From the desk of Sophia Rose:
Modernizing a classic through a retelling can be fraught with authorial peril. One must do more than simply slap a pair of blue jeans on a heroine and put some slang on her lips, but at the same time, one has a duty to the legacy of the classic and the reader should recognize the original story within the fresh tale. Did author Rachel John avoid these pitfalls in Persuading the Captain, inspired by Jane Austen’s final novel Persuasion? Stick around and see.
Anne is about to start a new chapter in her life when her family must leave her childhood home in Hollywood when her actor father’s fading career is not generating the money to match the extravagant lifestyle that he and her older sister think that they deserve. Anne is done catering to their whims and has taken a step away toward her own dreams by getting a dinosaur museum job up in San Francisco along with taking on part-time babysitting for her younger sister Mary in exchange for room and board. She is joining Mary and her husband’s family for their family reunion up at a lake cabin before it all begins. Naturally, the reunion brings some family excitement and tension when Carl’s younger sisters corral one of their cabin neighbors into joining some family camping activities. He is Eric Wentworth, her hottie ex-boyfriend who she is definitely not over, yet.
Eric knew Anne’s family were snobs toward a guy who grew up far from Hollywood, but he never thought she’d pick her family over him. Breaking off their engagement left him at a loss so he threw himself into his work. His commercial pilot job has taken him all over the world and rarely staying in one place. But, now after all these years, he’s taken a job for his brother in law in a new commercial venture to do air charters for the wealthy and the venture is based in San Francisco. His sister and brother in law have invited him to enjoy the cabin and the lake before diving back into their new work. He thought he put Anne her in the rear-view mirror until being near her and seeing all the wonderful traits he appreciated and loved about her is a danger to him and he struggles hard to keep away from her and hide by hanging out with vibrant Lucy. Then a drastic situation makes the choice for him and Anne is further away than ever.
Persuading the Captain is sweet, heartwarming, and full of humor. The bittersweet flavor of regret and longing are there, but there are more light-hearted moments layered with it. Much of this story lines up with the classic and the characters are recognizable to those in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. However, the author has placed them well in the 21st Century and she didn’t hesitate to drop characters and bits that were superfluous or didn’t jive with the plot and pace of her own story. For instance, the reader will look in vain for a Lady Russell figure and there was no cousin looking to secure the family time and estate by cozying up to Anne. And, while Mary is a tad hypochondriac, there is a sisterly connection at times and even with Lizzie the oldest sister who is self-absorbed.
The tone of the story is light and fun and even the conflicts throughout are easily dealt with—perhaps too easily at times. Eric’s best friend, Benneck, is a flirty adorable scene-stealer who had some heartache, but he is a hundred percent committed to kicking Eric in the butt when he’s about to screw up his own happiness and he’s a great friend to Anne when she needs one. Anne’s family’s antics are eye-rollingly funny much of the time. But there are some gentle romantic moments too. Who knew a mud fight could be a courtship move?
I liked seeing the same gentle, kind, and thoughtful Anne who regrets her choice, but at the same time, she is more assertive than the original when it comes to the point. Mary even gets in on a girl power moment at just the right time.
All in all, I thought this was an excellent retelling in a modern romcom format and it was the best in the series so far for me. I would recommend this for Austen lovers who don’t mind contemporary settings, but also this will appeal to all sweet romantic comedy fans in general.
4 out of 5 Stars
- Persuading the Captain: An Austen Inspired Romantic Comedy, by Rachel John
- Independently Published (May 18, 2020)
- Trade paperback, & eBook (170) pages
- ISBN: 979-8647102980
ADDITIONAL BOOKS IN THE SERIES
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Cover image courtesy of Rachel John © 2020; text Sophia Rose © 2021, Austenprose.com