And there we have it, Week 7 in the 52 Book in 52 Weeks Challenge. My book of choice is Emma by Alexander McCall Smith, part of a project whereby contemporary authors rewrite 6 of Jane Austen classic novels. I have read several of these rewrites and some have worked better than others. I have been wanting to read Emma for some months. My book crossing friend Liz, who is also taking part in the 52 book challenge and blogs as thewheelontheschool blog read it when first published and enjoyed it. Unfortunately I couldn't nab it as she read it as an e book. Then I bought it for a good friend Anne who as a gift. And finally I came across it in the local library and brought it home.
I love Alexander McCall Smith's relaxed way of writing, he is very droll and has an understated sense of humour. But then so had Jane Austen herself. Whether Emma is the perfect book for revamping or whether Alexander has just done a great job, whichever, it works really well. The story kept all the same elements of the original. The wittiness and social observation of Jane still shone through and the characters were all pretty much believable. The story of Emma happily matchmaking and riding roughshod over her neighbours was actually a really good story. I thoroughly enjoyed this and would recommend it both Janites and non Janites alike.
Not all of the rewrites have been as successful. Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope failed to enthral me. Her characters were stereotyped and most unpleasant, not like the Elinor and Marianne Dashwood I knew and loved. And, I was advised not to bother with the Val McDermid's Northanger Abbey. Val McDermid probably had a tougher job though, and I will read it myself, just to see. The American author Curtis Sittenfield is to tackle Pride and Prejudice and the remaining authors have yet to be named.
Two stand alone novels based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which I would recommend highly are Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James and Longbourne by Jo Baker. Both were excellent, with strong storylines and were well written. Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith was shall we say different. If you enjoy that genre then maybe this is the book for you. Admittedly I gave to my octogenarian father who couldn't quite see the point but enjoyed it all the same!
Next week I will be reading Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey. My book crossing friend Liz, mentioned earlier, will be reading this next week too. A book group of 2. How about joining in one week Anne?
Linking up with 52bookchallenge