Book Review: "Amanda" by Debra White Smith

Emma Retold

Amanda, the fifth book in the Austen series, is a retelling of Jane Austen's Emma. Amanda decides that it is her duty to save her friend Haley from a doomed relationship with Roger and to set her up with someone more suitable. This leads her to introducing Haley to the new pastor in town Pastor Eldridge. Meanwhile Amanda's best friend Nate begins to think more of Amanda than just a friend, but Amanda's too busy with her matchmaking to notice this plus she's also interested in the new guy in town Franklyn. But when the pastor beings to notice Amanda and Haley with Nate, it looks like Amanda's plans need some retouching!

I've always enjoyed Jane Austen's stories and so far have enjoyed Debra White Smith's modern retelling of them especially the Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility remakes. Emma is one of Austen's most well known stories and it ranks as my 3rd favorite. So I was looking forward to reading this book to compare it. I did enjoy seeing the story with all the elements from the original novel incorporated. I liked learning about the Australian culture as well. I did fell though that characters were very stock and I didn't get to understand them completely. Amanda's reasons for Haley ditching Roger are very poor and Haley seems very weak not to stand up to her. Meanwhile Nate never seems to be able to stop being at a loss of words in front of Amanda which got annoying after a while. The main problem I have about books that "retell" another story is that the real book will get mentioned in the retelling. In this book, the characters bring up the story of Emma several times. Why then can they not see that what is going on in their lives is EXACTLY what happens in the book? I mean don't the characters see that everything is completely parallel to the story? This books was also the hardest of the series to picture in a modern setting. I think, though, that the reason may be because I had just watched the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma right before reading this book.

This book was an enjoyable read. If you liked the other Austen books, pick this one up.

Amanda by Debra White Smith is published by Harvest House (2006)


  1. I too was looking forward to her take on Aussie culture when I read this book. Sadly I have to say it was obvious to me that Debra had not been to Australia or captured the Aussie spirit at all. Maybe, I was overly critical being an Australian but the lack of authenticity bothered me.

    Hope your boyfriend has a fun time in Sydney. Here's some authentic Aussie advice - it is a koala only not a koala bear, even thought most of the rest of the world calls them that. They aren't related to the bear family at all!


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