?December 1815-January 1816
My dear Anna
As I wish very much to see your Jemima, I am sure you will like to see my Emma, & have therefore great pleasure in sending it for your perusal. Keep it as long as you chuse, it has been read by all here.-
I'm re-reading Emma and also dipping into Deidre Le Fayes's collection of Austen's letters for references to Emma. I like the letter to Anna Lefroy (quoted above) in which Austen looks forward to seeing Anna's new baby, Jemima, and sends 'my Emma' for Anna to read.
Austen's affection for her new novel is justified. Written at the peak of her literary prowess you get the sense she is having great fun with Emma. I loved the Christmas Eve dinner party at Mr Weston's where it begins to snow and 'everybody was either surprised or not surprised' and the arrival of Mrs Elton and visits which must be paid to decide whether she 'were very pretty indeed, or only rather pretty, or not pretty at all.'
Can't wait for the strawberry party ...