Persuading Annie

Persuading Annie

by Melissa Nathan

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Persuading Annie by Melissa Nathan

After years as a sweet, good-natured pushover, Annie Markham has had to face up to three hard truths:

  1. You've got to be tough to succeed in business and romance.
  2. Sometimes your meddling loved ones areright about your worthless, no-good boyfriend being worthless and no good.
  3. The only reliable thing about men is thatthey're totally unreliable.

Okay, she's been persuaded. So now, seven years after wisely and abruptly dumping the "love of her life," Jake Mead, things should be going better for Annie Markham, right? Unfortunately, her life's going nowhere, her family's going mental, and the family business is heading straight down the tubes. Could it get worse? Of course! Jake's back, Annie's getting ready for bankruptcy, and no one's ready for Christmas ... let alone a happy New Year.

And no amount of persuasion will ever convince Annie that magic does happenand dreams do come true, not even at the stroke of midnight on December 31 at New York's Plaza Hotel ... will it?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060595807
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/17/2004
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,149,845
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Melissa Nathan was born and raised in Hertfordshire and now lives in North London with her husband. A journalist for ten years, she writes novels full time and is the acclaimed author of The Nanny and Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field.

Read an Excerpt

Persuading Annie

Chapter One

Cassandra Brooke stared across the Union bar at the rugby players, her Cruel Crimson lips pursed into a thin line. Most of them didn't notice her, thanks to a rather preoccupying game involving beer and various orifices. But one winked at her so lasciviously that she felt utterly violated. She dragged her eyes away.

"I see what you mean about getting an education at college," she quipped. "I'm learning so much about men. And I've only been here an hour."

The Union bar wasn't really the ideal location for this, thought Annie, but then, there hadn't been much of a choice. Her room in halls was so small she needed an oxygen mask just to sit in it, and the canteen reminded her of boarding school, which filled her with a bizarre combination of mild nausea and painful nostalgia.

Being a campus university, situated in the middle of hills and woods, there weren't any decent cafés for miles around. At least in the Union bar, with its retro 50s diner look and extensive burger menu, they felt adult.

A rugby player belched loudly to thunderous applause.

Cass turned to face Annie so slowly that, like a gliding second hand on a good watch, the movement of her head was practically imperceptible to the human eye.

They sat motionless, Cass wishing she could feel more relaxed in such surroundings, Annie marveling that Cass could indeed do that with her head.

Annie decided this time was as good as any to speak. In other words, there was going to be no good time. She ignored the parched sourness in her mouth and forced the words out.

"I ... I think I'm pregnant," she said.

The two old friends stared at each other across the formica table, which Annie felt gradually widen between them.

And then slowly Cass's face underwent as big a transformation as it could after choice cosmetic surgery. Gone were all signs of disdain, and in their place confusion, shock and concern. Not bad, thought Annie, impressed. She must tell her how marvelous her plastic surgeon was.

Another time perhaps.

Meanwhile Cass's mind was whirring. What to say, what to say ... I'll hold your hand during the op; I'll hold your hand during labor; who's the father? How does it feel? Why didn't you wait for me? Haven't you heard of contraception, for Christ's sake? You couldn't have told me this over the phone?

Eenie, meenie, minie, mo. She plumped instead, for a simple one.

"Oh my God."

Annie looked out of the window, barely registering the acres of green grass and dense trees edging the halls of residence. "God had little to do with it."

"It's a figure of speech."


"I meant to say 'Oh fuck,' but I thought in the circumstances ... "

Annie nodded.

"So," said Cass decisively. "What are you going to do?"

"I don't know," mused Annie. "I thought I'd be sick. Cry a bit, rant a bit. Then panic-eat."

"Gosh. You've really thought it all through."

Annie shrugged.

"I might change the order."

Cass hung her head.

And who the hell was the father? Oh God, a bloody student. Trust Annie to be one of the few girls who didn't get pregnant at school, when at least she was surrounded by pedigree.

"Please don't tell your mother," implored Annie.

"Of course not!" retorted Cass, irritated. "It would make her go gray. And she hates that look."

