Did Laurel Elliot do the right thing when she decided against moving to Nashville, Tennessee to be with the man she loved? Would James Marshall still have become the successful millionaire he is today if she remained a part of his life? Would they have found their happily-ever-after living on love and a hand-to-mouth existence?
When she was just eighteen and halfway through her first semester at college, Laurel was faced with the most difficult decision of her life: follow the man she loves on an exciting and unknown adventure to a new town or pursue her college degree close to home where she is depended upon by her family. Even though Laurel desperately loved James and wanted a future with him, her fear and uncertainties made her balk. And instead of convincing Laurel to overcome her objections, James walks out, gives up, and closes his heart…or so he thought.
What a magnificent modernization of Jane Austen’s Persuasion! It is easy to conceive why Karen Cox won the GOLD MEDAL in the Romance category for the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards! Similar to her Pride and Prejudice alternate path,1932 – which I read and greatly admired in 2010, Ms. Cox, once again, penned an accomplished and well-constructed story with originality, likable characters, and an engaging plot. Except that instead of Pride and Prejudice, this one is about Persuasion, and instead of The Great Depression, this story takes place during modern times.
One aspect I greatly appreciated about this novel was that readers are able to see thefull story. Karen Cox begins her story eight years back, displaying the young summer romance between Laurel and James. Instead of alluding to their past love affair, or depicting it in flashbacks, Ms. Cox illustrates with detail how they fell in love, their blissful months together, and the circumstances that ruptured their relationship. I loved seeing Laurel and James fall in love for the first time, it was such an endearing and tender romance.
In addition, I deeply enjoyed finding all Ms. Cox’s clever modernization and reincarnations for the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel! An Anne Elliot that makes pottery? Sir Walter as a poor, hippie marina owner? A Lady Russell who is reclusive and suffers from agoraphobia? Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? These slight changes in personality and situation made the story more interesting, original, and less like a carbon-copy ofPersuasion. I felt a sense of unpredictability and novelty when reading this story, which isn’t always the case in modern adaptations.
Karen Cox’s second Austenesque novel is most deserving of all the praise and accolades it receives. Find Wonder in All Thingsis a glorious homage to Jane Austen’s Persuasion! I most emphatically recommend!
Jane Austen’s most serious and compelling work, Persuasion, is all about retribution, forgiveness and second chances. Her masterpiece begins seven years after the broken engagement between the young heiress, Anne Elliot, and a junior naval officer, Frederick Wentworth—when he is thrown back into her sphere and both must face the pain from their past. Karen M. Cox’s award winning novel, Find Wonder In All Things is a modern day homage to this Austen classic. The tale begins with a lakeside friendship in the Appalachian foothills of Kentucky between Laurel Elliott and James Marshall. As the two grow, childhood friendship turns to summer romance and halfway through Laurel’s first semester at the local college, James decides to move to Nashville to pursue his music dream. He assumes she will drop everything to join him. But at just eighteen and with a generous art scholarship, weighted by family expectations as well, who would fault her for refusing him and staying on the college track?
Eight years later, James, now rich and famous, returns to the lake to visit his sister, while Laurel has turned into a reclusive, starving artist. Ok, not quite starving but by no means a financial success story. And most definitely alone. “Unbidden, he came to mind: handsome, dashing and determined. The eight years of separation had softened any flaws she ever saw in him, and now he was almost larger than life to her. He had been right to believe in himself and in his ability to make his mark on the world. He had made it, too – perhaps not in the way he intended but still successful beyond his wildest dreams.” p.115. Captain Wentworth, I mean, James is determined to play it cool and aloof towards Anne. I mean Laurel! And Laurel’s regrets are freshly re-visited as she is keenly aware of her depraved status and jealously towards the younger woman James now bestows his attentions. But Laurel’s generous, self-assured spirit unearths old feelings he thought long buried and a companionable friendship blossoms. When a water skiing accident throws the two together, emotions come to the surface. “And he had whispered her name and called her beautiful and sweet. She could hear the words, and then ‘want…want…’ It had made her roar to life inside her lower belly. Yes, she thought, I want too.’ But then he left.” p 177. Maybe too much time and hurt had passed between them…
If you are looking for the cookie cutter formula of a Persuasion adaptation, this may not be it. For example, you might be surprised that Austen’s pretentious, preening Sir Walter Elliot has been transformed into a struggling but kind hearted marina owner. And Anne Elliot’s selfish, self-absorbed elder sister Elizabeth has morphed into an affectionate, married, and doting mother named Virginia. Although many of Austen’s key characters have also been re-named and undergone a modern makeover, they remain comfortably familiar to the Austen fan. I admit, some of my appreciation was in recognizing the subtle parallels. (Please note that although the prologue opens with Laurel and James as children, their tender love scenes later in years most assuredly rates this an adult read.) However, one need not have read Persuasion beforehand to enjoy this novel. Find Wonder In All Things stands on its own and no wonder at all, why it was awarded the GOLD MEDAL in the Romance category at the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Congratulations, Karen Cox on another lovely read!
Congratulations and sincere thanks to over 2,400 independent authors and publishers who participated in our 16th annual, 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards contest. The awards ceremony to honor the medalists took place on June 4th in New York, on the eve of the Book Expo America convention...
Here are the results of this year's awards, starting with the gold, silver and bronze medalists in our 74 National categories, followed by the Regional category medalists, our Outstanding Books of the Year, and for the first time, E-Book categories...
Gold: Find Wonder in All Things, by Karen M. Cox (Meryton Press)
Silver: The Bedeviled Heart, by Carmen Caine (Self-Published)
Bronze: The Distant Shore (The Stone Trilogy, Book 1),by Mariam Kobras (Buddhapuss Ink)
The winners and finalists for the
2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards are:
WINNER ($100 PRIZE):
- A Second Chance, by Christina Paul (CreateSpace) (ISBN 978-0989430807)
- Find Wonder In All Things, by Karen M. Cox (Meryton Press) (ISBN 978-1936009176)
- Hot Cross Buns, by Judy Rogers and Sarah Porter (Penned Press) (ISBN 978-0988256705)
- The Legacy of Deer Run, by Elaine Marie Cooper (Sword of the Spirit Publishing) (ISBN 978-0983883678)
- Wait for Me, by Janet K. Shawgo (Two Harbors Press) (ISBN 978-1937928926)