A Modern Retelling

Large Print - 2014
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The best-selling author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series deftly escorts Jane Austen's beloved, meddlesome heroine into the twenty-first century in this delightfully inventive retelling.

The summer after university, Emma Woodhouse returns home to the village of Highbury to prepare for the launch of her interior design business. As she cultivates grand plans for the future, she re-enters the household of her hypochondriac father, who has been living alone on a steady diet of vegetables and vitamin supplements. Soon Emma befriends Harriet Smith, the naïve but charming young teacher's assistant at an English-language school run by the hippie-ish Mrs. Goddard. Harriet is Emma's inspiration to do the two things she does best: offer guidance to those less wise in the ways of the world and put her matchmaking skills to good use.

Happily, this summer presents abundant opportunities for her to do just that, as many friends, both old and new, are drawn into the sphere of Emma's occasionally injudicious counsel: Frank Churchill, the attractive stepson of Emma's former governess; George Knightley, Emma's brother-in-law and dear friend; the charming yet self-important Philip Elton; and, of course, the perfect (and perfectly vexing) Jane Fairfax.

Alexander McCall Smith's gentle satire and cozy, old-fashioned sensibility prove to be the perfect match for Jane Austen's wit and characters. Though carriages have been replaced by Mini Coopers and cups of tea with cappuccinos, Emma's story is wonderfully timeless.

Publisher: New York : Random House Large Print, ©2014.
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9780804194709
Characteristics: 437 pages ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: Austen, Jane 1775-1817.


From Library Staff

bhmwortman Mar 05, 2015

For fans of Austen's original novel, McCall Smith's retelling will be delight. Interestingly, the novel spends a great deal more time developing the back story of the original novel. However, this means that readers spend more time with Mr. Woodhouse, who remains hysterical in his anxieties. I fo... Read More »

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Oct 18, 2017

After reading two of the four books that are part of The Austen Project, I have given up. It is clear that no matter how much we love the stories themselves, they just aren't the same without our beloved Jane telling them.

I know authors like Alexander McCall Smith and others have greatly relished this opportunity, but I am done with this project. The Emma I read about in this retelling was not just a modernized version of Austen's Emma. This Emma is a spoiled, manipulative brat. She blunders around saying tactless things to her neighbors and friends and believes herself to be a virtuous citizen.

What made me like this retelling was the way McCall Smith so neatly tied up most of the loose ends, although there was a big hint about Frank Churchill that was somewhat glossed over and could have been given much more story emphasis.

Don't read this book if you want a Jane Austenesque experience. It just isn't possible. If you are looking for a humorous and entertaining chicklit story, then this book will fit the bill.

JCLChristinD Dec 15, 2016

If you love Alexander McCall Smith, this may be an enjoyable read. If you love Jane Austen, and her Emma, expect to be annoyed. It takes creative re-imagining to make a story about 19th century class and social roles work in a modern setting. It takes wit and charm make the character of Emma work. All of that is lacking here. If you want to see a modern take on Emma that does work, you should definitely watch Clueless.

Jun 28, 2016

This was very disappointing . If you love Jane Autin this is a poor remake. This novel was more about Emma's father and he was treated with much more sympathy than Emma who was made to seem a spoiled brat. Granted, she had some growing up to do but the nuances and subtleties of her character was lost with this author. He gave short shift to Emma, but seemed to forgive all the foibles of the vicar and Harriet's characters. The relationship between Emma and Knightley was nonexistent so it made no sense at the end that they loved each other. I am going to retread Jane's Emma to clear my mind.

Feb 20, 2016

Wanted to delay reading this "Emma" until I had read Austen's "Emma". Only read half of the original before I had to read and return Alexander McCall-Smith's version to the library. I always enjoy McCall-Smith's writing and his accurate observations of the nature of his characters, often conveyed with gentle mocking and his "Emma" was no exception. Looking forward to finishing the original.

Feb 05, 2016

We must remember this is a re-telling of an Austen book so of course the characters will seem "out of touch" with today's world. Even so, Emma was obviously a rich, spoiled girl who thought she was entitled to manage other people's lives even though she herself had no practical experience with love, life and marriage. I didn't like her character mainly because of her sense of entitlement. At the end she does begin to see things a little more realistically. Perhaps this story is more suited for a younger group? I do always enjoy McCall-Smith's writing style so it wasn't too bad.

Sep 01, 2015

Delightful. An easy read. Typical of Alexander McCall smith. Right from the first page he pokes fun at all society.

Aug 02, 2015

If I had written Emma, I would be disappointed.

Boring and childish, does not translate well into 21st century lifestyle of young women. A waste of good reading time.

Jul 13, 2015

The story is nice…what more can I say, but Emma really hasn’t been translated into a modern character. The original Emma is better. I couldn’t like this Emma, she seemed so spoiled.

samdog123 Apr 20, 2015

If it weren't for the fact that Alexander McCall-Smith wrote this book, I don't think I would have finished it. It was a tough slog to get through this modernized version of Austen's 'Emma,' and I don't think the premise of the story transferred itself very well to present day. Thoroughly annoying, Emma is a tough character to identify with and the whole thing just seemed really trite to me. But, if you're an Austen fan, you might enjoy seeing what McCall-Smith has done in this version!

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