This book is touted as a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but frankly, I felt it was more a variation of Bridget Jones’ Diary. In fact, Bridget Jones’ story was supposedly based on Pride and Prejudice, and I think if the plot of this book resembles any Jane Austen story, it would be that one rather than Persuasion.
But mostly the 31-year-old protagonist, Ruby Atlas, seems a carbon copy of Bridget Jones, always focussed on her job, her weight, her drinking, her outfits, and her love life. Ruby’s BFF Jess is always there for her, just like Bridget’s friends, no matter how self-absorbed Ruby/Bridget is.
Ruby’s one lapse from self-obsession is to take care of her spoiled, immature, and frequently hysterical (not in the sense of funny) sister Piper, who has dragged family and friends to a British castle, Bamburgh [a popular wedding venue in real life] for her upcoming marriage. Piper is getting hitched to Charlie Armstrong, who happens to be the BFF of Ruby’s ex, Ethan Bailey.
Ruby hates taking time to go to the wedding; she puts in very long days, working all hours at her job. Plus, she is nervous over seeing Ethan again. When Ruby dated him ten years ago, he was a bartender, but now he is not only even more handsome, but also a rich and famous tech guy. Ruby sees him on magazine covers all the time.
They broke up when Ruby left for college. Even though Ruby loved Ethan madly, she did not want to give up her dream. Unfortunately, she ran into a number of barriers, and didn’t want to confess her failure to Ethan. She also couldn’t bear for him to see “the real her.” So she sent him a “Dear John” letter.
Neither Ruby nor Ethan (in spite of his success) ended up where they wanted to be in life. When Ruby’s dad has a heart attack right before the wedding, this leads all of them to rethink their priorities.
Evaluation: As far as I was concerned, the ending was shallow and improbable. But then again, so was the rest of the book. I do occasionally enjoy “chick lit” but only if it is intelligently written with a great deal of self-deprecating humor (as with the work of Sophie Kinsella). This story seemed too derivative, and too neatly resolved.
Published by St. Martin’s Press, a division of Macmillan Publishers, 2016