I love Emma by Jane Austen, it is my absolute favourite of the classics and I even prefer it to Pride and Prejudice (I’ve been told this is an unpopular opinion?!). So I was kind of sceptical when I was asked to review a book that reimagines the story of Emma in a modern setting. I don’t like change. I don’t embrace it.
But you know what? This was pretty cool. Was it an amazing piece of literature that could hold up against the original? Not really, but it was a lot of fun and a very easy read. So easy in fact, I read the whole book in one go. It took me just over 4 hours to read from cover to cover and I didn’t even notice the time had gone by so quickly!
Emma as a character is pretty unlikable. The first half of the book she is almost insufferable and so so frustrating but it was perfect. The Emma in Austin’s original is one of the most annoying literary characters there is, but you can’t help but love her anyway. Her irritating characteristics stem from a need to provide and care for others and, despite the modern change of circumstance, Oliver captures this side of Emma’s personality really well.
I loved the reality TV series backdrop Oliver gave to the story, because nothing says 21st century quite like trashy reality TV! It added a brilliant comedic plot line with the usual expected shenanigans (think, Sophie Kinsella). It really did make me laugh out loud, not just a loud nose exhale… But a proper laugh. This book was seriously funny. It is an ideal read for a holiday, lying on the beach and drinking cocktails.
Katie Oliver managed to capture the Austen style romance perfectly, the hero Mark Knightly (based upon George Knightly) was the typical blend of rude, condescending and the voice of reason throughout the whole book. Emma was intrusive and a romantic, whereas Mark was a solid foundation. They are the perfect ying and yang, they complete each other in every way. Their relationship is the reason I love the original Emma so much, and I’m so relieved that Katie Oliver did it justice.
I thoroughly recommend this book, it’s a funny, light hearted take on a classic and it’s perfect for a quick read when you just want to escape for a while. Preferably with added beach and cocktails.
Now, I’m inspired to go off and find my own Mark/George Knightly. Wish me luck.