Author: Jane Austen
Category: I was inspired to read this after I saw The Jane Austen Book Club
My thoughts: First, I’ll say that the reason for the long amount of time between posts is that your humble blogger has been really busy lately. So sorry. Now, about Persuasion…
Perhaps another reason for the long amount of time between posts is the fact that Persuasion isn’t a quick read. At least it wasn't for me. Reading this book was like reading The Portrait of a Lady . I liked it, and Persuasion has that sly Jane Austen humor in ample supply, but it was a slow process.
The main character of Persuasion is Anne Elliot, a young woman in her late 20s. Several years prior, Anne was in love with a man named Frederick Wentworth. But her friend Lady Russell convinced her to end the relationship. During the time the story is set, we find Anne Elliot still single, surrounded by horrible family members. Then Frederick Wentworth comes back into her orbit. But he’s now Captain Wentworth—and wealthy (those Napoleonic Wars created a lot of heroes and millionaires). And a newly acquired title and cash are like catnip to the ladies in Anne’s social circle. Anne realizes that she still has feelings for him. But he’s not so keen on her, for obvious reasons.
Relationships and the circumstances that bring them to fruition are a funny thing. This novel highlights the complexities of relationships, romantic and otherwise. Lady Russell gives Anne bad advice with the best of intentions. This reminds me a little of Washington Square. That advice resulted in heartbreak, but Lady Russell obviously cares about Anne more than members of Anne’s own family. Anne’s father and sisters, Sir Walter Elliot, Elizabeth, and Mary, are all half crazy.
Now, one thing I noticed about Persuasion is that it doesn’t seem to get a lot of love. I went to the library to check it out, and I believe there are only two copies at the main branch of the library. That’s just wrong. There are more copies of Northanger Abbey than of Persuasion, which I thought was peculiar because I have always heard that Northanger Abbey was the least popular Austen novel (it’s one that I didn’t finish reading when I was in college).
Great passage: Mr. Elliot was rational, discreet, polished, −but he was not open. There was never any burst of feeling, and warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others. This, to Anne, was decided imperfection. Her early impressions were incurable. She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.
Up next: Respect Yourself