“I suspect she was once a beauty, but now has a somewhat haggard appearance. It would help if she did something with her hair — some curling about the face. But on such a short acquaintance, all I can say is she appears to be a woman of sense. When we spoke in the library, I challenged some of her notions about what constitutes good reading material, and she came back at me with somewhat persuasive arguments. Although I have no intention of reading novels, she did make a case for others doing so.”
“So you liked her?” Sophia asked.
“Yes, I did. But whether I liked her because she contrasted with her family, whom I did not like, is yet to be known.”
(from Captain Wentworth Home From the Sea, page 29)
In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Captain Wentworth returns from the war against Napoleon with lots of money and lots of resentment toward Anne Elliot, who broke his heart eight years prior by ending their engagement because her family did not approve. Mary Lydon Simonsen rewrites the reunion of Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot in Captain Wentworth Home From the Sea. In this charming novella, Simonsen has Captain Wentworth come home from the war with a head injury that has wiped out most of his memories.
Frederick’s sister, Sophia, and her husband, Admiral Croft, make arrangements to lease Kellynch Hall, the Elliot family estate. While Anne’s father and older sister head off to Bath to ignore the fact that the family’s financial situation is dire, Anne is left behind to make sure the Crofts and Captain Wentworth get settled in. When she realizes that Captain Wentworth has no memory of her or their broken engagement, she puts off a visit to her whiny, attention-seeking sister, Mary, and renews her friendship with Frederick.
Frederick’s injury has changed him, basically making it hard for him to hold his tongue, and he says things that are rude yet extremely amusing. He finds that he likes — but does not love — Anne, and he wonders about the chestnut haired woman in his foggy memory. As their relationship progresses, Anne knows she needs to tell Frederick the truth, but she can’t stand to lose him again.
Like Persuasion, Captain Wentworth Home From the Sea is a sweet story about second chances. Simonsen’s Captain Wentworth is brusque at times but a good man. Her version of Anne Elliot is delightful; she won’t be ordered around by her family, and she won’t let her late mother’s close friend, Lady Russell, stand in the way of her happiness this time. The novella focuses solely on Captain Wentworth and Anne, and the only supporting characters who really make an appearance are the Crofts and the Harvilles. While that means there isn’t a whole lot of drama or tension, I am glad Simonsen chose to leave Anne’s annoying family in the background and focus on the reunion of Frederick and Anne. I loved this book and was sad that it was so short, but that’s the nature of the novella. I’d love to see this book expanded into a full-length novel!
Disclosure: I won Captain Wentworth Home From the Sea in a giveaway on Austen Authors. I am an Amazon associate.
© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.