Another book and another recipe! Don’t forget to scroll down after the review itself for a few extras, including a link to a delicious Poppy Seed Babka (yeasted coffee cake) and a raffle for some fun prizes, thanks to the author.
Modern Persuasion by Sara Marks
Once again, I’m delighted to host a stop on a blog tour celebrating the release of a new novel. This time, author Sara Marks has chosen not Pride and Prejudice, but Persuasion as her inspiration. I have to admit that I love Persuasion; it’s probably my favourite of Jane Austen’s novels. I love the very notion of second chances, of being able to right a past wrong. I love the character of a self-made man, who has risen to his fortune not because of a lucky accident of birth, but due to his own actions; a hero who is able to overcome his resentment to examine his heart and strive for what he truly desires. I love the heroine, whose unhappy past teaches her the necessity of self-reliance, and whose sensible and caring nature allows her to see through artifice to finally achieve her happy ending.
With this in mind, I happily dove into Modern Persuasion, excited to see how Ms. Marks re-imagined the story in a modern setting. She has set the novel – most appropriately – in the world of publishing, the action swirling around the frenzied activity of an author’s book tour. The author is Frederick Wentworth, a successful screenwriter and author; the editor-cum-publicist accompanying on the cross-country tour is Emma Shaw, who broke his heart eight years before. Many of our favourite characters are present, including a lovely portrayal of Emma’s father and sisters, and we see how well the self-absorbed Sir Walter Elliot is translated into the twenty-first century.
For the most part, the novel works very well. Ms. Marks’ characters are realistic and fleshed out, while remaining true to Austen’s originals, and the plot about forced reunions and second chances is seamless and unforced. She writes well and smoothly, bringing the details of the world of publishing to life.
Where the novel falters a bit is in small details that don’t quite match up – I liken this to the continuity girl on a movie set taking a nap. A detail here doesn’t quite mesh with a detail there, or a description is countered by another further along in the text. Wentworth’s fabulous letter also disappoints a bit, because it repeats so much of the material of the rest of the book; I understand the author’s vision in creating the letter she does, but for me, this is a case where brevity and intense emotion would have spoken more eloquently than long description.
These quibbles aside, this is a lovely interpretation of Persuasion, and if you’re a fan of the original (and perhaps even more so, if you’re not – YET) you won’t be disappointed by this first publication of an author of whom I hope to read more in the future.
Now… a few extras.
About the author:
Sara Marks is an author, knitter, Wikipedian, and librarian from Massachusetts. After over 10 years of participating in National Novel Writing Month, she is releasing her first novel, Modern Persuasion, with Illuminated Myth Publishing. When she isn’t writing, she is an academic librarian at University of Massachusetts Lowell. She has a masters degree in library science and another in Communications. She spent 6 years as a member of Toastmasters International where she 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.
Five Fun Facts about her:
- Sara worked as a clown in college.She would go to birthday parties and local events in Miami to paint faces and make balloon animals.
- Sara failed out of college before returning hometo find a new path in life.It took her 7.5 years to get her B.A.She is a firm believer in being able to fix your mistakes and getting second chances.
- Her dog, Cedric, was named for Cedric Diggory, her favorite character in Harry Potter.In reality, the dog is a Slytherin.
- Every year, since 2004, Sara has participated in National Novel Writing Month.She has won every year, except 2005 when she lost by 1,000 words.
- Sara has been a Wikipedia editor for over 10 years.
Much of the novel takes place in New York City, where there are bakeries and edible treats galore! I thought long and hard about what would go well with this story, and nearly decided to find some yummy Chinese dish, relating to a scene in the novel. In the end, after chatting with Ms. Marks, we decided on something that goes well with a book, a cozy corner in which to read, and a cup of tea. In fact, this would go well with Frederick’s favourite – a venti earl grey tea with raw sugar! Emma remembers his order well from their time together so long ago; I bet she often had it with babka from one of the Manhattan bakeries – maybe Moishe’s down south of Delancey, or Orwasher’s in the Upper East Side. (Note – these are not recommendations, although I’m sure they’re great places. My info comes purely from a Google search!)
And so… without further ado, follow this link to the world’s yummiest Poppy Seed Babka.
And, of course, the Giveaways!
Ms. Marks is generously giving away two prizes on this blog tour.
Giveaway 1: An ebook of Modern Persuasion in the format of the winner’s choice! Comment on this post and tell me about one of your second chances, and how that worked out. A second chance at love, an old friendship that you revived, a second chance at a job, or even better luck with a plant the second time around! I won’t judge your tales, but I’ll pick a name randomly by midnight, EST, June 4, 2017.
Giveaway 2: Fredrick’s book tour knick knacks and autographed paperback copy. Since part of the story happens on Fredrick’s book tour, Ms. Marks has selected touristy knick-knacks from each of the cities they visit. The winner will get the entire collection of knick knacks and an autographed paperback copy of the book. This raffle is limited to US participants (sorry, all my non-American readers). To enter, people will need to sign up for Sara Marks’ mailing list, where they will be added to the raffle and will get a short story related to Modern Persuasion: “Mary and the Anti-Feminist”. The raffle opens on the 22nd and ends on June 5th.
Modern Persuasion can be purchased at Amazon.