Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
For the past couple of months, I've been reading a lot about a new Jane Austen project that totally intrigues me (and yes, I know it totally horrifies some of my die-hard Austen friends). Well-known authors have been challenged with re-writing her classic books and bringing them into the modern age without losing their original feel and major storyline.
Alexander McCall Smith, the author of the wildly popular No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, was tasked with bringing Emma into the 21st century.
His Emma doesn't stray too far from Austen's - she's a spoiled and pampered daughter of a widower, a meddler in everyone's business, and in love with her "big brother"-type older friend without actually realizing it. Check, check, check.
This Emma is different only in that she's somewhat bi-curious about Harriet and she's a lazy fashion designer who doesn't see the need in working for a living.
I didn't love this novel, and I realized about halfway in that it wasn't because it was written poorly. In fact, I think it's a pretty faithful adaptation. The problem is, I think this version highlights the fact that I don't actually like Emma. She is, for want of a better word, a brat. She's Kim Kardashian dressed up as Keira Knightley, and look. We all know the difference.
I also get the feeling that she doesn't reeeeeeally love Mr. Knightley. She just doesn't want Mr. Knightley to love anyone else (Harriet) because she always gets her way.
I think the original novel is pretty much the same, but Austen paints Emma as a little more harmless and a tad more charming.
*And side note, knowing what we all know now about Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP personality, how perfect of a 90's casting choice was that?