyed his interactions with Emma in the book so far? Don’t forget, we’ll be in the chat room on Sunday at 6 pm PST to discuss chapters 9-15.
Our first Emma group chat was on Sunday in the chat room. Don’t worry if you missed it, we will recap it here and you can always jump on in at any time! Just join us at 6 PST / 9 EST next Sunday when we chat about chapters 9-15.
The age difference between Emma and Mr. Knightley:
Jess: Who else is always slightly surprised and skeezed out to be reminded that Knightley is so much older than Emma? *raises hand*
Lynne: Amen sister
Liz: I feel slightly skeeved now but they WORK SO WELL TOGETHER.
Jess: I’m just always like HOLY CRAP THAT IS RIGHT! whenever I read it.
Jennifer: I don’t mind age difference…except when he reminds her the he held her as a baby. YACK!
Nancy: Yeah, that part was a bit… thanks for the reminder.
Samantha: In some ways, he’s more of a father to her than her own father. Ugh.
Nancy: But, she is an adult now. Definitely an adult. Unlike Marianne and Col. Brandon, where she’s still just 17ish when they meet.
Samantha: But things were different then. You could marry your cousins (MP), you could marry after a few meetings.
Lynne: It’s hard to turn off our 21st century filter, but agreed.
Emma’s manipulation of Harriet:
Sharon: What I noted was Emma’s arrogance when he was saying how great Martin was for Harriet etc – that Martin was asking for Harriet in marriage. Emma was amazingly arrogant about her wisdom over his… did not induce me to like her!
Jennifer: I found it interesting that Martin came to him (Knightley) for advice in the first place. Didn’t anyone enter a romance without consulting others first?
Lynne: I agree, Sharon. That conversation about “you can marry him but we can’t be friends anymore” was really sad.
Jennifer: Yeah, I hate that manipulation, Lynne.
Jess: That whole chapter is like a manual in epic manipulation.
Lynne: Emma is very confident about her convictions and really goes for it, even if she seems shallow. Emma is surrounded by “yes men” and weak characters except Knightley.
Samantha: I wonder why Jane wanted to write a heroine no one else would like. The challenge?
Nancy: Samantha, my guess is she just started to write the story, and halfway through realised the character would be hard to like. But by that point, she loved her so much as her own creation that she finished anyway.
Samantha: But Emma is very kind to her father. I think this is her saving grace.
Jennifer: Yes. Her kindness to her father redeems her. Or goes a long way. And she’s trying to do right by those she manipulates. But she doesn’t realize yet that individuals must make their own choices.
Lynne: I like an unlikable hero at the beginning to see how they change. They are their own worst enemy and most of the change is internal.
Nancy: I love Emma because she has a very good heart. She wants everyone she loves to be happy.
Farida: What strikes me the most is how certain she is in her opinions. she doesn’t waver, doesn’t have a moment’s hesitation – it never occurs to her that she mind be wrong.
We also discussed:
How limited Emma’s society was, how she literally had no peers in her neighborhood.
How long it would take before you put a fork in your eye if you had to dine with Mr. Woodhouse every night.
All the lovely “Head. Desk.” moments of Emma and Mr. Elton talking around each other over Harriet’s portrait.
Who’s worse? Mr. Collins or Mr. Elton? (General consensus was Mr. Elton)
Have opinions on any of these topics? Comment below! And don’t forget to join us this coming Sunday!
With Emma Approved, this has the potential to be the Year of Emma. (Never mind that Emma’s 200th birthday is still two years away.) What better way to celebrate the novel than by hosting a group read?
If you haven’t participated in one of our group reads before, they’re fairly straightforward. In a minute, I’ll post the schedule. On the dates listed, come to the chatroom prepared to discuss the chapters for the week. The group read always ends with a group watch of a film adaptation of the book.
As per usual, we’ll meet in the chat room at 6:00 pm PST on Sunday evenings, starting March 2. Chats usually last about an hour, depending on how much we find to discuss about the hero, fruit baskets, and cookies.
4/20: No Book Group–Easter Sunday
4/27: Group watch
I tried to break it down into even sized pieces, while keeping important plot breaks in mind as well. SparkNotes has a great breakdown, if you want to know more about the characters before we get started.
If you don’t own Emma, it is available as a free ebook from Kindle and Barnes and Noble. You can also get the audiobook free from Ambling Books, or if you have the Kindle version and wish the audiobook to Whispersync, you can get it from Audible.
During the group read, we’ll be featuring Indie Jane authors who’ve written Emma adaptations. There will also be some Emma related Friday Fun posts, and who knows what else we might come up with?
Misty at the Book Rat is hosting her annual Austen in August celebration. It kicked off on Sunday and will continue over the next two weeks with tons of fabulous guest posts and general awesomeness. Both Nancy and I are participating this year so be sure to keep an eye out for us in fun discussions posts, etc. (Misty’s giving away a copy of the audiobook of Attempting Elizabeth sometime next week so be sure to watch for that!)
Misty is also doing a read through of Mansfield Park so if you missed the Indie Jane read through last year NOW IS YOUR TIME! Let the Edmund Bertram hating commence!
We hope to see lots of Indie Janeites participating in the fun! Cecilia Gray one of our favorite indie Austen authors has already contributed a hilarious video recap of the 2005 P&P. Make sure to check it out!
Click here to see the Austen in August schedule (updated daily!)