by Melissa Nathan
Review by Linda Waldemar
, by Melissa Nathan is an adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion
that transports one of the most beautiful love stories ever written to the 21st Century.
Anne, the quiet heroine of Persuasion
, has many characteristics that are not usually associated with modern women. I think that Nathan has changed Annie in a way that makes her acceptable in today's world without a radical departure from JA's Anne Elliot. It is easy to discover most of the characters from Persuasion
in Nathan's story and very few of the plot points have been omitted.
Annie Markham is our heroine. She has a job, volunteers at a suicide crisis center, visits art galleries, has friends and releases her frustrations by practicing karate. While she appears calm and sensible on the outside, she is often struggling with her emotions on the inside.
Frederick Wentworth has become Jake Mead, who owns a successful consulting firm. Jake is so affected by his separation from Annie that he seeks the help of a therapist in order to reconcile his loss. However, even regular visits with his analyst do not eliminate the tightness at the back of his neck whenever he remembers; and he remembers often. Jake is more sensitive than macho. Lady Russell's essence can be found in two characters: Susannah Brooke, Annie's godmother, and Susannah's daughter, Cassandra, who is Annie's best friend.
George Markham, Annie's father, may be even more shallow and selfish than Sir Walter Elliot. George owns Markhams' PR, a Public Relations firm. Susannah Brooke, as finance director, is in a good position to dispense her considerable advice. George's eldest daughter Katherine is his favorite and is much like him. Elizabeth Elliot's disagreeable personality become Katherine's obsessive personality. She is overly concerned with her looks, is bulimic, and has a tendency to drink too much. George and Katherine enjoy a very luxurious and expensive life style.
In Persuading Annie
, Mary Musgrove becomes the second daughter, Victoria. Like Mary, she is married to a Charles and is the mother of two lively young boys. However, instead of hunting, Charles Norman prefers playing golf to spending time with his wife.
Annie is George Markham's last child. He is bitterly disappointed that she is not the long wished for son. To make matters worse, she has red hair! Both George and Katherine consider Annie to be unattractive and not deserving of attention or affection from them. They never show any fondness for Annie, nor appreciation of her many fine qualities, much like Sir Walter's and Elizabeth's treatment of Anne. The story opens in 1994. Annie and Jake are college students who meet and fall in love. At one point, Annie thinks that she is pregnant so they decide to elope. Her best friend, Cassandra, happens to call just as Annie is preparing to leave with Jake. Although she does not intend to, Annie lets slip what she is about to do. It is not long before Cassandra's mother, Susannah, also finds out. When Annie realizes that she is just late, not pregnant, Susannah persuades her not to elope. Learning of Annie's change of heart, Jake becomes hostile and leaves. Unlike Jane Austen's Anne, Annie Markham is furious that Jake leaves her without hearing the explanation for her decision.
Fast forward to 2001. Markhams' PR is having serious financial difficulties. There is a family meeting to decide what to do about it. Susannah tells George and Katherine that they must 'retrench'. And like their counterparts in Persuasion, they do not want to hear it. Susannah is able to convince them that they can move to the New York operation and rent out the fabulous London property without losing face. Another of Susannah's suggestions is that they hire JAKE MEAD ASSOCIATES, a highly respected consulting firm, to show them how to run the business more efficiently. Susannah never knew the name of Annie's boyfriend so, ironically, she becomes the instrument of bringing them together again. Face to face, they must now confront their anger. Most of the other characters of Persuasion are present. The two younger sisters of Charles are much like the Musgrove girls. Fiona (Henrietta) is in love with an American businessman which causes Victoria to whine about 'bad connections'. Charles' other sister, Sophie, is headstrong and stubborn. The Mrs. Clay character, Davina Barker, is an employee of Markhams' PR and has her sights set on George. The William Walter Elliot character is the firm's CEO, Edward Goddard. David , an employee at Jake's consulting firm, reminds the reader of Captain Benwick.
The plot progresses just as Persuasion does with few changes; there is even a letter! Where the Elliots go to Bath, George and Katherine move to New York in order to save money. In place of Louisa's fall from the Cobb, the young people go out in New York one evening, where Sophie's sense of adventure leads to an encounter with a mugger. While trying to retrieve her purse, Sophie falls to the sidewalk and suffers a concussion.
Also in New York, to Jake's dismay, Susannah encourages Annie to become interested in Edward Goddard, the CEO of Markhams' PR. At one point, Jake overhears Annie lambasting Susannah for her bad advice of seven years ago, he quickly writes a note on the computer and leaves it for Annie to read. Although, I must admit that this letter is not nearly so powerful and beautiful as THE LETTER of Persuasion
, it does serve the purpose.
All ends happily. David and Sophie fall in love. Victoria and Charles decide to try and improve their marriage. And, of course, Jake and Annie clear up all their misunderstandings and live happily ever after.
I found this novel to be a fun and easy read. I highly recommend it.
Persuading Annie is available from Amazon.co.uk
. It is 376 pages and was published 28 December, 2000, by Piatkus Books; ISBN: 0749932228. Melissa Nathan's other book, Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field
, an update of Pride and Prejudice, is also available on-line.
Linda Waldemar runs the Sequels and Reviews page at the Republic of Pemberley. An avid reader with an amazing collection of Jane Austen related literature, her favorite JA novel is Pride and Prejudice, with Persuasion coming in a close second.
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