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A Modern Variation of Jane Austen's "Emma" (For fans of romantic comedy, coming of age, historical romance, and Southern fiction)
“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich…” Thus began Jane Austen’s classic, a light and lively tale set in an English village 200 years ago. Yet every era has its share of Emmas: young women trying to find themselves in their own corners of the world.
I Could Write a Book is the story of a self-proclaimed modern woman: Emma Katherine Woodhouse, a 1970s co-ed whose life is pleasant, ordered, and predictable, if a bit confining. Her friend George Knightley is a man of the world who has come home to fulfill his destiny: run his father’s thriving law practice and oversee the sprawling Donwell Farms, his family legacy in Central Kentucky horse country.
Since childhood, George’s and Emma’s lives have meshed and separated time and again. But now they’re adults with grown-up challenges and obligations. As Emma orchestrates life in quaint Highbury, George becomes less amused with her antics and struggles with a growing attraction to the young woman she’s become.
Rich with humor, poignancy, and the camaraderie of life in a small, Southern town, I Could Write a Book is a coming of age romance with side helpings of self-discovery, friendship, and finding true love in the most unlikely places.
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- Sophia Rose
The Matchmaker Meets Her Match
Set in the early to mid 1970’s in Kentucky Blue Grass Country, this charming and inventive modern historical update on Jane Austen’s Emma brought back a wonderful sense of nostalgia along with sparkling cast of characters in this gently-paced slow-burn romance.
It’s always a fun scenario when the matchmaker meets her match, but this one adds in the long-time childhood friends to lovers trope as well. Emma Woodhouse, talented and clever, pretty and comfortably wealthy lives at home with her invalid father. She lacks for nothing and that includes having no desire to date and marry. But, she is happy to see those around her finding their special someone and if that means interfering in their lives to set them on the right track, well then… So, when a sweet girl comes to work at her father’s old law firm for her old friend George Knightley, she chooses to make over Mary and match her up with a young up and coming political guy and not the entry level legal aid working for George.
George Knightley watches in exasperation as Emma blithely ignores his warnings about the matchmaking and interfering in people’s lives. He knows there is something off about Frank Churchill, but she won’t listen to him about that guy. And, will she heed his inside track about knowing that Elton is not interested in Mary? All her life, she has been the darling with her parents, her aunt, her sister, and everyone else in Highbury. She is sweet, generous, dutiful, and good, but he sees the way she is naïve and limited as a result.
It is only after watching her grow up and when Frank Churchill shows an interest that George gets an inkling of his own feelings for Emma even as Emma starts to see where her constant blindness and mistakes about the people George warned her about might have made him hate her for good right when she understands her own heart.
I enjoyed how the author wrote flawed, but engaging characters who grow and learn. The romance was at a good pace since they were a pair who really were friends and nearly family-like until suddenly they are rubbing each other wrong and the sparks start flying for a new reason.
The historical and cultural setting of the 1970s in a small town in Kentucky with a refreshing diverse cast of characters coming from different social strata made for a couple really nice layers to the developed plot. There was a good tension as the whole cast of characters and not just the main pair interacted showcasing a few minor romances.
All in all, I was well satisfied. Emma tried my nerves for a bit when she started toying with people’s lives thinking she knew best, but there was also comedy in it because as listener I could see that she was headed for disaster. I loved the way the author brings the pair along through their separate, but intertwined lives to that lovely romantic moment of understanding. I can definitely recommend this one for those who enjoy the idea of a modern historical gently-paced remake on a classic.
Emily Rahn was new to me. I took to her narrating voice from the start. She did great with both George and Emma’s alternating turns at narration and narrating the diverse cast from older to younger, genders, different regional accents, and even different social classes. The soft Kentucky southern accent was the most impressive since most people tend to exaggerate the accents of some of the southern border states. She had a good sense of pace and tone. She kept an even slow build story from sounding pedantic. Definitely will be watching for more of her work.
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- Christina Boyd
A favorite I Listen to Repeatedly
Austen declares in “Emma” she would write a heroine only she could like—and despite all Emma’s snobbery and highhandedness, I love her—and even more once she realizes her mistakes. Author Karen M Cox has written a story that tells a modernized tale set in rural Kentucky horse country...and while keeping with Austen’s characteristics, has translated the story masterfully, and made me understand Austen’s Emma a little more. And in this version, George Knightley’s POV is shared, giving us a richer glimpse into the lives of beloved characters of Highbury. And he’s swoon-worthy like you can’t imagine.
Voice actress Emily Rahm does a great job with pacing. A most enjoyable performance. Easy to recommend.
Adorable variation with a fun twist
I have to start off by saying I am a HUGE fan of Jane Austen fan fiction, but I tend to avoid modern variations. In a modern setting without the formal language of the period, the insults and miscommunications seem so much harsher. But I loved this variation! Emma is one of my favorite heroines, with faults clearly conveyed, but with just as many positive attributes to balance them out. Yes, Emma can be classist, meddling, overly confident, and jealous of those more accomplished than her, but she's also well-meaning, a caring and dedicated daughter and friend. Her good intentions outweigh her faults, even when the damage she creates nearly destroys several relationships close to her.
This variation introduces a fun twist, it's set in 1970s Kentucky. Emma is the daughter of a prominent lawyer whose stroke left him handicapped, and Emma transfers to a local college to care for him. She gives up all of her ambitions and is rudderless in this new role. George Knightley, son of her father's partner and brother to her sister's husband, is there to provide advice and direction, if only Emma didn't believe she already knew everything about life and love!
George and Emma's relationship is described so well, and there are so many wonderful moments between the couple. The secondary characters are all well drawn, easily recognizable but each with a refreshing modern twist. The narration was well done with an American accent and the Southern accent was really fun. I enjoyed this refreshing take and will definitely be checking out more by this author! I requested a copy of the audiobook, and I'm voluntarily leaving a review.
A beautifully modern take on Emma
A beautifully modernized take on Emma, this variation oozes sweetness, passion, and southern charm. Emma is a character I feel gets maligned unfairly (even by myself on occasion!) and this version puts the meddling high-mindedness aside in favor of the loving girl Emma really is. Out of all of Austen's Heroines, Emma is never in danger of reduced circumstances or society censure. Her greatest challenge is not overcoming the obstacles set before her through outside forces, but overcoming her own shortcomings--a much tougher challenge. This variation also allows us a peek into the thoughts of George Knightley, whose love for our heroine was seen for the reader for so long before his ultimate realization it had me shaking my head and saying "bless his heart."
I listened to the audiobook version of this book, and highly recommend. The narrator, Emily Rahm, was new to me, but she captured the characters to perfection. I was in stitches every time she took on the Mrs. Bates character, or Emma's perfectly southern housekeeper.