Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Review: Persuade Me

By Becky Gulc

"Persuade Me" is Juliet Archer’s second novel in the series ‘Darcy & Friends’. In a series which sees her recreate and modernise Jane Austen classics. "Persuade Me" is based on Austen’s final completed novel, "Persuasion."

Having never read "Persuasion," and having not read any of Jane Austen’s work since I was in my late teens I wondered whether I would take to this novel. Although the idea is that Jane’s work would be made contemporary, with fresh insights into her characters, I found the cover very old-fashioned, and to be honest it wasn’t one I would pick up based on this or the fact it’s based on a classic. To be honest, I was worried this novel could be hard work to read and too full of talk of a class system or hierarchy. After a hard day at work I’m often looking for something light with characters I can empathise with and I wasn’t sure I’d find it here.

For anyone familiar with "Persuasion," you will already know the plot and characters; from what I can tell this doesn’t change significantly from the original. The novel revolves around Anna Elliot (a single Russian Literature Lecturer living in Bath), and Rick Wentworth (hot celebrity scientist); two people who fell hopelessly in love ten years ago when they were in their late teens/early twenties respectively; two people torn apart through the interfering actions of Anna’s wealthy family.

Ten years on and now living in Australia, Rick’s promotional tour for his book Sex in the Sea places him back in England, and back, reluctantly, in the vicinity of Anna and her family. Their paths cross numerous times, but can Rick’s anger towards Anna still linger after all this time? Will Anna ever be able to move on from the one that got away? Can Anna’s family interfere and break hearts a second time?

Anna is a very down-to-earth and likeable character, the opposite of the other family members! Sometimes I wasn’t quite sure why Anna even kept in touch with some of her family as they were that dislikeable, but I guess that made me wish Anna ultimate happiness even more as she is always someone who seems to put everyone else first and herself last.

We are told the story from both Anna and Rick’s viewpoints so we know what each are thinking throughout and how different situations end up being misconstrued leading to the "will they, won’t they" question throughout. I also felt this helped the reader to see the softer side of Rick, and why Anna might have fallen for him in the first place; it wouldn’t be obvious based on his attitude and actions. My only niggle would be that towards the end I felt like it was become a little repetitive and I just wanted to find out the ending, or shake the characters into action!

This book does appear to stay true to its Austen heritage so I don’t think it would disappoint ardent fans. Juliet makes subtle changes to make the work relevant to a new generation of readers. ‘Wentworth’ (Rick) for example goes from being a Captain in the Navy in "Persuasion" to a celebrity scientist in "Persuade Me" who gets half-naked to promote his latest book Sex in the Sea. The class system and aristocracy prevalent in the classics can still be found in this version, but I found this didn’t put me off as it just made me root for good things to happen to the main, down-to-earth characters even more so.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel and you definitely don’t have to have read the original to appreciate it. It’s a very well-written, character driven book which is full of rich description. With characters who are stuck in the past and afraid to love again you will be urging them to get together all the way.

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1 comment:

Juliet Archer said...

What a lovely review, Becky - thank you!