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review 2020-03-24 12:27
Persuasion
Persuasion - Jane Austen

Updated March 2020: Still wonderful.

 

Original review April 2016:

 

Sigh. Happy sigh. I really needed a great book. I don't know what was going on there for a while, but I started to feel like I had angered someone and my punishment was to read books that infuriated me for the rest of 2016.

Persuasion is best read when you have some time so that you can just really go over and over the words that Jane Austen wrote. This was her last book and you can see all that she has learned through her previous books paying off in this, her final one.

The book starts off telling of the diminished fortunes of the Elliott family.

Mr. Elliott (a baronet) is now seeing that unless he lets his home or does some other belt tightening, he may have to start selling off pieces of his land. He still maintains with two of his three daughters, Elizabeth and Anne. Through some persuasion, he finally deigns to let his home. The reader and Anne soon find that Mr. Elliott's home will be let to Crofts. The wife of Mr. Croft is the sister of Captain Frederick Wentworth who at one time was engaged to Anne when she was 19. Seven years later, Anne is still unmarried and thinks of Captain Wenworth and is pained for agreeing to turn down the match after her father and Lady Russell were so against it.

We get to watch Anne do what she can to show that she is not still focused on the past when it becomes clear that Captain Wenworth and she will soon be face to face again.

I have to applaud Jane Austen. She does a very good job of showcasing primary and secondary characters from beginning to end. No one is a caricature (i.e. cartoon villain) instead you get to see everyone's flaws and in some cases, some of these characters recognize they were wrong in the end.

I loved Anne a great deal in this book. Dealing with her family not seeing her as important, unless it was Mary needing her to help her through her "sicknesses" they really don't think of her at all. She clings to her relationship with her mother's former friend Lady Russell and takes her advice in all things. At first you may feel frustrated with her. You wonder why in the world did she not write to Captain Wenworth, or try to get him alone to let him know that she was sorry and or at least that she was thinking of him. However, from her point of view, she was not forgiven by Captain Wentworth and it seemed at times he was quite cold to and indifferent to her after they initially met again.

Captain Wentworth at times is definitely a puzzle until you get towards the end of the book. You start to wonder what his real feelings are for Anne. What are is his feelings for the other young women he has met. He and Anne barely say any words to each other, so you start to wonder what in the world is Anne thinking of by still carrying feelings for him though she keeps talking about how she has hardened herself.

Other characters in this story, such as Mary, he husband Charles, Charles two sisters Henrietta and Louisa, the Crofts, Lady Russell, and Mrs. Smith are very important to how ultimately the story of Anne and Captain Wentworth will be played out.

I can honestly say that I wanted to wring Mary's neck. Good grief how had her husband not murdered her. I can imagine a future when her sons are grown up and are just as spoiled as she is. I cracked up at the back and forth shit talking Mary did about her husband Charles and her in-laws the Musgroves. And God love Mrs. Musgrove for shit talking her and how she was raising her grandchildren. You know you're children have to be the spawn of evil if the grandparents are even like, "hey, don't bring them by. Thanks". I see Mary and Charles being Mr. and Mrs. Bennett in a few years.

Lady Russell, though not as self absorbed as Mr. Elliott, definitely has he snobbish ways about her as well. It was good though to see her brought down slightly by realizing she was wrong in so many things and was wrong with regards to Anne turning down Captain Wentworth. Unlike with Mr. Elliott and Elizabeth, you can see that she will learn from her mistakes. Mr. Elliott and Elizabeth just wanted people around to fawn over them for the rest of their lives.

The plot is quite easy to follow (not a bad thing) and it really is about Anne at first doing what she can to make sure she gets past seeing Captain Wentworth. Then it is her making sure she can deal with it, if and when possibly Captain Wentworth gets engaged. And then she is deciding what to do when she starts to think for just a moment that it is possible he is jealous of another man's attentions to her.

The flow was great and I had a hard time putting this one down. I read so fast that I often had to go back and re-read passages to myself. The dialogue was wonderful and the letter that Captain Wentworth writes to Anne is the most romantic letter I have read in a book. I seriously swooned when I read it and it remains one of my favorite passages in Jane Austen's work to datte.

The setting of Uppercross, Lyme Regis, and then Bath are made to great use in this book. You have the players moving all about, and you realize that if Anne who did not want to come to Bath, would have been sorry if she had not unearthed some truths about some of the people around her.

The ending was great, though you had to wonder at the slightly melancholy tone about Anne standing by as a naval wife and having to wait for her now husband to be called away to duty.

