The 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s novel Emma got us to thinking. As Austen heroines go, Emma is a slight departure. She is not sitting by the window waiting for a prospective husband to ride up and change her family fortunes with a healthy yearly stipend. Instead, she has appointed herself as a sort of regency matchmaker, willing to forgo the undeniable pleasure and stability of marriage that most 19th-century young ladies aspire to.
While Emma is not quite our favorite Austen heroine (we slightly prefer Miss Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice for no other reason than her levelheadedness), we admire Emma’s tenacity at what might be considered her modern-day approach to playing Cupid with her friends and acquaintances. She does still, however, carry the Austen gene of not recognizing her own true love even though he is right under her nose.
|Patty's granddaughter Emma with Jane Austen's Emma.|
Emma’s story was brilliantly retold in the movie Clueless (1995), but even that could do with a little up-to-date tweaking. So, as modern women go, how much easier would Emma’s task have been if she had some 21st-century tools to help her? Tinder comes to mind for the millennials, while Match.com is perhaps more suitable for the baby boomers.
Emma could pack up her parasol, don her white gloves, and sashay off in her empire-waist gown (via Uber, of course) to the nearest Starbucks. She might remove her bonnet, trimmed with flowers, and take out her tiny notebook with its pencil attached by a ribbon, as she flicks through candidates for love on her smartphone. After a suitable length of time devoted to her project, and a delightful caffè mocha or two, she could return home and catch an episode of The Bachelor.