Anna Elliot is stuck in the past. No one can compare to Rick Wentworth, the man she was persuaded to give up. Meanwhile, Rick's moved on - and up. He's got a successful career and a carefully controlled love life where his heart doesn't get a look in. When they meet again, can she persuade him that their lost love is worth a second chance?
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This is the second of a series written by Juliet Archer, updating the storyline of a Jane Austen novel to the modern day. Unlike the first one, this one wasn't told with the alternating POVs or narrators. If it had been, it would have been wonderful to hear Rick Wentworth voiced by an actor such as Christopher Eccleston or Richard Armitage. Yes, our Captain is now Dr. Rick Wentworth, marine biologist from the north of England, now living in Australia (complete with supermodel girlfriend) but who has returned to the UK for a book tour promoting his best-seller ”Sex in the Sea".
Ten years earlier, he met and fell in love with Anna Elliott, daughter of the 8th Baronet of Kellynch, while they were both in the south of France. On the advice and connivance of her father and Lady Araminta (Minty) Russell, Anna doesn't go to Australia with Rick. Now, he's a well-respected scientist and Anna is a lecturer in Russian Literature at a University in Bath. The Russian connection is due to her late mother having been Russian. Anna lives in a flat in Bath owned by Jenny Smith, who's husband is still alive but badly disabled.
The plot follows the original very closely so I won't go into very much detail. Sir Walter is possibly even vainer than the original, as is the eldest Elliott daughter, Lisa. Mrs Clay is the masseuse, Cleopatra Clay. The youngest Elliott daughter Mona is still married to Charles Musgrove, with sisters Lou and Henrietta. Rick's sister and brother-in-law run a garden centre near Kellynch, renting property from Sir Walter but not the Hall itself. I loved these Crofts as much as the originals. William Elliott-Dunn is the heir to Kellynch and the Baronecy and to me, comes over as even more scheming than his Regency counterpart.
Rick's resentment towards Anna is even closer to the surface here and "Never forgive, never forget" is a mantra he seems to live by. This gets put to the test when they are thrown into company and the behaviour of neither to each other could be said to be of the best. He deliberately makes a play for Lou Musgrove (after the supermodel has dumped him in absentia for a richer man) before realising, after the events at Lyme Regis, exactly how cruel he's been to both women.
One scene I was waiting for of course, was The Letter. Obviously, the language has been brought up to date but "half agony, half hope" is still there, as are the sentiments. I have to say though, that I still prefer the language style of the original.
As far as I can tell, Juliet Archer is planning on writing more in the series but there's been a gap of some years now since this part. I really hope she does write more as I've thoroughly enjoyed both so far.
I loved the storyline - a perfect re-telling of the classic Jane Austen story; it even seemed to retain the same feelings and 'aura' of the original while giving it a modern twist. But the author also made the characters their own person - rather than (as in so many modern variations of Jane Austen books) simply calling them 'miss elliot' or 'captain wentworth'. As an audio book it is also very well portrayed. The narrator has a good pitch and is able to en capture the personalities of each different character. A strongly recommended audiobook!