Sunday, 3 February 2019

Audiobook Review: Jane Austen's 'Emma'


By Jane Austen
Adapted for Audible by Anna Lea (2018)
Length 8 hrs 21 mins

Narrated by: Emma Thompson, Joanne Froggatt, Isabella Inchbald, Aisling Loftus, Joseph Millson, Morgana Robinson

Emma is perhaps my favourite among Jane Austen's novels. I'm not sure when I first read it – it may have been already in my teens – but I do know that it was included in the English literature course in my first term of English at university in the spring of 1982 (which means that I studied it pretty closely back then), and I have returned to it several times after that as well. Besides rereading my own old Penguin Classics copy with lots of notes and underlined quotes, I've also seen it as film and TV-series, and listened to it as unabridged audio book. And now: an Audible version mixing narrative with drama – very well done, still keeping close to the original, and with excellent actors dramatising the dialogues. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
After I had listened to it all, I went back to listen to the first chapter again, with my old printed book in hand. I could then see that while they kept to the original text a lot (word-by-word), they also managed to make certain clever shortcuts in between. While listening, those shortcuts did not really interfere with my previous memories of the book at all. But they will probably contribute to making it even more accessible for younger listeners today. After all, the book was first published in 1816 – two hundred years ago!

It is definitely a classic that deserves to be kept ”alive”. Even if society, social conventions and our means of communication have changed a lot, Emma reminds us that human nature remains remarkably unchanged. And Jane Austen still deserves credit for her way of pinpointing how fake news, speculations and rumours always caused problems – even back in the days when news travelled slower than they do today...

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich; with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence, and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her. ---

--- The real evils of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself.

(Famous quotes from Chapter 1 of the book)


  1. I saw a lovely movie version of it. I am contemplating getting the follow-up to Garden Spells. Haven't started reading it yet though.

  2. I've never read it, but it sounds like something I'd enjoy.

    1. I think you would, Meike. And as it is an old English classic, it is of course available free for Kindle! :)


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