Emma of 83rd Street by Audrey Bellezza and Emily Harding ~ 384 pages ~ to be published May 23, 2023 by Gallery Books
In this witty and romantic debut novel, Jane Austen’s Emma meets the misadventures of Manhattan’s modern dating scene as two lifelong friends discover that, in the search for love, you sometimes don’t have to look any further than your own backyard.
Beautiful, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse has lived twenty-three years in her tight-knit Upper East Side neighborhood with very little to distress or vex her…that is, until her budding matchmaking hobby results in her sister’s marriage—and subsequent move downtown. Now, with her sister gone and all her friends traveling abroad, Emma must start her final year of grad school grappling with an entirely new emotion: boredom. So when she meets Nadine, a wide-eyed Ohio transplant with a heart of gold and drugstore blonde highlights to match, Emma not only sees a potential new friend but a new project. If only her overbearing neighbor George Knightley would get out of her way.
Handsome, smart, and successful, the only thing that frustrates Knightley more than a corked whiskey is his childhood friend, Emma. Whether it’s her shopping sprees between classes or her revolving door of ill-conceived hobbies, he is only too happy to lecture her on all the finer points of adulthood she’s so hellbent on ignoring. But despite his gripes—and much to his own chagrin—Knightley can’t help but notice that the girl-next-door is a woman now…one who he suddenly can’t get out of his head.
As Emma’s best laid plans collide with everyone from polyamorous hipster baristas to meddling family members to flaky playboy millionaires, these two lifelong friends slowly realize their need to always be right has been usurped by a new need entirely, and it’s not long before they discover that even the most familiar stories still have some surprises.
What I Thought:
*I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Gallery Books for this ARC!*
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Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors of all time, and I do love a good Austen adaptation. The synopsis of this novel immediately caught my eye, and I am happy to say that this was a lovely book! Emma is one of Austen’s novels that took longer to grow on me, but after multiple re-readings I now love it. This was a fantastic retelling of Emma in a modern New York setting.
I really liked that this adaptation was told from both Emma and Knightley’s perspectives. That gave it a little extra edge from the other retellings out there. It was very interesting to get to hear this story from the man’s perspective. I really enjoyed watching them both figure out their feelings for each other at their own separate paces.
I liked the fact that the only characters that kept their original names were Emma and George Knightley. It helped to make this story feel more like a new and unique story. I really liked the way that the authors adapted the side characters to make sense in a modern setting. I loved Nadine (the modern version of Harriet Smith), she was such a fun character. And I really liked that Emma’s sister played a larger role in this retelling than in the original work. It felt more true to our modern times than it would if Emma were closer to her governess (like in the original).
I enjoyed that they gave Emma a diverse set of interests, which helped paint her as somewhat flighty in the eyes of others. The fact that she was talented and smart, but also privileged and spoiled, while wishing to be taken seriously for her own achievements, gave some interesting layers to her character. I liked how much stock she took in what her friends and family thought of her, it made her more likable and realistic to me.
Overall, I really enjoyed this retelling! I liked how the epilogue left room for them to continue this as a series if they so choose. I hope they do, and that we get to see another Austen novel in a modern setting from these ladies soon!
I gave Emma of 83rd Street 4.5 Stars!
Are you interested in learning more about this book? Check out the links below!
Emma of 83rd Street on Goodreads
Pre-order Emma of 83rd Street on Amazon
Are you a fan of Jane Austen adaptations? Which ones are your favorites? Let’s chat in the comments!
Love and happy reading,