Bookiness – Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion (2010) by Regina Jeffers

Captain Wentworth's Persuasion: Jane Austen's Classic Retold Through His EyesCaptain Wentworth’s Persuasion: Jane Austen’s Classic Retold Through His Eyes by Regina Jeffers

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Why oh why oh why do I do these things to myself???

Jane Austen’s Persuasion is one of my very favourite novels. I adore it. I think Captain Wentworth’s letter to Anne Elliot is, perhaps, the most romantic passage in the Western Canon.  Plus, I cannot separate the text from the 1995 film adaptation (that’s the *brilliant* version with Ciarán Hinds, not the Run Lola Run attempt from a few years ago on the BBC).  The line “I am half-agony, half-hope” from the letter scene makes me swoon more than the image of Darcy in his wet shirt.

After the trailer for Michael Collins, which had an unforeseen but powerful influence on my career, that trailer is probably my favourite in the history of film — the music from Holst’s “Jupiter” only adds to its fabulousness.

I knew when I bought this attempted re-write of Persuasion that it would be a pale, pale shadow of the original; I knew it would frustrate me with its lack of Austen-esque wit; I knew it would make me gnash my teeth. And, yet, it had Captain Wentworth’s name in the title, so I put down the $20 and walked away with it in my bag… and then I didn’t read it for over a year. Last week, coming down from the brilliance of Tigana, I thought I would try something that was obviously a bit silly.

I was being stupid.

The only redeeming features in Jeffers’ book are the lines taken directly from Austen (hence the 1 star review). The rest is drivel. An entire industry seems to have been made by re-doing Jane’s novels (a la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), or writing supposed sequels (a la Berdoll’s The Bar Sinister), but this one beats them all. It hurt my soul.  Badly.  I only finished it to increase my (still pathetically small by comparison) tally of pages for The End of the World Reading Challenge. I immediately then began to re-read The Shadow of the Wind as a sort of literary exorcism.

Do yourself a favour: do not repeat my mistake.  Go re-read the REAL Austen version of Persuasion and then, if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, go watch Ciarán Hinds as Captain Wentworth. The concert scene and “the letter” are worth their weight in gold.

From now on, I vow never to read crap sequels of books I adore.  It’s an exercise in foolishness and can only be a dampening experience… rather like my last visit to Bath in 2007 when it never stopped raining. And there was no real Captain Wentworth with an umbrella.  Shame.

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Midatlantic Musings by Jane G. V. McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

About midatlanticmusings

Historian of the Irish Diaspora and masculinities, wife, mother, lover of good books, red wine, fine whiskies, pop culture aficionado, and Star Wars wonk.
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