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Modern Persuasion Paperback – May 29, 2017
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About the Author
Sara Marks is an author, knitter, Wikipedian, and librarian from Massachusetts. Born in Boston, her family move to Miami, Florida when she was 3. There she spent the next 14 years of her life. She attended Florida State University for 3 years, but graduated with an A.A from Miami Dade College and a B.A. from Florida International University before moving back to Boston for graduate school. She hasn't left Massachusetts since (except to visit people and places in the world). Now, over fifteen years later and over 10 years of participating in National Novel Writing Month, she is releasing her first novel, Modern Persuasion, with Illuminated Myth Publishing. Sara works with local writing group Mill Pages, which creates an annual anthology of short stories, poems, and art work. She is a member of the Society of Independent Publishers and Authors (SIPA), a group supporting writers in the Merrimack Valley.When she isn't writing, Sara is an academic librarian at University of Massachusetts Lowell. She has a masters degree in library science and another in Communications. She is an active Wikipedian who has been editing Wikipedia for over 10 years. She spent 6 years as a member of Toastmasters International where she twice earned the status of Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest status members can achieve. She is one of the local organizers for National Novel Writing Month. She is an avid knitter who designs and publishes her own patterns. She love unicorns, Paris, and the color purple.
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That said, Modern Persuasion didn't set out to make me a romance reader. It set out to be enjoyable, relatable, and cathartic. It succeeds.
I don't know the first thing about Persuasion, so I'll talk about Modern Persuasion not as a variation, but as it's own work. In terms of writing, it's quite enjoyable. It's written in a clear, engaging style, and the story moves along at a quick pace. It's the kind of book that gets to the point, but doesn't need a long presentation to feel complete.
The story deals with a pair of former lovers being forced to work together. In doing so, they must also confront their regrets and re-evaluate their pasts. It features lots of behind-the-scenes information on the publishing industry, all presented with a the comfortable confidence of a good researcher. This author knows her stuff, and I thought the details regarding the industry itself added lots of tone and flavor to the story. It's one of my favorite parts!
The main character, Emma Shaw, is not the type of protagonist I usually prefer. That said, by the end of the book, I was crossing my fingers and grinding my teeth for her. She's got a strong narrative voice, and the reader has a clear idea of who she is early on: confident, professional, and totally sick of everyone's drama. She initially struck me as bossy and overbearing, but there's a richness to her Throughout the story, we see Emma's vulnerabilities and insecurities bubble to the surface, but never in a way that makes her feel weak or too heavily deconstructed. Most importantly, Emma is starkly relatable. Though we may not be high profile players in the publishing world, we've probably all shared some of her anxieties. We may have had too much to drink at dinner and told our whole family what we thought about them, or said something embarrassingly stupid while trying to break an awkward silence, or even just stared at a letter from a lost loved one and cried. Emma's story, while perhaps far removed from many of our lives, is filled with familiar moments. Those moments are where the writing shines through the best.
I'm not sure I'd want to know Emma in real life, but I certainly enjoyed reading about her. Any criticisms I might have are products of the genre and perhaps the source material. As an adaptation, it's hard for me to rate it. As an independent read, especially in a genre that I generally don't touch....it's a treat. My greatest criticism lies in the irritating personalities of Emma's family and other supporting characters, but this is by design. Emma is tired of them, too. She's ready for something else.
Will she get it? You should read and find out.
I simply loved this book. Finished it in one sitting just now and I laughed a lot and teared up quite a bit. I understood Emma and really felt like I knew her. Hell, there's quite a bit of me that IS her. Plus, it being set in the publishing world made it even more familiar. It was beautifully told, so massive kudos to the author.
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