Author(s): Jane Austen
Emma's opening sentence, which describes the titular heroine's many advantages, is loaded with foreboding. Discomfort and vexation lie on the horizon, triggered by her penchant for matchmaking. Emma's latest scheme involves finding a suitable husband for ingenue Harriet Smith, and to that end she persuades the latter to reject good-natured farmer Robert Martin, despite a mutual attraction. Harriet must set her sights higher, she exhorts, fixing on a local clergyman Mr. Elton as perfect marriage material. The plan goes badly awry, and prompts much verbal jousting with Mr. Knightley, who champions Martin's cause and upbraids Emma for her mischievous meddling. Emma does eventually learn the folly of her ways, and meets her own match in the process, but only after a series of painful misunderstandings. Jane Austen returns to her perennial themes of class and courtship, demonstrating once again her insight into the human character in this masterly comedy of manners. -- from publisher.