Just so you know I did go into this retelling of Persuasion, my all time favorite Jane Austen novel, with a hefty does of wariness. I mean, nothing could come close to imitating the original on this one, right?
Here's a quick synopsis via Goodreads:
Jane Fortune's fortunes have taken a downturn. Thanks to the profligate habits of her father and older sister, the family's money has evaporated and Jane has to move out of the only home she's ever known: a stately brick town house on Boston's prestigious Beacon Hill. Thirty-eight and terminally single, Jane has never pursued idle pleasures like her sibling and father. Instead, she has devoted her time to running the Fortune Family Foundation, a revered philanthropic institution that has helped spark the careers of many a budding writer, including Max Wellman, Jane's first—and only—love.Truth be told, Laurie Horowitz did a fabulous job of updating my beloved Persuasion for the modern world in The Family Fortune. The Fortunes are decidedly Boston Old Money with connections and oodles of spare time to devote to their favorite pastime: themselves. Of course when financial disaster strikes, the family must retrench* and a whole new world is opened up for Jane. Morphing Anne Elliot into Jane Fortune, an almost-forty year old trustafarian who spends her days editing the Euphemia Review, was pure genius in my book. And once again my heart broke over and over for Jane as I watched the world pass her by. Truly I don't know how such a passive character could ever win me over, but she does. Perhaps it's her eventual determination to take control of her life little by little in order to carve out her own bit of happiness away from her rotten family.
Now Jane has lost her luster. Max, meanwhile, has become a bestselling novelist and a renowned literary lothario. But change is afoot. And in the process of saving her family and reigniting the flames of true love, Jane might just find herself becoming the woman she was always meant to be.
My only complaint with The Family Fortune happens to be a somewhat large sticking point: Max Wellman (the reinvention of Cpt. Wentworth). Throughout most of the book, I ached with Jane as she silently pined for her lost love and then as she was 'reunited' with him only to watch him date other women. To say I was building up their eventual reunion would be a complete understatement -- I was expecting true fireworks people. Sadly, there was no grand moment of love rekindled. Not even an impassioned letter from Max! **cue extreme sobbing** Just simple, no nonsense decisions. Which does go along with Jane's character but I was just hoping for something a teeny bit more swoon-worthy. But honestly? I still love this book for Jane's transformation alone, even if her happily ever after wasn't as blissful as Anne Elliot's. I'm thinking any true lover of Persuasion will think so too.
*I always thought the 'reduced circumstances' bit in Persuasion was hilarious because yes, the Elliots have to retrench, but they still are gentry and have means -- albeit reduced. I mean, they are spending the winter in BATH (a resort town) for goodness sakes! Anyways, Horowitz does a nice job of calling Ms. Austen on this in The Family Fortune.
"From what I hear, he is really crazy about you, Jane."HA! My thoughts exactly.
"That's ridiculous. Does he know about our 'reduced circumstances'?" I asked.
"Honey, the Fortunes in reduced circumstances live better than ninety-nine percent of the population -- but that's not it. He has money. He's not interested in your money."
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Book Harbinger review
Chachic's Book Nook review
Emily and Her Little Pink Notes review
Janicu's Book Blog review
Steph Su Reads review