Emma by Jane Austen

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★★★★ An enjoyable, if frivolous, story. Nothing really happens, the characters aren’t complex, the concerns are narrow, and there is no deeper meaning on offer. But Emma is diverting, well-crafted and light on its feet, a top-quality romantic comedy. (As is Clueless, the brilliant ’90s film adaptation.) It’s a definitive step up from the plodding Sense & Sensibility, but without the emotional weight of Pride & Prejudice. I’m no expert on the history of the novel or narrative technique, though I understand that Austen made great contributions to both and there is much here to be appreciated. Still, it’s hardly necessary to dig into its technical excellence to find amusement in Emma.