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Friday, August 29, 2008

Captain Wentworth's Diary

Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange
Publisher: Berkeley
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Orange Blossom

During his shore leave from the Navy, Frederick Wentworth falls in love with the elegant and intelligent Miss Anne Elliot—only to see his hopes of marrying her dashed by her godmother.

Eight years later, Wentworth has realized his ambitions. A wealthy captain, he has pushed his memories of Anne to the furthest recesses of his mind—until he sees her again. And though Anne's bloom has faded, Wentworth is surprised to find that his regard for her wit and warmth has not.

I must qualify this review first by revealing that I am an avid Jane Austen fan. Now, there have been (and continue to be) so many Austen ‘spin-off’s’ written that it really should be its own genre by now. Some of them are great and others not so much. When I learned that a new retelling of Persuasion had been written by the same author as Mr. Darcy’s Diary, I was immediately intrigued. You see, Persuasion is my very favorite book and Captain Wentworth, my favorite literary hero of all time. I very much wanted to love this book, yet I worried whether this author would be able to deliver the Captain that I had learned to know and love through the writing of Miss Austen.

I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed. Ms. Grange presented the Captain just as I had imagined him in my mind. I was completely wrapped up in the story from beginning to end even though I knew exactly how it would conclude. I mean, I had read the original book after all. The Diary books are all written from the point of view of the heroes from each of Jane Austen’s novels. Since those were primarily written from the heroine’s POV, this gives us insight into the personal thoughts of the hero. In this addition to the series, Wentworth is written just as he should be: good natured and humorous with a bit of an edge at certain moments.

Any fan of Austen and especially Persuasion will love this book. The author allows you more intimacy with the characters and into scenes we never got to see in the original. For instance, the book begins in 1806, the year Wentworth and Anne meet and fall in love. In fact, over a hundred of the first pages of the book are dedicated to this part of the story. It’s wonderful reading Wentworth’s thoughts and following him as he experiences falling in love with all his youthful ardor. In the middle of the book, we switch to the year 1817 which is where J. Austen actually began her story, and we see Wentworth and Anne older and more mature but just as much in love.

I must applaud Ms. Grange for creating such a well-written and researched retelling of a story I love so dearly. Her tone and language compliment the Regency-era original to perfection. This book will entrance and enthrall. I know it held me captive to the very end. This is a bookshelf keeper to be read over and over.