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…
The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel
Published August 22, 2017 by Penguin
Format: Netgalley e-book; 352 pages
Also By This Author: Jenny Sparrow Knows the Future, Love by the Book
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥
The One That Got Away is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, a classic tale of love revisited. Melissa Pimentel reimagines Persuasion in her own way, turning quiet and humble Anne Elliot into determined and witty Ruby Atlas. Captain Wentworth has evolved into Ethan Bailey, a Forbes magazine featured technology entrepreneur, who, I was happy to discover, treated Ruby much more warmly than Wentworth treated Anne after their angsty decade apart (I love Captain Wentworth, but even he acknowledged that he was rather cold to Anne).
The One That Got Away alternates between the present, where Ruby and her ex Ethan are awkwardly reunited for a week in England to celebrate the wedding between Ruby’s sister and Ethan’s best friend, and past flashbacks covering Ruby and Ethan’s short, but passionate romance. Ruby is forced to confront her lingering and unrequited feelings for Ethan while surrounded by her family and their own erupting problems, all the while suffering over the real, secret reason she broke up with Ethan ten years ago.
When I first heard about this novel from a friend, I knew I had to read it. Persuasion is one of my top five favorite novels, and therefore it’s practically sacred to me. I’ve read three other Persuasion retellings (here are my reviews of Amelia Elkins Elkins and The Last Best Kiss), as well as two blog retellings (Half Hope and Only Annie), and the only time I was disappointed was while reading For Darkness Shows the Stars. I won’t give any spoilers, but Kai alters something that I didn’t agree with ethically.
I thoroughly enjoyed The One That Got Away. Ruby was an entertaining narrator, and her and Ethan’s relationship felt real and bittersweet. I was pleasantly surprised by how Melissa Pimentel improved the minor characters, specifically Ruby’s family, and strengthened relationships instead of severing them as I had expected.
Ruby, listen to me. You are a human. You are allowed to feel sad, and scared, and whatever else you feel. You’re allowed to feel things. Stop trying to out-tough life.
Read This Book If…
…you are open to retellings of classic literature.
…you are not opposed to cursing and sexual references in books (I’d rate this book PG-13, with a generous dose of the f-bomb).
…you enjoy unrequited and lost love stories.
…you are in a slump and need a book to lift your spirits!
She dwelled on the way he smiled when he saw her, like she was made of a million tiny stars.
I was reading through two historical fiction novels lately; one is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the other is the final installment in a series that I love. But they both deal with dark eras in history that have reemerged as current events, and I have been struggling to keep myself together dealing with real-life, let alone fictionalized accounts, of war, racism, and hatred.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my feelings and convictions and I just want to turn my compassion meter off so I can recuperate. This in turn makes me feel guilty and then I find myself in a vicious cycle, alternating between anger, hopelessness, and self-loathing. This is not healthy. As guilty as I felt for wanting to escape, I’m glad I did.
I will still finish those other two novels I’ve been reading, because they’re powerful and important, but it was refreshing and uplifting to read The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel. If you need a pick-me-up to get you through the end of summer, I’d sincerely recommend this one!
What are some novels that have helped you escape from the burdens of reality? And if you know of any other worthy Persuasion retellings, please share them with me!