Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Never Inconstant by Lyndsay Constable
Published by Quills & Quartos Publishing on September 12, 2022
Genres: Historical Fiction
Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.
MISS ANNE ELLIOT COULD NOT HAVE FORESEEN the happiness she would find as the wife of Captain Frederick Wentworth but neither could she have envisioned the life he led when they were separated for eight heartbreaking years. Now years into her married life, Anne Wentworth finds a cache of letters written, but never sent, to her by the then-heartbroken Navy captain.
AMID PERIL ON THE SEA, Captain Wentworth faced heart-wrenching loneliness throughout their years apart. Anne reads the letters to gain a deeper appreciation of the constant and ardent love her husband possessed and still possesses for her, and learns far more about the true character of her old, persuasive friend Lady Russell.
Was anyone else ever curious about those eight years spent apart for Jane Austen’s second chance romance pair in Persuasion? Or maybe what happened next for them and the other characters? How about their time before the big break up? A new to me author, Lyndsay Constable answers all those questions with her heartwarming, reflective tale told in a blend of narrative and epistolary format.
Anne and Frederick have been married for several years now, still tenderly and deeply in love, with a young precocious son, living in a quiet Somerset manor house not far from his sister and hers. Life is idyllic and then while organizing in the attic, Anne comes across a packet of letters in Frederick’s old sea chest and they are addressed to her. Her curiosity is great especially knowing these were written after they parted and Frederick gives her permission to read his deepest thoughts when he takes up his first captaincy aboard his first naval command, the Asp.
I am a huge fan of Age of Sail adventures and I was pleased as punch when Frederick’s letters reflect his feelings about Anne breaking their engagement, his observations of daily life at sea, but also the excitement of naval battles and skirmishes with the French, privateers, and pirates. Anne’s memories blossom to the forefront with each letter read so the reader is getting both their perspectives of that time, but mostly his. In between are present day events that follow up with Anne, Frederick and other familiar characters.
Frederick’s letters fill in the whole eight years they were apart and had an authentic feel showing the author did meticulous study to get shipboard life and historical events as well as capturing the Austenesque tone well. Not so detailed that the reader gets lost in detail, but enough to sense that a naval captain was writing the letters. I was pleasantly thrilled, though why I was surprised at this since I knew they became friends in the Navy, to get Frederick’s meeting with Benwick and then Harville. But oh the extra fun of two other Austen-related naval figures crossing over from her real life and another of her stories.
I loved that this is a love story about a married couple that comes after the happily ever after so it was a blend of historical fiction and historical romance. I will caution that this might be read standalone just fine, but I got a much richer reading experience being familiar with the original Persuasion story. Definitely a recommend!
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