post written by Esther Filbrun
Author: Sarah Holman
Major Themes: Classical Re-writes, Classics
Synopsis: Emmeline is sure she’s found just the girl for a local town boy—but when things go awry, is there any way to salvage the mess she’s made?
There are some books you read because of their value and standing as a classic in literature. Some books because of intriguing plots. And some because the setting captures your fancy. Emmeline, recent release from Sarah Holman, was all that and more—much, much more than I ever expected. If I liked her previous books, I love this one. It’s that good. Depression era (a time period I haven’t read a whole lot about) crossed with the classic Emma by Jane Austen is set to be a classic in itself, and Sarah delivers on that very well. I just wish it had been longer!
Emmeline, daughter of the acute businessman Mr. Wellington who owns the General Motors Company, has a high standing in her little town of Ashbury. She associates with the elite around her, and makes sure that she keeps her distance from those in a lower social position than she. However, Catarina, once a farm girl and a German one at that, moves into town and Emmeline takes an interest in her. Soon, she decides Catarina is too beautiful to marry a lowly farmer boy turned factory worker—she should be given a higher position, perhaps even to be the wife of the local banker!
Emmeline does her level best to help the banker see what a prize Catarina is, but with feeling still running strong against the Germans after the Great War, she can’t be sure that her matchmaking plan will succeed. Meanwhile, she struggles to support her father as he begins to grow forgetful just when the depression hits with all its fierceness. When a loving friend tries to show her the trouble she’ll get herself into with the case of Catarina, and later with another young man that comes to visit often, will Emmeline listen and take heed? Or will her meddling in other people’s affairs trying to get everything to work out right going to only lead to more heartbreak? Can she ever find true love for herself, or is she doomed to spinsterhood?
There were times I wanted to throttle Emmeline—or at least give her a thorough shaking and talking too. I was quite impressed at Fredrick Knight’s ability to control himself even when he was sure she was making mistakes. As should be in all good books, there were several quite lovable people (like Maggie; she’s a dear!) and several that are not nearly so nice whom I would happily encourage to move out of town (too bad that can’t happen). This book, a rewrite of a classic, is a classic in my opinion. I loved it. I also really, really want to read Emma now, since this book is based on it. Unlike some of Holman’s other writings, this one was professionally edited, and that makes it a much more enjoyable read. Not to mention the fact that it has a good theme through it—one of being careful how you judge others and what you presume about them—which in my opinion is very valuable as well. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in this collection, as well!