From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:
The new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion aired on Netflix on Friday, July 15, 2022. It takes a creative approach to the Regency-era second chance love story, adding contemporary language, an American actress Dakota Johnson in the key role of heroine Anne Elliot, and breaking the fourth wall by having her speak directly to the audience while looking at the camera. The tried-and-true Janeites were all stirred up by the movie trailers, and the reviews have been polarizing. After letting go of any expectations, I found Cosmo Jarvis’ performance as Captain Wentworth touching, the sets and art direction enchanting, and the final message of the story ringing true even after all the changes to Austen’s original.
Persuasion, Jane Austen’s last novel, was published 205 years ago. She wrote it under adverse circumstances while in declining health and did not live to see its publication on December 20, 1817. Many believe that it is her most autobiographical story, touching upon topics and themes that she may have wanted resolved in her own life. While she did not originally title the novel “Persuasion,” the theme of influencing others runs throughout the story and was an apt choice by her family after her untimely death.
Many Jane Austen fans claim Persuasion as their favorite of Austen’s work—even over the universally acknowledged darling, Pride and Prejudice. It has been adapted into stage plays, movies, and television period dramas several times. There are also many authors who have been inspired by Austen’s second chance at love story, creating their own novels—both contemporary and historical. Here is a list of my favorites. I highly recommend them all.
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own, than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago.”— Captain Wentworth, Persuasion
Happy reading, Laurel Ann
THE PERSUASION OF MISS JANE AUSTEN: A NOVEL, by Shannon Winslow
A personal favorite, this story takes you in a new direction that many wish was true.
For every fan who has wished Jane Austen herself might have enjoyed the romance and happy ending she so carefully crafted for all her heroines.
What if the tale Jane Austen told in her last, most poignant novel was actually inspired by momentous events in her own life? Did she in fact intend Persuasion to stand forever in homage to her one true love?
While creating Persuasion, Jane Austen also kept a private journal in which she recorded the story behind the story – her real-life romance with a navy captain of her own. The parallel could only go so far, however. As author of her characters’ lives, but not her own, Jane Austen made sure to fashion a second chance and happy ending for Anne and Captain Wentworth. Then, with her novel complete and her health failing, Jane prepared her simple will and resigned herself to never seeing the love of her life again. Yet fate, it seems, wasn’t quite finished with her. Nor was Captain Devereaux.
The official record says Jane Austen died at 41, having never been married. But what if that’s only what she wanted people to believe? It’s time she, through her own private journal, revealed the rest of her story.
- “Utterly brilliant – this story is utterly brilliant!”— Austenesque Reviews
5 out of 5 Stars
MERCY’S EMBRACE: SO ROUGH A COURSE (BOOK 1), by Laura Hile
A compelling first book in a trilogy continuing the story of Elizabeth Elliot, the snippy older sister of the heroine in Persuasion.
Time is running out for Miss Elizabeth Elliot. She must find a husband soon, for her father’s plan of retrenchment — and his health — are failing.
She is left to choose between Sir Henry, a worn-out man of fashion whose invalid wife is not quite dead, and wealthy, tiresome Mr. Rushworth. But when a wondrous invitation arrives, Elizabeth throws caution to the wind. Alone in a moonlight garden, she encounters Admiral Patrick McGillvary, who is as disastrously handsome as he is opinionated. As Elizabeth will discover, the course of love is anything but smooth. Jane Austen’s beloved Persuasion provides the backdrop for this delightful romp set in Regency England.
- “You may be wondering if it’s possible to love a Persuasionstory that isn’t focused on Anne and Captain Wentworth, but I assure you that the story that Laura Hile has started in this first book in this trilogy is so much fun to read and if you prefer to read about a more fiery heroine than Anne Elliot, which I certainly do, this trilogy should be on your TBR list ASAP!”— Just Jane 1813
5 out of 5 Stars
CAPTAIN WENTWORTH’S DIARY (A JANE AUSTEN’S HEROES NOVEL), by Amanda Grange
The Austen Heroes series explores each of Austen novels from the perspective of the male protagonist. Grange does a fabulous job letting us walk in their big, black, shiny Hessian boots.
The retelling of Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion from the point of view of Captain Frederick Wentworth by the author of Mr. Knightley’s Diary.
During his shore leave from the Navy, Frederick Wentworth falls in love with the elegant and intelligent Miss Anne Elliot’ only to see his hopes of marrying her dashed by her godmother.
Eight years later, Wentworth has realized his ambitions. A wealthy captain, he has pushed his memories of Anne to the furthest recesses of his mind, until he sees her again. And though Anne’s bloom has faded, Wentworth is surprised to find that his regard for her wit and warmth has not.
- “A real treat.”— AustenBlog
5 out of 5 Stars
SEARCHING FOR CAPTAIN WENTWORTH, by Jane Odiwe
A timeslip novel with great parallels to the original, and a moving new love story.
When Sophie Elliot receives the keys to the family townhouse in Bath, it’s an invitation she can’t turn down, especially when she learns that she will be living next door to the house where Jane Austen lived. On discovering that an ancient glove belonging to her mysterious neighbour, Josh Strafford, will transport her back in time to Regency Bath, she questions her sanity, but Sophie is soon caught up in two dimensions, each reality as certain as the other.
