Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs
Caroline Ashley is a journalist on the rise at The Washington Post until the sudden death of her father brings her back to Thorny Hollow to care for her mentally fragile mother and their aging antebellum home. The only respite from the eternal rotation of bridge club meetings and garden parties is her longtime friend, Brooks Elliott. A professor of journalism, Brooks is the voice of sanity and reason in the land of pink lemonade and triple layer coconut cakes. But when she meets a fascinating, charismatic young man on the cusp of a brand new industry, she ignores Brooks’s misgivings and throws herself into the project.
Brooks struggles to reconcile his parents’ very bitter marriage with his father’s devastating grief at the recent loss of his wife. Caroline is the only bright spot in the emotional wreckage of his family life. She’s a friend and he’s perfectly happy to keep her safely in that category. Marriage isn’t for men like Brooks and they both know it… until a handsome newcomer wins her heart. Brooks discovers Caroline is much more than a friend, and always has been, but is it too late to win her back?
Featuring a colorful cast of southern belles, Civil War re-enactors, and good Christian women with spunk to spare, Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs brings the modern American South to light in a way only a contemporary Jane Austen could have imagined.
Reading Group Guide
Life doesn’t always turn out like you planned. Just ask Caroline Ashley. Convinced she will be a career woman and never marry, she never imagined leaving her dream job as a journalist in D.C. to return to Thorny Hollow to care for her grief-stricken mother after her father’s death. Or ask Brooks Elliot. He never intended to see his lifelong friendship with Caroline change in ways that alarmed and confused him. Neither one of them could have planned the unexpected series of circumstances and relationships that set them up to be modern-day actors in Jane Austen’s classic story of Emma. And no one was more surprised than they were at where the road led them.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. What did you enjoy most about Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs? Which character was your favorite? Which one annoyed you the most?
2. On page 8, the narrator of the story says: “Taking care of her [Caroline’s] mom had see more