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The Importance of Being Emma (Darcy & Friends) [Paperback]

Juliet Archer
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Dec 2008 Darcy & Friends
Mark Knightley - handsome, clever, rich - is used to women falling at his feet. Except Emma Woodhouse, who's like part of the family - and the furniture. When their relationship changes dramatically, is it an ending or a new beginning? Emma's grown into a stunningly attractive young woman, full of ideas for modernising her family business. Then Mark gets involved and the sparks begin to fly. It's just like the old days, except that now he's seeing her through totally new eyes. While Mark struggles to keep his feelings in check, Emma remains immune to the Knightley charm. She's never forgotten that embarrassing moment when he discovered her teenage crush on him. He's still pouring scorn on all her projects, especially her beautifully orchestrated campaign to find Mr Right for her ditzy PA. And finally, when the mysterious Flynn Churchill - the man of her dreams - turns up, how could she have eyes for anyone else? With its clueless heroine and entertaining plot, this modern re-telling of Jane Austen's Emma stays true to the original, while giving fresh insights into the mind of its thoroughly updated and irresistible hero. The Importance of Being Emma is the first in Juliet Archer's series, Jane Austen in the 21st Century.

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The Importance of Being Emma (Darcy & Friends) + Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2) + Austenland: A Novel (Austenland 1)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Choc Lit (15 Dec 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906931208
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906931209
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 466,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Juliet Archer is a 19th-century mind in a 21st-century body. Actually, some days it's the other way round. She's on a mission to modernise all six of Jane Austen's completed novels, in a series called 'Darcy and Friends'.

Her debut novel was The Importance of Being Emma, inspired by Austen's Emma and a desire to give Mr Knightley a makeover. It won the 2011 Big Red Read Fiction Award, was shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance and has had wonderful reviews on Amazon. The second novel in the series, Persuade Me, came out in 2011 and was shortlisted for the 2011 Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read.

She says: 'Updating Austen is not an original idea - think Bridget Jones's Diary and Clueless, for a start. And, let's face it, as the first writer in the genre to achieve worldwide cult status, Austen provides the inspiration - consciously or unconsciously - for most romantic novelists today. So I'm looking to differentiate - through sticking as closely to the original plots, characters and settings as possible, while developing the hero's point of view. If this involves spending lots of time with imaginary modern versions of Mr Darcy, Captain Wentworth and the like - well, they say suffering is good for the soul!'

Juliet was born and bred in North-East England and now lives in Hertfordshire, Pride & Prejudice country. Unlike Anne Elliot in Persuasion, she resisted well-meant advice and married young, before graduating from the University of Nottingham with a First in French and Russian. Many years later, she is still married, with almost grown-up children - a Mrs Bennet in waiting?

She gives talks all over the UK - and even in the US - about why and how she is updating Jane Austen. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Society of Authors and the Jane Austen Society. Her non-writing career has spanned IT, acquisitions analysis, copy editing, marketing and project management, providing plenty of background for her novels.

You can find out more about her books and talks at

Product Description


Winner of The Big Red Reads Fiction Award 2011. Short-listed for the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance 2009. --Publisher

A spirited retelling of Emma by Jane Austen will prove and enjoyable read to those who know the original story and those who don't. Definitely recommended. Buy - Yes, Borrow - Yes. --The Bookbag

... Juliet Archer (well she has the right initials anyway) has reinvented my absolute favourite Austen novel for a 21st-century audience, and done it with breathtaking charm and verve. --Jane Austen Regency World Magazine


A spirited retelling of Emma by Jane Austen will provide an enjoyable read to those who know the original story and those who don't. Definitely recommended.

4 stars (out of 5), Buy=Yes, Borrow=Yes

Emma Woodhouse fancies herself as something of a matchmaker, having just married off Tom Weston to her best friend and she can't resist trying her hand with a few more people. There's Harriet Smith, fond of a local man, but Emma's convinced that she could do better for herself and she's aiming to pair her off with Philip Elton. As for herself, well she rather believes herself in love with Tom Weston's son and the good-looking Mark Knightley is just a problem, even if he is rather tempting on occasions.

Does it sound familiar? If it doesn't, it should, as this is Juliet Archer's rewriting of Jane Austen's Emma. When it dropped through the letterbox on Saturday morning I was reading something rather worthy and I'm afraid that the temptation to relax and have some fun was more than I could resist and I'm not quite certain where the weekend went!

The story's set very much in the twenty-first century rather than the nineteenth and Juliet Archer's retelling is skilful and never forced, despite staying very close to the original plot. Emma Woodhouse is the marketing director of Highbury Foods and Mark Knightley has come home from India to take over the reins of Donwell Organics whilst his father is away on an extended holiday. Harriet Smith is Emma's PA and she's a superb creation - Essex girl through and through. Her 'farva as a tan ass' says something about the residence of a relative, but I'll let you work it out for yourself.

The story is told in turn by Mark and Emma in short chapters. It took me just a few moments of wondering why Emma was (seemingly) so taken by a nice pair of female legs before I got into the rhythm but after that we swung along very nicely. Sometimes it was laugh-out-loud funny to see the same situation from the so-different perspectives, and Juliet Archer knows how to keep the reader's interest and the plot moving along very smoothly.

So, what would Jane Austen have thought of Juliet Archer's retelling of Emma? Well, she'd have smiled delightedly at the writing, catching as it does the gentle comedy of her own work. She'd have been shocked at the sex scenes, wondering if, like some of the language, they were entirely necessary, particularly - she might have added - for those of us who are not entirely certain what 'the hilt' is and what it is in 'up to'. I think she'd have mused on the fact that the modern Emma is rather more likeable than her Georgian counterpart and enquired if that was deliberate or if we were simply more used to spoilt rich girls. She'd have nodded wisely and accepted the book as fine tribute.

