Persuasion by Jane Austen (Thoughts)
From the publisher’s website:
In the novel, Anne Elliot, the heroine Austen called ‘almost too good for me,’ has let herself be persuaded not to marry Frederick Wentworth, a fine and attractive man without means. Eight years later, Captain Wentworth returns from the Napoleonic Wars with a triumphant naval career behind him, a substantial fortune to his name, and an eagerness to wed. Austen explores the complexities of human relationships as they change over time. ‘She is a prose Shakespeare,’ Thomas Macaulay wrote of Austen in 1842. ‘She has given us a multitude of characters, all, in a certain sense, commonplace. Yet they are all as perfectly discriminated from each other as if they were the most eccentric of human beings.’
Persuasion is the third book I’ve read by Jane Austen (Emma and Pride & Prejudice being the others) and one I’ve been looking forward to reading as lots of people seem to like it even more than Pride & Prejudice. While I enjoyed Persuasion and delving into Jane Austen’s world again, it didn’t quite hit P&P levels for me.
Persuasion is a gentle, unassuming kind of book, and Anne herself is a gentle, unassuming character. One of the things I really like about Jane Austen is her characters, and there is no shortage of Characters in Persuasion, especially in Anne’s family. We have Sir Elliot, the pompous, self-indulgent father; Elizabeth, self-abosorbed eldest sister; and Mary – what a piece of work Mary is. It’s no wonder Anne chose to spend most her time with Lady Russell. Why were they all so mean to her??
I also really like how wonderfully Austen captures the anxiety and awkwardness of coming face to face with a long lost love interest, and how great her characters are at trying to convince themselves that they are perfectly okay and not affected whatsoever. I loved the all the scenes that threw Anne and Wentworth together. And yes, Persuasion has a very satisfying ending.
I was expecting to love Persuasion more than I did, but I think this was a case of Too High Expectations. I do think, though, thatPersuasion is the kind of book that the more times I read it, the more I’ll like it. Which makes me glad I own a copy of it, because yes there will be re-reads in its future.
My rating: 8/10
My next Austen will probably be Sense & Sensibility, since it’s on my bookshelf. Is it among your favourite Austens?
Also, I watched the Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of Persuasion. Are there any others I should watch?