Frederick sat for hours on the hillside, looking out over the land — but he saw none of it. His mind replayed the moments he had spent with Anne. Images of her, from her entrance into the village shop to the crumpled form he left lying on the bank of the lake, filled his brain. His words — her gestures — the dream he held of their life together — everything he had ever wanted — he could not have asked for more. Except — he wanted more — he wanted their time together to never end.
(from Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, pages 33-34)
When I read Persuasion last year, it immediately became my favorite Jane Austen novel, and of course, it was impossible not to fall in love with Captain Wentworth. Austen’s novel of reversed fortunes and second chances is told from the point of view of Anne Elliot, who is persuaded to break her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a man with no connections, title, or fortune. Eight years later, Anne’s family is having financial troubles, Frederick comes back a rich man from his time at sea, and they get swept up in the same social circle when Frederick’s sister and brother-in-law rent Anne’s family home. It seems to Anne that Frederick could never forgive her, especially when he shows interest in Louisa Musgrove, the sister of Anne’s brother-in-law.
What’s missing from Austen’s novel is Frederick and Anne’s early relationship, and Frederick’s thoughts on all that transpires. Regina Jeffers tells Frederick’s side of the story in Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, a novel I savored because there are so few re-tellings of Persuasion. Jeffers opens the novel with Frederick and Anne together on his ship, and after a skirmish that leaves Frederick wounded, the story of their relationship from their first meeting through the events that transpire in Austen’s original work is told through flashbacks. Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion also shows Frederick and Anne after the end of Austen’s novel, giving us a glimpse of their life together.
Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion was enjoyable because it let me spend more time with my favorite characters. Jeffers stays true to the events of Persuasion in Frederick’s flashbacks but adds a new dimension to the story by imagining it from Frederick’s point of view. His deep devotion to Anne and his hurt at their broken engagement explains his behavior toward Anne when they meet again. Although Jeffers doesn’t match Austen’s wit and humor, there are some amusing moments, and of course, more romance than in the original. I liked that Jeffers didn’t just retell Persuasion but wrote about Frederick and Anne before and after, and I loved reading about Frederick’s military adventures, how he worked hard to make a name for himself, his devotion to his crew, and his inability to let go of the woman he loved despite the people and the years that came between them. If you’re like me and love the characters and stories created by Austen, as well as all the various takes on her novels, you’ll want to give Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion a try.
Disclosure: Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion is from my personal library.
© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.