Monday, 24 September 2018

Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges - My Review

Amy Hilliges recently visited the blog with an guest post plus an excerpt and giveaway of Emma and the City. Today I'm sharing my review of the book. Read on for my review, and for an opportunity to enter Amy's generous giveaway.

Book Description

When arrows fly, Cupid better get out of the way . . . or risk being shot

Book cover: Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges
It-girl and blogger Emma Worth appears to have it all: beauty, brains, connections and a fabulous Manhattan apartment. Emma makes it her business to tell others what to wear and who to date because she knows best. Obviously.

Despite her designer outfits and glitzy New York lifestyle, something's missing . . . If she only knew what it was. That is, until a hot A-lister swoops into her life and sends Emma's pulse racing and fills her head with red-carpet fantasies.

Emma's neighbor Adam Knightley is disapproving, telling her she needs to fix her priorities and stop chasing celebrity pipe dreams. The man would look hot on a red carpet himself, if only he’d stop frowning for more than five seconds.

When Emma’s matchmaking backfires and her meddling causes mischief, what's a girl to do? Try to lie her way out of it, of course.  Anyway, who cares, right? Because Emma's finally getting the kind of attention she deserves. Except in her fantasies, things looked a lot different. And it didn’t feel this heartrendingly painful . . .

Love her or hate her, Emma is back––with a sexy makeover, 21st-century problems, and another chance to redeem herself in this grippingly entertaining, thoroughly original retelling of the Jane Austen classic.

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My Review of Emma and the City

Book cover: Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges
I know a lot of Austen fans aren't huge admirers of the character of Emma Woodhouse, but I've always liked her. Although she was snobby and misguided her heart was in the right place. There aren't enough Emma-inspired works out there, in my opinion, so I was pleased to see that this book was upcoming.

This is a modern take on Emma. I think Emma modernises really well, because some of the main themes - friends to lovers and meddling, are timeless and universal! Here, Emma is transported to modern day New York. Emma is a rich socialite, who has been focussing her energies on a lifestyle blog which reviews restaurants, pilates studios etc. Emma has just been planning her friend's wedding, and her life has been left with a bit of a vacuum. Enter Hailey, the niece of Emma's old nanny, who is innocent and just starting out after college. Emma decides to make Hailey her pet project, because, after all, who better to advise someone than her?!
She pictured her audience like a field full of Haileys: young, green and full of potential, all looking up to her.
I wondered whether this would be a close update of Emma or more like a story based on the wider themes. There are many instances and characters that are clearly drawn from the original. There is the Miss Bates style neighbour, though in this case, it's the downstairs neighbour in Emma's apartment block. We also have Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax characters. Mr Elton is a budding musician rather than a reverend, though he's still interested in an advantageous relationship. The Mrs Elton character is a little different. She is still not classy, but she's pretty thick-skinned and funny here.
Zak's gf just asked if I want to touch her fake tits!!! 
His reply was nearly instant:
Did you? ;)
No! Suggested that I needed a boob job!!! Can u believe the nerve?
Yours are fine as they are! :p
I know what you're thinking - these secondary character are all well and good, but what about Mr Knightley? Adam Knightley is mostly lovely, although at first he has a girlfriend, which I was not too pleased about, because it's clear that Emma takes up far too large a place in his affections and priorities for that to be fair. The relationship between them is unusual, because there is definitely the disapproving big brother vibe coming from his direction, but even from the start he clearly finds her sexually attractive, whereas she is keeping him firmly in another category.
"I'm just being realistic here and-" 
"Trying to pop my bubble," said Emma. 
He seemed to enjoy making a habit of it. 
"I'm only doing it for your won good. Otherwise you might fly away."
One thing I thought was good was that all the reasons that prevent even the thought of a relationship between them were spelled out, so that the reasons for his reticence is clear. As in Emma, the siblings of Emma and Adam here are married. Adam also lives in Emma's apartment building, and in fact this is how they met.

Updating the character of Emma is the central point of creating a successful update. Austen's Emma was arrogant in her belief that she knew what was best for everybody, she was jealous of Jane Fairfax, who she saw as a more accomplished version of herself and she was also incredibly isolated - the smallness of her social circle, the intellectual gap between her and most of the people she had to mix with, the boundaries she had in not being able to travel etc. It's much more difficult to give a modern Emma these boundaries because even if she is unable to travel to open up our minds to new ideas and new people, with the internet we can interact with a huge range of people even if we don't meet them in person.

