Confession time: Emma is the first Jane Austen novel I have ever finished. I've read the first half of Pride & Prejudice at least three times, but I always got distracted and never finished it - even though it was required reading for my IB English course in Grade 12, AND an English literature course I took in first year university. Oops.
Emma was next on my book club's list after The Bell Jar, and I was actually looking forward to reading what is thought of as Austen's best novel. But because I mostly read on my commutes, I had a hard time getting into the book; I would sit there and read, but distractions like changing trains or people having loud conversations kept me from really absorbing the story. Once I finished the actual novel I went through the introduction and annotations put together by Fiona Stafford, Emma's editor at Penguin Classics, which gave me a better understanding of the story in its historical context. I'd like to read Emma again, but I'll wait until I can dedicate a few hours at a time, instead of bouncing through it in 15 or 20 minute chunks.
In this first reading, I did find some quotations that stood out to me:
"He was a nervous man, easily depressed; fond of every body that he was used to, and hating to part with them; hating change of every kind." p.9
"'If I know myself, Harriet, mine is an active, busy mind, with a great many independent resources; and I do not perceive why I should be more in want of employment at forty or fifty than one-and twenty.'" p.83
"This was very proper; the sigh which accompanied it was really estimable; but it should have lasted longer. Emma was rather in dismay when only half a minute afterwords he began to speak of other things, and in a voice of the greatest alacrity and enjoyment." p.109
"She felt that half this folly must be drunkenness, and therefore could hope that it might belong only to the passing hour. ... But Mr. Elton had only drunk wine enough to elevate his spirits, not at all to confuse his intellects." p.123
"Harriet was one of those, who, having once begun, would be always in love." p.172
"Prefect happiness, even in memory, is not common...." p.215
"Young ladies should take care of themselves. -Young ladies are delicate plants. They should take care of their health and their complexion." p.273
"'Well,' she said at last, trying to recover herself; 'this is a circumstance which I must think of at least half a day, before I can comprehend it." p.371
"Their intercourse was painful enough by letter. How much worse, had they been obliged to meet!" p.422