In addition to Val McDermid's Northanger Abbey and Curtis Sittenfeld taking on Pride & Prejudice, Alexander McCall Smith will be bringing us Emma by next autumn. He is a most excellent choice,given the charming play on cultural manners that appears in his various mystery series such as The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency and his Isobel Dalhousie books.
Since Emma does have an element in mystery within it,concerning Jane Fairfax's love life,McCall Smith should have a lot of fun with that.
Also,he enjoys bringing together characters in somewhat small town style of settings(even if they are connected with larger cities more directly than this particular Austen heroine was),so his version of Highbury promises to be most engaging.
Furthermore,McCall Smith has a deft hand in weaving in moral dilemmas with the prevailing plot line without being preachy or sugar coating the situations,something that anyone tackling Emma must be ready to deal with:
Now that we have at least four writers on board, many are wondering who will be called upon for the two remaining Austen titles; Mansfield Park and Persuasion. There are a good number of great writers who would do justice to these books and if I was the one to do the asking, my choice for Mansfield Park would be Nick Hornby.
"Doesn't he write boy lit?" Some might ask but that is a subjective opinion and in any case, does not automatically exclude anyone from Jane Austen,in my opinion,not to mention that in MP,insights into the male characters are a prevalent part of the book.
What makes me think of Hornby first is his knack for creating outsiders that linger on the social sidelines such as in About A Boy,with the awkwardly shy and eccentric Marcus managing to bring self centered Will out of his emotional comfort zone. Certainly he could be counted on to give mild mannered Fanny Price a fair shot at outshining the viciously vivacious Mary Crawford.
Also, Hornby's insights into the odd twists and turns of family life would also serve well in bringing the Bertrams to vivid modern day life and I bet he'd have a ball with Aunt Norris there.
Plus, his pop culture sensibilities could be very useful in making the whole Lover's Vows portion of the story more relevant to our times. In short, I think it would be a great literary gift to see what Nick Hornby would do with Mansfield Park:
Now,for Persuasion,which is my personal favorite,I would like to nominate Jennifer Weiner. I know that most of the authors tapped for this project have been British or Scottish but one of them so far is American and bringing another Yank on deck to round things out sounds proper to me.
Weiner's best books involve family dynamics from In Her Shoes to Then Came You,with plenty of things left unsaid and at times,too much talked about which would be engaging for anyone tapping into the multiple dramas of the Elliot family,both close and extended.
Her quick wit should make short work of the snobbery of Sir Walter and his darling daughter Elizabeth,not to mention the needy for attention Mary Musgrove. Most important of all, she has a knack for creating notable heroines who harbor self doubt about their worth and find much needed assurance of their value amongst true friends and lovers. There is no doubt in my mind that the woman who gave us Cannie Shapiro and Rose Feller would be a marvelous choice to reintroduce Anne Elliot to the world:
I am sure that whoever will take up the mantle for these classic novels will do a wonderful job,as the previous selections have proven to be. As to Alexander McCall Smith's Emma, it will be a book eagerly awaited and a choice that certainly Miss Woodhouse herself would approve: