Although I had heard of some of Amanda Grange's previous books, such as Mr. Darcy's Diary, I had never read them. Recently, I got the chance to read a copy of Grange's Mr. Knightley's Diary and found that it is a fantastic take on Jane Austen's Emma.
I haven't read Emma in probably a couple of years, so it was refreshing to read the story through Mr. Knightley's eyes. He's a very interesting character and I don't know him as well as Mr. Darcy.
Grange takes the reader into Knightley's (should I be so bold as to address him as such? Emma might not like it.) world and enables us to go with him when he is absent from Highbury. Readers of Emma will remember that Knightley misses Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston's wedding because he is in London. In Mr. Knightley's Diary, the reader is with him! We get to find out what he is doing when he is not with Emma. Haven't you always been curious?
The diary spans just over a year and recounts any number of events found in the original novel in a slightly different, more masculine way. Knightley is constantly worrying about Emma's behavior, hoping she will be more mature and leave off matchmaking, and trying to decide if, and who, he should marry. Just as Emma tries to pair Harriet with various gentlemen, Knightley meets several women (including Jane Fairfax) and tries to see if he feels any sparks with them. Of course, as we all know, in the end only Emma will do.
Our favorite (and not-so-favorite) secondary characters still play largely in this novel, though through Knightley's eyes. Mr. Woodhouse is still the same old valetudinarian that we all love (and wish would stop saying that cake is bad for one's health!). Mr. Elton and his wife, as always, quite irritating, though Knightley is polite. He finds Frank Churchill to be somewhat suspect, rather than the charming gentleman the ladies believe him to be. We also see more of Knightley's brother John and his wife, Emma's sister. I was quite glad to read more about them, as they are not a huge part of Emma.
I highly recommend Mr. Knightley's Diary to all Jane Austen fans. It was a very enjoyable take on a beloved book. It is available at any bookstore and online. I do hope you will pick up a copy and let us know how you liked it.
Book Information: Mr. Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange (Berkley; ISBN: 042521771X; $14.00; 304 pages; paperback)