Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is exactly as it sounds; a diary from Captain Wentworth's perspective, the hero of Jane Austen's Persuasion. As most of my friends know, I don't go in for epistolary writing. Or Jane Austen-inspired fiction, for that matter. But . . . I couldn't resist! Wentworth is my second favorite of the Austen heroes, superseded only by Emma's Mr. Knightley.
Finding a diary from his perspective was pure heaven for two reasons.
1) I love the male perspective in literature. Heroines are usually the focus of most writers, but I've always loved novels from the perspective of the hero. I'm sure I have The Hardy Boys to blame for it, too. While all my friends were reading Nancy Drew, I was nose-deep in a book about my favorite brothers. So, yes, reading Persuasion from Wentworth's perspective appealed to me.
2) I always wanted to see how Wentworth and Anne met and wooed back in 1806! It never fully satisfied me to simply watch them become reacquainted. I needed to understand the background, their courtship, what first attracted him to her, and the circumstances surrounding their shattered engagement. This book erased any fondness I might have held for Lady Russell, but I enjoyed watching the drama unfold, listening in on the conversations between Lady Russell and Wentworth, particularly the final conversation before he leaves for 8 years. All that back-history satisfied a need in me to find out what happened.
I admit, the format of the book was not the most enjoyable. It's doubtful that men in the Regency era, or most men in general, take the time to write out their thoughts in a diary, particularly regarding entire conversations and scenes. If Ms. Grange had penned her story as an actual novel instead of in epistolary format, I would have loved it all the better. As it was, I still read Captain Wentworth's Diary in a single day, savoring every word, and loving him all the more for his emotional challenges. I finally feel as though I understand him, and he is as honorable a man as I already knew him to be.
For those complaining of the author using Ms. Austen's dialogue, there is no other way for Ms. Grange to have written the book. Imagine trying to rewrite conversations between Anne and Wentworth! It simply wouldn't have worked. As it is, the use of Austen's original dialogue lends an air of credence to the book itself, and helped me believe wholeheartedly in the author's conclusions about Captain Wentworth's character and emotions. As soon as I am able, I will hunt down Mr. Knightley's Diary followed by Colonel Brandon's Diary for I am sure they will be equally as excellent.
For the rest of my reviews, see my page HERE.
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