Paging Jane Austen enthusiasts! Paging Jane Austen enthusiasts! This is pretty much the greatest Austen adaptation I’ve read–and I’m including Longbourn, which is the second-greatest Austen adaptation (and I’ll be honest–it was a close call. If you don’t like sci-fi or speculative fiction that much, you may give the preference to Longbourn, which is totally understandable. But you really don’t have to like sci-fi to enjoy this novel).
I first heard of this book, because scootsa1000 read it and gave an excellent summary and review. Read it, and you’ll understand what’s at stake.
Why did I like it?
First of all, it felt like Jane Austen meets Margaret Atwood. I never thought I would have reason to type this sentence, and it gives me joyful chills to do so. It’s a novel about Anne Elliott and Captain Frederick Wentworth, but it’s also about the problems of society dictating the moral codes and preventing the betterment of a people. Diana Peterfreund makes an interesting commentary about the nature of humanity, as well as the nature of science, and it’s intriguing.
Second, it engages with the Persuasion novel, but it does so in a way that feels original and fresh. You don’t need to have read Austen to enjoy this story. But if you have, I think your enjoyment will triple. Let’s just say Peterfreund reworks the letter in a way that felt genuine and satisfying.
Third, the world is intriguing. Peterfreund sets up a world with juuuuust enough information to make you curious, but you are able to draw your own conclusions as you read. It’s a smart means of storytelling that allows your questions to be answered without being didactic. Plus, it’s a world of potential. Peterfreund can continue to write without being limited to the Austen adaptation frame that has held this novel together.
I polished this novel off on a leisurely summer afternoon. I highly recommend it.