Is she, then, still swayed by Lady Russell? I asked myself.
I did not know, but if she was, I feared my hopes would soon be dashed, for I had no reason to suppose that Lady Russell liked me any more than she had done eight years before. I might have made my fortune but Lady Russell, once she had made up her mind, was unlikely to change it.
…I cursed myself inwardly, wondering when and where I had become such a coward. I had never been frightened when taking a ship into battle; but talking to Anne, finding out whether or not she still loved me … that terrified me.
(from Captain Wentworth’s Diary, page 232)
After I finished Jane Austen’s Persuasion, I wasn’t ready to let the characters go, so I quickly got my hands on a copy of Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange. There are so few sequels and retellings of Persuasion, so I should have savored this one, but I tore through this book in one day. Sigh.
Persuasion is told from the point of view of Anne Elliot, who is persuaded by her friend, Lady Russell, to break her engagement to the love her life, Frederick Wentworth, simply because he isn’t rich and doesn’t have a title or connections and therefore isn’t a suitable match for a baronet’s daughter. Wentworth’s thoughts and feelings are revealed only through his interactions with Anne and one really, really romantic letter.
Captain Wentworth’s Diary is a retelling of Persuasion from Wentworth’s point of view and in his words. The entries are more detailed than you would expect in a diary, especially when it comes to the dialogue, which helps it read like a regular novel. The writing and wording is much different from Austen’s, of course, but that hardly matters.
What I really enjoyed about Captain Wentworth’s Diary is that Grange begins Frederick and Anne’s story in 1806, when they first meet at a ball. Austen gives few details about their relationship in Persuasion, other than that they were engaged, so I enjoyed reading about their courtship. Their initial meeting is humorous, and Wentworth’s feelings for Anne are deep; he can’t stay away from her despite warnings from his brother that he is paying too much attention to her — and only her. Grange did such a good job building their relationship that when it ends, I could feel the sadness.
I could not stop thinking about Anne. She would not have rejected me if she had truly loved me…
But it was folly to think of her, I told myself. She was shallow. Her heart was not as deep as mine, or she could not have told me to go. I would not regret her. I would learn my lesson. I would avoid the fairer sex. I would win such prizes from the Navy as would set me up for life, and I would have none but the sea as my mistress, for even with all her moods, she was less capricious than a woman.
I would remain a bachelor for the rest of my days. (page 117)
Captain Wentworth’s Diary fast forwards to 1814 and follows the story line of Persuasion, except that telling the story from Wentworth’s point of view allows readers to get to know Admiral and Mrs. Croft, Captain Harville, and Wentworth’s brother, Edward, better — and better understand the pain and wounded pride that causes him to act the way he does toward Anne. Grange gives a fuller view of Wentworth than Austen, but I didn’t need her to convince me of his greatness, as I’d fallen in love with the character while reading Persuasion. Still, it was nice to read an Austen retelling not focused on Pride and Prejudice!
Disclosure: I borrowed Captain Wentworth’s Diary from the public library.
© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.