Sexing-Up Jane Austen: Review of Emma

Emma Woodhouse, “handsome, clever and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition”, seemed to unite most of the blessings TV drama producers ever wanted. Nothing in her life could vex them. They could hire an actress who was more ravishing than “handsome”, without doing undue violence to Miss Austen’s intentions. They could instruct her to turn Emma’s “happy disposition” into the feisty style that so commends itself to today’s commissioning editors. And if the location manager decided that Emma’s “comfortable home” should be a Georgian mansion of the type long coveted by Britons of all classes, no one but a cavilling critic could object.

What a catch that girl has been over the decades: as reliable as an inheritance in the funds. A flock of Emmas schemed their way through the mid-1990s. Clueless set the story in LA and had Alicia Silverstone play Emma as a Beverly Hills girl. Andrew Davies produced a conventional TV adaptation, which found itself up against a second Emma-the-movie in as many years, this time starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Bollywood is proposing to move Highbury to New Delhi and now the BBC has a new version.

Emma is Austen’s most technically brilliant work.
Read on

One thought on “Sexing-Up Jane Austen: Review of Emma

  1. It’s hard to find anything in that unerring review with which to quibble (shame, I do love a quibble), but I think the answer to your closing question is simple enough: anything with Austen’s name attached is the perfect peg on which to hang a slice of Sunday night BBC costume-cosiness.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s