If You Thought Persuasion Couldn't Get More Painful, You Were Wrong

Going into this book, I expected lots of pain, and a gorgeous love story that would make up for it (although to be completely honest there's a certain part of me that revels in the painful stuff too). However, all I got from this book was pain to the power of infinity, as the "love story" was more of a man's despicable use of a young girl who didn't do him any wrong, and his constant mistreatment of her despite the fact that he claimed to still love her after all these years.

If you guys haven't read the original Persuasion by Jane Austen or aren't familiar with its plot, it's about a young woman named Anne Elliot who was in love at a young age with a certain Frederick Wentworth. He asks for her hand in marriage, and while she really wanted to say yes, her family and friends' disapproval resulted in her turning down the proposal. Wentworth, angry but in a brokenhearted and not mean-spirited way, left for the navy, and Anne stayed with her family, shattered. A couple of years later, Wentworth is back in town.

I don't want to say anything else about that because once upon a time, Persuasion was my absolute favorite book ever, so I don't want to spoil anything. Now it's second behind Pride & Prejudice, but it's still a story very close to my heart - which is why it pains me so much that Staci Hart's novel does it such injustice.

Reading this book without actually reading the book it's based on would lead people to believe that Persuasion is a romance about an unhealthy relationship, and this simply isn't the case. Sure, there's anger and angst, but these things are a normal part of any romance. In A Thousand Letters, though, there is PTSD, there is cancer, there is war, there is oppression, and there is a selfless woman beaten down not only by her entitled family members, but also the one man who holds her heart.

In Persuasion, despite Wentworth's grievances toward Anne's inability to make decisions on her own - or her easily persuadable nature, way back when she was a young'un - he is constantly looking out for her. There are scenes where it seems he's aware of her almost against his own will; they say actions say more than words, and this is certainly true in both books. In Persuasion, Wentworth is a treasure of a man. In A Thousand Letters, Wade is a bum. I understand he's suffering from the things he's seen in the army, but that is no excuse to treat Elliot the way he did. What's ironic is that Wade was the indecisive one in this book.

While I love pain, an unnecessary quantity of it is simply, well, unnecessary. I got nothing out of this book, and eventually had to skim through the latter portion of it because I had no patience for all but two or three of the characters. If you're looking for a great Persuasion retelling, I'd recommend For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund. It's essentially Persuasion set in the future, with a science fiction twist to it. I believe it's my favorite Persuasion retelling to date.


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