Review: Kellynch: Sequel to Jane Austen's Persuasion

Kellynch: Sequel to Jane Austen's Persuasion audiobook cover. A couple in regency dress embrace. The woman is wearing an ivory gown and the man is wearing a  burgundy jacket. Kellynch: Sequel to Jane Austen's Persuasion by Kwen Griffeth.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐
Duration: 5 hrs 22 mins.

Kellynch is a sequel to Jane Austen's Regency romance novel, Persuasion. It has been several years since I read - or listened to - Persuasion, though I did watch the 2007 adaptation to familiarise myself with the characters. Perhaps this coloured my feeling that the book is written in the style of a modern adaptation rather than a contemporary sequel. (For example, the canal scene feels as if it has drawn its inspiration more from Colin Firth than Jane Austen.)

That is not necessarily a bad thing, for I adore many of the retellings of Austen's most famous stories, and I have enjoyed this one. I think it stands best if it is considered as 'Austen inspired' rather than an attempt to faithfully recreate her style. I would almost have preferred it had Griffeth changed the names of the characters and a few salient details and written it as a stand-alone Regency romance. The temptation to keep comparing it with the original will always leave any sequel wanting.

My favourite parts of the book were the unassuming, tender moments between Frederick and Ann, when her mischievousness met his reserve and the years of separation melted instantly away. At those times I glimpsed the young lovers they once were, and I felt that, there, the book was especially true to the spirit of Austen's original novel.

I also enjoyed the chapters set at sea. Griffeth has created an engaging and dynamic crew, and I enjoyed the insights into Frederick as a Captain and abolitionist. I would have liked the horrors of the slave ships to have been dealt with in greater detail. I felt that Frederick's character in these chapters remained congruent with Austen's vision of Wentworth as I remember it.

I did find it a little far-fetched at times, with certain plot points feeling a little too contrived, but that is a common pitfall of the genre.

Narrator Alexandra Jones' dedication to the story was evident, but I did feel that such young characters would have benefitted from a similarly youthful voice.

As I am familiar with the narration of books adapted by organisations like the RNIB and Calibre, I was not uncomfortable with the informal style of the recording - which almost felt as though Jones were sitting beside me and reading the book aloud. It was definitely narrated rather than 'performed'. For listeners who are accustomed to more polished productions, it may be disconcerting to hear the little slips, stumbles, beeps, changes in volume, and especially the electronic interference between chapters 9 and 10 that would be edited out in a studio recording.

I would recommend it to fans of the period more than to fans of Persuasion, as I fear that the liberties it takes may not satisfy purists. If, however, you are simply happy to lose a few hours in more genteel times, and in the company of somewhat-familiar characters, then this book does not disappoint.

*I received this audiobook free of charge in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.


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