Emma

Alexander McCall Smith
The Borough Press, £18.99;
ebook, £6.64

Following Joanna Trollope’s re-writing of Pride And Prejudice, and Val McDermid’s gothic Northanger Abbey, Alexander McCall Smith joins the ranks of contributors to The Austen Project with this sparkling retelling of Emma — “a young woman who thinks she knows everything”.

We meet Emma as a precocious child living in an 11-bed house in Norfolk with her elder sister and bereaved father.

After being appointed a governess, and learning to quote Latin, Emma is slightly reminiscent of Bertie from McCall Smith’s Scotland Street series — and is all the more endearing for it.

On Emma’s return home from Bath University, where she studied interior design, we get to the real meat of the story: her meddling in other people’s business.

It’s wonderfully updated, complete with gastropubs and Mini Coopers, gap years and reality TV shows.

And most importantly, it’s fun — a tongue-in-cheek, clever re-telling, at once familiar and fresh.


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