Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
For some reason I had some pretty inaccurate assumptions about this book! Judging this contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion by its youthful cover and fairytale-inspired title, I instantly thought this story would be more geared towards Young Adult audiences and be filled with lots of magic and enchantment. However, this story ended up being for adult audiences and not as heavily steeped in the fairytale realm as one might anticipate. Which I liked even better!
Like most Persuasion-inspired stories this tale is about a fervent and youthful romance that ended too soon, living with regret, and the rare opportunity to have a second chance. While we don’t encounter any characters with the vanity of Sir Walter Elliott, the neediness of Mary Musgrove, or the flattery of Mrs. Clay, we do encounter characters that resemble Anne, Wentworth, Lady Russell, Louisa, and Captain Benwick. I loved how this story wasn’t an exact scene-for-scene modernization of Persuasion! Yes, we saw some familiar incidents, themes and exchanges, but the story was very much its own.
Our heroine, Julia Basham, an administrative assistant at a successful personal finance consulting group, has always believed in fairy-godmothers and she desperately wishes hers would pay her a visit now! It has been eight years since she broke off her engagement with Nick Kerkley, and now he is back in her life. This is her second chance…she can right the wrong she made eight years ago…she just needs someone to help her make it happen…[cue: enter Julia’s fairy-godmother…ahem! Julia’s fairy-godmother??? Where are you? This is your cue…] 😉
I thoroughly enjoyed the inspiring and honest message this book delivers to its audiences! Readers see right away that Julia is crippled by her past – how she refuses to date and has lost a lot of her drive and potential in her profession. She was in love and happy eight years ago, bu because she listened to her older sister’s caution, her life is dull and lonely. What I liked most about Julia is how she took on a lot of culpability for her mistakes and decision to break her engagement. While kind Anne Elliot refuses to blame anyone for her broken-heart and unhappiness, Julia blames and castigates herself. When Julia sees pain reflected in Nick’s eyes she knows it is pain she caused. She realizes things in her life are wrong, not because she yielded to persuasion, but because she didn’t trust in her own instincts. Learning to trust and believe in yourself when others disagree is a scary thing to do. For me, this message was far more powerful and vital than witnessing a happily ever after manufactured by fate, fairies, or enchantment.
I truly enjoyed the engaging characters in this story. At times Julia felt just a tad undeveloped, but most of the time I enjoyed her refreshing honesty, reflective nature, and penchant for having a hilarious inner monologue going on at all times...definitely reminded me of Bridget Jones, who while being a bit more neurotic is just as sarcastic, obsessively analytical, and romantically challenged! In addition, I was utterly charmed and captivated by Nick. He doesn’t seem to be as bitter and resentful as Captain Wentworth, instead he is portrayed as lonely, hurt, and betrayed. And his passionate devotion and intensity will definitely make your knees go weak my friends! 😉
Once Upon a Second Chance is a delightful and imaginative story that wonderfully illustrates the importance of having courage, believing in yourself, and not waiting for someone to wave their magic wand and make everything in your life better. A contemporary romance inspired by Jane Austen and reminiscent of fairytales – a perfect book for readers looking for something inspiring, light-hearted, and romantic!
Note: Due to the use of some mild profanity and a few adult situations towards the end, I’d recommend this story for readers over the age of 14.