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Mercy's Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot's Story Book 1- So Rough a Course Paperback – November 6, 2009
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"The world of Jane Austen's Persuasion fairly sparkles under Laura Hile's deft and humorous touch. While Elizabeth Elliot retains the abrasive edges of Austen's original, you'll be as delighted as I was to see her develop into a woman deserving of a good man's love." --Pamela Aidan, author of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I first read this story years ago, when author Laura Hile, was posting it a tantalizing chapter at a time. She's done a lot of rewriting since then, but it is still fresh and funny, well-written, and reflects Hile's respect for the original.
I say it's a sequel to Persuasion, but it isn't really, as it's the story of what I like to call The Other Elliot girl, Anne's older sister, Elizabeth. You might think of her as The Other Elizabeth :)
We all know that Elizabeth is one of the wicked sisters in the fairy tale that is Austen's Persuasion, devaluing the saintly Anne, wallowing in vanity and pretension, and sitting on the shelf while the years of eligibility slip by. There is virtually nothing to like about Austen's Elizabeth Elliot. She's even beautiful, not having lost her bloom due to heartbreak at a tender age.
Laura Hile has found a kernal in Elizabeth that isn't despicable and within the first couple of chapters has worked it so that Elizabeth is a fully realized, likeable in a snarky sort of way, plucky heroine. I ended up fearing and cheering for Elizabeth as she dealt with the financial morass that her feckless father, the uber vain Sir Walter Elliot, has gotten the family into while she attempts to find love and security and an actual life for herself.
Elizabeth is not perfect--believe me, she is no Anne Elliot--but she has spunk, and unlike Lou Grant from the Mary Tyler Moore show, I like spunk. Like the other Elizabeth (aka Elizabeth Bennet), Hile's Elizabeth Elliot has pluck, wit, beauty, and, she cultivates a sense of humility and loyalty you would never have thought possible without hearing Hile's version of her story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through Austenland with Hile and Elizabeth Elliot and the very attractive Adm Patrick McGillvary, and look forward to reading books 2 and 3 when they come out. This is summer reading at its best.
Unfortunately, in one way or another, all these marriageable prospects are disagreeable choices for Elizabeth. First there is the lecherous Sir Henry Farley, who is old enough to be her grandfather and has a invalid wife still living. Then there is Mr. Rushworth, a wealthy young man, albeit a bit doltish, who will soon be in the market for a new bride as soon as his divorce is final. (sound familiar? I love that a Mansfield Park character is appearing in the pages of a Persuasion sequel!) Although Rushworth seems quite smitten with her, Elizabeth fears she will be unable to marry such a foolish man, no matter how wealthy he is. Lastly, Mr. Elliot has returned to Bath, and seems to be intently pursuing Elizabeth, but she loathes the sight of him.
Elizabeth escapes the attentions of all these men by forming a friendship with a gentlemen who appears to be the least likely to fit her description of a "matrimonial prize;" yet, ironically, he fulfills all three of her requirements. Enter Admiral Patrick McGillvary (a.k.a. Patrick Gill). Admiral McGillvary is daring, strong-willed, quick-witted, and devastatingly sexy. In addition to all this he is wealthier than Mr. Rushworth and from a noble Irish family. However, this is not the man whom Elizabeth befriends, she befriends a humble and common clerk by the name of Patrick Gill. Elizabeth is completely unaware that Admiral McGillvary and Mr. Gill are one in the same. Will Elizabeth break her vow to remain immune to romance and fall in love with an ineligible man? Will Admiral McGillvary ever escape from his tangled web of lies? And will Elizabeth be able to forgive him for deceiving her? (Hopefully these questions will be answered in book two or three of this series!)
Under the pen of the talented Laura Hile, Elizabeth Elliot, one of the least liked of all Austen women, is becoming an appealing and captivating heroine. Remaining true to her nature, Elizabeth is still horribly pretentious and self-absorbed. But the reader will be able to see the stirrings of a sympathetic heart and a humbled disposition, and know that Elizabeth's character is in the midst of an admirable transformation.
I am exceedingly impressed and pleased with Mercy's Embrace: So Rough Course! I am greatly enjoying Ms. Hile's respectful renderings of these beloved Austen characters and I relish her fast-paced and thrilling style. I find Mercy's Embrace to be a simply magnificent series, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on the second installment, Mercy's Embrace: So Lively a Chase!
(Potential readers should be made aware that this is the first book in the Mercy's Embrace series, and that it will be necessary to read all three books to attain the story's conclusion).