Oh to live in the early 1800’s in the beautiful countryside of England wearing highly designed clothing and entertaining guests in your drawing room with music and art. It sounds like a dreamy existence to me, how about you?
“Emma” by Jane Austen
Welcome to our second Virtual Book Club where myself and three other bloggers have read “Emma” by Jane Austen and are sharing our interpretation of the book through home decor and a recipe.
I absolutely adored this book. The story follows a beautiful and wealthy young woman named Emma Woodhouse as she attempts to matchmake in the village of Highbury set in the English countryside.
Emma lives with her father who is a hypocondriac and falls into great sadness as his daughters marry because he misses them greatly when they move away. A regular visitor to their home is Mr. Knightley, who is Emma’s brother-in-law. Mr. Knightley does not agree with Emma’s meddling in the lives of others nor does he feel that her choices of potential husbands for her proteges are well thought out. Their quick-witted banter is delightful and refreshing.
Emma sets her sights on sweet Harriet Smith, who lives at the nearby boarding school. Harriet’s parentage is unknown and in this era, knowing who’s one’s parents are is very important when it comes to subject of suitable spouses. When Harriet receives a proposal from Mr. Martin, a farmer, Emma encourages Harriet to turn the proposal down as Emma is certain that a much better match for Harriet would be the town Vicar, Mr. Elton.
The book follows the hilarious antics of Emma, Mr. Knightley, Harriet and Mr. Elton. In the end, Emma realizes that not only is Mr. Knightley correct about her matchmaking skills, she is also in love with him. Thankfully, he is in love with Emma too!
If you are wondering, Mr. Martin once again proposes to Harriet and she happily accepts.
If you do not have time to read the book, I highly suggest that you watch the 2020 movie version of Emma. The sets and costume design are beyond beautiful and the acting is superb.
Fun Facts about Jane Austen
Jane’s mother sent all of her children when they were three to four months old into the village to be raised until they were 1.5 to 2 years old when they were then returned to Jane’s parents.
Four of her books were published anonymously. Sense and Sensibility had the author listed as “A Lady”. The three following books Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma had the author listed as “By the author of Sense and Sensibility”. Finally with the publication of Persuasion, Jane was given credit for that book and the three previous books.
Jane never married, but she was engaged for one night when she was 26 years old. She regretted her decision and broke off the engagement the next day.
After Jane’s death, her sister Cassandra destroyed all of Jane’s personal letters because Cassandra did not want any of the relatives to see or hear about Jane’s temper and biting humour. What a wonderful sister!
Architecture Styles for “Emma“
Emma’s family home is said to be a Georgian style home which is quite wide to make them look grand and they are placed on a large landscaped piece of land with a large front yard. The houses are two rooms deep and often have a taller section in the middle. The windows follow a grid and are very symmetrical. They have steep roof lines and are not that decorated on the outside. The inside, however, is highly decorated with ornately plastered ceilings, carved wood, bold wallpapers and a great deal of wall moldings. Large fireplaces were also the centerpiece of each room.
Were any of the homes envisioned in “Emma” real homes?
It is thought that based on the description and location that Jane Austen gave for Mr. Knightley’s home that it was based off of the real home named the “Claremont House”.
It is also believed that the fictitious town of Highbury is actually Esher. Based on distances and descriptions in the book, it is thought that Esher Place could be Emma’s home, Hartfield house.
Let me start by saying if you follow me on any social media or have come to know my blog, our home is nothing like the homes of “Emma”. I was going to do something in my greenhouse as Emma often attended her greenhouse to choose flowers for the various bride’s bouquets. Unfortunately, it is February and my greenhouse is not heated. Presently the temperature is 19 F so none of my plants or flowers would survive.
Instead, I decided to try to recreate the drawing room where Emma painted portraits and also visited with guests. Here is a scene from the movie in the drawing room.
My inherited pieces were perfect for this project
Not only is our house not suitable for this era nor is any of my decor. As I studied anything I could find on the history of this time, I noticed a few pieces that were so similar to things we inherited from my mother-in-law Annie. Such as this gorgeous petit point that she did while watching hockey games. Look, even the home in the background is of the Georgian style.
Can you imagine how long this would have taken for Annie to stitch?
I also inherited two large figurines (doves and basket of roses) that were such favorites of my mother-in-law.
As my greenhouse is pretty small, so I removed all the shelving. Then I hung some fabric that I felt was in keeping with Emma’s colorful home.
I also picked this artist’s easel up second hand which was a lovely treat. I did a lot of thrifting and found various linens and fabric pieces to pull the whole look together.
Clearly my little greenhouse is no where close to the grandness of Emma’s drawing room. I do think I was able to turn it into a sweet little artist’s studio/drawing room. What do you think? Would you be happy to visit with me here?
Are you ready to see the other interpretations?
Now it is time to head over to Lynn, Cindy, and Erin’s posts to see their home decor inspiration from the book. Click on the link below their photographs to take you there.
Lynn – Living Large in a Small House
Cindy – Reinvented Delaware
Erin – Erin Evolving
Be sure to check back in on Saturday, where each of us will be sharing a recipe inspired by “Emma”.
Thank you very much for checking out our Virtual Book Club. Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.