I was recently afforded the opportunity of working with Juliet Archer. We were fortunate enough to collaborate on The Austen Games together and have developed a nice little friendship driven by our love for Jane Austen! Juliet is the author of the Darcy and Friends series, which currently consists of two novels and is soon to be followed by more works. The first in the series, The Importance of Being Emma, was well received and was soon followed by Persuade Me. Both books have received several romance novel award nominations/wins, and after reading Persuade Me it’s easy to see why!
In a modern-day retelling of Persuasion, Archer introduces us to Anna Wentworth and Rick Wentworth. Both met in France while Anna was an Au Pair and Rick taught sailing lessons. The two immediately fall in love and have a fairy tale summer together. Unfortunately events beyond their control forced them apart, as Anna left to go to school in England and Rick left to work in Australia. For ten long years they lived apart, linked by the memory of that fateful summer in France. Fate steps in again, when the two meet in England, where Anna lives as a University lecturer and Rick is passing through on a book tour in his career as a famous marine biologist. They have both been harboring conflicting feelings about each other, and coming back together after all these years have brought these feelings back to the surface with a vengeance. The two must decide how to best move forward, whether it be together or as separate people. Which one will it be?
Whenever I read a novel that pays homage to Austen’s Persuasion, there’s one thing that always stands out to me as the make or break point: Wentworth’s letter. It is hands down the best letter written in all of literature in my eyes. Therefore, I’m always nervous that when I read a Persuasion influenced novel that it won’t live up to the expectations that I have. I can tell you, my fellow readers, that Archer’s version of Wentworth’s letter is 100% swoon-worthy. I fell in love with the story, the characters, and the comedic undertones of Archer’s writing all while greatly anticipating the moment I would reach “the letter”. Archer’s novel reads like a fine red wine that has been left out to breathe. It becomes fuller and more complex with time, adding to the reader’s pleasure and enjoyment.
Archer’s creativity and wit are clearly evident in the way in which she modernizes Austen’s story. Frederick (now Rick) is now a marine biologist as opposed to being a naval officer, yet still gets to spend most of his time with his love, the sea. Anne (now Anna), who I’ve always considered the smartest of all of Austen’s heroines, gets to showcase that intelligence with a Ph.D. in Russian literature. The inclusion of discussions on Russian literature and the similarities between the plots of these novels and the plot of Persuasion has made me want to delve more into Russian literature in the future. Overall, the entire novel was a very interesting and engaging read. If you love Austen modernizations like I do and are in the mood for a new and fun spin on our favorite classic, definitely check out Persuade Me. You won’t be disappointed!
4 out of 5 Stars
Persuade Me by Juliet Archer
Choc Lit Limited (2011)
Paperback: 386 pages
Special thanks to Juliet for sending me a review copy!
Note: This book is not available for fans in the US yet. You CAN pre-order it though for its May 15th release date. For those of you in the UK you’ll be happy to hear it’s already available for you!