From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:
Mary Jane Hathaway’s Jane Austen Takes the South series has a new addition. Persuasion, Captain Wentworth, and Cracklin’ Cornbread was just released last month and follows Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits, and Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs. Readers should not worry if they haven’t read the other two novels in the series. Each book can be read as a stand-alone. The title was enough to pique my interest. I’m always a fan of Persuasion retellings (in my opinion, there aren’t enough of them.) So, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that I would quickly turn the pages of this read, and discover a new (to me) author.
Every community has some well-renowned and connected families that are integrated into the local history and fabric of the area. One of these families is the Crawfords, a wealthy, respected family from Brice’s Crossroads, Mississippi. One of the Crawford daughters, Lucy, has recently felt the respect of her family wane slightly as her mother’s death throws the family estate into disrepair and her father’s debts become public knowledge. Terrified that she may be forced to sell the family mansion in all its former beauty, Lucy is intrigued to learn from her Aunt Olympia that there may be a way to save the property. A local medical clinic has been looking for a larger space for their practice, and the Crawford mansion would be a perfect new home for the organization. The only problem, however, is that one of the clinic doctors is Lucy’s high school sweetheart and first love, Jeremiah Chevy. Jeremiah and Lucy had a tumultuous history due to Jeremiah’s family and upbringing, which led to their break-up despite her strong feelings for him. Ten years later, Jeremiah is again in Lucy’s life, now a charming doctor who is the envy of all the other ladies in town. Will she be able to get him to forgive her past actions and see if their old flame can be re-ignited?
Fellow Austen fans: you MUST read this book. It’s SO good. Mary Jane Hathaway takes our beloved Persuasion, brings it to the south, and infuses it with real social and economic issues. We all know that Jane Austen’s novels were a biting commentary on the expectations and norms of society during her lifetime. It’s so refreshing to find a contemporary author set on the same goal. Unfortunately, racial divides still exist in the US (you need only turn on the news to believe me.) Writing Lucy as an African-American and Jeremiah as a Caucasian was a stroke of genius. Interracial relationships seem to be a bigger issue nowadays than relationships of differing economic backgrounds. Even though race didn’t matter to Lucy and Jeremiah, it was interesting to see the stress that outside opinions could cause them.
I really enjoyed the story being told from both Lucy and Jeremiah’s viewpoints. When I first read Persuasion I couldn’t imagine Anne meeting Wentworth 2.0 and wanting to win him back. He was such a jerk and unnecessarily (in my eyes) rude that I didn’t warm up to him at first. (Fret not friends, he’s now my second favorite hero in all of literature.) Getting Jeremiah’s point of view as well as Lucy’s helped me understand the heartache they were both still trying to recover from. The rude actions and words really belied a healing broken heart.
Fans of the original will be happy to know that Lady Russell, Sir Walter Elliot, Elizabeth Croft, and Captain Harville are all represented in this work with some fascinating southern flair. Deep, moving, and sure to fill your heart with romantic warmth, Persuasion, Captain Wentworth, and Cracklin’ Cornbread is a must-read for any Persuasion lovers out there.
5 out of 5 Stars
Persuasion, Captain Wentworth, and Cracklin’ Cornbread, by Mary Jane Hathaway
Howard Books (2014)
Trade paperback ISBN: 978-1476777535
eBook ISBN: 978-1476777016
Cover image courtesy of Howard Books © 2014; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2014, Austenprose.com
Disclosure of Material Connection: We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”