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Anyone Read Alexander McCall Smith's Emma?

I Love Jane Austen

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1jnwelch
Apr 20, 2015, 2:28pm Top

Is it worth reading?

2CDVicarage
Apr 20, 2015, 3:27pm Top

I was very disappointed, it seemed rather boring and unbalanced. Emma's back story is much enlarged and the ending is rather abrupt. I have read Sense & Sensibility and Northanger Abbey and enjoyed both much more than I expected. I was looking forward to this one as I prefer the original Emma over the original S&S and NA; I like Alexander McCall Smith's other books more than Joanna Trollope's and I've never read any Val McDermid as she doesn't write a genre that I enjoy, so perhaps it was just my expectations were too high.

3jnwelch
Apr 21, 2015, 11:11am Top

Thanks, CDV. That's what concerned me. I loved Longbourn, but I haven't heard anything that made me want to pick up this one. I like Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe series, and thought the writing was fine in his Isabel Dalhousie series, although it didn't grab me.

4CDVicarage
Apr 21, 2015, 12:36pm Top

You may want to reconsider when I tell you that I was disappointed in Longbourn, too!

5jnwelch
Apr 21, 2015, 12:51pm Top

>4 CDVicarage: LOL! OK, thanks. Sorry you didn't like Longbourn.

6princessgarnet
Apr 23, 2015, 4:39pm Top

I plan to get this when it comes back to the library!

7Nickelini
Sep 16, 2015, 1:24am Top

I did. Here's what I wrote on my thread:

Emma: A Modern Retelling, Alexander McCall Smith, 2014, Audiobook read by Susan Lyons


Cover comments: pleasant cover that fits the book.

Comments: An updated version of the classic Jane Austen novel of the same name. This is one of those books that readers give either 5 or 1 star reviews.

The Good: The writing is good, as I think one could expect from Alexander McCall Smith (I'm not sure though--I've only read one other book by him). He even manages to make little pointed Austen style jokes. The overall atmosphere of the book is quite cozy and pleasant. There are lots of interesting little tidbits and tangents.

The Not So Good: The character Emma doesn't make much of an appearance until well into the book. The first several chapters are Mr Woodhouse's story, and some of her governess Miss Taylor (who I don't even remember from the original). George Knightly has a tiny part, and when he ends up with Emma at the end, I had to wonder why since we didn't see him throughout the story.

Mr Woodhouse, who in this novel is 9 months older than me (we are in our early 50s), acts like an old man. He has anxiety issues, particularly around food and germs. This seems like a clever update on Austen's character, but in the execution he mostly just annoyed me. Harriet Smith was also often annoying in her ditzyness. But Emma . . . I didn't like Austen's Emma, but this one. This one . . . obtuse, privileged, entitled, and occasionally a biotch.

I think that Emma might be a difficult story to bring forward 200 years. At times this novel really didn't feel like today's UK, unless things are very different in small town Norfolk.

Rating: A balance between pretty good and eh. That means 3 stars. I was entertained even though I did roll my eyes now and then.

Recommended for: People who don't mind a book where 90% of the characters are twits.

Why I Read This Now: I was in need of an audio book.

8jnwelch
Sep 16, 2015, 4:29am Top

Very helpful, thanks. I like AMS, especially the No.1 ladies Detective Agency series, but everything I've read about this one makes it sound a bit disappointing.

9Nickelini
Sep 16, 2015, 10:37am Top

>8 jnwelch: I find that with any Jane Austen retelling or "sequel," if I go in with really low expectations, I'm less disappointed.

10jnwelch
Sep 16, 2015, 6:20pm Top

>9 Nickelini:. Ha! I know what you mean. Sounds wise to me.

11sweetiegherkin
Oct 1, 2015, 7:03pm Top

I hadn't really planned to read it, as "disappointing" was the word of choice in so many reviews of this book, but like >7 Nickelini:, I find that I will be in need of an audiobook shortly and this is available at the library. So I will probably be tackling it soon.

12jnwelch
Oct 2, 2015, 9:17am Top

>11 sweetiegherkin: That's where I'm at with it, sweetieg, so I'll look forward to hearing what your experience is when you get to it.

Group: I Love Jane Austen

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