Jane Austen – Katy Birchall: Emma (Hodder and Stoughton 2019)
Jane Austen was a pioneer of her time. She replaced romantic exaggerations in her works with critical realism. Her protagonists are strong, self-confident and independent women who are in stark contrast to their surroundings. These characters are so modern that they could cope with today’s world. Four novels were published during the writer’s lifetime, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are posthumous works, and her unfinished novel Sanditon was recently republished, from which a series was also made. There are many adaptations of each of her books, for example Clueless, an American comedy released in 1995, which reinterprets the story of Emma in Beverly Hills.
When Katy Birchall was seven years old, she first encountered the world of Jane Austen in a BBC adaptation and immediately fell in love with it. Reworking Emma into a middle grade novel was one of the biggest dreams of her life. This is the work in our hands now.
Emma Woodhouse is a very beautiful and pretty girl, but also smart and creative. Unlike many girls, she doesn’t want to fall in love and get married, but she likes to be a matchmaker for her friends and neighbors. However, after her latest success, it is not certain that the next selected ‘victims’ will prove to be a perfect couple.
In the Awesomely Austen series, contemporary authors retell Jane Austen’s classics: Pride and Prejudice by Katherine Woodfine has already been published in Hungarian, and Persuasion is expected soon in Narinder Dhami’s transcription. The volumes are illustrated with beautiful and funny drawings by the French illustrator Églantine Ceulemans, who, herself, is also a big fan of Jane Austen.