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5 Stars Out Of 5
A Wonderful Retelling Of "Emma"
December 8, 2014
Mary Jane Hathaway in her new book, Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs Book Two in the Jane Austen Takes the South series published by Howard Books takes us into the lives of Caroline Ashley and Brooks Elliott.
From the back cover: When the friendship of a lifetime turns into something more, will she see the truth before its too late?
From the bestselling author of Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits comes a new and comical contemporary take on the perennial Jane Austen classic, Emma.
Caroline Ashley is a journalist on the rise at The Washington Post until the sudden death of her father brings her back to Thorny Hollow to care for her mentally fragile mother and their aging antebellum home. The only respite from the eternal rotation of bridge club meetings and garden parties is her longtime friend, Brooks Elliott. A professor of journalism, Brooks is the voice of sanity and reason in the land of pink lemonade and triple layer coconut cakes. But when she meets a fascinating, charismatic young man on the cusp of a brand new industry, she ignores Brookss misgivings and throws herself into the project.
Brooks struggles to reconcile his parents very bitter marriage with his fathers devastating grief at the recent loss of his wife. Caroline is the only bright spot in the emotional wreckage of his family life. Shes a friend and hes perfectly happy to keep her safely in that category. Marriage isnt for men like Brooks and they both know it until a handsome newcomer wins her heart. Brooks discovers Caroline is much more than a friend, and always has been, but is it too late to win her back?
Featuring a colorful cast of southern belles, Civil War re-enactors, and good Christian women with spunk to spare, Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs brings the modern American South to light in a way only a contemporary Jane Austen could have imagined.
I do not know why however Civil War reenactments have a fascination for me. Perhaps because I think it plays out like a movie before me even though it is live. Whatever the case Ms. Hathaway has slipped some reenactments into her story and I enjoyed it. This is a re-imagining of Emma. Ms. Hathaway took the frame of the story by Ms. Austen and then built a really funny clever comedy of the type that Hollywood used to make and should make again for this would play very well on the screen. I do not know much about the South so reading about some of the social customs was terrific. Caroline is a lot of fun and Brooks is the one to watch as he changes and grows throughout the book. If you liked the original then you are going to really like this. If you never read the original then you are still going to like this. Southern style happiness that will leave you with a smile on your face. This book does not disappoint at all. I am so looking forward to book three in this series.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
In this contemporary rendition of the classic Jane Austen's Emma, Caroline is back hone in Thorny Hollow to take care of her fragile mother. Caroline had been a successful journalist but her father's death made her return home essential.
Her long time friend is Brooks, a professor of journalism at a nearby college. He is a bright spot in Caroline's life, a voice of sanity in a world of lemonade and bridge parties.
The settled world of Caroline and Brooks is rocked when a handsome fellow comes to town and asks Caroline to write copy for manga books at his up and coming digital publishing company. Brooks doesn't trust this fellow - or is he just jealous?
This novel is good southern romance. There are garden parties and southern belles to match. There are Civil War reenactments and homes full of antiques. There are good guys and bad guys and a few quirky ones too.
The characters were well presented. Brooks is a real southern gentlemen. He'll even buy a cake when he knows Caroline has messed up the one she baked for her mother's bridge club. He is so gentle he has trouble expressing his deep feelings for Caroline. And Caroline seems to be that typical southern woman who wants to fix others' lives. She does grow in the novel as she realizes her fix isn't always what is best for the other person.
This is the second in the series yet it can easily be read alone. I didn't find as much humor in this one as I did in the first novel. I did enjoy reading about the Civil War aficionados. Those guys (and gals) really get into character. This is a nice southern romance and will give additional pleasure to those who enjoy Austen's novels. The author has even included a couple of recipes at the end of the book.
I received a complimentary egalley of the book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.