Jan 05, 2020mbilodea rated this title 2.5 out of 5 stars
Like other Jane Austen novels, this one describes the life of a very narrow class of early 19th century English society: the country gentry. These were landowners whose income depended on rent paid by farmers. They were not members of the titled nobility, but their status as wealthy rentiers dispensed them from doing any work which was performed by servants. They spent their days visiting and gossiping with each other. Within this narrow social class, status was of paramount importance and it is a central theme of the book that the members of this class were constantly comparing themselves with others to decide on who was above and who below. For example at the beginning of the book, Emma counsels her friend Harriet not to marry Robert Martin because she feel Martin is below her and instead to set her sights on Mr. Elton who has higher standing. Mr. Elton, for his part considers Harriet unworthy of him but would find Emma a suitable advancement, while Emma, feeling that Mr. Elson is below her, dismisses him scorfully. I think the word "snob" was coined to describe such people.
Anyway, it's a classic romance novel, pleasurable to read if you like this sort of story and don't mind that the main characters are all snobs. The audiobook version, read by Nadia May, is well done.