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Publisher's Summary

An unstoppable combination: Alexander McCall Smith and Jane Austen, as Sandy modernizes the story of Emma Woodhouse.

Emma Woodhouse's widowed father is an anxious man, obsessed with nutrition and the latest vitamins. He lives the life of a country gentleman in contemporary England, protectively raising his young daughters, Isabella and Emma. While Isabella grows into a young woman, marries a society photographer for Vogue at the age of 19, and gets down to the business of reproducing herself, Emma pursues a degree in interior design at university in Bath and then returns to set up shop in her home village.

With her educated eye for the coordination of pattern and color, Emma thinks she can now judge what person would best be paired with another and sets about matchmaking her young friend, Harriet, with various possible suitors. Little does she know she is not the only person encouraging romantic pairings in the village.

©2014 Alexander McCall Smith (P)2015 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    230
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    212
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    164
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    47
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    26

Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

A Uncharacteristic Miss

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Someone who has never read the original might like this.

What was most disappointing about Alexander McCall Smith’s story?

The way the author lacked "understanding." His Emma was destructive and cruel. She over-served Elton without his knowledge and let him leave her home driving a vehicle. He wasn't killed, but the subsequent car wreck destroyed his reputation and his livelihood. She abused her power to persuade Harriet to pose nude for her portrait, though it was clear that Harriet was very uncomfortable. The author seemed to lack as much awareness as his heroine. It was creepy as well as disappointing. Cringeworthy!

What about Susan Lyons’s performance did you like?

I didn't like what she said, but she said it clearly.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Emma?

I would have suggested that he set it in Botswana and let the heroine be a person who did good things with good intentions that sometimes went awry.

Any additional comments?

So disappointed! I would not recommend this to anyone. Yes, I did listen to the entire thing. In horror. It was a bit like watching a train wreck. I wasted a credit.

57 of 58 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • melanie moe
  • tukwila, washington United States
  • 05-09-15

I did not like this Emma.

Emma, believe it or not, is one of my favorite OF Jane's characters. This Emma, however, was impossible for me to like. She just came across as mean. I did find the story somewhat entertaining, but wish I'd spent my money elsewhere.

35 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great!

The first half-hour to hour of this modern update of Jane Austen's great work may be amongst (if I may use that word) the very best writing and reading there is on audible.com. Be prepared for the author's huge charm offensive!

Otherwise, this book's main thrust is for us to better consider our dealings with others and urges us to press forward our lives with kindness born of seeing the other person's point of view, and refraining from judging the *apparent* meaning in the conduct of others. (I suppose this could well be done in our respective countries' world relations.)

Emma's last day of school leaving her friends for the last time bursting into tears and her silver Mercedes...

Emma's friend lives in Darnwell Abbey...

31 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Emma's Errors

I love Alexander McCall Smith's books, This particular book was not my favorite. A story about a selfish, (possibly narcissistic), young lady was a bit of a letdown after the deliciously quirky 44 Scotland Street tales. Even still, it was an easy & enjoyable listen.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Solipsism overcome !

Jane Austen and Alexander McCall Smith, two of my very favourite authors, made this version of Emma a must read for me. It did not disappoint. It was fun to read McCall Smith's modern take on Jane Austen's story. His subtle humour is delightful but perhaps the humour might be missed by readers who are not familiar with his writing.
I loved it!

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Meh

I have loved Mr Smith's books, but was disappointed in this one. I kept thinking that at some point I would actually like Emma, but no. Never did.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Newme
  • United States
  • 08-04-15

Good, but not on par with Austen

As an avid fan of both Jane Austen and Alexander McCall Smith, I was thrilled when this "Emma" was released. And having listened to it all, I can say that it was fairly well done. The story was elegantly written and entertaining, and Susan Lyons' narration was absolutely flawless. "Emma" is not easily transposed to a modern setting, since there are many outdated elements in the story -- secret engagements, governesses, bastard children squirreled away in the countryside, etc. To his credit, Alexander McCall Smith dealt with these tolerably well, and I had to applaud his creativity at times (sperm banks, anyone?). The result is an often humorous, easy listen with a feel-good ending.

Having said that, this book lost stars because many of its characters were utterly inferior to Jane Austen's. It is at times like these that Austen's talent awes me. Even a wonderful writer like McCall Smith can't match her skill at creating supremely believable people, lovable despite their faults. Austen's Emma is overconfident about her own merits and abilities, it's true; but she's also rational, generous and attentive to others. She is an Emma we can like, even with all her pretensions. This modern Emma is not even close. Although occasionally witty, she's always mean and often uninteresting. I was bored or exasperated by many of her remarks. And although she does eventually learn to be less mean, her epiphany is not as keenly felt or as eloquently expressed as that of the original Emma. She's inferior to Austen's character in almost every way.

Other characters, too, missed the mark. This modern Ms. Taylor struck me as prosy and self-important, while Jane Fairfax was just plain uninteresting. George Knightley, Mr. Woodhouse and Ms. Bates were more skilfully rendered, but they couldn't make up for the deficits of Emma.

I don't want to be too harsh on McCall Smith. As I said, this is challenging material for a modern remake, and Jane Austen sets a high bar for any writer. But I want to warn Austen fans that this version does not do justice to the pure joy that is "Emma". However, it satisfies those looking for a pleasantly written, easy listen.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Masters retelling of a classic.

Alexander McCall-Smith has been my favorite story teller for years. He always draws in, making me feel part of the story. This modern retelling of Emma is another masterpiece. Many thanks again to the master.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Laughed out loud

I loved Emma. Recommend it highly. The end was a bit disappointing but predictably correct. Enjoy. Worth reading for sure

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Why?

Rewriting/updating Jane Austin is an interesting idea -- but if you are going to take another person's people and plot lines - be bold about it. Very "Meh."

2 of 2 people found this review helpful