Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Jane Eyre are my three favorite novels. It’s no surprise then that a novel being marketed with Austen’s humor and the dark drama of a Brontë novel immediately made it on to my must-read list. Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta is a unique combination of these two opposite traits, and definitely seemed like something I couldn’t pass up.
The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.
With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.
I was at first very iffy about my feelings towards this book. Born of Persuasion is the first in the Price of Privilege trilogy and is written with a serious amount of foreshadowing. I think what made me feel so conflicted with all the foreshadowing is that much of it is foreshadows books two and three (it is a trilogy after all.) While I enjoy dark drama (hello, I love Jane Eyre!) I sometimes became lost in what was going to be future story and what was the present story. By the end of the novel, however, I had become so mesmerized by the characters that the foreshadowing issues fell away. In fact, by the end I was eagerly anticipating the next two novels. The final third of the book flew by must faster than the first two-thirds, and before I knew it I was ready for round two (book two, Mark of Distinction, has a possible publication date of early next summer.)
Dotta’s writing truly shines with all of the crazy plot twists and turns. Just when you think you’ve figured out a plot line or a character, something shifts and you’re left trying to piece it all together again. It’s evident that the gothic-ness of Brontë’s writing and social humors of Austen’s writing were inspirational for Dotta. Born of Persuasion truly feels like a book that the two women could have worked on together. Julia herself is a cross between Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennet, and Anne Elliot (to say the least). So, if you’d love to see this pseudo-collaboration firsthand, pick up a copy. Janeites and Bronte fans (as well as historical fiction fans) will love it!
4 out of 5 Stars
This is my twenty-first completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta
Tyndal House Publishers (2013)
Paperback: 435 pages
Special thanks to Silver Seas PR for my review copy!