Review: A Modern Day Persuasion

Oct 12, 2011 by

I should let you know from the get-go that I am one of those people who does not like Persuasion. I’m sorry, my lovely Jane (and all Janeites), but I just cannot get behind Persuasion the way I can Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility. Anne Elliot annoys me, and the whole story is just frustrating. So why did I agree to review A Modern Day Persuasion, you ask? Good question. The answer: Because I actually really enjoy Persuasion-variations and retellings. Go figure.

 


A Modern Day Persuasion is just that – a modern retelling of the original (which, in a chuckle-inducing moment, happens to be a favorite read of our heroine). Everything has been repositioned and ‘translated’ into a believable modern tale of thwarted love and incredibly bizarre family relations. There are laughs and cringes and heart-wrenchingly-sad-smiles. In short: I loved it! Now let me tell you why.

The characters are well-drawn and dimensional, with the result of people whom I’ve always been “meh” about now are either loved or hated. Quick examples: Mr. Elliot and Elizabeth are just as they ever were, but there’s actually some hint of what Mr. Elliot used to be, before his wife died – suggesting that maybe, just maybe, his obnoxious-ism is a result of grieving and not wholly his lack of a soul. Mary, who has always been comical to me, is painted in a light that really shows her shallow selfishness – a different kind than her father and sister, but shallow and selfish all the same. This “Lady Russell” seems to have a truer affection for our Anne, and their relationship is much more give-and-take than the original. I didn’t want to strangle her, rather, I recognized in Carol Russell traits that I see in the “older women” of my acquaintance.

Now, for the two main stars: “Rick” Wentworth is a bit of a jerk. And this is a good thing. Saunders has taken the “injured hero” and created a believable man. He’s human, he’s capable of being rude and jerk-y, but we know he’ll turn out okay in the end (and he does). Additionally, Anne is more dimensional and realistic; a young lady whose first – and so far, only – love stormed away in a fury years ago. Where Anne’s lack of spirit and uber-passivity has always annoyed me in the original, this Anne? Well, her hero left a legitimate compromise on the table and stormed off. Anne was 17, and anyone who remembers being 17, will acknowledge the power of the attachments we form then – no matter how “wrong”. This twist to the storyline really made things stronger for me, and much more readable. Watching Anne work through her own ghosts and come to terms with herself as a person of worth was a rewarding journey that I could relate to, and it made the inevitable ending so much stronger.

The writing is strong, the characters and story are recreated faithfully – but with adaptions and updates that make it both more relevant and (to me) a generally better story. In short, this is my favorite version of Persuasion yet!

Five Stars

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