Book Review: Emma

Emma (The Austen Project #3) by Alexander McCall Smith

Goodreads Summary:
Prepare to meet a young woman who thinks she knows everything

Fresh from university, Emma Woodhouse arrives home in Norfolk ready to embark on adult life with a splash. Not only has her sister, Isabella, been whisked away on amotorbike to London, but her astute governess, Miss Taylor is at a loose end watching as Mr. Woodhouse worries about his girls. Someone is needed to rule the roost and young Emma is more than happy to oblige.

At the helm of her own dinner parties, and often found either rearranging the furniture at the family home of Hartfield, or instructing her new protégée, Harriet Smith, Emma is in
charge. You don’t have to be in London to go to parties, find amusement or make trouble.

Not if you’re Emma, the very big fish in the rather small pond.

But for someone who knows everything, Emma doesn’t know her own heart. And there is only one person who can play with Emma’s indestructible confidence, her friend and inscrutable neighbour George Knightly – this time has Emma finally met her match?

Ever alive to the social comedy of village life, beloved author Alexander McCall Smith’s Emma is the busybody we all know and love, and a true modern delight.

My Review:
This book was very disappointing. It was supposed to be a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, but it wasn’t very modern. Perhaps it’s because the story of Emma doesn’t lend itself to being modernized, what with the dinner parties, the picnic, and all of the engagements, but I thought Smith could have done a better job. I was expecting Clueless, and I got essentially the original Emma with modern references. (Although I’ve never read the original.)

The first 100 pages were so slow with all of the backstory on Isabella. I almost stopped reading. In general there was a TON of backstory on all of the characters that didn’t really add to the book. I’m assuming that’s how Austen’s book is, but I felt like it could have been skipped in favor of a more interesting, modernized story.

Other than references to email and phones and a career that Emma was planning to build, there were very few modern elements in the story. Everyone in the country basically lived on their existing money and didn’t work. Compared with Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility, I was very let down by this book.

Unless you’re dying to read another version of Emma, I’d advise you to skip this retelling and stick with the original. Or just watch Clueless.

(The only thing I enjoyed about this book was being inside Knightley’s head as he’s thinking about Emma. I’ve always loved Knightley!)

My Rating: 2 stars
Understand my ratings.

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