This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs

When it comes to Jane Austen’s Emma, I have two particular favorite modern adaptations. There is Juliet Archer‘s Emma that has adult language and a steamy scene and this clean Southern romance by Mary Jane Hathaway that gives John Knightley (Mr. Knightley’s brother) a bigger role.


Caroline Ashley is a journalist on the rise at the Washington Post until the sudden death of her father brings her back to Thorny Hollow to care for her mentally fragile mother. The only respite from the eternal rotation of bridge club meetings and garden parties is her longtime friend, Brooks Elliott. A professor of journalism, Brooks is the voice of sanity and reason in the land of pink lemonade and triple layer coconut cakes. But when she meets a fascinating, charismatic young man on the cusp of a brand new industry, she ignores Brooks’ misgivings and throws herself into the project.

Brooks struggles to reconcile his parents’ very bitter marriage with his father’s devastating grief at the recent loss of his wife. Caroline is the only bright spot in the emotional wreckage of his family life. She’s a friend and he’s perfectly happy to keep her safely in that category. Marriage isn’t for men like Brooks and they both know it… until a handsome newcomer wins her heart. Brooks discovers Caroline is much more than a friend, and always has been, but is it too late to win her back?


Emma Woodhouse = Caroline Ashley. A journalist at The Washington Post who has to come home to take care of her mentally fragile mother (after the death of her father).

Mr. Knightley = Brooks Elliott. Brooks is a journalism college professor.

Harriet Smith = Lexi Martinez. A budding artist.

Frank Churchill = Franklin Keene. A publisher.

Jane Fairfax = Lauren Fairchild. A photographer putting together a coffee book table.

John Knightley = Manning Elliott, Brooks’ brother who is married to Caroline’s sister.

Why I Love This Version of Jane Austen’s EMMA

Chemistry. I loved the chemistry in Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs, between Caroline and Brooks.

There was one particular scene in a cafe when they are with Brooks’ brother where Hathaway did a fabulous job weaving together romance and comedy.

Also, the book is a great read for those who enjoy stories from the South with Civil War reenactments and grand manses.

While it is written by a Christian author, there is no specific scene where one feels they are the subject of a sermon.

Note. This book is #2 in a series “Jane Austen Takes the South” but can be read as a standalone novel.

Sharing is Caring

More to Read