Monday, May 14, 2012
Author: Rebecca H. Jamison
Genre: Religious fiction, contemporary fiction, spin-off
Publisher: Cedar Fort, 2012
Read for: Review
When Anne broke off her engagement with Neil Wentworth, she thought she was making the right decision. They were so young, he didn't seem to have a very solid future, and her parents had just gone through a messy divorce. However, after eight years of lukewarm relationships, when Neil's brother buys Anne's father's home -- and she finds out that Neil is still single -- Anne can't help but be interested. However, will their relationship be rekindled, or has the passage of time (and the hurt that she caused when she ended the relationship) doomed them to a life apart?
I have mentioned before that in general, I don't like religious fiction. It isn't because I don't like religion -- my religion is part of my every day life. However, usually when I find it in fiction form, it seems really stilted, almost as if they are trying too hard. However, this spin-off of Jane Austen's Persuasion was actually pretty good. Anne, the main character, discusses her faith pretty consistently throughout the book, but it doesn't seem overly forced in most instances. The main characters in this book are LDS (also known as "Mormon") and refer quite a bit to LDS culture, so while I think the general story will be enjoyable to a wide range of readers, some of the details may be confusing to those unfamiliar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I think the best part of this story was the way the plot (for the most part) closely followed the main story of Persuasion by Jane Austen, but with details that are more commonplace and were completely relatable to me. Instead of a soldier, Wentworth is a police officer with a heroic record. Anne's hypochondriac sister, Mary, is instead a pregnant lady on bedrest. The major change in the story is that Mr. William Elliott, Anne's rich relative in the Jane Austen original, is a rich businessman in this modern retelling who helps Anne's father find employment after losing his job. Instead of being cynical when Anne rejects him, in an intense but exciting deviation from the original novel he becomes a crazy stalker determined to get Anne to stay in a relationship with him. The Will segment was definitely the most different from the Jane Austen novel, but I thought it was an interesting idea and definitely made the story more exciting.
The characters weren't particularly well-developed, with perhaps the exception of Anne, who we have the opportunity to become well-acquainted with because the story is narrated in first person. The main purpose of this book was clearly the plot and the connection with the original story. However, because I was reading it due to my love of the original story, I wasn't overly bothered by this -- my attention was more heavily focused on how the two stories differed and were the same, which I think is usually the point of a spin-off story.
I was somewhat impressed by Jamison's writing. Usually in a spin-off, contemporary romance, type of novel I expect the writing to be bland and weak. While the style wasn't particularly literary, Jamison's writing was pleasant to read and did not distract me at all. I felt pulled into the story and had vivid images in my mind of the action.
For lovers of Persuasion by Jane Austen, this new spin-off will be an enjoyable read. It is a light, Christian romance with a little prayer and a few dramatic twists dropped in.
Warnings: Some mild violence (think punching of stalkers, etc.) That's about it.