Every time I read Persuasion one thought always pops in my head, “I wish Anne had more confidence.” Mary Lydon Simonsen makes my dream come true in Anne Elliot, A New Beginning. Simonsen takes our beloved Anne and breathes new life into her meek personality that prevailed in Austen’s original work. This new and fresh look at one of my favorite Austen characters was too good to pass up, and the pages flew by as I got to witness a new and exciting chapter in Anne’s life as a liberated woman.
Anne Elliot is an old maid. She is a spinster. She is 25 years old and feels oddly liberated in this new status her family has given her. With this new-found freedom she begins running. Yes, you read that right, running. To her delight, this new activity makes her more confident and secure in herself than ever before, and she is ecstatic when Captain Wentworth happens upon her company eight years after their initial tumultuous courtship. Sound to good to be true? Of course it is, nothing in life is ever this easy! William Elliot, the heir to Kellynch (the Elliot estate), has come back from a long separation from Anne’s father following a disagreement long ago. Now that he is back he finds Anne just as attractive as Wentworth does, and he attempts to gain her courtship. Not is all as it seems, as Anne senses that William may have some tricks up his sleeve. Will she be able to unite with Wentworth or will William become an insurmountable obstacle? How will Wentworth react to her running when he finds out?
As I said in my opening, I’ve always wished that Anne had more confidence. She finds all of this confidence running. WHAT a change confidence makes. Anne is unafraid to speak her mind, and frequently does so, much to the displeasure of Lady Russell. She stands up to Mary and makes her stop being such a hypochondriac, forcing Mary to do something positive with her life instead of wasting it away worrying. Anne helps the characters change their ways, while also forcing them to give her the respect she has deserved all along. (All of this is done with hints of humor along the way).
I think you can tell by now that Anne Elliot, A New Beginning is a satirical retelling of Persuasion. I’m usually really nervous about reading satirized versions of Austen’s novels because either a novelist takes it too far and makes it borderline ridiculous (see here), or they don’t change enough of the story to make it a satire. Simonsen found the perfect blend between the two by infusing pop cultural references into the story that actually worked. Anne is all about running, so the references to Nike and other modern running related items makes sense in the context of the story. Also making Mary turn from a hypochondriac into a nurse was hysterical. She goes from being afraid of everything to suddenly making sure there are always bandages around and proper first aid techniques in use. It was a very humorous personality switch.
As usual Simonsen has given us a fresh take on an Austen classic. It was refreshing and exciting to see her new iteration of Anne as a confident and determined individual. All in all, I truly enjoyed Simonsen’s work and was happy to root for Anne and Wentworth until the end!
4 out of 5 Stars
This is my twenty-ninth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge