There’s no arguing that Jane Austen’s work is timeless. It’s one of the reasons it’s redone so often. Her characters are one of the things that add to the timelessness of her work. They are multidimensional, complex, and real.
For that reason it can be hard to replicate her characters. The character that has been the hardest for me to read retellings of is Emma. Emma is entitled and naive, but she’s also tries really hard to do good and be genuine. It’s this complexity that makes her book so delightfully full of mishaps. However, writing her so you love her quirks and are rooting for her as oppose to just wanting to strangle her takes skill.
Eliza Woodhouse has everything a girl could want: a delightful little beachside flower shop, a loving family, and the best friend a girl could ask for. And while she suffers a chronic lack of romance in her own life, the bohemian beauty is a self-proclaimed matchmaker extraordinaire, as evidenced by her recent successes. Having found a fiancé for her sister and a boyfriend for her best friend, she is now taking her lovelorn new employee under her wing. Yes, life is working out quite nicely for Eliza. Until Parker Knightley walks back into her life.
After three years in Hong Kong, Parker is in town for his brother’s upcoming wedding to Eliza’s sister. They’ve all known each other their whole lives, and Eliza will never be anything but Little Liza Belle to her handsome childhood tormenter. So the fact that their siblings are getting married simply puts Parker one step closer to becoming the big brother he and Eliza have always joked about him being. But the more time they spend together, the more confused Eliza’s feelings become. Because she has come to the shocking realization that the role of brother is the last role she wants Parker to play in her life.
I also love how she handled Mr. Woodhouse, the background and struggles she gave the modern day Mr. Woodhouse seemed to fit the character so well. I appreciated her clever turns of phrases and the moments of introspection she gave her characters.
I felt like her realization of her feelings for Mr. Knightley were mentioned a little early in the novel as opposed to how late Jane Austen has Emma come to her realization. It also felt like she “came to” a realization a couple times which was a little confusing and seemed so opposite to the moment of epiphany we’re used to. But the romance was sweet and their eventual confessions were as beautiful as the many times we’ve relived it from book to movie.
The second adaptation of Emma was by Rebecca Jamison, and unfortunately I didn’t finish that one, by about chapter 4 I really just didn’t like Emma and didn’t care whether she over came her entitled ways and her ignorance. However, I also read her adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, and really liked it.
“As if it wasn’t bad enough to be getting food from Church welfare, I had to meet one of the Ferreros—and a good-looking Ferrero, at that.
Elly Goodwin, a brilliant programmer, is so desperate for a job that she takes one from her ex-boyfriend—the same man who put her family out of business. Then she meets Ethan Ferrero, who seems too good to be true. But Elly is far too sensible to unexpectedly fall in love—especially with her ex’s brother-in-law.
But when Elly’s sister, Maren, dates the wrong guy, Elly must intercede before Maren’s passion clouds her common sense. Together, Elly and Maren must learn that a mixture of sense and sensibility is the perfect recipe for love.”
Rebecca did a great job of balancing Elly’s steadiness and Maren’s passion. She had a good grasp on the complexities of the sister’s relationship and how it propelled the story line.
Though it is a little heavier on the religious side than I usually choose to read, it wasn’t preachy. It was a major part of the plot, but very subtly woven in.
I also like the twist she put on the Ferrero family and the dynamic that added to the overall story. She was able to adapt this particular Jane Austen into a modern tale with a religious focus and do it well, that’s not easily done.