Parties and Picnics {Book Club}

Parties and Picnics {Book Club}

In light of everything happening in the world, which we know is affecting so many of you in different ways, it might feel a little silly to be discussing something “light” like Emma. But perhaps we need a distraction, a pause to think of something cheery for a moment.

I also think we need a cup of tea, since that feels appropriate for a discussion of Emma! So go brew a good cuppa and let’s have a little fun.

Anyone feel like perhaps Emma could solve some of our problems? I’d love to see her tackle them.

Also, this. Miss Bates makes me smile!

The first chunk of this week’s section introduces us more to Mrs. Elton, the vicor’s new wife. Anyone else feel rather like fingernails on a chalkboard with her around? As the characters interact at Highbury during the Woodhouse’s dinner party, there were several things that struck me.

It’s unpleasant to be around someone who thinks too highly of themselves, isn’t it? When Mr. Weston tells Mrs. Elton that he hopes to soon introduce her to his son, Frank Churchill, she thinks it all about her. “Mrs. Elton, very willing to suppose a particular compliment intended her by such a hope, smiled most graciously”.

Sometimes I forget how much independence is valued and expected in my US passport culture (and others) in this day and age. I shook my head through the whole saga of Jane Fairfax being able to walk through the rain to the post office to fetch her own letters. Everyone else seemed to have an opinion of what she could and couldn’t do!

I do admire a desire to protect those who are more vulnerable and in need of care (we are seeing this in action in the current events worldwide!). I can also be rather headstrong and stubborn (my siblings are nodding vehemently in agreement at that statement), so if I had been Jane, I would not have taken too kindly to everyone else’s directives!

What did you think of the Hartfield dinner party, the exchange over Miss Fairfax’s letters, and your introduction to Mrs. Elton?

We end this section with the picnic to Box Hill. Honestly, I felt sorry for everyone involved. While most of my quick retorts and sarcastic comments remain unspoken and safely tucked away from listening ears, I too have been guilty of a witty but hurtful comment.

It reminded me of the power of our words and the power of our influence on others. When Mr. Knightly was firmly chiding Emma at the end of chapter 43, they both acknowledged that Miss Bates is a blend of “good and ridiculous”. This made me smile. Aren’t we all? Our relationships with each other are messy because we are all human. We annoy and we make people laugh and we show kindness and we can be selfish. All these things bump up against another person’s intentions and frustrations and idiosyncrasies.

But isn’t that the beauty and the fun of connection?

What have you learned so far from Emma and her interactions with the other characters in this book? What was your favorite part of chapters 30-43- or the book so far? What parts were frustrating or made you cringe? Join the discussion in the comments!

P.S.- Need some movie ideas? Here’s a list of Jane Austen movie adaptations! Rachel was right, Clueless is one of them!

Next week we will finish Emma and read Chapters 44-55!

Whats Coming Up:

In April we will be reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Here’s a description of the book from Amazon: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . the only way to survive is to open your heart.

Here’s the schedule:

April 7 – Chapters 1-9

April 14 – Chapters 10-19

April 21 – Chapters 20-29

April 28 – Chapters 30-41

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


  1. Michele March 24, 2020

    I just saw last night, glancing through new movies on Amazon, that there is a 2020 version of Emma just out. Did we talk about this before and I missed it? (So incredibly likely for me these days). Has anyone seen it? It’s on early access on Amazon.

    1. Bayta Schwarz March 24, 2020

      I saw the trailer last time I was at the cinema and really wanted to see it! Now possible right now… 🙁

      1. Bayta Schwarz March 24, 2020

        NOT possible, obviously…

    2. Sarah Hilkemann March 24, 2020

      I just watched it this weekend! I had hoped to see it in the theater so was excited that it came to Amazon early with everything going on. I was not prepared for how comedic it was (I guess I had missed that “vibe” in the book but my sister told me that was intentional), but it was cute. 🙂

  2. Rachel Kahindi March 28, 2020

    I switched to an audio book this week, and I’m liking it much more. It reminds me of so many romantic comedies – all of the misunderstandings and awkward moments. And the disaster of the Box Hill outing also fits into that category. Or on the other hand, maybe the disaster at Box Hill defined the awkward mishaps that became common in rom-com.

    I have an impression (and maybe I’ve seen one of the more true to the book movie adaptations, otherwise I don’t know where the impression comes from) that Jane is sending and receiving secret letters, and that’s why she insists on going to the post office by herself. Everyone telling her what to do was so frustrating.

    1. Michele March 28, 2020

      I got that feeling too. And then I can’t help wondering if it’s Frank? And is he the one who bought her the piano- when he went to London for the ‘haircut’? I guess most people will be well beyond this point in the story when they read this and laughing at my predictions, but I’m behind, and when I saw your impression, couldn’t resist adding mine. 🙂

      1. Rachel Kahindi March 28, 2020

        I think you’re right!

      2. Karen March 30, 2020

        I think you’re right, too!
        And I so feel for Jane, with everyone commenting on whether she should go to the post office. It reminds me of living in the village where I used to live, where people show their love and concern by commenting on whether you should be out in a given type of weather, whether or not you ate enough at lunchtime, etc. I understand and sort-of appreciate that it’s an expression of interest and concern, but as someone who grew up in a very individualistic culture, it’s been one of the hardest things for me to adjust to.

        1. Michele March 30, 2020

          Yes! I definitely empathized with Jane having lived in two places where people could not bear that I go anywhere alone or do certain things for myself!

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