Raise your hand if you agree that the “half agony, half hope” love letter written by Captain Frederick Wentworth to Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s Persuasion is the most romantic love letter in literature. If not, by the time you get to the “you pierce my soul” line, you will be a convert.
At the conclusion of the story after Frederick and Anne are reunited and agree to marry, Austen asks us, “Who can be in doubt of what followed?” The reader is left in suspense wanting more. Well, we are happy to share that a sequel to their life together at sea has been written by Jack Caldwell. Persuaded to Sail will be available on May 11, 2020, from White Soup Press. It is the third book in the popular Jane Austen’s Fighting Men series.
A companion novel to the first two books: The Three Colonels (2012) and The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel (2016), Persuaded to Sail also takes place during the 1815 Hundred Day Crisis and the Battle of Waterloo. Those familiar with Jane Austen’s novels will see familiar characters from Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice in all three novels.
You do not have to have read the first two novels in the series to enjoy Persuaded to Sail, nor do you have to read them in order, however, doing so could enhance your enjoyment.
I hope this preview will tempt you to give it a try.
The long-awaited sequel to Jane Austen’s final novel, Persuasion.
After an eight-year separation and a tumultuous reunion, Anne Elliot marries the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth. The pair looks forward to an uneventful honeymoon cruise aboard the HMS Laconia.
But the bride and groom find the seas of matrimony rough. Napoleon has escaped from Elba, the country is at war with France again, and the Admiralty imposes on Wentworth a mysterious passenger on a dangerous secret mission. The good captain is caught between duty to his country and love for his wife.
All eyes are trained for enemies without, but the greatest menace may already be on board…
(The wedding breakfast in Bath for Captain and Mrs. Wentworth. Anne and Frederick are taking their leave of their friends before boarding the carriage to Portsmouth and the Laconia. Lady Russell does not like the idea of Anne sailing to Bermuda, while Frederick learns of some troubling changes in store for his friends.)
“I do not like seeing you leave us so soon, Anne. We are just becoming accustomed to your being happily married, and now you are to go halfway around the world from all your friends—”
“Godmother,” Anne interrupted, “surely, you are not advising me desert my husband?”
“O-of course not, my dear,” the older lady stuttered. That was indeed her mission, but Anne’s kind and determined look doomed her attempt at persuasion. As much as Lady Russell loved her, she could not be happy with the younger woman’s newfound resolve. “You will be missed and Captain Wentworth too.”
“Thank you,” Anne returned as she hugged her. “I do wish you would have more time with Frederick—to know him better.”
Lady Russell’s earlier prejudice against Frederick Wentworth had prevented her from giving him the notice he deserved. Few frigate captains were more dashing or more successful in taking prizes. He was rich, famous, and as high in his profession as merit could take him. If he remained in the navy, Captain Wentworth would move up the list as senior officers retired or died and eventually raise his admiral’s flag.
It had only been after Mr. Elliot had exposed himself as a cad—again—that Lady Russell had made an honest appraisal of Captain Wentworth. What she observed was a decent, honest, hardworking, and devoted gentleman—and she acknowledged that Anne had never stopped loving him. Lady Russell could not berate herself over her counsel so many years ago for she believed she had been right at the time. Things were different now. Wentworth was here, he was rich, and Anne wanted him—so everything ended happily.
But deep in Lady Russell’s mind the thought remained that Anne might have enjoyed almost nine years of happiness—and begotten children—with Captain Wentworth had she not been persuaded otherwise.
She gifted Anne with a smile. “I shall come to and always shall love Frederick as long as he honors you as you deserve. I can do nothing less for my darling girl.”
Frederick, anxious to leave, talked to his fellow officers while waiting for Anne near the door.
“When will Laconia be ready to set sail?” asked Captain Timothy Harville, a post-captain from Lyme on half pay. Harville and his wife were particular friends of Wentworth. He had sailed around the world with him before an injury to his leg. Harville and his wife were overjoyed at Frederick’s happiness and highly esteemed his new wife.
“She is at Portsmouth now, and we are to go to the North American Station in three weeks. That is, if I do not get a change in orders.”
With the news of Napoleon’s return to France, Frederick’s posting had been moved up from six months hence to the end of March. He was for Bermuda if his orders did not change again.
“You never know, my boy,” offered Admiral Croft. “The Admiralty can be damned contrary. Too many civilians in the place, I tell you.” The First Lord and most of the Admiralty were not sea officers.
“Have you received an assignment, sir?” asked Captain Benwick of Croft. James Benwick, a commander on active service, had been overjoyed to stand up for his friend and former shipmate, for he had his own wedding before him. However, Benwick had worries—great worries.
“Me? No, I lowered my flag during the peace. My only quarterdeck now will be the library at Kellynch Hall. What about you, Benwick?”
The man grimaced. “I received the kindest letter from Lord Exmouth before he left for Gibraltar, but…” He did not need to finish. There were far more captains and commanders on shore looking for employment than ships available.
Harville grasped Benwick’s arm. “Look, old man, why not do as I did? I am to see a Mr. Gardiner in London about a civilian job.”
“Leave the navy?”
“Benwick,” said Frederick, “if you still wish to sail, a merchantman might be your only choice.”
“And not just any tub—an Indiaman!” chimed in Harville. “Fastest ships afloat! And the pay is better than in the service.”
Benwick shuffled his feet, clearly uneasy. “Well…perhaps. I am occupied at the moment. There is the wedding coming up, you know.”
Harville said very quietly, “Do you want me to mention you to Mr. Gardiner?” The admiral gave Benwick a significant look.
“Yes,” Benwick muttered.
Frederick was pained by the conversation. Of the men present, only he and Admiral Croft did not need to sail. They had already won their fortunes. Yet, he was the one with a ship, and the admiral had voluntarily retired.
Benwick had been a lieutenant under him once, and he was in the prime of his life. He was as good a sailor as any in the service, but he was on the beach. He was a master and commander, fit only for a brig or sloop, and there were full post-captains without employment. As for Harville, a French sharpshooter had cut short what had promised to be a brilliant career.
Was Frederick a better sailor than his friends, or was it simply luck? If so, what would happen when it ran out?
He turned when his sister approached. “Frederick, I believe Anne is ready.”
Chapter 2, pages 26-29
Jack Caldwell, born and raised in the Bayou County of Louisiana, is an author, amateur historian, professional economic development consultant, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook.
Always a history buff, Jack found and fell in love with Jane Austen in his twenties, struck by her innate understanding of the human condition. Jack’s novels include Pemberley Ranch (2010), Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner (2013), and The Companion of his Future Life (2014). His Jane Austen’s Fighting Men Series, set during the Hundred Days Crisis and Waterloo, includes The Three Colonels (2012), The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel (2016), and Persuaded to Sail (2020).
When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.
Persuaded to Sail: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men (Book 3), by Jack Caldwell
White Soup Press (May 11, 2020)
Trade paperback & eBook (308) pages
Cover image, book description, excerpt, and author bio courtesy of White Soup Press © 2020; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, Austenprose.com