Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Captain Wentworth's Diary" by Amanda Grange

I picked this up at a yard sale a couple of weeks ago, along with Colonel Brandon's Diary by the same author, and also Les Miserables.  Good yard sale! 

Anyway, I've read reviews of Grange's Mr. Darcy's Diary, but I didn't realize she's also written "diaries" for all Austen's other heroes too!  Because the reviews I've read for Darcy's ranged from "it was okay" to "I liked it," I didn't expect a lot from this, and figured I'd read the first couple chapters, then quit if it was disappointing.

I finished the whole book in four days.  Which, for my life right now, is like me staying up all night to finish a book.  I loved it!

Partly, of course, that's because Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel.  Anne Elliot is my favorite Austen heroine, and Captain Wentworth ties with Mr. Darcy for the title of my favorite Austen hero. But really, that meant that I was quite prepared to be disappointed by this, as I was pretty sure it would not live up to my expectations, to what I thought these characters deserved.

I don't read a lot of romances.  I don't read "bodice-rippers" at all, never have, but a non-trashy book that is solely focused on a romance has to have engaging characters and above-average writing for me to like it.  On the other hand, I love and adore slice-of-life books that just chronicle the daily experiences of the characters.  I'm an odd duck, I know.  Anyway, this is one of the most romantic books I've ever read, and I loved every minute of it.  I felt like Captain Wentworth was excellently portrayed, starting out proud, ambitious, and careless.  He grew gradually and believably into the proud, reserved, steadfast Wentworth I love from Persuasion.  Anne herself was reserved, but also lively and engaging, someone it would be easy to fall in love with.

The first half of this book takes place when Wentworth first met Anne Elliot and gradually fell in love with her.  The rest takes place eight years later, during the time frame of Persuasion and a little beyond.  I think it was especially satisfying because Persuasion has so much backstory that is only hinted at and alluded to.  

The one somewhat negative thing I have to say is that it's a little hard to believe that Wentworth would write such long, detailed diary entries.  I mean, my own journal entries tend to run along the lines of, "Took kids to the playground after breakfast.  Made creamed asparagus for supper.  Watched an old ep of Castle after the kids went to bed."  But almost all diaries-as-novels suffer from this stretching of reality, so if you're okay with that, this aspect of the book shouldn't bug you.

While I hope that Grange's other books in this style will be equally delightful, I suspect I may always like this one best.  We shall see!  I definitely intend to read more.

If this was a movie, I would rate it:  G for Great!  Clean as a whistle -- even the smoochy bits are only referred to by saying, "we embraced."

8 comments:

  1. Oh! I'm so glad you liked it. I did too! While I completely agree that it's highly unbelievable that he would write a detailed diary, I also agree that it really doesn't matter. :) Ms. Grange does a wonderful job of adapting the original.

    Incidentally, I've enjoyed most all of her other diary books too. Haven't read Wickham's yet. And how awesome that you found all that at a yard sale!!

    One more thing. I'm an odd duck myself. My reading life does tend to be quite a bit eclectic. So we can be odd ducks together! (Although I suppose that makes no sense whatsoever, but go with it anyway. ;)

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    1. I um... well... er... heh heh... may have gotten a leeettle excited yesterday and ordered used copies of Darcy's, Knightley's, Edmund's, and Henry Tilney's diaries. But not Wickham's cuz I don't like Wickham. And I'm sure I'll leave Edmund Bertram's until last cuz I'm not real fond of him either, tho maybe this will change my perspective.

      Odd ducks unite!!! I think people who only read one kind of book are a bit boring, to be honest.

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    2. I vary quite a bit as well, so I'm with you both here. Maybe I'll try this one! Did Grange write one for Edward? 'Cause I like Edward, too. I guess I like most of them...

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    3. According to her website here, no. I actually ordered Edmund's in haste, thinking it was Edward's. And then after I'd ordered it, I went, "Wait, Edmund? That's wrong -- shouldn't it be Edward?" And realized it was about the guy from Mansfield Park, not Sense and Sensibility. Phooey. Maybe she'll do one about Edward yet! Surely if she wrote about horrid old Wickham, she could write about Edward.

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    4. I agree! If she's going to write about Wickham, she should absolutely write about Edward! I'd love one from his point of view.

      And Hamlette, I totally agree with this:

      I think people who only read one kind of book are a bit boring, to be honest.

      I haven't branched out a great deal, but I do read quite a few different things. And am usually willing to at least try a book someone recommends pretty highly. :)

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  2. Nice review! Hope you enjoy reading the other heroes diaries as well. Colonel Brandon's diary also has quite a lot of backstory, which is only hinted at in the original novel. I've read 4 of Amanda Grange's heroes diaries so far and wrote a review about two, if you're interested, they are here: http://birdienl.livejournal.com/77493.html and http://birdienl.livejournal.com/43965.html

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    1. Ooooh, I'm glad to hear that Colonel Brandon's diary also has lots of his back story! I was hoping that would be the case. I think I'll probably read that one next... after the 3 books I'm reading right now, lol.

      Thanks for the links to your reviews -- I'll check them out!

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