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Source:: Author
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Frederick sat there for a moment, thinking. “You know, I have to say the number one barrier in a lasting relationship with me is weakness of character. If a woman can easily be persuaded by her friends and family to do something she doesn’t really want, then she and I won’t make a good pair.”

I sat there looking at the television and I realized I was never going to be able to fix the mistake I had made. This next month was going to be torture.

(from Modern Persuasion)

Modern Persuasion by Sara Marks takes Jane Austen’s Persuasion into the present day. Emma Shaw (Anne Elliot) is an editor at the publishing house run by family friend Karen Russell, who is grooming Emma to take over the imprint run by her father, Walter Shaw. Somehow Emma manages to sort out her father’s and sister Elizabeth’s financial troubles, cater to her needy sister Mary, and get everything in order for PubCon. She’s hit hard by the appearance of Frederick Wentworth, who is there to promote his new book before going on tour.

Circumstances conspire to put Emma in charge of Frederick’s book tour, which makes for some awkward situations given that they haven’t been in touch since she turned down his marriage proposal eight years ago. Emma holds it together the best she can as she and Frederick, accompanied by his friend Patrick and her assistant Louisa, go from city to city barely speaking to one another, and definitely not addressing their unresolved feelings.

Marks’ knowledge and appreciation of Austen’s novel shines through in her retelling. I recognized Anne and Captain Wentworth in her Emma and Frederick (though I wonder why her name was changed to Emma). I liked the setting of the novel, the various cities on the book tour and then in Cape Cod, and how Marks translated the obstacles faced by the characters into modern times and made them feel real and relevant. However, some of the scenes could’ve been fleshed out with some dialogue, and some of the repetitive elements at the end could have been eliminated.

Even so, I enjoyed Modern Persuasion. It was fresh and fun, a fast-paced read, and I always enjoy when authors are inspired by an Austen novel other than Pride and Prejudice.

Disclosure: I received Modern Persuasion from the author for review.

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Today I am delighted to welcome Sara Marks to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time to celebrate the release of her new novel, Modern Persuasion, a novel inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I asked Sara if she would be kind enough to share her story of coming to love Jane Austen. Please give her a warm welcome:

High School Overachievement in Reading

I knew very little in High School, but one thing I did know was that I was going to have to read Pride and Prejudice in my senior year.  I have always been a voracious reader and I wanted, at the time, to be ready for the book when it was time to read it.  That how I ended up reading P&P on my own as a Junior.  I still have the copy they gave us when we read it my senior year.  There were so many things I missed as a teenager, but the more often I read Austen books, the more comfortable I got with them.  Over the years I would read more books, stopping and starting as my irritation at characters ebbed and flowed.  I stopped reading for a few years when I tried Sense & Sensibility.  I felt annoyed with characters in this book, especially Marianne.  I enjoyed Northanger Abbey years later, but Mansfield Park felt like it just never ended.  Persuasion was the last of her books that I read and has been firmly locked in my heart ever since.

Movies, Mini-Series, and More

I spent most of my adult reading life as a fan of fantasy and science fiction more than classics.  I re-read a few favorite Austen book (P&P, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion), but, like for many others, it was the movies and adaptations that I found most enjoyable.  I remember the first time I saw Clueless, just as I was starting to read Emma for the first time and realizing they were one and the same.  I remember watching the BBC P&P miniseries and realizing Mr. Darcy SHOULD have lovely curls…he should ALWAYS HAVE CURLS!  I love Colin Firth, but I had to cast my own Mr. Darcy and, alas, he will never play the role… The modern movies and mini-series have more of a place in my heart than the classic ones.  I prefer McFayden’s Emo-Darcy or Matthew Ryhs’ coy and playful interpretation.

I Gave Myself Permission to Write

The shift in my obsession stems from Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.  I know it’s not for everyone, but it brought me back to Austen in a way nothing else had.  For me, it was the introduction to the idea that I could write fan fiction of Austen and tell an original story.  It got me interested in reading the Jane Austen Fan Fiction (some I loved and some made me cringe…most I loved).  Seeing other authors try to modernize, re-interpret, extend, or look back in time on Jane’s stories was thrilling as a reader and writer.  Then came the Lizzy Bennet Diaries and it was like I had permission to write the fantasies inside my head.  I had always played around with trying to understand who a character would be if he or she was alive today.

