The One That Got Away- Melissa Pimentel
My Review - 4 Stars
Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel but I am by no means a purist. When I read a retelling of her work, I want to be swept away by the story. Sure, there needs to similarity or at least obvious homage but I’m less interested in how true it is to the original work. Retellings should take inspiration from the source material. They don’t need to recreate it word for word or scene for scene.
To that end, The One That Got Away lands firmly in the Good Adaptation camp. Granted, it’s been several years since I last read Persuasion but as far as I can tell, the important beats all made their way to TOTGA.
Ruby is a workaholic in her early 30s and living a rather sad life in NYC. Things have not turned out the way she hoped. This is compounded by the fact that she’s going to Scotland for her younger sister’s wedding where her Ruby’s ex-boyfriend will be the best man. Her ex who has made quite the name for himself since she broke up with him.
As the novel progresses, we are treated to glimpses of Ruby and Ethan’s past relationship from Ruby’s first person POV. (The rest of the novel is third person.) They were madly in love and you know something bad must have gone down to break them apart. I may or may not have muttered, “don’t do it, Ruby!” at a few different points.
Of course, Ethan isn’t perfect but he was so perfect for her, in both his past and present iterations, that you can’t help but root for these two to find their way back to each other. For much of the novel, this seems a dicey proposition. But it’s based on a Jane Austen novel and so you can be pretty sure a Happily Ever After is on its way.
Ruby was a complex character and I must admit I didn’t always like her. I could relate to her though, particularly her perplexity over just how her life had turned out this way. She moved to NYC believing it held all the answers and there she is all these years later holding onto a dream that failed her at every turn. She could have made so many different choices but part of adulthood is making mistakes and hopefully eventually learning to unmake them.
The secondary characters are wonderful and crazy-making and keep the story propelling along. Ruby and Piper’s stepmother was especially well developed and my heart went out to her for the precarious place she was in with the girls and their father. It cannot be easy stepping into an already made family and especially not when things remain that way for decades.
When Ruby and Ethan finally have the conversation they should have had years ago, it was such a relief. Not because they said or did all the right things but because communication is key. Always. In everything. You can’t control how other people will respond to what you say but you owe them the courtesy of your side of the story, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. Only then can you determine how or if to move forward. Watching Ethan figure out his next steps afterward and then make his move made my heart sing.
This was such an enjoyable twist on Persuasion!
'A smart, funny retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion that's perfect for a poolside read' Red
'An easy, breezy read' Daily Mail
Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren't.
Now, ten years later, Ruby is single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There's barely time for a trip to England for her little sister's wedding. And there's certainly not time to think about what it will be like to see Ethan again, who just so happens to be the best man.
But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can't help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there is nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past.
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Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post.