cover image Her Own Happiness

Her Own Happiness

Eden Appiah-Kubi. Montlake, $16.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-5420-3047-2

In Jane Austen’s Emma, Harriet Smith is the country mouse who the eponymous heroine sets out to tutor in life’s finer things; in this fresh, bold take from Appiah-Kubi (The Bennet Women), Harriet is transformed into “openly queer, fat, Black, artistic” Maya, and she commands center stage. After Covid-19 shutdowns upend Maya’s life in Hawaii, she reluctantly returns to her parent’s Washington, D.C., home. The one positive about this move is that Antonio, her asexual best friend of seven years, comes with her. Ant loves Maya for exactly who she is, but believes their love is strictly platonic. Just as he starts to realize his true romantic feelings, however, Maya meets and is utterly charmed by Emme Vivant, a millionaire socialite who takes Maya under her wing, scoring her an artist fellowship opportunity, but also insisting on giving her a makeover. Maya’s always been comfortable in her skin, but she’s financially precarious, so she overlooks her apprehensions. But as Emme’s influence on her grows, she starts to lose her identity—and almost loses Ant. It’s fascinating to watch this story play out from a new perspective, and the themes of self-awareness and healing resonate. Readers will have no trouble rooting for Maya to find happiness.Agent: Michelle Richter, Fuse Literary. (Sept.)