Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
In her debut novel, Melanie Stanford has creatively updated Jane Austen’s Persuasion in modern-day California. The reincarnations and modernizations of these characters were very thoughtfully developed:
- Ava Elliot is a classical pianist who is just returning home after studying music at Julliard for eight years
- Walter Elliot is a former soap actor very concerned about maintaining his youthful good looks
- Beth Elliot is Ava’s haughty older sister whom like her father, has bad a habit of overspending
- The Elliots are retrenching to their Malibu home while renting Kellynch Mansion to some tenants
- The Crofts are a semi-retired couple that is well-off due to Richard Croft’s career in music production
- Eric Wentworth, Sophia Croft’s talented younger brother and Ava’s former fiancé, is a huge success in the music world and just recently finished a big tour
Instead of the navy, Bath, and England, Melanie Stanford sets her story in the world of musicians, Hollywood, and actors. Some other clever reincarnations I was a big fan of was Charlie Musgrove as a video game tester (perfect job choice for him!) and Gage Johnson (William Elliot) as an aspiring actor and model. I also loved that Mrs. Smith became Lexi, a single mother who was Ava’s closest friend from Julliard. My compliments to Melanie Stanford for finding so many ways to modernize and adapt these characters and situations that were not only clever but also wonderfully fitting.
One of the things I loved most about Sway was that it took place in the music world! To see characters express their emotions through songs and melodies, witness them turn to music in a times of pain, and see the selections of music that they play and listen to was a very lovely experience! I greatly enjoyed seeing references to Adele, Frank Sinatra, Chopin, and Hoobastank all mixed together! (Also, I think Melanie Stanford has great musical taste!)
Another aspect of the story I greatly enjoyed was the author’s sensitive yet strong portrayal of Ava (Anne Elliot). Since Anne is such a quiet and selfless character, she is often depicted as meek, neglected, and a person to be pitied. I couldn’t feel that with this version of Anne Elliot. Sure, she is heartbroken and mourns the loss of love between her and Eric, but she still attempts to make the best of her life and move on. I liked that she had a best friend in this story (Lexi), that she had another serious relationship post-Eric (Kaz), and that she becomes involved romantically with another man while Eric is in town. I especially enjoyed how instead of being a doormat or punching bag, she shows some backbone. When Eric openly displays his resentment with thinly veiled insults and digs, she throws him back a zinger or two. *slow clap for Ava* This makes her a character that not only earns our sympathy and understanding, but also one that readers can respect and admire as well.
Thoughtfully composed and beautifully executed, Sway is a lovely homage to Jane Austen’s masterpiece. Filled with honest emotions, insightful parallels, and heart-aching lyrics this beautiful, often-sung song of second chances is definitely worthy of listening to and often replaying! Congrats to Melanie Stanford for a fantastic debut!
In conjunction with my review, I have ONE ebook copy of Melanie Stanford’s newly released novel, Sway, to give away to ONE lucky winner!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment about my review!
To double your chances of winning, make sure you check out the lovely post Melanie shared on Wednesday and leave a comment there!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Melanie!
- This giveaway ends January 27th!