Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Persuasion Modern-Day Retelling
SETTING: present-day summer in Old Lyme, Connecticut
MAIN CHARACTERS: Hanna (Anne), Derick (Wentworth), Ella Musgrove (Louisa), Eli Williams (William Elliot), Charles and Mary Musgrove, their two boys (CJ and Walter), Benny Croft (Benwick) and Adam and Sophie Croft.
Hanna is happy to spend her summer with her sister’s family while they vacation in Old Lyme, even if she does end up taking care of her nephews more than their mother does! She is happy until she runs into the man who broke her heart ten years ago, and discovers he is staying just a few houses away. The pain of their past relationship resurfaces with a vengeance as Derick treats Hanna with aloofness and begins a relationship with her brother-in-law’s sister…
WHAT I LOVED:
- Setting: One of my favorite parts of Jane Austen’s Persuasion is the visit to Lyme Regis. As someone who lives fifteen minutes from the ocean and is fortunate enough to visit it often, I know how soothing, refreshing, and inspiring being in such a place can be. I loved how this whole story took place by the sea, in a private community with charming shops and an old-town feel. No visits to Bath or other locales, just sand, lighthouses, and breakwaters!
- Clever Updates and Parallels: As always with modern-day retellings, it is so much fun to spot the parallels and nods to Jane Austen’s original novel. I thought it was very apropos that Derick was a famous athlete on a yacht racing team and that Hanna was a Kindergarten teacher. And without spoiling any of the surprises I thought the reason for the dissolution of Hanna’s and Derick’s romance was refreshing and unique. It’s isn’t so much about differences in class, families, and connections in this scenario…
- Not the Same Sequence of Events: While Misty Dawn Pulsipher adheres to the central conflict and themes of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, she adds a bit originality to her tale by not strictly following the requisite sequence of events. There were some unique twists and a bit of an altered timeline in this retelling. Hanna only has one sister and we really don’t seem much interaction with her father or god-mother. Eli is much more appealing than William Elliot and his interest in Hanna has nothing to do with being Hanna’s father’s heir. (SLIGHT SPOILER!) And the relationship between Hanna and Derick takes an interesting turn when they decide to start over as friends halfway through the book.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Ella: I may be in the minority saying this, but I typically tend to like Louisa Musgrove in Persuasion stories (even though she is Anne’s rival!) Unlike Caroline Bingley and Mary Crawford, she is a sincere person and I like her friendliness towards Anne. But in this story Ella wasn’t very likable; she was very self-absorbed and had a bit too much attitude. Also, while I appreciated the twist about what happens to her later in the story, it definitely dampened the happy ending and resolved a little unsatisfactory in my opinion.
- Not Fully In Love: I must admit that I wasn’t fully in love with either Hanna or Derick in this retelling. While I admired and liked both – and was glad that Hanna had a bit of a backbone and that Derick wasn’t completely a jerk – I didn’t feel as emotionally invested in them or their relationship. I think I wanted just a little more depth.
Persuaded is a well-crafted and original modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and a perfect choice for readers who enjoy sweet and beachy contemporary romances. I greatly enjoyed Ms. Pulsipher’s artful approach to Jane Austen’s characters and I am very eager to read her two other releases – Pride’s Prejudice and Mansfield.
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