From the desk of Katie Jackson:
In Jane Austen’s final complete novel, Persuasion—published six months after her untimely death—the heroine, Anne Elliot, is influenced by her prideful father, a baronet, to break off an engagement with Captain Frederick Wentworth, who was considered a poor match due to his low social status and lack of wealth. Similarly, in Austen’s earlier novel, Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the prideful man causing heartbreak over his disapproval of an undistinguished family. The consequences of such prejudiced persuasion collide spectacularly in Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion by prolific writing duo Cass Grafton and Ada Bright.
Mr. Darcy is in denial. In a letter to his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, he insists, “Despite your suggestion to the contrary, no young lady has caught my attention.” (152) Yet he flees Hertfordshire posthaste following the ball at Netherfield hosted by his friend Mr. Bingley, whom he has advised to avoid a growing attachment to Miss Jane Bennet. All the while, Darcy knows his own hypocrisy as he likewise advises himself to avoid the undeniable attraction he feels toward Jane’s younger sister, Elizabeth. He acknowledges that the Bennet family is far beneath the notice of a wealthy gentleman landowner such as he, thus he removes himself from danger and warns his smitten friend to do the same.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet holds a grudge, knowing that interference has led to her beloved sister’s heartbreak and now may lead to an even worse fate. In a happy twist of fate, however, she becomes acquainted with Miss Anne Elliot and is soon delighted by the diversion of an invitation to join her new friend for a fortnight’s visit to the Elliot family’s estate, Kellynch Hall in Somersetshire. Elizabeth finds Anne to be “a genteel lady, a little older than I, but we appear to have much in common. I find I like her very well.” (235)
For the benefit of his sister’s health and to avoid a harsh winter at Pemberley in Derbyshire—as well as to escape his memories of a certain bewitching young lady—Darcy travels south, hopeful of warmer weather in Somersetshire, where he has leased a property for the winter from Sir Walter Elliot. He is, therefore, rendered speechless when he discovers “Elizabeth Bennet. The woman he thought he had relegated to the past sat across the room from him, as alluring and unattainable as she had ever been, and raising inexplicable emotions in Darcy that he struggled to conceal, let alone comprehend.” (1457)
Unceremoniously thrown together again, Elizabeth sees in Darcy only a disdainful man, similar to the disdainful Sir Walter and Miss Elizabeth Elliot, whose rude dismissal of her she endures only for the sake of her dear friend Anne. Meanwhile, in scrutinizing Elizabeth’s treatment at the hands of her reluctant hosts, Darcy is forced to face his own prejudice. “It would seem he was not only guilty of looking down upon those less fortunate than himself but also of judging them in the same way the Elliots did. This notion was of little comfort.” (1964)
When an unexpected visitor arrives at Kellynch Hall, Elizabeth is surprised to see a different side of Mr. Darcy. “His gallantry and compassion…spoke volumes, but this conflicted with all Elizabeth knew him to be. Or did it truly?” (3430) As mysteries swirl around them, will Darcy and Elizabeth be persuaded to put aside their pride and prejudice at last?
What a lovely experience it was to read a story combining two of my favorite Austen novels—Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion—in one effortlessly enjoyable tale. My single complaint is that I wish for a sequel with all of these wonderfully drawn characters happily together again. The devoted friendship between Elizabeth Bennet and Anne Elliot was delightful, and I found myself envious of their attachment and wishing to be one of their group. I had never before drawn the connections between the two stories, and it was enlightening, to say the least. This book had all of the best elements of an unputdownable tale: romance, mystery, villains, tense confrontations, humor, and admirable relationships of all kinds. A reader could not hope for a more satisfying way to immerse themselves in a book.
Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion is a story about how ardent admiration and love can overcome even the most persuasive pride and prejudice.
5 out of 5 stars
- Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion: An Austen-inspired Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion, by Cass Grafton & Ada Bright
- Tabby Cow Press (March 9, 2021)
- Trade paperback & eBook (584) pages
- ISBN: 979-8712552504
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Cover image courtesy of Tabby Cow Press © 2021; text Katie Jackson © 2021, Austenprose.com