February 27, 2024

Once Persuaded, Twice Shy

By Melodie Edwards
Review by
Once Persuaded, Twice Shy, Melodie Edwards’ modernization of Persuasion, is a sweet and often surprising take on Jane Austen’s classic novel.
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Confession time: Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel. There’s just something about it that speaks to me. It’s the idea of growing into the person you’re supposed to be, into the love you’re finally ready to have. The fact that love doesn’t come easily or quickly makes it all the sweeter when it finally falls into place.

That sweetness is front and center in Melodie Edwards’ modernization of Persuasion, Once Persuaded, Twice Shy. Our present-day Anne Elliot is the executive director of a theater festival, which allows her, as in the original, to quietly keep the world running from behind the scenes. But her tidy, well-controlled life is thrown into a tailspin when her ex, Ben Wentworth, reappears in her life, eager to show her how completely and entirely he’s moved on. The quaint Canadian town of Niagara-on-the-Lake supplies the two of them with an ample supporting cast of lovable, quirky, exasperating and endearing characters, but it’s the enduring connection between Anne and Ben that’s the real draw. As they find their way back to each other, they also find their way back to the truest versions of themselves, letting go of old hurts and old burdens and old grudges along the way.

Of course, there are elements that get left behind when a story is transposed to a new time or place. (The author wisely addresses this in a letter to readers that gives context to some of her choices.) Will fans of the original miss the things that got lost in translation? They might. I missed the Harvilles, Captain Benwick and the whole boisterous Musgrove clan—even Mary, hypochondriacal misanthrope that she is. But Edwards’ update has plenty of compensations: There’s warmth, humor, Taylor Swift lyrics for every conceivable scenario and a love story that blooms as beautifully today as it did 200 years ago. The plot takes unexpected twists and turns, tied together with beloved tropes. And the grand finale is a happily ever after that certainly persuaded me, and that I believe will persuade you, too.

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Once Persuaded, Twice Shy

Once Persuaded, Twice Shy

By Melodie Edwards
ISBN 9780593440797

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