 

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review 2020-03-16 19:17
Recipe for Persuasion
Recipe for Persuasion - Sonali Dev

Please not that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. 

 

Trigger warnings: Rape 

 

I loved the first book in this series so much. Sonali Dev did a great job with retelling Pride and Prejudice and with her next re-telling I went, oh no. No. No. This book was too all over the place. Reading the description you think you would be focused on the heroine (Ashna Raje) and the hero (Rico Silva) but nope, we also get into Ashna's mother's life prior to her marrying Ashna's father. I ended up being more fascinated about her life than what went on with Ashna. No one was developed very well due to the flopping back and forth. And honestly, I didn't like the final resolution with Ashna. I still don't think she's passionate about being a chef. I wish that she had acknowledged that and did something else. FYI, the book does quote Persuasion, but even my favorite line ever in the history of literature was enough to save this book. 

 

"Recipe for Persuasion" follows Ashna Raje. Ashna is running her late father's business, "Curried Dreams." Too bad the business is about to fail. Unable to cook anything besides her father's recipes, Ashna is not able to do much in the kitchen. When her sous chef quits she doesn't know what she will do. When her cousins nag her to do a celebrity cooking show, she thinks she may have figured out how to save her father's restaurant. 

 

Rico Silvia is recovering from a career ending sports injury. He is celebrating his best friend's upcoming wedding. During that, he starts to realize that his latest relationship ended because he didn't let himself fall in love. And he realizes he didn't because of his first love who turned him away. When Rico hears about Ashna being in a celebrity cooking show, he makes sure that he appears on the show as her partner. 

 

The third character in this book is Ashna's mother, Shobi. Shobi was married to the former prince (Bram Raje). We slowly find out how awful the marriage was and how Shobi's life turned out the way it did. She wants to get closer to Ashna, but doesn't know how. 

 

I have to say that Ashna bored me and got on my nerves. She blindly ignores everything she knows about her father and then somehow gets a realization about things. Girl you should have been woke up. We find out that she used to love sports (just like her mother) until she didn't and why. I wish that Dev had did a bit something different with her in regards to the ending.


Rico was a head scratcher. I honestly didn't get why he was into Ashna at all. I think that's the biggest problem I had. Dev writes them as teenagers, but there's nothing there. I saw zero chemistry between them as teens to make them be this decades long love story that just had to get together. I was also perplexed about some of Rico's past, but Dev doesn't delve into it enough. Heck she barely delves into Ashna's all the way through. We just hear things piecemail.


Shobi's backstory was more developed, which pushed me to thinking that this book should have been her story more than Ashna's. It would have set up nicely with a Persuasion type setting. Heck maybe even set it up to be retelling of Mansfield Park. Parts of the book would have worked for that maybe. I don't know. I was just frustrated and saddened when we get the full storyline here. 

 

We get prior characters showing up in this one which was nice, but I found myself caring more about them than Ashna.

 

The writing was solid, the story was not. The flow was awful. Juggling through characters, different time periods and then the present day was too much. 


The ending tied things up in a much too tidy bow to be believed. 

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text 2020-03-16 17:25
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Recipe for Persuasion - Sonali Dev

Woof. I did not like this. I loved Persuasion and this was not good. I think the biggest issue that Dev had this following now only Rico and Ashna. But also Ashna's mother, her aunt, and then the books jumps back and forth to different timelines for all of the characters.

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review 2019-12-27 12:51
Beautiful writing and a romance with a timeless quality
Find Wonder in All Things - Karen M. Cox

I have read several stories and books by Karen M. Cox, both set in and out of the Austen universe, and have enjoyed her beautiful writing, so I did not hesitate when I was offered the opportunity to review the new edition of this novel, which was well received a few years back. Although this is a retelling of Austen’s Persuasion, I can confirm that it is not necessary to have read that novel to enjoy this one, as I could barely remember the plot of Austen’s original, and it did not detract from my appreciation of the quality of the writing. Fans of Austen will have the added enjoyment of comparing the two, but the rest can be assured that the novel works as a romance in its own right.

I have commented before that this author’s writing has a timeless quality, and even when she sets the action in the present (or very close), there is something that makes one feel nostalgic, and I experienced this very strongly at the beginning of the book, when the male main character, James, recalls his summers at the lake, the time he spent there with his best friend, Stuart, and ends up falling for Laurel, the sister of her friend’s on-and-off girlfriend. The author’s description of the Kentucky foothills of Appalachia made me experience a weird sense of longing, as I’ve never visited but I felt as if I had. It is evident that the author knows and loves the area and can transmit her affection to her readers, who get to understand why Laurel feels so attached to it as well.

