Emma, Mr. Knightley And Chili-Slaw Dogs, Jane Austen Takes the South Series #2Mary HathawayHoward Books / 2014 / Trade Paperback$13.49 Retail:4 Stars Out Of 5 3 Reviews
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NicolePalmdale, CAAge: 35-44Gender: Female3 Stars Out Of 5I didn't hate this book, but I didn't love it either...July 1, 2017NicolePalmdale, CAAge: 35-44Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs (2014) by Mary Jane Hathaway is the second book in the Jane Austen Takes the South series. The novel comes in all forms including eBook, and is 291 pages in length. With a full-time job and a precocious five-year old at home, this novel took me three days to read. I give this novel 3 STARS. This book is a Contemporary Christian Romance.
So, I don't hate this book, but I definitely don't love it. Let me begin by explaining that I am not a fan of Jane Austen's Emma. I know...gasp! How can this be? My issue with Emma is Emma. She drives me insane. She is a busy-body who thinks she knows everything but doesn't know anything. And, she almost ruins peoples' lives because she thinks she knows what is best for everyone. I find her to be an immature and selfish character. And, I always feel SO badly for Mr. Knightley. It's plain as day that he is in love with Emma, but she is so focused on her point of view she can't see anyone's reality. Mr. Knightley is one of the best heroes in Regency fiction...heck, in any era of fiction. Austen made him a knight in shining armor. It's hard not to love him!
The main characters in this novel are Caroline and Brooks. Caroline is the "Emma" character and Brooks is "Knightley." Just as in Emma, Brooks is an amazing guy. He pays attention to detail. He is sweet, kind, and compassionate. And, he absolutely loves Caroline. In this book, Brooks and Caroline have been best friends since birth, so it does take him a little while to realize his feelings for Caroline are more than just brotherly-best friend feelings. I do like how Hathaway develops Brooks's character. He feels very realistic and candid. And I feel so badly for him when he realizes he may have ruined his chance at real love. I definitely root for Brooks like I root for Mr. Knightley.
Caroline plays the "Emma" character perfectly. She does mean well, but she has blinders on that she doesn't realize she has. For example, there is a sweet, poor, young girl in the novel, Lexi, who has just graduated high school. Lexi received a scholarship to college and plans to get a degree in accounting. She wants to use that degree to help better the lives of herself and her father. Enter Caroline who throws a wrench into that plan because she thinks she knows better. Lexi is a fantastic artist. Caroline convinces Lexi to pursue her artistic talents and drop the accounting plans because, according to wealthy, elite Caroline, no one should be forced into something they don't love. As a high school teacher at a Title I school, and a mother, I wanted to scream at Caroline for jeopardizing the future of this young, impressionable girl. Caroline has pretty much had life handed to her on a silver platter. Foregoing a prudent choice in order to chase dreams is possible to do when you are rich. When you are not rich, you have to do the smart thing to survive. Just as in Emma, Caroline almost ruins the life of a young, impressionable, poor girl.
One issue with this novel is the focus on Brooks's parents, specifically his father. It is made a BIG deal throughout the entire book that Brooks's parents had an unhappy marriage. Never does the reader get an understanding of why the marriage was unhappy. We are just told they bickered and fought a lot. But, we are never told why they bickered and fought a lot. There is zero backstory. At the beginning of the novel, the reader is told that Brooks's mother had died about a year prior to the start of this book, and dad is so devastated he has basically stopped eating and holed himself up in his study. The reader is never told why dad is so devastated. Am I just supposed to assume he feels guilty for the supposed bad marriage? I don't know. I kept waiting for something. Some answer to explain how the marriage was so bad, and some answer as to why the dad was so devastated. But the explanation never comes. It left me feeling dissatisfied. If Brooks hadn't made it a big deal (he brings it up ALL the time), I could have let it go, but he does make it a big deal, so I need answers.
I do realize that Ms. Hathaway has written her characters exceptionally well. I am clearly having a visceral reaction to them. I really do appreciate that about this novel. Don't not read this book because I don't like Emma. That has clearly colored my read of this novel. It is a very well written book. I was never bored reading it. In fact, the best part of this book is Brooks and his grandmother. She is hilarious, and it is clear she dotes on her grandson. I flew through their pages and wanted more! If you love Emma, you will love this modern take. If you have never read Emma, you will more than likely love this book. I do recommend the novel. Just for me, there were moments that left me needing more.
VicsMediaRoomIrvine, CAAge: 55-65Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5A Wonderful Retelling Of "Emma"December 8, 2014VicsMediaRoomIrvine, CAAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Mary 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.
bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: Female4 Stars Out Of 5Good southern take on Jane AustenJuly 19, 2014bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: FemaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4In 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.
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