Persuasion: The Wild and Wanton Edition by Micah Persell and Jane Austen

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Persuasion, Jane Austen’s final published work, is a story of second chances. A very young Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot are broken-hearted when their hasty engagement is dissolved due to Frederick’s lack of prestige and lack of money. Eight years later, they are still healing when they are thrust into the same social circle once more – however, in a brilliant turn, now Frederick is Captain Wentworth, a prosperous naval officer, and the Elliot family finds themselves on the brink of financial ruin.

Austen, who suffered her own broken engagement, pens a beautiful tale of the redeeming power of love, and the passion between Frederick and Anne sizzles on the page, even by the standards of 1816. In this wild and wanton edition of Persuasion, read the entire classic and discover the steamy untold portions of Austen’s story that have been lying dormant in the subtext. Who knows, Austen may have included these bits herself 200 years ago – if only she dared.

Publisher and Release Date: Crimson Romance (August 26, 2013)

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1814 England (Somersetshire, Lyme Regis, and Bath)
Genre: Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Lady Wesley

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen work; I’ve read it at least a half-dozen times over the years. Frederick and Anne’s unspoken longing and regret make it Austen’s most truly romantic novel. They are not a couple until the final pages of the story, so I was unsure what to expect in the “wild and wanton” version of this classic.

Micah Persell exceeded my modest expectations, however, by deftly and for the most part seamlessly working in backstory, dreams, and interior monologue in very Austenesque language. Not all of the new content is patently sexy, and from time to time, I found myself having to check the original text to determine whether I was reading Austen or Persell. One example:

One thing was certain: He had not forgiven Anne Elliot. She had used him ill, deserted and disappointed him; Frederick shuddered to think of how long it took him to get over losing his virginity to a woman who had immediately abandoned him. He was half wounded, even still, and half appalled that such a thing actually mattered to him. He was more than aware that men gladly tossed away their virginity and cared little for how the lady regarded them afterwards. That Frederick’s soul had been mortally hurt by Anne’s careless handling of something that Frederick had valued so greatly was both debilitating and embarrassing, and one of his most closely guarded secrets. Her actions were unforgiveable and worse. She had shewn a feebleness of character in doing so horrible a thing, which his own decided, confident temper could not endure. She had given him up to oblige others. It had been the effect of over-persuasion. It had been weakness and timidity.

Persell has changed the story very little, with probably the most significant addition being Anne losing her virginity to Frederick during the giddy days of their short-lived engagement. Thus, when they meet again eight years later, there is plenty of opportunity for remembering and steamy yearning. To keep the reader from becoming totally frustrated, I suppose, the couple also shares a few brief but ardent encounters at Uppercross and Bath. Along the way, we are treated to small, intimate fun facts about other characters: Elizabeth is a cock-tease; Sir Walter gets naughty with Mrs. Clay (despite his distaste for her freckles); Lady Russell finds herself attracted to Sir Walter’s fine figure; and Admiral and Mrs. Croft are quite the frisky couple.

While I had fun with this book, I’m not sure to whom I ought to recommend it. Should someone who never has read Austen begin with this version? Perhaps, if the idea of reading a wholly unsteamy romance is unappealing. (None of Austen’s text has been deleted.) Should a confirmed Janeite read it? Well, yes, but only if said Janeite is not of the fundamentalist sort likely to be offended by any alteration of the original sacred text. Possibly, it’s just ideal for a reader such as me – one who loves Persuasion but also can take pleasure in a talented wordsmith’s having a bit of fun with it.

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