The story is narrated from the two main characters’ point of view, and the author clearly separates the two, with the first part (and intermezzo) written from James’s point of view; the second, set several years later, from Laurel’s; and the third alternating both. This allows readers to experience their doubts, frustrations, confusion, and mixed feelings, while at the same having a greater understanding of what lies behind some of their behaviours, words, and actions. If you love stories of the “will they/won’t day” type, you’ll have a field day here, because there are many close encounters, lost opportunities, misunderstandings, and numerous occasions when you’ll wish you were there to tell them to just get on with it and talk to each other. But we all know what they say about the course of true love.

The novel is about second opportunities. James and Laurel fall in love when they are quite young, and although he tries to convince her to move in with him when he goes to Nashville to try and make a living in the music business, she’s just started college and decides to follow her family’s advice, carry on with her studies and stay at home. He makes it big —although not exactly how he expected— and seems to have moved on, but he still thinks of her. And it’s mutual. In this retelling of Austen’s story, the characters don’t challenge traditional gender conventions upfront as is common these days, and therefore the book stays closer to the spirit of the original (well, not in all aspects, and the subtlety of the author’s touch is perhaps what most reminded me of Austen). It might be frustrating for those who look for a heroine with a more modern outlook, but, personally, I liked Lauren, understood her plight and her reasoning, and felt her choice of priorities marked her as a very strong woman. James is the one who leaves home and tries to become a success by going wherever the opportunity arises, while Laurel remains close to home, helping her family, and become an artist, living fairly isolated in a mountain cabin, in touch with nature and needing that inspiration to grow into herself. The novel is also about identity, strength, courage, and belonging. We might think we know these qualities and concepts, but they are ultimately very personal and there is no one definition that fits all. The novel also reminds us that we might get to regret the decisions we make, but we’ll never know how things would have been if we’d chosen another path, and we have to live our life now and not get stuck on what may have been.

I enjoyed the setting of the story and the little community of friends and relatives that develops around the two protagonists. I liked the secondary characters, although some of them only appear for a brief period of time, and I was particularly touched by Laurel’s mother and her plight. There is no great emphasis on social mores and the wider world around the main characters (as there would have been in Austen’s novels), and I wouldn’t have minded a bit more on Laurel’s art and James’s music, but this is pretty much a romance focusing on the two characters’ relationship, and very romantic at that, so I’m sure fans of the genre will be more than happy with the story arch. Ah, there are sex scenes (three), which are not extremely graphic, but as somebody who doesn’t care for erotica, I thought I’d better warn you about them. Although it could have been done in other ways, these scenes go some way to challenge the status quo and the way we see the characters, and also exemplify the different phases of the relationship.

I thought I’d share a couple of samples from the novel to give you a taster.

James is remembering the summers he spent at the lake with his friend Stuart.

Mrs. Pendleton had said they were eating dinner at the marina restaurant that night, and then there’d be more walking around the dock and maybe some fishing as the sun set. The next day, it would all start again. It seemed as if days on the lake lasted forever and ran one into the other, as the long, lazy days of summer should.

Here Laurel is talking to her sister, Virginia.

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”

“Yes, I know. You’re always fine. I just wish you could be happy too.”

This is a novel for romance lovers, especially those who enjoy stories about second chances, and also for fans of Austen. It is beautifully written, and it would be a great choice for book clubs interested in romances and Austen. It includes a number of questions at the end that would help get the discussion started as well. I am pleased to say I have another one of the author’s novels waiting to be read, and I hope they’ll keep coming.

I received an ARC copy of this novel. This has not affected my review, which I freely chose to share.

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text 2019-06-22 20:33
Reading progress update: I've read 15 out of 250 pages.
Persuasion - Jane Austen,Gillian Beer

On the travails of the impecunious Elliot family:

Sir Walter would quit Kellynch-hall;⁠—and after a very few days more of doubt and indecision, the great question of whether he should go, was settled . . . There had been three alternatives, London, Bath, or another house in the country. All Anne's wishes had been for the latter . . . But the usual fate of Anne attended her, in having something very opposite from her inclination fixed on. She disliked Bath, and did not think it agreed with her⁠—and Bath was to be her home.

So now I can add "inventor of the First World problem" to the list of Jane Austen's achievements.

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