Jane Austen will always be relevant and new movie adaptations and retellings are proof of that. With the premiere of Emma coming in February 2020, there’s no better time to catch up with the stories so many readers know and love. These are seven of the best Jane Austen retellings.
Off Script by Kate Watson
Jane Austen’s Emma meets the #MeToo movement in this retelling about a teen starlet named Emma Crawford who, while preparing to tackle the role of a lifetime, decides to play matchmaker for her new assistant. But when her childhood crush turned world-famous soccer player, Liam Price, reenters her life and points out the flaws in her plan, Emma starts questioning all of her decisions, especially after she’s forced to confront the grittier side of being a woman in Hollywood.
Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
McCall Smith’s writing is a brilliant callback to Austen’s own satirical style in this story about recent college graduate Emma Woodhouse, who returns home to launch her own interior design business and care for her aging father. Being back home, she reverts to her favorite pastimes of matchmaking and giving advice to her neighbors. From the naïve new teacher’s assistant, Harriet Smith, to the altogether-too-perfect Jane Fairfax, it’s clear her friends need her help. Despite her well-intentioned advice, nothing seems to be going according to plan, especially not the feelings Emma fears she’s developing for her know-it-all brother-in-law, George Knightley.
Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge
In this modern take on Sense and Sensibility, Jane and Celia Woodward have to leave their beloved San Francisco tea shop behind after a scandal shatters not only their father’s business but their lives. Determined to pick up the pieces, they move to Austin, Texas. But their journey of healing seems to be taking the sisters down separate paths, especially when Jane starts to fall for an up-and-coming musician, Sean Willis. Can these sisters find their place in a new town and a way back to each other?
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Magazine writer Liz and her yoga-instructor sister Jane return to their childhood home after their father has a health scare. But when they return, they find their childhood home crumbling around them. Their family doesn’t seem to notice though. Their sisters are more interested in CrossFit and paleo diets and their mother is entirely fixated on their new neighbor, Chip Bingley, a doctor turned reality-show star. Sparks fly between Chip and Jane immediately, but Chip’s friend, neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy seems determined to keep them apart while simultaneously being as rude to Liz as humanly possible. Or so it would appear, but as Liz quickly finds out, appearances can sometimes be deceiving.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
Five women and one man living in central California meet monthly to discuss the works of author Jane Austen, not knowing the profound effect her words will have on their lives and how much they’ll grow to depend on each other as they experience love, the tribulations of marriage and the frailties of being human. This book is reminiscent of Austen’s own socially comedic writing and the perfect read for any book club.
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Austenland is the perfect book for readers who have ever wanted to escape into the world of Jane Austen. Jane Hayes has a problem; she’s in love. Unfortunately, the man she’s in love with is Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy from the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. No real-life man can compete, which makes it impossible for Jane to find real love. Determined to kick her Austen obsession for good, she travels to England to stay in Austenland, an immersive resort for Austen fans. But as she allows herself to get lost in the fantasy, Jane isn’t sure if she’s kicking her habit or just allowing herself to fall for another Mr. Darcy.
Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
In this modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice, Ayesha Shamsi dreams of being a poet. Unfortunately, helping her uncle pay off his debts means she has to set her dreams aside and focus on her boisterous Muslim family. Ayesha is determined not to have an arranged marriage, but irritatingly enough, the only man she finds herself attracted to is the condescending Khalid. When she finds out that Khalid is supposed to be engaged to another woman, Ayesha has to confront not only her feelings about Khalid but the truth she realizes about herself as well.
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