‘I think every woman has that within her which would set her free, if only she could act on her inner feelings and be true to herself.’
(from Searching for Captain Wentworth, page 272)
Have you ever wished you could meet a long-dead favorite author and maybe even see firsthand the people and events that inspired your favorite novel? In Searching for Captain Wentworth, Jane Odiwe’s heroine, Sophie Elliot, gets the opportunity to meet and even befriend Jane Austen through her ancestor, Sophia.
Needing time away to mend her broken heart and determined to begin the novel she’s always wanted to write, Sophie heads to her great-aunt’s house in Bath, which has been in the family for generations. When she observes her dashing and mysterious downstairs neighbor, Josh, drop an old glove, Sophie has good intentions of returning it to him. But this is no ordinary glove; Sophie soon determines that it allows her to travel back to 1802 and see Regency Bath through the eyes of Sophia.
Sophie, unsure each time she travels through time when or whether she’ll return to the present day, finds life in the Elliot home unbearable at times. Sophia’s father seems only to care about the family’s connections, and her arrogant sister, Emma, rests all her hopes on marrying Mr. Glanville and is none too happy about Sophia getting in the way. If you love Jane Austen’s Persuasion as much as I do, you won’t have any problem identifying the similarities to Anne, Sir Walter, and Elizabeth Elliot.
The one thing that makes life tolerable for Sophie/Sophia is hanging out with the Elliot’s neighbors, the Austens, particularly the sisters Jane and Cassandra. Sophie is a fan of Austen’s novels and getting to know the real Jane and especially learning whether or not she had a true love make the temptation of the time-traveling glove too hard for her to resist. And of course, there is Jane’s charming brother, Charles, who is home from the Navy and touches Sophie’s heart in a way no other man ever has. Meanwhile, in the present, Sophie and Josh navigate a flirtation that is both sweet and awkward…and complicated by the fact that Sophie can’t bring herself to give back the glove.
Given my love for Persuasion, it’s not surprising that I adored Searching for Captain Wentworth. I certainly could understand how Sophie was torn between two worlds. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with Jane Austen? Odiwe’s Jane is as feisty, witty, and funny as we expect her to be. And because Sophie is so likeable and so real, especially her desire to start a new life and get over her past disappointments in romance and her career, I couldn’t help but root for her to find happiness in whatever century she chose.
But Searching for Captain Wentworth isn’t just about time travel and romance. Odiwe does a great job showing what women in the Regency era had to endure, from being pushed into marriage and constantly reminded of their familial obligations to a feeling of being trapped by society and how their time was never their own. It made me feel sorry for Sophia, who wasn’t as lucky as Sophie in being able to escape her world with a magical glove.
Odiwe makes Jane Austen come to life, and her love for Austen and her novels shines on every page. Searching for Captain Wentworth is a believable imagining of who and what could have inspired Austen to pen Persuasion, and I was impressed by Odiwe’s ability to persuade me to believe the unbelievable. I turned the last page thinking how much fun it would be to get my hands on that glove, even if I’d never be able to fake my way through a Regency dance despite having watched the movie adaptations of Austen’s novels countless times. You don’t need to have read Persuasion to enjoy this novel, and since Odiwe is one of my favorite authors in the Austenesque genre, I think it’s the perfect book for a day curled up with a blanket and a hot cup of tea.
I was saddened to learn that Shanna from Existing’s Tricky lost her battle with cancer in April. To honor her memory and her love of books, I am determined to complete her challenge. May she rest in peace.
Disclosure: I received Searching for Captain Wentworth from the author for review.
© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.