Charity Envieth Not recounts Emma from Mr. Knightley's perspective until the point when Frank Chruchill's initial visit to Highbury comes to an end, shortly before the arrival of the new Mrs. Elton. Ms. Cornthwaite has meticulously dissected the original text, creating Mr. Knightley's entire world - much more expansive than Emma's - out of the tiny hints Austen drops here and there. The accuracy with which she adheres to the novel is impressive, resulting in a beutifully fleshed out George Knightley who is everything devotees could wish him to be: the piercingly perceptive, unvaryingly kind, and totally besotted hero.
I love how Emma shines through Mr. Knightley's eyes. Yes, she is the same old Emma, officious and egotistical, but I challenge those who despise her to not be charmed by Ms. Cornthwaite's depiction. Mr. John Knightley also benefits from this treatment. When viewed as an affectionate father and younger brother he is far easier to love. The letters he and Mr. Knightley exchange provide reliable comic relief throughout the course of the book, such as this one (Madam Duval is the long, white-haired cat foisted upon Mr. Knighltey by his niece):
14th JanuaryMost Emma adaptations focus on life in Highbury, Austen's most detailed neighborhood. Ms. Cornthwaite, while also providing those comfortable glimpses of the familiar town, necessarily focuses on the residents of Donwell, with it's own parish, attending rector (Dr. Hughes), a new curate, our old friends the Martins, William Larkins, and an array of colorful tenants. The world she depicts is as alive in my mind as Highbury after reading this book. While incorporating the masculine experience and perspective, Ms. Cornwaithe maintains that microscopic feeling of Austen's "two inches of ivory", a place where humdrum human interactions reveal great truths about mankind. I believe that the best Austen inspired literature provides commentary on those original six, blessed novels, enhancing the joy we experience as we read, reread, and then read them yet again. In that sense, Charity Envieth Not is a triumph.
I wonder if you might spare us a short visit when the quarter sessions have finished with you. We are not far from Newington, after all, and there is a matter on which I should like your advice.
Bella would like to know who is going to comb Madam Duval while you are away at the quarter sessions. Isabella would like to know if William Larkins' sister and all her children are well. John and Henry would like to know if you ever found the painted horse that they brought to Donwell to show you one day and left behind. I, however, don't want to know anything except whether we may expect you next week.
Your uninquisitive brother,
You will come, won't you?