16 October 2011
Book Review: Persuade Me by Juliet Archer
As a rule, I'm not mad keen on modernisations of classic stories, especially if I haven't read the original book so I can compare the two. However, I've recently read 2 new retellings of Daphne Du Maruier's story 'Rebecca', a book I haven't read myself but I loved both adaptations of the book. When a copy of Juliet Archer's new take on Jane Austen's 'Persuasion', I was really curious as it sounded like a good story and for some reason, the cover really took my fancy too. I've only just read my first Jane Austen story, Pride and Prejudice, and really enjoyed it so hoped I'd enjoy the idea of 'Persuasion' too. After reading Archer's book, I now really want to read Austen's story and that's the sign of a good retelling if you ask me!
Anna Elliot is the leading lady of the book, and a character I really liked. It's ten years after her failed relationship with Rick Wentworth, and she's still holding a torch for him, even though she doesn't really want to. Anna works as a University lecturer in Bath, and loves Russian literature, and I loved the way Archer writes Anna's passion for it, the small things like the books laying around her flat, and the way she speaks to easily of it. Anna is also very likeable, open and you find yourself wanting things to work out for her. She did annoy me a bit regarding another male character, William, that she couldn't see what everyone else could see as a reader, but it's part of the fun I suppose! You do feel sorry for her as her relationship with her father is pretty awful, and I so wanted her to break free of his hold over her, emotionally more than anything.
The Elliott family are pretty hideous if I'm honest, but they make for fun reading, and certainly make Anna look like an even better person. There's one sister, Mona, married to Charles and has 2 children, basically the sister from hell who doesn't stop moaning. Another sister Elizabeth, fun and flighty but not present much in the book. Her father is Sir Walter Elliott, a man who still thinks a title should be respected and doesn't do well with the lack of respect for his peerage. He's a funny character, made me laugh out loud and couldn't be any more different from Anna! Finally, there's Anna's lost love Rick Wentworth, a famous author who is back from Australia on a book tour, and destined to meet Anna again, and the perfect hero in the book! Rick was fantastic, smooth and charming, and I was willing for him to fall in love with Anna all over again.
Archer has brilliantly updated this novel, and from what I have gathered from reading various sources about 'Persuasion', she's really stuck perfectly to the story and just brought it into modern times, no mean feat when dealing with such a classic. For example, Frederick Wentworth has turned from a travelling naval officer to Rick the famous author, and is wealthy from his book sales. Anna (Anne in the original) has been altered from a hope-less spinster to a well educated University lecturer, an updating I really liked! I loved the fact Archer was able to throw in the modern twists of Rick having a successful TV show, yet at the same time other characters felt really old-fashioned, like Walter, he almost belongs in the original book still! My only niggle is that I did wish there was a bit more about the love story of Anna and Rick when they were younger, this is merely mentioned throughout and not really told to us in any great detail which was a shame, but I suppose added an air of mystery to the love story!
Overall, I really enjoyed Archer's modern retelling of 'Persuasion' and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a proper love story. I would say it's perfectly enjoyable whether or not you've read Persuasion before, and I didn't feel at all disadvantaged by not having read Austen's original story at all. I love that Archer has stayed true to the story and characters (from what I've read) and as this book is part of a series called 'Darcy and Friends', I will definitely be looking out for more of Archer's retellings if they are going to be as good as this one. With great characters, a plot that keeps you guessing until the end (to an extent!) and a very well story, this book is a really great read and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Archer will be an author I'll look out for and I'll look forward to her future retellings of classic stories.