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Emma of 83rd Street


Emma of 83rd Street

Jane Austen is very much alive in literature. Since her death, her books have been read and then used as the foundation for a score of additional stories: the Clueless comics, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND VAMPIRES, and the Bridget Jones series, to name just a few. Her romantic plots relate to any time in history because they are all about the enduring power, confusion and craziness surrounding our most basic of human needs: love.

And so comes Audrey Bellezza and Emily Harding’s EMMA OF 83rd STREET, a great summer beach read in which Austen’s EMMA meets the modern dating scene on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. As Austen originally intended, sometimes you don’t have to go far to find your one true love.

"From its Lilly Pulitzer-colored cover to its Blair Waldorf-type protagonist, this book should be purchased immediately because it’s going to ride off shelves like a vintage Jaguar with the top down."

These Manhattan misadventures begin with Emma Woodhouse, who is all of 23. She has graduated from FIT and is about to enter her last year of graduate school at NYU. She lives at the only home she has ever known --- a very large, comfy apartment on East 83rd Street. The neighborhood is filled with families who are bound together by their success as much as their children, nannies and maids, and all that comes with the rich-girl existence that Emma wrestles with loving and hating in equal measure. When she plays matchmaker with a close friend, which leads to her sister getting married, she finds that she is out of step with her usual crowd. Friends are traveling around the world, her sister moves downtown (shock of shocks!), and there doesn’t seem to be anything fun for her to de-stress with in her old community. But fate has some surprises up its sleeve for her.

Emma meets Nadine, a naïve, excitable young transplant to the city from Ohio. Her awful fashion sense and big, kind heart draw Emma to her. Emma is going to “Henry Higgins” her into a social world beauty. But, of course, a boy --- neighbor George Knightley --- threatens to keep the big change from happening. Emma drives him crazy; she is either spending giant sums of cash on clothes or flipping through hobbies like she has severe ADD. He is convinced that Emma could make a great adult, but she believes otherwise. As the childhood friends wrestle with their different value systems, there seems to be a growing attraction there as well.

Bellezza and Harding make quite the team. Both TV producers, they know what people like when it comes to funny and romantic, thinly veiled “do they hate or love each other?” plotlines that draw loads of fans, especially among the BookTok contingent and readers of Kevin Kwan, Jennifer Weiner and Emily Henry. Like those books, this story is a sweet tale of fun people who can spend lots of money and really enjoy their lives, bouncing around New York City with a host of zany pals and believing, like Carrie Bradshaw, that they occupy a special corner on the wonders of Manhattan social mores and entanglements. They write in an easy-to-read style that combines the most salient points of Austen’s original story dressed up in Prada and Marc Jacobs. It’s a likable mix that is sure to draw in a multitude of readers.

Summer is the perfect time for EMMA OF 83rd STREET. From its Lilly Pulitzer-colored cover to its Blair Waldorf-type protagonist, this book should be purchased immediately because it’s going to ride off shelves like a vintage Jaguar with the top down. Bellezza and Harding get what it’s like for millennials in today’s love market, and they combine those elements with a lot of fun episodes.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on June 10, 2023

Emma of 83rd Street
by Audrey Bellezza and Emily Harding

  • Publication Date: May 23, 2023
  • Genres: Comedy, Fiction, Humor, Romance
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • ISBN-10: 1668008394
  • ISBN-13: 9781668008393