The Art of Persuasion by Susan Midalia

Potential. This author reeks of potential. Susan Midalia has a fine way with words as she reverses the old trope of men of a certain age and their Peter Pan Syndrome. The author’s heroine is preying on an older guy, but he’s playing hard to get. He’s refusing to succumb to her youth and winsome charm, although her approaches, admittedly tentative, should make it all too obvious to discern what she is after. She wants him, boy does she want him – and for most of the duration the reader is unsure whether she will succeed or be thwarted.

A book by Jane Austin brings the couple together on a Perth train – thus the title. She’s made a commitment to herself to read the author’s lesser known works. Of course, in a crowd, Adam is easy for her to pick out as he too is perusing a tome rather than a hand-held device. They query each other on their chosen reading matter and away we go – except this is a slow-burner. He has baggage and Adam, contrary to popular expectation, feels the age difference should be respected. How long can he hold out? He is a staunch supporter of the Greens, so this gives the girl another portal into his world.

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I did relish ‘The Art of Persuasion’. Hazel, being a failed teacher, was someone I could relate to as my chosen profession was never all beer and skittles either. Her tale emphasises the difficulties facing young teachers embarking on this testing vocation. But, as she eventually discovers, there are joys to be had within it as well – even if some of what occurs in her classroom stretches credulity. This is the author’s first novel and for my taste there is a bit too much riffing on various issues close to the hearts of true Greens. This concern, though, only marginally detracts from the essential loveliness of the product of Midalia’s efforts. This reader really wanted to put a bomb under Adam, telling him that he’ll regret, long term, rejecting what Hazel was trying to hand to him on a platter. We want to give his five year old son a cuddle as he is a lovely creation from the writer and we should feel a cheer coming on as our young lady finally, courageously makes some progress with the art of teaching. She begins to meet her students head on and finds that works.

Hazel, as well as the reluctant Adam, worm their way into our hearts and any author able to do that with their characters is one to watch for the future.

Another review of the novel = https://queenslandreviewerscollective.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/the-art-of-persuasion-by-susan-midalia/

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