For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars #1) by Diana Peterfreund
So I picked this book up as you know I will review anything Austen. I thought it was going to be about Pride and Prejudice as most are, but it surprised me and was about Persuasion instead.
Persuasion was published in 1818 after Austen’s death, alongside Northanger Abbey. Out of all the Austen works, these two seem to have the least amount of fans and notice.
I have always found that strange as I love both of these novels.
Even though it isn’t as loved by people, Persuasion has had two films made of it and a lot of it is based on Austen’s feelings of her first love and a wish fulfillment of being reunited.
Anyways, just in case you’ve never heard of it (and as I have yet to work through it as I am still stuck on Emma) I think we need a quick review.
Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth fall in love. He asks her for her hand in marriage, but Anne’s father refuses. Anne is unsure and goes to a family friend for advice; as her mother is dead, her father lives in his own world, and her sisters don’t care. This family friend persuades her to say no as Anne is above him in station, Fredrick has no options for promotion (as his family can’t procure it), the likelihood of him dying and living Anne a penniless widow (as her father will leave her nothing) is very high, and the two are so young.
Anne goes to Fredrick and refuses, him becoming angry as he thinks it is just because of his lack of money and station. (In Anne’s defense the real thing that made her unsure was the stressing of him most likely being killed and her being left alone.)
Years pass, Anne has never seen Fredrick again or stopped loving him. She had other men interested, but refused them as she didn’t love them.
What has changed is the Elliot family fortune, her father and older sister have blown through their money so fast that they are being forced to let out their home to a sea Admiral. A Captain Admiral Croft and his wife, Mrs. Croft. Mrs. Croft who turns out to be Fredrick Wentworth’s sister!
Anne goes to stay with her sister, Mary Musgrove, for a while, while her other sister and father are staying in Bath, with Anne to join them later.
When she is staying with Mary, Fredrick Wentworth returns to visit his sister and husband. Now a Captain, he has also become extremely wealthy; having taken so many risks in the war that he excelled monetarily and was promoted. Captain Wentworth is searching for a wife, and is funny and kind to all; but Anne.
It appears that old hangups remain so. Will Wentworth and Anne be reunited? Will Wentworth marry another?
You have to read the book!
So this science-fiction/Fantasy book takes place in the not too distant future…
Sorry, anyways…there were advancements in technology, so much that they were able to do DNA procedures to make your body excel in ways previously unimaginable, almost cyborg like.
These DNA procedures cause a war between people who believe this is not what God wants, and those who believe that the pursuit of science is the only answer. Unfortunately, they discover they did not know everything, as many of these experiments go wrong as people lose a majority of their faculties.
After wars, bombing, and a complete restructuring of the world they know, the people are divided into two groups: Luddites and the Reduced.
Luddites are the royalty and own all the land, they care for the Reduced in a feudal system/slave system as the Reduced are tied to the land, but more extensively like slaves, yet not traded and sold as slaves are. Reduced are mutes, who aren’t in complete control of their faculties, need to be supervised, etc.
Recently, things have been shifting as there are “Reduced” who are born very intelligent, able to speak, often called “Children of the Reduced” or “CORs”, and “Post-Reduced” or “Posts” by themselves.
Our main character is Elliot North (Anne Elliot) a wealthy Luddite, one of the oldest Luddite families. She, her father, and sister have a farm; but it is going downhill as her father and sister don’t care about the people, the farm, long term care, but only themselves and what they want. For instance her father has cut down all their apple trees for a “better view” or destroyed Elliot’s planted field for a racetrack.
Elliot tries hard to keep things running, to take her mother’s place, but finds herself drowning in the debt her father and sister, Tatiana North, create. In fact, they have had to rent out her grandfather’s, Chancellor Boatwright, home and ship yard to a set of wealthy free Posts- Admiral Innovation, his wife Dr. Felicia Innovation and their crew: Captain Malakai Wentforth, Andromeda Phoenix, and Donovan Phoenix.
Elliot’s only solace is the barn, where she would work on her plans, and relive her memories with her old friend, the boy she loved, and Post; Kai. Since she has lost her field and all her months of hard work, nothing seems right. But there is plenty to do on a farm.
When the Innovations and their crew arrive, Elliot finds herself admiring and enjoying the company of the Innovations and the crewman Donovan. Andromeda doesn’t seem to like her one bit, although Elliot has no clue what she could have done to upset her. However, everything changes when she meets Captain Malakai Wentforth. It appears it is her old friend and love has returned-Kai (Captain Fredrick Wentworth).
