Title: Emma of 83rd Street
Publisher: 1st June 2023 by Simon & Schuster (Australia)
Pages: 384 pages
Genre: romance, contemporary, retellings
My Rating: 4.5 cups
In this witty and romantic debut novel, Jane Austen’s Emma meets the misadventures of Manhattan’s modern dating scene as two lifelong neighbours discover that, in the search for love, sometimes you don’t have to look any further than your own backyard.
Charming and clever, Emma Woodhouse is used to getting her way. She’s content living in her tight-knit Upper East Side neighbourhood, maintaining perfect grades at university and keeping an eye on her lonely father. And when her budding matchmaking hobby results in her sister’s marriage, she knows she’s on to something. If only her annoying neighbour and childhood friend, George Knightley, would get out of the way.
George, a successful businessman, is only too happy to point out Emma's flaws. Is she spoilt? Maybe a little. Does she insert herself into other people’s business? Only sometimes. Emma has the best of intentions, though – she just wants everyone around her to be happy, even as she sets her mind to completing her graduate degree and finding her own place in the world. But will anyone ever take her seriously?
As Emma’s schemes collide with nearly everyone around them, Emma and George come toe to toe. But they slowly begin to realise that there might be more to the person they’ve known their entire life ... and that sometimes the best matches come from the most unexpected places.
“He was never trying to be mean, he just wanted her to be ready for the world beyond 83rd Street. And just as she was beginning to finally understand what that even meant, he was gone.”
I am a sucker for all things Jane Austen and this modern retelling of Emma looked very appealing. Emma of 83rd Street turned out to be one book that I am awfully glad I picked up and if your tastes are similar to mine, be sure to check this one out! It is sexy, it is sweet and all up a super fun read.
“Why are you so mad about this?” “Because . . .” He stopped himself, closing his eyes and raking both hands through his hair as if it would somehow restore his patience. “You treat the world like it’s your personal playground, Woodhouse. Like everything is here to amuse you until you find something better to do.”
The story remains faithful to the classic with a few minor adjustments and loads of contemporary innovations. I mean, if you know Emma then you know how this story will end but as always, it's the journey the author takes you on that makes the reading trip so worth your while. A slow burning friends to lovers trope with the added bonus of sections from Knightly and his viewpoint.
“It’s like a new beginning for her. I’ve given her the fresh start she needed.” “You didn’t negotiate world peace here. You dyed her hair.” “It’s a balayage.” “It’s brown.”
The fun adjustment of having Emma as a socialite living in New York and studying art history is so very clever. The weaving of themes from light and fluffy moments to the deeper lessons taken from the classic is perfect. Both Emma and Knightley's journey will bring a smile to your face with the banter between the two second to none. The writing is witty and en pointe, the characters are layered and engaging, the chemistry is off the charts. If this author duo is rumoured to be working on another Austen adaptation, count me in! The cameo of Will Darcy has me excited ;)
“… if I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.