Where The Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass | Book Review [CC]

Hello and welcome to Spinster’s Library. I’m Claudia 
and today I am reviewing Where the Rhythm Takes You
by Sarah Dass. This is a very recently 
published Young Adult contemporary romance  
retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. This has 
only just come out in May of 2021. It is inspired  
by Persuasion and it sets the story on the 
island of Tobago during a single summer holiday.  
It follows 17 year old Reyna who runs the family 
run holiday resort after her mother passed away.  
Her father is not that interested in running the 
hotel, so she kind of keeps everything running, when  
suddenly, completely unannounced, her ex-boyfriend 
arrives in the resort for a holiday. His name’s  
Aiden and Reyna hasn’t seen him for a couple of 
years since he left Tobago to become a big time  
music star in the US, and he’s now returning with 
a Grammy award, his bandmates and also the two  
Musgrove sisters, one of whom is a model and one of 
whom is an influencer. As you can imagine, this is  
the perfect summertime read, especially for 
those of us who aren’t going anywhere near  
a holiday resort this year. Disclaimer: I’ve 
actually never been to a holiday resort, so I’m  
just kind of imagining it like a hotel

but, like, 
with a pool. If you’re familiar with Persuasion,  
then the plot of two ex-lovers reconnecting 
will be familiar to you. However, this definitely  
takes it more into the romance category, so unlike 
in Jane Austen’s original, there aren’t really any  
villains, there aren’t really any sort of high 
financial stakes, and there isn’t really that  
sort of biting characterization of, well, loads of 
different people. Everyone is kind of treated quite  
kindly by the author, including characters who 
in Jane Austen’s Persuasion are portrayed in  
negative light. For example, the Musgrove sisters. 
In Persuasion, they are these kind of vapid, shallow  
young women who are a counter example to the main 
character of Anne Elliot. In Where the Rhythm Takes  
You, the author plays with those expectations 
by making the Musgrove sisters a model and a  
social media influencer, but then she really does 
treat them with kindness. She gives them character,  
she gives them personality, and she gives them 
motivations that we can all understand and that we  
can identify with without reducing 
them to comic relief or to the bad example  
that makes the main character look better. Similar 
treatment is given to the main character’s father.  
In Persuasion we know that Anne Elliot’s 
father is very shallow and superficial and  
dislikes his daughter. In Where the Rhythm Takes 
You, the father is a distracted ex-journalist who  
would really rather be writing than running 
a hotel, but again he’s treated with kindness  
and presented as a loving family member 
rather than a terrible man. Overall, Where  
the Rhythm Takes You is much less melancholic 
than Persuasion and it has a more light-hearted
[cat scrambling noise]
Are you quite alright? [Minerva squeaks] Yeah? Do you think you could 
delay your zoomies until I’m done filming?  
Hm? Just a little bit. There’s a good kitty.
What was I saying? So the feel of this is a lot 
less melancholic, a lot more light-hearted, a lot  
more romantic than Persuasion and I quite 
enjoyed that. I also really like the focus  
on music. In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Captain 
Wentworth is of course a naval officer and that’s  
his transformation from a poor sailor to 
a wealthy and successful captain, whereas  
here we have this focus on music. So in the 
flashbacks where we experience the beginnings of  
Aiden’s and Reyna’s relationship, he is a 
poor but talented teenager who really wants to … 
[sound of cat ripping through fabric]
become… a musician… and then when 
he returns he is a successful  
pop star, someone who is famous and wealthy and has 
succeeded at what he wanted to do as a teenager.
[cat hitting the floor noise]
So music becomes a beautifully symbolic 
way of, you know, exploring this relationship  
and one that I really enjoy. I really 
appreciated that the author actually included  
a soca music playlist with some titles 
and a little bit of history there, which I  
as a musicologist obviously appreciated, and I 
listened to some of the songs and can recommend.  
One thing I didn’t like as much about this book is 
that I thought some of the characters could have  
been given a little bit more to do and I 
don’t know if this is an editing issue, if  
the book initially was longer where these 
characters had a little bit more of a role to play  
and then it was cut, but the characters 
remained, but I felt that in particular  
the best friend Olivia and the sister of the 
main character Pam felt a little bit superfluous.  
They weren’t really given a big plot, they weren’t 
really given a big role in the plot and I thought  
that was a shame because I would have liked to 
have seen more of both of them. Overall though,  
really fun retelling, very much a definition of 
a holiday read, so if you too are stuck at home  
during this pandemic summer, you might want to 
pick up this lovely young adult romance. And  
it is also very readable for those of you who have 
not read Persuasion. I don’t think there is any  
need to be familiar with the Jane Austen story in 
order to enjoy this retelling, it works perfectly  
well by itself. If you have read Where the Rhythm 
Takes You [trips over words] … Where the Rhythm Takes You, let me know  
what you thought of it and if it’s on your summer 
TBR let me know as well. Thank you for watching, bye.
[piano jingle]

%d bloggers like this: