Love may rule the heart, but it's the head that needs persuading...
Second in Archer’s ambitious Darcy & Friends series, in which she plans to recapture the passion of Jane Austen’s novels, but with a 21st century twist; Persuade Me is a obviously an adaptation of Persuasion – and there are many similarities. Die-hard fans may be reluctant to sully their memory of the original, but Archer is also clearly a fan and it shows. Take her generous treatment of Wentworth: the modern-day vision is enough to conjure all manner of salacious thoughts, with his muscular physique and tanned good looks; just as well our heroine, Anna Elliot, has seen it all before – albeit a lifetime ago – instead she maintains her guard against a man she wishes she could forget, and he nurses his indelibly bruised ego and perhaps even a broken heart?
The trauma, a decade old, is still fresh. A younger, more naive Anna is persuaded by her father, Sir Walter Elliot, the 8th Baronet of Kellynch and her domineering Godmother, ‘Minty’, that running off to Australia with a young man of indeterminable means and zero social status, is not the responsible thing to do. Instead, returning to England and taking up her place at Oxford, Anna attempts to set her first love aside and think of building the future her mother had envisioned for her when she was alive. Now, that young man has returned, triumphant in his minor celebrity status, as hunky marine biologist and author of “Sex in the Sea”. With their paths destined to cross once more, can they reignite their love or will pride and stubbornness prevent them from being persuaded to give it one more shot?
Persuade Meadheres closely to the tried and tested “will-they-won’t-they”, with mindboggling stops and starts and complete u-turns by both parties. Archer’s attempt to get “inside” the head of Rick Wentworth is a little predictable however, with the usual machinations of snogging the nearest female to detour his sexual desires and the subsequent incomprehensible mournful “why me?!” it’s hard to believe in his worthiness of the proverbial saint that is Anna. The novel tries to recreate the haughtiness of a bygone aristocracy, but whilst Sir Walter admirably holds his end up, the old-school bluster and arrogance fails to translate quite so neatly to Anna’s sisters.
Oh, there are plenty of half-muffled tears, drawn in breaths, heaving bosoms and appreciative reminders of just how physically fit a human specimen Rick is; but Archer missed a trick here. There’s no joy – only relief when the two inevitably get it together. But worse – far worse, is the absence of light-hearted lunacy, of gentle chuckling and the odd bout of spluttering in amusement… having a bit more fun with her characters would have made me enjoy them even more.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012