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Finding Happiness, Austen Style, with Emma, our favourite matchmaker

Welcome to the fourth of a multi-part series of posts on how to lift yourself out of the blues, Austen style. This time, with Emma.

Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels.

Does the following sound familiar to you?

You’ve found the perfect certain someone for your friend, neighbour, colleague, or other unsuspecting acquaintance. There’s just one small problem: Said friend has told you that no way, no how is he/she interested in that perfect certain someone. And yet, you know better–just as you always do. Just as Emma, the eponymous heroine of Austen’s novel, always did.


Hold on a minute. Did Jane Austen write two versions of Emma? Or could it be that you, like Emma, are turning into the queen of know-it-all? Heaven forbid. After all, look what happened to Emma. She very nearly totally screwed up her life. But never fear. We’ve got a little game for you to play. It’s called “Emma, Reformed Matchmaker.” All you need to do is follow the rules:

    1. You’ll need to play with a single friend (preferably a single friend who would like to be in a couple. Otherwise, we might need to come up with another game entitled, “Emma Reformed Bulldozer”).
    2. Each of you sits down and writes a list of qualities that your friend’s perfect, future mate should possess.
    3. Do not reveal what is on your lists until both of you are finished writing.
    4. Now share. You may be surprised to find that your lists differ greatly. When you read your friend’s list, refrain from exclamations of horror unless one of the items on that list includes “must be incarcerated in a maximum security prison.”

    5. Now, give your list to your friend to take home with her. Tell her she is free to cross out whatever she doesn’t like on your list and keep whatever she does like. Or burn the whole thing.
    6. If she cares to share her final list with you, you may keep your eyes open for appropriate candidates and discreetly point them out to her. That’s “point them out,” not shove them in her face. Remember, you are “Emma, Reformed Matchmaker.”
    7. If your friend doesn’t care to share her final list, then graciously wish her all the best in finding her dream partner and promptly change the subject. Then, take her to Ford’s (or other local emporium of your choice) to buy a new dress. Or draw her picture. Without a potential mate watching the proceedings.
    8. By the way, you can also make one of those lists for yourself. It can be quite magical!
    9. See? You’re a better, happier human being already.

Now that you’ve had a successful run at self-improvement, and thus happiness, Austen-style, you deserve to have an Emma film festival, which consists of three, no, make that four, very clever films indeed:
The Gwyneth Paltrow/Jeremy Northam movie
The brilliant Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone and directed by Amy Heckerling
The Romola Garai/Jonny Lee Miller miniseries 
Kate Beckinsale/Mark Strong-starrer

Four fabulous films means you get to invite at least four friends over to have a viewing party or slumber party. Do stock up on provisions, for a private screening of four films “without sitting down to supper, [would be] pronounced an infamous fraud upon the rights of men and women.”

Still wanting more? It’s time for a re-read of Emma with your new reformed matchmaker perspective. What? You haven’t read the book?? My dear, make haste to your nearest bookseller or librarian.You might even consider listening to an audiobook of Emma. Try the one narrated by none other than Mrs. Elton, that’s Juliet Stevenson, who played that role to perfection in the Gwyneth Paltrow film. It’s brilliant. She’s brilliant. At least, her friends say she is.

Feeling happy just reading all these suggestions? Good. You’ll feel even better after you follow them all. Because we know what’s good for you. Just like Emma.

If you have suggestions of your own, please share in the comments. Till then, wishing you lots of Emma-inspired happiness!!

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Laurie Viera Rigler is the author of the Jane Austen Addict series.

Visit her at her website www.janeaustenaddict.com

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