Reviewed by Carla F.
Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel and so I grabbed this one as soon as I saw it. The appeal of the story for me is the thought that no matter how much time has passed nor how large the mistake, it can be fixed.
Summary: In this adaptation Rick Wentworth lives in Australia and is a famous marine biologist who has spent his career studying sea dragons. He is now headed back to England to promote his book which his publishers have fortunately for him decided to name Sex in the Sea. Ever since Anna Elliot refused to marry him and broke his heart, Rick has lived by the motto, “Never forgive, never forgot”. But after ten years, Rick is thinking that once he returns from his book tour, that he needs to finally forget Anna, perhaps marry his supermodel girlfriend and get on with his life.
Anna’s life has been busy with her work as a professor of Russian Literature. She regrets that she let her mother’s friend Lady Russell (or Minty as she is known to her friends) talk her in to rejecting Rick’s proposal. She has kept up with Rick’s career, and she even has a ticket to his Bath book signing, but she doesn’t know if she will have the guts to approach him.
Review: Archer captures perfectly the style and tone of the origin. You see and feel the melancholy. (The advantage this one has over the original is that you get to see it both in Anna and Rick.) There is also the sly humor. (The total cluelessness and self-absorption of Anna’s father Walter Elliot and her sister Lisa is a frequent target.)
I liked how that even though this Rick and Anna had a more intimate relationship than their Austen counterparts, the sexual detail is somewhat vague and left for the most part at the bedroom door. It feels the way that Austen might have written it if she were to do so today.
The fun for me with any adaptation of Austen’s is the way the author fits in all the important plot points and characters. For example, the “Letter” scene is a convincing variation. However, one problem that I had with the overall story is that the keeping Rick and Anna apart felt a little forced. Societal rules in Austen’s time meant that there was a more “natural” barrier in the fact that a woman had to wait for the man to approach her.
Things that made me chuckle: The Forward in the book by Will Darcy who met Rick when he and his sister Georgie were on holiday in Australia.
Any mention of name Dottie Dalrymple.
The thing that creeped me out: William, who is Walter Elliot’s heir, bears enough of a physical resemblance to Walter to make Anna uncomfortable. Her sister Lisa doesn’t even seem to see this and is eager to marry him.
Overall: An excellent version of Persuasion. The author captures perfectly the mood and humor of the original while telling a modern story.