If I tell you that Jane Austen is one of my favourite authors and has been since I was a teenager; that Persuasion is not only my favourite of all her books but one of my all-time favourite books; and that Captain Wentworth is my favourite literary hero, then you’ll probably understand why I might have been slow to flick open Juliet Archer’s Persuade Me, a modern retelling of Persuasion.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for modern revamps of classic books and films. When they’re done well, they can give you a fresh take on the original and guide you back to revisiting an old friend or introduce you to a new one. But when they’re done badly, they’re a travesty and I rue the loss of valuable reading or viewing time.
Happily, Juliet Archer has done a fantastic job with Persuade Me and my love of Persuasion not only remains undimmed but it might even have been reinforced, if that’s possible. The beauty of ChocLit titles is that they offer you the story not only from the heroine’s perspective but also from that of the hero and, with such an appealing hero as Rick Wentworth, that’s one of the main draws here. You finally get inside Wentworth’s head and find out what he’s thinking and feeling. Being able to do so does mean that the Will-they?, Won’t-they? suspense of the original is compromised slightly but Juliet Archer handles things in such a way that she still manages to retain much of the tension, right up to the last possible moment. Besides, it was terrific fun to see just what a modern Wentworth might be like. Rick Wentworth, marine biologist, is a clever imagining of what Austen’s hero could be today. He’s every bit as passionate and impulsive as the Captain Frederick Wentworth of the original.
The heroine, Anna, is a character that I couldn’t help liking and wouldn’t mind being friends with, were she real. I also loved the Musgrove family and the Crofts every bit as much as I did the ones in Austen’s novel and I definitely approved of Mrs Smith’s modern-day equivalent and her situation. That was a lovely touch. It was a lot of fun to recognise each and every modern equivalent of much-loved (or hated, in some cases) characters and I enjoyed how Juliet Archer updated the key events, making it especially relevant in our seemingly celebrity-obsessed times.
You don’t need to know or love Persuasion to enjoy Persuade Me. The book easily holds its own and is a great read in its own right and, if you haven’t read Persuasion, you’ll hopefully enjoy Persuade Me enough to want to see where the inspiration for it came from.
I read Persuade Me straight through in one sitting. I hadn’t meant to but once I started I didn’t want to put it down, even though I knew exactly how the story would end. I eventually finished it around 5am on Monday. That’s the sign of a good read in my book.
Persuade Me is Juliet Archer’s second book in the Darcy & Friends series (modern retellings of Jane Austen’s six complete novels) published by ChocLit. The Importance of Being Emma is also available from them. You can find out more about Juliet Archer on her Author Website, by reading her Blog or you can Follow Her on Twitter.