From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:
Jane Austen’s works have given us countless characters to fall in love with: Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Catherine Morland, Henry Tilney, Anne Elliot, Captain Frederick Wentworth, and Elinor & Marianne Dashwood. Along with these major players, Austen sprinkles in minor personalities who play a very small role in the plot, leaving the full back story to our imagination. P. O Dixon has taken one of these lesser-known characters, “the nasty freckle-faced” Mary King, and given her story a chance to be told in her latest short story Almost Persuaded.
Mary King is accustomed to being in the background. She purposely shies away from the social spotlight but is always keenly aware of the goings-on around her. She can’t seem to keep her eyes off of George Wickham from the time they first met. Unfortunately for her, he doesn’t seem to have reciprocated any of these feelings, and in fact, does not notice her whatsoever. All that changes, however, when Mary becomes the recipient of a ten thousand pound inheritance. Suddenly she has gone from being a wallflower to the center of the social universe. Now she goes from pining for Wickham’s attention to having more attention on her than she could ever have wanted. Will this inheritance prove to be the key to finally winning Wickham’s heart or a curse that haunts her to be alone forever?
One of the best things that Dixon’s work accomplishes is the fleshing-out of Mary’s character. She takes all the jealousy, emotions, and unpredictability of a teenager and filters them expertly into Mary’s development throughout the story. We see Mary’s jealousy towards the Bennets (specifically Jane and Elizabeth), and we understand it. Her naiveté in choosing to not follow the advice of her companion Anne is spot on for the self-centered point of view so common in teens. The pride and exultation she feels when being complimented and flirted with by the opposite sex for the first time are also so characteristic of someone enthralled by a first crush. Speaking of that first crush, Dixon shows us quite well how wicked Wickham truly is.
Sadly we don’t know whether Mary King ever gets her happy ending. The conclusion of the short story feels a bit abrupt, especially after you’ve spent the entire work getting to know her. You want to see how much farther she’ll grow and mature, and I think she was on a great path towards transforming into a new woman who no longer was focused on just herself. Despite this, Dixon’s stellar characterizations and intriguing storytelling kept me hooked for this short tale.
A super-quick read, Almost Persuaded is perfect for anyone short on time and in need of a quick Pride and Prejudice fix.
4 out of 5 Stars
Almost Persuaded: Miss Mary King, a Pride and Prejudice Short Story, by P. O. Dixon
Regents and Cotswold Book Group (2014)
Digital eBook (48) pages
Cover image courtesy of Regents and Cotswold Book Group © 2014; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2014, Austenprose.com