Meet Austen’s Emma in the twenty-first century

emmaAlexander McCall Smith writes delightful books and his latest, Emma, A Modern Retelling is a modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s book of the same name. McCall Smith is a professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh when he’s not writing books such as No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. His characters are always interesting and usually include an eccentric or two to provide some chuckles.

Emma is the spoiled daughter of a country gentleman who completes an interior design degree at the University of Bath without being aware of the fact most people in this world do not enjoy the same benefits and privileges in life that she does. She’s spirited and creative but sadly lacking in genuine empathy and understanding. Her efforts at playing cupid to those around her do not go as planned and she is forced to adjust her perspective on the world and the people around her.

I love McCall Smith’s style of writing. His rhythmic and precise use of words is so magical I find my brain reading his stories with an English accent. Emma begins with an entertaining first chapter that had me hooked immediately. As the story progresses we become less sympathetic to the lead character, Emma (that was Austen’s intent and not the creation of the author). There are lots of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged but ultimately, I found the ending a bit trite and over-simplified—again, perhaps this is more the result of Austen’s original plot (I never read her Emma). Give it a go. I think you’ll enjoy it and will get your money’s worth.

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8 years ago

Thanks for this! I love his Ladies Detective Agency books!
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