The retelling of a well-known story is always risky. It can be described as an 'elegant retelling' or, at the other end of the scale, as a 'rip-off'. This isn't quite at the top end of the scale but it certainly gave this jaded reviewer an enjoyable weekend's reading that she wasn't expecting.

I'd like to thank Juliet Archer (see - she's even got the same initials) for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun update to Austen's Emma 20 Dec 2011
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a light and fun update of Jane Austen's Emma, and is clever in the setting and detail. Highbury and Donwell Abbey become companies in Archer's re-telling, with Emma as a know-it-all MBA Marketing Director, and Mark Knightley is her corporate mentor and life-time friend.

Archer sticks very closely to Austen's story so much of the pleasure, for me, came from the clever way in which she re-writes the original. The characterisation isn't, sadly, quite so spot on, and Archer is far less subtle than Austen. Emma, for example, is charming in Austen but becomes a bit of a spoilt brat in Archer; Flynn Churchill is generally one-dimensional; and the relationship between Emma and Mark is far more antagonistic, more akin to Pride & Prejudice, than in the original.

But all these little niggles are easy to overlook in the overall light-hearted fun. So I really enjoyed this book as the perfect relaxing read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Charming 25 Feb 2014
By Robyn K
Format:Kindle Edition
Juliet Archer stayed true to the original plot of “Emma” but updated it in a clever and witty way. We all know and love these characters and to see them in a modern setting is so refreshing. It helps to keep them alive.

In this version Emma is a marketing director of Highbury foods, Mr. Knightley CEO of Donwell Organics Foods. Frank “Flynn” Churchill is a television chef in Australia, Robert Martin is a Haulage director and Harriet Smith is a P.A.

Emma is still trying to give Harriet a make over, as she claims “Harriet is a chav”. It if often hilarious , and Harriet does provide some comic relief. I even got the IKEA jokes, having a Klippan myself.

Some how a modern setting seems to work just as well as it did in the 1800.We all know how these characters will act but yet you will still anticipate their actions. Modern life is so changed and it is hard to find modern counterparts. There are company mergers instead of engagements and Emma is still every bit as charmingly nave. Juliet Archer gave “Emma” a make over and did it beautifully. She injected a bit of sexiness that was never present before. I wouldn’t mind borrowing her Mr. Knightley for the evening.

I really enjoyed this book and can not wait to read the sequel, Persuade me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A few misunderstandings 17 Aug 2013
By Diana
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Do not try matchmake. friends or family together it can only bring trouble. Emma got so confused with other people's love life and with her own. Good story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. 10 Jan 2013
By Lucy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an entertaining modern adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel 'Emma'. A light and easy read but not gripping enough to recommend to friends.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read 16 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Loved this new take on a old classic, a worthwhile read. I look forward to reading the next in the series.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Emma? Yes! Knightley? NO! 21 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love Jane Austen, so when I read this author intended to write modern adaptations of all of her books, I was interested and bought this (the first). To begin with, I think it would be more accurate to say this was "inspired" by Austen's Emma than an adaptation. Frankly, I think this is unavoidable, because the world has changed too much since the late 18th/early 19th century and a straight-forward adaptation would make no real sense in a modern context. As for the book itself, while not brilliant, it is an enjoyable read. One could read it without knowing about the original as a pretty run-of-the-mill chick-lit romance; the writing is fine and it has a good pace. As an interpretation of the original, though, I think it failed in its portrayal of Knightley. Emma is modernized beautifully into the spoilt and entitlied rich girl, who is at the same time kind and well-intentioned. But Knightley goes from being the heroine's much older, caring and considerate best friend to a stock romance hero.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 7 Jun 2009
Loved it! Never read the original so had no expectations. I was drawn into the book and characters immediately and did not want to put it down! I really wanted to throttle them at times because you get so involved. Great read, can't wait for the next one.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 8 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jane Austen in the 21st Century this certainly is
I loved this book. I read it realy quickly for me.
I love the fact that we get to know Mark's (Mr Knightley. In a interview I read the author changed his name so that it flowed better which I like) feelings as well as Emma's.
Emma's witty, clever, sexy, young and know's what she wants.
Mark's charming, romantic, and brotherly who cares for Emma.
Ms Archer has really moderninsed the book with: the creation of the rival buisinesses, the fact that Mark has been away in India for years, John and Isabella are still as funny as ever and Gusty (Mrs Elton), Philip (Mr Elton), Harriet, Batty (Miss Bates) and Henry (Mr Woodhouse)are completely rediculous. With the more gentle characters of Tom and Kate Weston (Mr Weston and Mrs Anne Weston nee Taylor) and Jane Fairfax seeping through.
But really it's all about Emma and Mark. I won't give too much away but he's a mentor with a slightly different agenda, two hot and steamy nights in hotel rooms and a really romantic declaration of love at the end. Who doesn't think that rain is romantic?
I love that all the chapters are named after recipes like 'Gentleman's Relish, Pure Honey, Stuffing, Hot Cross Buns, Summer Pudding and Cold Turkey'
The 'Digestif' is a beautiful way to finish of the novel it rounds it all ups and mentions the famous 'Highbury Humper'
The book is Emma but it doesn't feel like Emma it fells as though it's a standalone novel which I love.
Ms Archer Miss Austen would be proud!
I can't wait for Persuade Me.
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