For those of us who have read Austen’s Persuasion, there can be no doubt. Captain Wentworth’s letter to Miss Anne Elliot is exquisite. It is a pivotal moment which brings tears to our eyes and returns hope to our bruised hearts.
But have you ever given any thought to what might have occurred before the good captain returned to England? The man was distraught! He was possessed by bitterness, regret, and a profound sense of grief. Did he pour out his heart? Did he attempt to contact his one true love and see if he could secure her trust and affections? No. No, he did not. The brave and battle-born sea captain dug in his heals and refused to give quarter! When he finally returns to England, he shows Anne Elliot no mercy and our hearts cry on her behalf. It’s not until the very end of the story that our injured souls truly begin to heal, and that is principally due —in my humble opinion—to Austen’s finest work: Captain Wentworth’s letter.
But what brought on the change in his behavior?
In “Celestial Persuasion,” Miss Abigail Isaacs and Captain Wentworth are thrown into a relationship that would have been considered quite rare during the Regency era. In fact, they become correspondents—pen pals, if you will, thanks to Jonathan Isaacs’ plotting and planning.
Abigail undergoes a series of trials; and as we usually discover in novels such as these, our protagonist finds her way through some dark and troubling times. Along the way, she shares her thoughts and experiences with her new friend. In her final letter, Abigail urges the captain home to England and back to his Anne. It remains to be seen if he was easily persuaded…
According to ancient Judaic tradition, a great miracle occurred in the month of Tamuz. This Hebrew month corresponds to June and July in the Gregorian calendar and begins with Rosh Chodesh on June 9th. I found it fitting to share this bit of information with you, as it relates to my new book: Celestial Persuasion.
Without going deep into the weeds, let me just say that during this season the ancient Israelites were at battle with the five kings of the Emorite Nation (Book of Yehoshua 10:11-14). As the verse unfolds, we read that “great stones” fell from the heavens, and the sun and the moon did not advance in the sky until the Israelites could claim victory. Today, we can assume that an intense meteor or asteroid shower fell upon the particular place; but according to tradition, it was a celestial miracle. I couldn’t resist sharing this with you because it touches upon a recurring theme in my story. Here is a snippet that speaks to fresh starts and new beginnings:
Dinner was completed with no further discussion of wars, revolution, or immigration to far and distant lands. Abigail noted Mrs. Frankel’s silent approval of the elegant meal, which mainly consisted of fish and poultry and various dishes of accompaniment. While they supped, polite conversation regarding the weather in Devonshire was the rule, much to Abigail’s chagrin, but then at last his lordship introduced a new topic, the extraordinary shape of the crescent moon.
“As tonight is Rosh Chodesh, a celebratory occasion of our faith, I beg you apply to Miss Isaacs for commentary,” Mrs. Frankel offered.
“Indeed? I would be glad to hear of it,” the earl replied. “Pray tell.”
“I would not wish to bore you, my lord, with talk of instruments and calculations,” said she, in an attempt to curtail her natural instincts; “however, if you care to learn about the holiday Mrs. Frankel references, I would share Rabbi Nachman’s compelling words on the subject.”
With his lordship’s approval, Abigail continued. “The moon has been a point of great significance since the time of the ancient Israelites. We use its cycles to calculate the months of the year, which differs from the Gregorian calendar based on the sun. Rabbi Nachman suggests that when even the slightest portion of this heavenly body is spotted, that least sighting—that modicum of hope—is sufficient to proclaim a fresh beginning for every one of us. And this evening, as witnessed by the shape of the moon, we celebrate the head of the new month and wish each other peace.”
“That is truly providential,” the earl stated and raised his glass. “Join me in a toast, won’t you? To Jonathan, the best of men, and to new beginnings!”
“To Jonathan,” Abigail repeated and swallowed hard. “And to new beginnings.”
“L’ chaim,” murmured Mrs. Frankel. “To life.”
Dear readers, you are cordially invited to my upcoming Blog Tour. During the week of June 13-18, several bloggers will be reviewing the book or hosting an author’s interview with yours truly.
Readers of this blog know that I was inspired to write a Jewish historical fiction based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I understand some of you have not had the pleasure of reading Austen’s original work or seeing the film adaptations. Never fear! Celestial Persuasion is a stand-alone novel with more than enough to tempt you. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here are a few early comments from people in the know…
“I’m still shaking my head at how good this was! Even though I knew nothing about the history of this area, I found the story fascinating. The appearance of an Austen character in the story always made me smile.” ~ Jeanne Garrett
“A wonderful and inventive novel that paints a compelling historical tale upon a large canvas background of a culture different from what most are used to seeing in #Austenesque variations. Celestial Persuasion left me contemplating about how destiny is written in the stars.” ~ Don Jacobson, author of The Bennet Wardrobe series
“Devotees of Austen’s work, who never wanted her stories to end, will enjoy Trupp’s writing, and those who have adored Persuasion, will not be disappointed in what could possibly come after.” ~Sherry V Ostroff, author of Caledonia, Mannahatta and The Lucky One
“From a literary perspective, I love the way Jane Austen’s characters are sewn into the book. While Abigail’s Jewishness is certainly a central focus, I must commend the respect offered to several other faiths throughout the story, emphasizing that which we have in common rather than that which separates us. I loved this book!” ~ Debbie Brown
I hope to entice you with this shortest of snippets. Please enjoy!
With her morning correspondence completed, she was at leisure; however, this was not a pleasant interlude and Abigail dreaded such moments. For it was during these quiet times that the gripping claws of sorrow tore at her heart. She required an occupation, as the stillness of her life had become too much to bear. She quitted the morning room and quietly climbed the stairs to find Jonathan’s bedchamber.
Opening the door, Abigail was met with the familiar scent of old books and leather. Mrs. Frankel had seen to the room being kept tidy. The clean linen upon his bed added to the crispness in the air. Jonathan’s wardrobe contained most of his clothes, as he took only the essentials when he went off to sea. His shelves were lined with an eclectic combination of writings. Books of Kabbalah and astrology were placed side by side with authoritative treatises on astronomy, physics, and physiology. There were novels of the sea that spoke of great battles of yore, and there were books of poetry and psalms. Abigail ran her fingers across their delicate bindings and cried over the senseless loss of such a kind and gentle man. She would have to pack his belongings, as she had done with her father’s things. Some things would be given to charity, clothes and the like, but the books would not be forsaken.
Abigail reached for an ancient tome; it had once belonged to her maternal great-grandfather and had been passed down throughout the generations. Jonathan had shown her this very book when she was yet a child of five years of age and their mother had left their world. The Sefer Yetzirah, Jonathan had explained, was devoted to speculations concerning God’s creation of the world. He had shown her drawings of the constellations that formed the galgal hamazalot, the wheel of the Zodiac, which exerted influence on Man’s traits and tendencies and on the natural course of things. Abigail recalled his gentle voice as he proposed that they study the celestial spheres together and learn of their characteristics. In her innocence, she had asked if their mama had become one of the heavenly formations watching them from above.
“Dearest, you may still speak to Mama,” Jonathan had said. “Ask her to guard you and guide you from her heavenly home. You may look upon the shining stars and imagine one of them is our own mama sending her love to us here on earth. But Avi, the stars and the moon, and all the wondrous celestial creations, are only a manifestation of God’s will. We must always remember to place our faith and trust in our Creator.”
Abigail closed the book and returned it to its rightful place on the shelf. There would be time enough to reminisce in the days to come. She was not compelled to act with much alacrity; her brother’s belongings would remain as he left them, and Abigail did not look back as she closed the door.
Dear readers: the preorder link for the eBook can be found here