What Comes Next?

I have taken a break from most JAFF at the moment because I am writing it.  I read it with a range of emotions from “I would have done this instead” or “well, all my writing is crap compared to this!” I have a list of Persuasion JAFF books that I am going to finally read once Modern Persuasion comes out!  I am also re-reading Austen’s books on my blog.  I have done Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.  This fall will be Emma and winter 2018 I will do Pride and Prejudice.  It helps me get back into the frame of the story as I write my modernizations.  I love having my readers leave comments through the readings!

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About Modern Persuasion:

Which would you pick: the person you love or your own dreams? What would you do if given a second chance at that decision? Eight years ago Emma Shaw picked her career and family over the man she loved, Fredrick Wentworth. Since then she has built a career in publishing and spends her free time making sure her father and sisters are taken care of. Fredrick has spent the same years building his career as a screenwriter under increasing public scrutiny as a celebrity. When the editor of Fredrick s first book is injured, Emma is forced to travel with Fredrick on his book tour. Tension builds for the two former lovers over the course of the tour. Emma and Fredrick must face their emotional baggage and their misunderstanding about how their break-up impacted the other. Will they be able to find their way back together for a second chance at love?

Check out Modern Persuasion on Goodreads | Amazon

Read a sample chapter here.

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About the Author

Sara Marks

Sara Marks is an author, knitter, Wikipedian, and librarian from Massachusetts. Born in Boston, her family moved to Miami, Florida, when she was 3.  There she spent the next 14 years of her life. She attended Florida State University for 3 years, but graduated with an A.A from Miami-Dade College and a B.A. from Florida International University before moving back to Boston for graduate school.  She hasn’t left Massachusetts since (except to visit people and places in the world).  Now, over fifteen years later and over 10 years of participating in National Novel Writing Month, she is releasing her first novel, Modern Persuasion, with Illuminated Myth Publishing.  Sara works with local writing group Mill Pages, which creates an annual anthology of short stories, poems, and art work.  She is a member of the Society of Independent Publishers and Authors (SIPA), a group supporting writers in the Merrimack Valley.

When she isn’t writing, Sara is an academic librarian at University of Massachusetts Lowell.  She has a masters degree in library science and another in Communications.  She is an active Wikipedian who has been editing Wikipedia for over 10 years.  She is a member of Toastmasters International where she has twice earned the status of Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest status members can achieve.  She is one of the local organizers for National Novel Writing Month.  She is an avid knitter who designs and publishes her own patterns.  She love unicorns, Paris, and the color purple.

Connect with Sara via email | website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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Giveaways

#1: Sara is generously offering an ebook copy of Modern Persuasion to one lucky reader! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell us what most excites you about the book. This giveaway will close on Sunday, June 4, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post.

#2: She is also offering a special giveaway to U.S. readers. Since part of the story happens on Frederick’s book tour, she is offering touristy knick-knacks from each of the cities they visit (the NYC item will be a surprise!). The winner will receive the entire collection of knick-knacks and an autographed paperback copy of the book. To enter, you need to sign up for her mailing list, and you can do so and enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter link. Everyone who signs up for the mailing list is added to the raffle and also will receive a short story related to Modern Persuasion: “Mary and the Anti-Feminist.” This giveaway ends on June 5.

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5/22 My Jane Austen Bookclub

5/22 More Agreeably Engaged

5/23 Half Agony, Half Hope

5/24 JustJane 1813

5/24 The Ardent Reader

5/25 From Pemberly to Milton

5/26 Diary of an Eccentric

5/26 My Love for Jane Austen

5/27 Babblings of a Bookworm

5/28 Musings from the Yellow Kitchen

5/29 vvb32 Reads

5/29 Austenesque Reviews

Thank you, Sara, for being my guest today!

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