Years ago the two forged a friendship, (despite her father’s constant striving to keep them apart), a friendship that turned into love. The two made plans to run away together, but in the end Elliot couldn’t do it. She knew she had to fulfill her promise to her mother and take care of the farm and the Posts. She wrote Kai a letter:
Please do not hate me. I couldn’t bear it if you hated me.
But I cannot go with you.
I thought I could. Last night, I thought everything was possible. I thought you were right, that there was nothing for me here, either. Mother’s dead, Grandfather’s locked in his own head, and you’re leaving. Why in the world should I stay? It was a beautiful dream. But outside your room, outside the barn, in the cold light of morning, I realized that was all it was. A dream. There is nothing for me here, but that doesn’t mean I am nothing to the North estate.
Today, when I was supposed to be packing, I wandered the estate. I watched the Posts in their little cottages, I watched the Reduced in the fields, and I thought about our lots in life.
We can’t escape who we are born to be, Kai. The Reduced are Reduced. They will always be Reduced. And I will always be a Luddite. I was born this way. I will die this way. I can’t turn my back on that. Luddites were handed a sacred trust-we are the caretakers of humanity. Without us, the world would have burned, and all mankind would have been destroyed. I cannot ignore that. I cannot forget who I am.
But you are not a Luddite.
That’s why I cannot go with you. And also why I can’t ask you to stay.
God be with you.
Elliot’s feelings for Kai resurface but he wants nothing to do with her.
He is rude, cruel, cynical, and nasty around her. He spends a lot of time with their neighbors, the Groves-Horatio and his younger sister Olivia. Olivia has fallen for Kai, and to Elliot’s utter disappointment it looks like he feels the same way.
But Elliot cannot focus on that only as her long lost cousin, Benedict and air to the North estate, returns eager to regain control of the promised land, her grandfather grows more ill, and her father tries to engage her in even more power plays.
During one of her free moments, she joins Andromeda, Kai, Donovan, Olivia, and Horatio on an outing to the sea cliffs. Kai and Donovan jump from incredible distances, and Andromeda explains that they recognize the wind shifts because of their piloting expertise. As they continue, Elliot realizes something is not right.
When Olivia tries to do the jump, she falls and is horribly injured. While they try and help her, Elliot realizes that Kai is hiding a big secret, one that could destroy everything.
Once again Eliot finds herself at a fork in the road. Should she follow the man she loves? Or cling to her Luddite responsibilities.
I thought it was pretty good story and interpretation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Having Wentworth as a slave/serf rather than lower standing put a completely new spin on the relationship.
I liked how in between the time of the novel, there were letters and notes their younger selves passed, giving us a view of how their relationship started.
It doesn’t follow the book exactly, but the author did a good job in staying true to the core of the story, while at the same time doing her own thing.
Now there are two things I didn’t like.
First, I didn’t like how the author inserted God to create conflict between those who wanted change and mutation and those who wanted things to remain the same. The insertion wasn’t really what bothered me as much as the author not really giving us a stand on how our main character felt. One of the laws is to not try to play with genetics as you are raising yourself for a a fall, messing with things you shouldn’t control, etc. As much as the main character struggles with her ideas and wondering if they are against God, we never see what her relationship to God is. Is she extremely devout? Who or What is her God? What exactly do they believe in their religion? She brings it up constantly, but we never really know why this is such an issue to her because the author chooses to ignore it. We never see her pray, attend church, do any type of worship, etc. In my opinion you either need to go all the way or just leave it out; no in-between.
The second thing that bothered me was how mean Kai was in this. I mean he was horribly cruel. Now in Persuasion she doesn’t really explain herself as to way she refuses him, so he draws his own conclusions. I this Kai knows! He knows that she needs to help care for the people! He knows how her father and sister are, and without Elliot they would be cruel, starve everyone, and run the whole farm down into the groumd! Yet even though he knows this, he is so horrible to her. I understand why the author made him that way, and it completely makes sense as to character to behave in such a way. But it makes it hard to read as he acts like a jerk, before he finally comes to his senses.
But otherwise I thought it was an excellent read and one of the better Austen reinterpretations on the market. I suggest you check it out for yourself.
For more on Persuasion, go to What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen
For more Persuasion variations, go to Captain Wentworth’s Diary
For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)