by Jane Austen
While trying to decide what to read next, I came across the trivia tidbit that the movie Clueless was based on Jane Austen’s Emma. I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that – coming of age in the 90’s – I loved the movie Clueless. I am also not at all embarrassed to admit that my curiosity to see how a Victorian-era novel / classic piece of literature could contain within it the embryo of a 90’s comedy movie was 85% of the reason why I chose Emma as my next book.
The decision to read Emma was not disappointing. Like the other Jane Austen novels I’ve read, it was beautifully written and had a well-executed plot. I particularly loved how she invited us into some of the social agonies Emma endured. For instance, she wrote out the endless chatter of Miss Bates, the many anxious ruminations of Mr. Woodhouse and the obnoxious and endless social boasts of Mrs. Elton. It was enough to almost make one feel grateful to be poor and without social obligation!
Austen wrote with enough mystery and tension to make it fairly difficult to put the book down. Even knowing, essentially, how the story would go (having the memory of the plot of Clueless), there was enough difference between the book and the movie, plus the extra fun of seeing how the two matched up, to keep me turning pages.
It was a most excellent book. The ending was satisfying, lessons were learned (don’t meddle or gossip or be rude to people just because they are poor) and, as always happens after I read English literature, my syntax has improved 200%.
I now see why the movie Clueless was so surprisingly good. It took after its parent.