Torn between her life in the modern world and that of her ancestor who befriends Jane Austen and her fascinating brother Charles, Sophie’s story travels two hundred years across time and back again, to unite this modern heroine with her own Captain Wentworth. Blending fact and fiction together, the tale of Jane Austen’s own quest for happiness weaves alongside, creating a believable world of new possibilities for the inspiration behind the beloved novel, Persuasion.
- “It is truly a book written by someone who knows Austen’s life, novels and films inside out.”— Laura Boyle, The Jane Austen Centre
5 out of 5 Stars
RECIPE FOR PERSUASION: A NOVEL (THE RAJES SERIES BOOK 2), by Sonali Dev
The Rajes Series explores Austen’s stories from the cultural perspective of the author’s Indian origins adding a modern twist.
From the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors comes another, clever, deeply layered, and heartwarming romantic comedy that follows in the Jane Austen tradition—this time, with a twist on Persuasion.
Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen?
Rico Silva, that’s what.
Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster.
FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn’t too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he’s definitely over her.
But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce…and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico. Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak—or a recipe for persuasion…?
In Recipe for Persuasion, Sonali Dev once again takes readers on an unforgettable adventure in this fresh, fun, and enchanting romantic comedy.
- “Dev balances the toe-curling romance with high-octane family drama…[her] candor and sensitivity in both story lines set this family-centric romance apart. Readers are sure to be impressed.”— Publishers Weekly(starred review)
5 out of 5 Stars
THE BOY IS BACK, by Meg Cabot
Bestselling contemporary romance author Meg Cabot does Jane Austen in this delightful homage to the author and second chance romances.
In this brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a scandal brings a young man back home to the small town, crazy family, and first love he left behind.
Reed Stewart thought he’d left all his small town troubles—including a broken heart—behind when he ditched tiny Bloomville, Indiana, ten years ago to become rich and famous on the professional golf circuit. Then one tiny post on the Internet causes all of those troubles to return . . . with a vengeance.
Becky Flowers has worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him when he returns—until his family hires her to save his parents.
Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another—or the memories of that one fateful night. And soon everything they thought they knew about themselves (and each other) has been turned upside down, and they—and the entire town of Bloomville—might never be the same, all because The Boy Is Back.
- “Wit, warmth, humor and romance, this book has all the elements of a Meg Cabot book.”— Lauren Graham, New York Times bestselling author of Someday, Someday, Maybe
5 out of 5 Stars
FIND WONDER IN ALL THINGS: PERSUASION REVISITED, by Karen M Cox
This winner of the Independent Book Publisher’s Award 2012: Gold Medal in Romance, and Next Generation Indie Finalist in Romance 2013 is a creative modernization of Austen’s classic that still shines bright in a strong field of Persuasion retellings.
Mountain Laurel Elliot is like her name—she blooms best in the cool comfort of shade, hidden in the Kentucky foothills of Appalachia. Alone on her mountain, she lives a private existence with only her pottery—and her regrets—for company.
James Marshall had a secret dream and Laurel was part of it, but dreams sometimes lead to unexpected places. James’s heart broke when Laurel cut him loose, but he moved on—and became successful beyond his wildest dreams.
For one glorious summer, James and Laurel had each other, but life has kept them far apart.
- “a magnificent modernization of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.”— Austenesque Reviews
5 out of 5 Stars
WHERE THE RYTHM TAKES YOU, by Sarah Dass
Set in the West Indian Island of Tobago, this charming second chance romance is infused with local culture, contemporary music, and hip language.
Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Where the Rhythm Takes You is a romantic, mesmerizing novel of first love and second chances.
Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at the Plumeria, her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden—her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything—left the island to pursue his music dreams.
Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running.
And that’s when Aiden comes roaring back into her life—as a VIP guest at the resort.
Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal—the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…
- “What a delightful debut! It’s like the perfect island vacation: breezy, warm, romantic, lots of soul searching, and full to the brim with love.”— Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal
5 out of 5 Stars
THE STARS WE STEAL, by Alexa Donne
Jane Austen in outer space anyone? Let the Austen meets Star Wars begin here.
Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, has only one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?
But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love, Elliot, returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one who got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.
Fans of Katharine McGee and Kiera Cass will be dazzled by this world of lost love and royal intrigue.
- “Donne’s complex characters…are deeply flawed and human….Similar in spirit to Brightly Burning(2018), which staged Jane Eyre in space, this novel takes its cues loosely from Jane Austen’s Persuasion with shimmering success.” —Booklist
5 out of 5 Stars
FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, by Diana Peterfreund – A Review
Jane Austen meets in The Hunger Games in this dystopian classic second chance romance tale.
It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.
Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.
But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.
Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.
- “Dystopian, ideological, rebellious, Peterfreund’s fantasy homage to Austen’s Persuasion departs from the original in many respects, and with great success …. a richly envisioned portrait of a society in flux, a steely yet vulnerable heroine, and a young man who does some growing up.”— Publishers Weekly
5 out of 5 Stars
I hope that this list lets you explore Austen’s classic love story from many different perspectives. Persuasion is eternal in my mind.
We received a review copy from the publisher or purchased a copy for our own enjoyment. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover images are courtesy of their respective publishers; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2022, austenprose.com. Header graphic by Marsha Laurence and available for purchase at Etsy.