Today, we welcome Austen fan Karen from Boys’ Moms Reads, who is here today to talk about her experience with Emma. Read through to the end for a special giveaway from Karen!
Earlier this year, I was assigned to read and review a new retelling of the Jane Austen classic, Emma, scheduled for release in the coming Spring. Having never read Emma and having had only a lukewarm reaction to the adolescent-girl-required Pride and Prejudice, I didn’t know what to expect but still hoped for the best. That book, Kamila Knows Best, was a very pleasurable and vastly entertaining surprise! The story was chic and stylish, youthful, and so culturally NOW. It was so vividly told I was practically watching a movie unfold in my mind. But that’s not all. I now HAD to read the foundational novel. I had to read Emma. However, life and more book assignments got in the way, and I continued to put it off until Austen in August happened my way.
Austen in August, an annual month-long celebration of the author’s works, the brainchild of the three founders of The Classics Club, is in its tenth year. Participants sign up and declare their intention to read and comment on works by, about, or related to Jane Austen. This was just the nudge I needed, apparently.
As tickled as I was by Heron’s Kamila Knows Best, I was even more so by the Audible Studios audiobook edition of Emma, narrated by actress Jenny Agutter. I was delighted by the storyline, and Agutter’s performance made the characters come alive. I never expected to laugh as much as I did, although snicker is probably the more appropriate term in light of what was causing my mirth: some of the most brilliant and deadly dialogue couched in the politest of words and delivery. And, oh, how I got involved in these characters’ lives! So much so that I was already on the lookout for further “Emma” stories.
As with Pride and Prejudice, there is an abundance of Emma-inspired books, such as the 2022 Kamila Knows Best. In my own Kindle content library alone, I had four I had acquired over the years (for FREE.) Still, a quick look-see online showed there are many other titles available to satisfy the need for more Emma-like creations, as well as prepared lists recommending some over others to help narrow down or curate one’s choices.
Within the multitudes, I found that books seemed to fall into a couple of rough categories: modern retellings, sequels and side character POV novels, series where each book was related to a different one of Austen’s works, and more recently, Austen novels recreated in an Indian cultural setting. I want to share a couple of titles in each category that caught my eye.
Tea with Emma (The Teacup Novellas) by Diane Moody (2013)
Fresh from a Jane Austen tour in England, Maddie Cooper returns home to Texas, determined to bring a touch of “Austen to Austin.” She dreams of opening an authentic English tea room and, like Austen’s Emma, putting into practice her self-proclaimed gift as a matchmaker. But an airport mishap with a cranky Englishman gets her off on the wrong foot (quite literally), especially when he moves into the university guest house across the street.
Wasted Words: Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma by Staci Hart (2016)
Most of her boyfriends have existed between the pages of books, but rather than worrying over her own lacking love life; she puts all her energy into playing Cupid, using her job at the book bar, Wasted Words, as her stomping ground.
Perfect Happiness: The sequel to Jane Austen’s Emma by Rachel Billington (2021)
Originally published in 2008 under the title “Emma and Knightley: Perfect Happiness in Highbury,” the story picks up one year after the conclusion of Austen’s Emma.
Jane Fairfax: The Secret Story of the Second Heroine in Jane Austen’s Emma by Joan Aiken (1997)
Jane Austen’s Emma has been a favorite novel for Austenites since 1816. But while the story of its heroine Emma Woodhouse is well known, the same can’t be said for her childhood friend, Jane Fairfax. Now, at last, we learn her whole story from Jane Fairfax’s own point of view.
Harriet: A Jane Austen Variation by Alice McVeigh (2022)
Harriet sidelines Emma herself in favor of the ingenious Harriet and the fascinating Jane Fairfax. It is Emma – but an Emma with a surprisingly believable twist in its tail.
The Austen Project series (2013-16)
The assignment: take four of the most well-known authors of our time and have them reimagine a Jane Austen classic in current times. The results are Joanna Trollope (Sense and Sensibility, 2013), Val McDermid (Northanger Abbey, 2016), Alexander McCall Smith (Emma: A Modern Retelling, 2015), and Curtis Sittenfeld (Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, 2016). I took notice of this series because of the remarkable number of one and two-star reviews each book had on Goodreads. Although I don’t go looking for trainwrecks, I have to see these for myself.
Jane Austen Takes the South (2013-14)
In 2013, author Mary Jane Hathaway created this series of 3 books set in the south and featuring Civil War reenactors, church ladies, pink lemonade, southern belles, and based on Austen’s works: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion.
Jane Austen Heroes (2005-12)
This nine-book series from Amanda Grange launched in 2005 with Mr. Darcy’s Diary. All feature one of Jane Austen’s leading men.
Polite Society by Mahesh Rao (2019)
In this modern reimagining of Jane Austen’s Emma, Delhi’s polite society is often anything but polite.
The Rajes series by Sonali Dev (2019-22)
Currently, a four-book series consisting of Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (2019), Recipe for Persuasion (2020), Incense and Sensibility (2021), and The Emma Project (2022), the stories follow the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family in San Francisco.
Kamila Knows Best by Farah Heron (2022)
Jane Austen’s Emma goes Bollywoood in this delightful retelling from the highly acclaimed author of Accidentally Engaged, perfect for Abby Jimenez and Jasmine Guillory fans.
One lucky winner will receive a Jane Austen lip balm! (This giveaway open to U.S. residents only)
All you have to do to be considered is:
Remember, as you’re reading through Austen in August and sharing any Austen-related content, please post links to your blogs or social media posts about the event in the comments on our master post. Use the #AustenInAugustRBR hashtag to share on social media.
Note: This giveaway is open until 11:59 PM pacific time on Tuesday, August 30th. One winner will be selected at random. Winner will be contacted for shipping information and will have 48-hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. Giveaway host will ship item to the winner. Neither the giveaway host nor Roof Beam Reader are responsible for any items lost or damaged in the mail.
What a wonderful read! Thank you for that. And, I’d love to win the prize as well!
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More books to add to my Austen-inspired list. I already have a mystery from the other day now adding this Indian Emma to it!
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I’ve had a hardback copy of Joan Aiken’s Jane Fairfax unread for far too long now, and should have picked it for this month. It now looks like I’ll have to allocate it (and Aiken’s Mansfield Revisited, similarly not read) for August 2023…