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Book review: Novel a modern, Mormon retelling of Jane Austen's 'Persuasion'

"PERSUASION: A Latter-day Tale," by Rebecca H. Jamison, Bonneville Books, $15.99, 227 pages (f)

Fans of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” are going to enjoy Rebecca H. Jamison’s novel “Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale.” Jamison places the familiar storyline in a modern-day setting and gives many of her characters an affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although the plot follows the original story very closely, Jamison weaves enough different elements through the novel that it doesn’t feel completely the same as Austen’s.

Anne Elliot is 27, the daughter of divorced parents, a stockbroker and still, unfortunately, single. Her father is going bankrupt and sells their home in an attempt to get his debt under control. The buyer of their home turns out to be Jack Wentworth, the brother of the boyfriend she broke up with eight years earlier. But when that ex-boyfriend begins dating her friend Lily, Anne not only is forced to interact with Neil on a daily basis, but she faces a roller-coaster ride of emotions and past regrets of letting other people determine her decisions.

As the story progresses, familiar characters from the original story emerge: Jack and Linda as Neil’s brother and sister-in-law; Jay as the young man who is mourning his fiancÉe who died in a tragic accident; Hannah and Lily as her young foolish friends and in this Mormon twist, they are sisters; Mary and Liz as Anne’s demanding sisters; and Will Grandin as the mysterious gentleman who takes an interest in Anne.

The story follows Anne as she begins to discover how to stand up for herself and finally allow herself to fall in love without any reservations, no matter what others want her to believe or do.

This charming tale, although containing a predictable conclusion, does have a few surprises that will keep the reader entertained and hooked until the end. Although the story does feature characters who are Mormon, the focus is not on the religion, but rather on the retelling of a beloved classic and how Anne grows from a timid young lady into a confident young woman while experiencing romance that will last forever.

Lauren Zachary is a recent college graduate from Southern Utah University with an English degree. She works at a local city library while working toward obtaining a master's of library science.