Review: Mary Jane Hathaway combines two nearly irresistible subjects: southern charm and Jane Austen. What happens when "Jane Austen Takes the South"? Her stories find life with modern day characters and a few southern side dishes. Hathaway puts a fresh spin on Austen and southern romances with a mixed race couple. Each character has their own unique style, while staying true to their Austen counterparts. Lucy Crawford and Jeremiah Chevy play the roles that parallel those of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth. Though the specifics of their lives differ, this retelling of "Persuasion" follows its inspiration very closely in the major details. As a result, there weren't many surprises in the plot. I enjoyed the story and the journey of Lucy and Jeremiah, but knowing the path of the plot made the reading experience less exciting.
The incorporation of American history offers a departure from Austen. Lucy and Jeremiah are less interested in England's Regency period and much more focused on America's Civil War era. Some of the Civil War scenes coincide with the more romantic moments in the novel. All paths of the plot lead to the final proposal scene, which has both "Persuasion" and Civil War influences. One of my favorite scenes of "Persuasion" is the closing proposal scene, and "Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin' Cornbread" was just as satisfying, but refreshingly unique as well. Mary Jane Hathaway pays homage to one of history's most beloved authors and brings fresh beauty to a story of lost love and second chances.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Howard Books through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Summary from Simon & Schuster: A lively Southern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, featuring Lucy Crawford, who is thrown back into the path of her first love while on a quest to save her beloved family home.
Lucy Crawford is part of a wealthy, well-respected Southern family with a long local history. But since Lucy’s mother passed away, the family home, a gorgeous antebellum mansion, has fallen into disrepair and the depth of her father’s debts is only starting to be understood. Selling the family home may be the only option—until her Aunt Olympia floats the idea of using Crawford house to hold the local free medical clinic, which has just lost its space. As if turning the plantation home into a clinic isn’t bad enough, Lucy is shocked and dismayed to see that the doctor who will be manning the clinic is none other than Jeremiah Chevy—her first love.
Lucy and Jeremiah were high school sweethearts, but Jeremiah was from the wrong side of the tracks. His family was redneck and proud, and Lucy was persuaded to dump him. He eventually left town on a scholarship, and now, ten years later, he’s returned as part of the rural physician program. And suddenly, their paths cross once again. While Lucy’s family still sees Jeremiah as trash, she sees something else in him—as do several of the other eligible ladies in town. Will he be able to forgive the past? Can she be persuaded to give love a chance this time around?