Emma of 83rd Street: A Novel, by Audrey Bellezza and Emily Harding — A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:  

Jane Austen’s Emma takes Manhattan in a friends-to-lovers, heroine finding herself, effervescent debut romance.


In this witty and romantic debut novel, Jane Austen’s Emma meets the misadventures of Manhattan’s modern dating scene as two lifelong friends discover that, in the search for love, you sometimes don’t have to look any further than your own backyard.Beautiful, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse has lived twenty-three years in her tight-knit Upper East Side neighborhood with very little to distress or vex her…that is, until her budding matchmaking hobby results in her sister’s marriage—and subsequent move downtown. Now, with her sister gone and all her friends traveling abroad, Emma must start her final year of grad school grappling with an entirely new emotion: boredom. So when she meets Nadine, a wide-eyed Ohio transplant with a heart of gold and drugstore blonde highlights to match, Emma not only sees a potential new friend but a new project. If only her overbearing neighbor George Knightley would get out of her way.

Handsome, smart, and successful, the only thing that frustrates Knightley more than a corked whiskey is his childhood friend, Emma. Whether it’s her shopping sprees between classes or her revolving door of ill-conceived hobbies, he is only too happy to lecture her on all the finer points of adulthood she’s so hell-bent on ignoring. But despite his gripes—and much to his own chagrin—Knightley can’t help but notice that the girl next door is a woman now…one who he suddenly can’t get out of his head.

As Emma’s best laid plans collide with everyone from hipster baristas to meddling family members to flaky playboy millionaires, these two friends slowly realize their need to always be right has been usurped by a new need entirely, and it’s not long before they discover that even the most familiar stories still have some surprises.


The Familiar Classic with a New Twist

Emma of 83rd Street is a balanced blend of Austen’s original, and an emerging pair of talented authors’ take on Emma. Someone familiar with the classic will see in the characters, settings, relationships, and plot a faithful retelling, but also a wholly up to the minute friends to lovers contemporary romance. It felt smooth and easy rather than forcibly cramming a classic into a modern like some retellings can.

This Emma Has Agency

The central figure and primary narrator is fashionable, confident Emma Woodhouse. She thinks she’s got it all going for her when the path of the story is one of growth and discovery. But, for all that, this Emma has agency and she’s bright. She might pick up and put down hobbies in rapid succession, but the girl got a 4.0 at university and has fast-tracked through grad school to her final two classes.

LOL Moments

This sparkling debut effort drew me through several pleasurable emotions. It stayed light but didn’t lack true feeling. Don’t miss wincing at Emma’s faux pas, laughing out loud many times, and smiling with immense satisfaction over weekly family dinner gatherings and annual Christmas parties at the Woodhouse residence with Emma, Knightley and their circle of friends and family. 

5 out of 5 Stars


  • Emma of 83rd Street: A Novel, by Audrey Bellezza and Emily Harding
  • Gallery Books (May 23, 2023)
  • Trade paperback, eBook, & Audiobook (384) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1668008393
  • Genre: Austenesque, Contemporary Romance


We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Cover image courtesy of Gallery Books © 2023; text Sophia Rose © 2023, austenprose.com, an Amazon affiliate.

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