Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book 201: Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili Slaw Dogs

Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili Slaw Dogs, by Mary Jane Hathaway, 2013.

Emma is my favorite Jane Austen novel.  I'm re-reading it now in fact.  I first discovered her when I was 19 -- just about the age of the title character in Austen's book.  I related to her sharp tongue and slightly caustic wit all too well.  I softened with age; I'm sure Emma would have, too.  So, because I love Emma the book and Emma the character, I approached Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili Slaw Dogs with the same mix of interest and trepidation that I approached the Emma movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow.  Neither disappointed.

Every time I review a "romantic novel", I feel the need to point out that I, in general, do not like romantic novels.  In truth, I'm starting to think it is not the genre I dislike on the whole, as much as I really do not the bad writing that permeates the majority of the genre.  I like well-written books.  Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili Slaw Dogs is a well-written book.

Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili Slaw Dogs is the second in the Austen Takes the South series.  I liked it even more than I liked the first book -- the writing felt tighter and I could see the interconnectivity of the characters.  Just as in the first book, Hathaway doesn't try to re-tell an Austen story.  Instead, she uses the Austen story as a springboard for her own story.  There are shades of Austen throughout the book, and obvious nods, and a tone that is similar, but that's where the Austen influence ends.  If all that is Jane Austen were to be removed from this book, this book would still stand.  Somehow, I think Jane Austen would very much approve.

I've told you nothing about the story in this review.  Nor do I intend to. This book is a perfect summer read.  It's still summer...


  1. Thank you, Karen! From a writer like yourself, this really made me happy!