"Susannah's -- been like a mother to me."

Cass squirmed in her seat, moved by Annie's slow, silent tear.

They sat in sullen silence for a while.

"I assume, it's this new boyfriend of yours ... Jack -- "

"Jake -- "

"Jake. Jake's ... responsible? Or ... or is it someone else?"

Annie bristled. "Well Jake was there at the time but he did have his eyes closed, so let's hope he's not the suspicious type."

Cass eyed her friend.

"Oh well, at least when you've lost everything, you'll still have your sense of humor. That'll keep you warm at night."

"Lost everything?"

"Do you think your father will give you a penny if you have this baby? Do you think my mother will ever forgive you for turning your back on your world?"

She paused to let this sink in.

"Have you told Jake?"


Well that was a start.

"Are you going to tell him?"

"Not yet."


"I'm only one month late."

Cass laughed with relief.

"Oh well! Why didn't you say?" she said, her voice an octave higher. "That's nothing! Once I was so late, I thought my menopause had started thirty years early. Turned out I had a virus."

"I'm as regular as Swiss clockwork."

"It's probably just tension," continued Cass, her voice staying determinedly high. "Stress. What with your exams and everything."

"I've done the test."

Cass sat rigidly on the bench, her body straining to maintain the illusion of calm at the same time as not looking over at the rugby players. Both were proving more difficult than she felt proper.

But nothing ever muddied Cass's clarity of thought, she quite prided herself on it. And she knew exactly where this discussion must lead. But how to broach the subject, how to broach the subject ... Be subtle, be gentle, be clever. Be like Mother.

She leaned forward.

"You're not going to keep it, are you?" she asked. Damn.That came out wrong.

Annie blinked her large eyes slowly at her friend, in the vague hope of Etch-a-sketch-ing her away.

"I mean," continued Cass,"this isn't just a cute little baby in cute little clothes, this is someone who'll turn round in eighteen years' time and blame you for everything you've ever done. If it's still talking to you then."

Annie's expression didn't flicker. She stayed silent.

Annie snorted, perhaps a tad louder than she'd intended. A couple of rugby players looked over at her, visibly impressed. If she could prove that wasn't an accident they'd vote her on to the Union committee.

Persuading Annie. Copyright © by Melissa Nathan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Persuading Annie 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I usually love chick lit.. however this one was very dull. I wanted to believe it would become more interesting as I kept reading, but at the end of this book, I instantly regretted finishing it. The plot is pointless. The characters aren't developed well enough. Annie and Jake don't even seem in love most of the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoy this modern version of Persuasion, my favorite Jane Austen book. This is my favorite Melissa Nathan book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A sweet story and fun to read.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
For someone more accurate than a Swiss watch, when she missed her monthly period, Annie Markham assumes she is pregnant. She tells her boyfriend of two months nineteen years old Jake Mead, who reacts by asking her who the father is before collapsing at her feet. Annie and Jake argue even after she learns she is not pregnant over his reaction. They end their relationship although neither truly wants too. Annie figures that her wise godmother Susannah was right about the fickleness and unreliability of men.--- Seven years later, the family business is in trouble. Jake, considered the best consultant in London, is hired to save the firm from bankruptcy. He never got over Annie and how she dumped him; she never got over Jake and how he walked out on her. Annie hides their past from her parents and two sisters, but worries that Jake will use the teetering business to enact revenge. As each parades a potential significant other in front of the other, their love of seven years ago remains strong, but neither wants to risk admitting the truth.--- This fine contemporary chick lit romance moves Jane Austen¿s PERSUASION into a modern relationship. The story line is character driven as Annie and Jake, supported by a strong secondary cast, battle for ¿supremacy¿ the second time around even as denial is their weapon of choice. Jake acts like two people as he conveniently fits Susannah¿s worthless male stereotype too easily, but also at other times shows he is a responsible person. PERSUADING ANNIE is a wonderful tribute to Ms. Austen as is Melissa Nathan¿s previous homage to the great author (see PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND JASMIN FIELD).--- Harriet Klausner