Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jenny Loves to Read - A Review of Anne Elliot

Four-star review of Anne Elliot, A New Beginning by Jenny at Jenny Loves to Read:

People may have their expectations, but I shall do what I think is best for me. I only have this one life, and as limited as it is by society and my own family, it is mine to live as I see fit."--Anne Elliot - p. 51

This is not your momma's beloved Austen story. Instead it is a fresh, somewhat modernized version of Persuasion. Modernized in the sense of the quote above. Anne will do what she wants and live her life as she sees fit. A Regency woman may dream about this but never actually do it like this Anne did. And I enjoyed Simonsen's retelling because of this aspect.

At 25 Anne Elliott is declared a spinster by her family and written off as unmarriageable. Instead of viewing her change in status as a death sentence, Anne sees it as a rebirth. A chance to do and be what she wants, instead of what society dictates. Why dwell on the negative? Anne is now free to pursue her life to the fullest; or at least as full as it can be without her one true love, Captain Wentworth.

The first thing Anne does is begin running along the country lanes, something that transforms her both physically and mentally. It clears her mind and strengthens her both body and soul. The freedom she experiences when running is so uplifting and positive, that she begins to impart her wisdom or good thoughts to others. Anne encourages those around her to better themselves, and in the process create some of the funny bits in the story. For example, Anne's sister and father very knowledgeable about skin care products, begin selling to friends and family the same products that keep them looking so young and healthy. The business they begin is Avon River Products. Another character who learns about running from Anne decides he would like white stars on the sides of his black boots, thinking they would be sharp looking. Converse sneakers anyone?

This story follows the same premise of Persuasion, but with some additional characters and events, which make for a fun read. Captain Wentworth becomes reacquainted with Anne after time has passed and realizes she is still the one and only gal for him. Anne and Wentworth have more frank conversations about each other and their relationship in this version, and it was quite refreshing to read it this way. And don't worry, Simonsen is true to the original source work in that Anne and Wentworth marry, but not without some hiccoughs along the way.

All in all this was a fun relaxing read. I enjoyed this retelling because although people, items and events are inserted into the story, it went with the general modern feel of this retelling. Come on, what Regency woman in her right mind would take up running and find it enjoyable? This retelling was fun and fresh without having to resort to vampires, werewolves, or hot sex scenes, and I appreciated that.

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