Having recently read and adored Henry James' A Golden Bowl, I next turned to the easier Jane Austen. Knowing that Emma was one of Austen's best, I had expected more than a well constructed soap opera.
Persuasion is a deeply moving and nuanced account of discerning Anne Elliot's drift into spinsterhood; Pride and Prejudice a glorious comedy with a cornucopia of irony. But in the more serious Emma a silly girl finds a sensible, if jealous, man while a silly man plays games while his fiancée fades away. Meanwhile gullible Harriet flounders, and Miss Bates and Mr Woodhouse are vaguely amusing (mere shadows of the magnificent characters that are Mr Bennet and Mr Wickham). Yet, by chance, all live happily ever after - ho hum.
Should I read more Jane Austen?