Monday

Seven days of Austen: Persuasion by Jane Austen

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Publication Date:
Originally published 1818
Publisher: Oct 1st, 2008 Random House Publishing
ISBN:  0099511177
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Classic/Romance
Source: Bookshelf
Lootability: *****
Eight years ago Anne Elliot bowed to pressure from her family and made the decision not to marry the man she loved, Captain Wentworth. Now, circumstances have conspired to bring him back into her social circle and Anne finds her old feelings for him reignited. However, when they meet again Wentworth behaves as if they are strangers and seems more interested in her friend Louisa.
I may have prattled on about Pride and Prejudice for a long time yesterday, but its hardly my favourite 'classic' novel, just the first one I read. It's not even my favourite Jane Austen novel, that dubious honour goes to Persuasion which I read for the first time at 17.

The story of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth, nine years prior, is the background of Persuasion, playing behind the scenes as Anne struggles to keep her once prosperous home afloat while dealing with her attention seeking family and meddlesome friends.

What I Liked: Anne doesn't have the same vivacity as Elizabeth Bennett, but she is a clever, loyal and steadfast soul - despite one tragic mistake in her youth. It is her struggle in love, as the understated Elliot sister, and her determination to save her undeserving family that make Anne an admirable heroine.
Anne has love in her soul, and you can see how she craves love through her relationships with her hypochondriac sister, her affection for her nephews and her loyalty to her poor sick friend.
In contrast, Wentworth can appear cruel and unfeeling, especially once the two meet again at the beginning of the novel after their disastrous last meeting, nine years earlier. Slowly, but surely, we can see cracks in his stoic veneer (he has a lot in common with Darcy) and we begin to see a man tortured by love for a woman who rejected him.
Who can blame him for his hurt, especially after this:
You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight and a half years ago. Dare not say that a man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.
Even the villain (or Austen's version of a villain) in this novel is remarkable. Somewhat creepy in his attentions to Anne (I'm not going into the whole cousins thing. I'm just not.), he really does interfere in the relationship between Anne and Wentworth just as it begins to flourish.

What I Didn't Like: I know the interference from Lady Russell and the superiority complex of Anne's family are important to the novels progression, but oh, they drive me to distraction! I can't wrap my head around the (so called) importance of class distinction.

I advise anyone who enjoys the book to watch the 2007 movie length adaptation or to try For the Darkness Shows the Stars, a YA dystopian, sci-fi adaptation of Persuasion.



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