This Emma is emotionally isolated - instead of being bound to a manchild, doting father, she feels rejected by both of her parents - her mother left her, not being cut out for the life of a mother, and her father put work before her, and rejected her attempts to join the family company. Emma has a few friends but they are shallow relationships. Having been hurt by the people closest to her, she purposely keeps people at an emotional distance and has cultivated a persona that she presents to the world in lieu of her real character. The closest person to her is Adam. I thought this was a good way of isolating a modern Emma, and I felt very sorry for her at first.
"I didn't say I don't believe in love," said Emma. It was just that everyone she'd ever loved had chosen something else over her: her mom had chosen a glamorous jet-setting lifestyle, her dad had chosen work.
As the story progressed it becomes harder to feel sorry for her, because she does some things that are not nice! I anticipated an embarrassing episode of bad behaviour to replace Box Hill in the original but Emma behaves badly more than once and as the story wore on I found Emma harder to like. The other characters forgave her more easily than I would have, and I felt that some of her actions would have had more lasting implications. I am not sure how much I bought Emma's career direction change either.

There is some bad language in this book (f-bombs and some other swearing). Sex happens, but it's off the page.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book. I found it an easy, light and humorous read. I wished I could have liked Emma a little more though! Austen's Emma was just misguided but this Emma was much more of a navel gazer, and she didn't have the excuse of youth and inexperience like Emma Woodhouse. I'd say this is an Emma update well worth reading though, and I'd rate it as a 4 star read.

4 star read

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About the Author

Author Amy Hilliges
Amy Hilliges always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Finally, at the age of 40, after years being paid to write professionally, she decided she was grown up enough to become a “real writer.” Emma and the City is the result.

An American expat, Amy lives in Zurich, Switzerland, with her German husband and their two UK-born sons.

Find out more about Amy’s crazy, nomadic, multi-culti life, the evolution of Emma and the City and Amy’s future books at


Website • Goodreads • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram •  Pinterest • Amazon

Buy Links

Amazon • Kobo • iTunes • Barnes & Noble • Amazon UK • Add to Goodreads Shelf

Book Trailer

Giveaway Time!

Amy Hillages is offering a generous giveaway for 6 winners!

Book Cover: Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges
5 ebooks of Emma and the City are up for grabs!  This is open internationally. There are two ways to win a copy. Firstly, you can use the rafflecopter below. Extra entries can be earned for sharing the giveaway every day on Twitter.  Now, I know some of you can't use rafflecopter, or just really hate it! So, while the winners of three of the ebooks will be chosen via rafflecopter, the winners of the other two will be chosen at random from those who leave a comment on this review post or Amy's guest post by the end of the day on 28 September 2018. If you enter by leaving a comment, please leave a way for me to contact you.

Paperback of Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges and tote bag
*Note, Author not included in prize pack
For a UK/Europe reader, there is also a chance to win a signed paperback of Emma and the City, plus bookmarks and a tote bag. To enter for this, leave a comment on this blog post, including the fact that your location is UK/Europe.

I'll be posting my review of Emma and the City on Monday 24 September. You can earn an extra giveaway entry by commenting on that post too!

Other Blog Visits

Amy is stopping by at other blogs too, if you'd like to read more excerpts and have another chance for a giveaway!

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  1. Oh, now doesn't that sound fun. I like that its an Emma retelling, too.

    1. It's nice to get some love for Emma isn't it, Sophia!

  2. Thanks for the review. It sounds like an interesting read.

  3. this sounds like a fun twist on Emma


  4. I read Emma for A Level Eng Lit, it would be interesting to read a different take on the novel!

    1. I did P&P for A Level English Lit, funnily enough :)

  5. This sounds fantastic! I'm always excited to see a non-P&P variation, and I'm a huge Emma fan.

    1. Me too, Anna. I love P&P, but it's nice to have a change. I'm also a big fan of Emma :)

  6. The review is excellent as it got me quite intrigued by the story, Ceri. I'll be adding this to my tbr list.


    1. Glad you enjoyed the review, Luthien! I hope you enjoy it when you read it.


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