Alexander McCall Smith is a writer that I like very much, but I honestly can’t remember much about the books I’ve read by him. I know I read The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Maybe I read a few more of those? Maybe something a bit more Scottish? I really don’t know. But I like his easy way of writing and the warm characters that he writes, so while he isn’t a “must” writer for me, I do enjoy his books from time to time.
When Bonnie posted her review of Emma earlier this year, I added it to my list, but wasn’t in a major rush to get at it. Which was fine, because my library only had the one copy, and MY GOD, some people are so slow about getting books back to the library. So, it took until I left for the glorious Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts for me to start the book. And really, that was the perfect time. I could just kick back and read a quaint little story about quaint people in a quaint village.
Emma has never been my favorite of Jane Austen’s books. Emma easily annoys me — between her meddling and her inability to see the world around her, she sometimes just pisses me off. And I never believe that she deserves to end up with Knightley at the end.
And in this version, with Emma driving around in her cute Mini Cooper, attempting to launch an interior design firm, I still got annoyed with her. As soon as Harriet mentioned Robert Martin, I was all set. But there were so many other details that I enjoyed, I almost forgot to dislike Emma.
I loved Mrs. Goddard and Mr. Weston. I laughed at Emma’s sister Isabella and her amazing ability to produce twins with John Knightley, photographer to the stars. I enjoyed reading about the village and everyone in it, from Mr. Elton’s X-Factor wife, to Robert Martin and his family’s inn, and all of Mrs. Goddard’s students who wanted to find that elusive train station.
I still didn’t love Emma. But I was glad to read about her early childhood, and how some events made her into the woman she is in the story. Her father still drove me crazy with all of his neuroses, but I sort of understood him this time.
And Knightley? As mentioned by Bonnie, it was a crime how little Knightley there was in this version of the story. DO NOT TRY AND LESSEN THE KNIGHTLEY. Unacceptable. Other than that? A delight.
You can read more of my reviews — including many other Jane Austen retellings — on my blog.