Much Ado About Persuasion: Book Review of a Christian Austen Variation

by Brenda S. Cox

“Pride is a very empty comfort when you are alone.” —Elizabeth Elliot in Much Ado About Persuasion

Are you looking for a light, fun, clean Austen variation? And perhaps wanting something different from the many variations on Pride and Prejudice?

Barbara Cornthwaite has written a delightful new twist on Persuasion, called Much Ado About Persuasion. While you don’t need familiarity with Shakespeare to enjoy it, she’s taken the Elliots and their friends and involved them in some of the comedy high jinks of Much Ado About Nothing.

Sir Walter Elliot, in this version, admires the British Navy and its leaders. In London, he becomes friends with some of our favorite people: Admiral Croft, Captain Wentworth, Captain Harville, Captain Benwick, and Admiral Baldwin (only briefly mentioned in Persuasion). One of them (I won’t tell you which one) falls in love with Elizabeth, but offends her. The next time they meet, all they can do is wittily insult each other. Both are too proud to admit their feelings.

When they all come to visit the Elliots at Kellynch, William Elliot also shows up. Of course one of the officers—you know which one—falls in love with Anne, but William tricks him into believing Anne is not the woman he thought she was. Meanwhile, the others (just as in Much Ado About Nothing) are trying to trick Elizabeth and her suitor (frenemy?) into falling back in love. Mrs. Clay even gets her own romance, though she’s also unwittingly involved in William Elliot’s deceit.

Of course, just as in Shakespeare’s play, it all gets sorted out in the end. Even the very end has a hilarious twist.

Much Ado About Persuasion is Barbara Cornthwaite’s delightful twist on Persuasion, with lots of fun added from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Faith

So, where does the faith part come in?

Well, we have William Elliot’s valet, slated to do his dirty work. But this man has his own back story and a clergyman father who has instilled Scripture into him: “Be sure your sin will find you out” and other warnings of judgment. He eventually goes to the curate—Charles Hayter, of course—for advice. The parish rector also helps him. You’ll see the results of this valet’s struggles with his conscience.

Two other characters need to overcome pride and selfishness; they seek wisdom in church. None of this is overdone; it fits naturally into the story.

I very much enjoyed this entertaining variation on Persuasion. I recommend that you give it a try! It’s available on amazon from today, at a very reasonable price.

You may also enjoy Cornthwaite’s earlier books, a series on George Knightley of Emma, from his point of view (see my review), and a contemporary mystery/romance series, the Wilkester Mysteries, with allusions to Austen. I have loved them all!

Quotes from Much Ado About Persuasion

“There is something to be said for a man confessing his wrongdoing instead of continuing to cover his sin.”—Charles Hayter in Much Ado About Persuasion

“Well, stubbornness can work both ways . . . I can be just as stubborn in letting go of my pride as I can in keeping it, can I not?”

“She was still full of her new ambition to eradicate her pride, and it occurred to her for the first time that the divinity that was said to rule the world might have something helpful to say about it.”

—Elizabeth Elliot in Much Ado About Persuasion

 

When has pride kept you from love? How do you combat pride in your life?

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