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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Ok, so a couple summers ago I decided that I'd like to read all of Jane Austen. I started with a re-read of Pride & Prejudice, which was even better than I'd remembered. I read Sense & Sensibility which was also good, but not so good as P&P. Then I started Persuasion and it lingered and lingered. I'm reading them all in my email via Daily Lit, so it was easy to just forget. A couple weeks ago I decided to pick it back up. To my amazement, it wasn't hard to fall back into. Sure, I'd forgotten a few of the supporting cast, but they kinda all blend together in Austen anyway.

Persuasion is about Anne Elliot, a 20-something spinster whose looks are fading and whose family is running out of money. Her father spends more than he has so they have had to rent out their home and move. Anne goes to visit friends in Bath (of course she goes to visit someone, they always do in Austen novels!) and while there runs into Captain Frederick Wentworth. Some 8 years or so in the past, Anne and Captain Wentworth had fallen in love, but a family connection persuaded Anne that it was an undesirable match due to his station and Anne called it off. Now Anne is thrown into a situation with Captain Wentworth where he is actively seeking a wife, and they are forced to pretend the past never happened. A previously untrustworthly cousin shows up to court Anne soon after his first wife's death and Anne spends a lot of time wondering how honest he's being and if she wants to consider marrying him. There's some other stuff going on, but we all know the real story is about the romance, right?

Anne and Captain Wentworth are both perfect, of course, except for the fact that she dumped him so long ago. Handily, we can blame that on someone else. I really think Captain Wentworth could give Mr. Darcy quite the run for his money! The two spend the entire book circling each other and thinking about the past and wondering if each is noticing the other. Being Austen, there are a lot of big scenes about other people and you really have to pay attention to notice the parts that are about the romance. It's subtle in parts, but it's there in the details. If this were a modern romance it'd be much more in your face and obvious. The two of them slowly fall back in love and near the end is perhaps the world's best ever love letter. The scene surrounding the love letter is perfect- each of them is hyper aware of the other and is evesdropping on the other to look for clues of the other's feelings. You can feel the tension in each of them (not tension in the room between people, but the inner turmoil and desire.) It's perfect and delightful and I saved that installment to read again and again.

I think prior to the ending this was going to be my 3rd choice (of the 3 I've read) but now I'm madly in love with it and think it's a close tie to Pride & Prejudice for my favorite. I need to find a copy of the movie, because I'd really like to see that last scene played out.

This leaves me Mansfield Park, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. I hope it doesn't take me three years to wrap them all up.

(I did not like any of the covers, so I went with the modern looking one.)

Persuasion by Jane Austin
Penguin Classics
272 pages



  1. The new PBS version is SO good. Captain Wentworth is charming :)

  2. 20-something spinster. Oh gosh...I think I'm having a panic attack.

    I didn't know people could be spinsters at age 20. I'm in big trouble! ;)

  3. Persuasion is my favorite Austen ... I loved it!

  4. I had the same reaction as Mercy's Maid, 20-something and her looks are already going? That's at least one reason I'm glad I don't live in Austen's world.

    Most of the time, I wish I did though. Persuasion is on my shelf right now, I started it awhile ago but dropped off somewhere in the middle. I think I'll have to try again.

  5. This is by far my favorite Austen - the only one I've re-read.

  6. I haven't read this one yet, but of course it's on my TBR (famous last words). Glad you loved it so!

  7. I am currently reading that one now. This is my first Read through so far I am as far as chapter 5. I also reading several other books as well I hope to finish it sometime next week.

  8. Apparently I can now be counted as a spinster at 29? Yikes! Better than marrying the wrong guy though, right? I almost made that mistake. Um, twice.

    But Persuasion is another one of those books that "I've been meaning to get to". I am glad that you enjoyed it.

  9. Oh god, you've got me wanting to reread this one. I absolutely adore Persuasion. It's easily up there with P&P because of all of that tension!

  10. Sounds like another great Austen. I've only read P&P and Northanger Abbey. It's time for this one too!

  11. Hmmm--I've read Northanger Abbey, P&P and Emma but not the others, so we're kind of flip flop. I've heard REALLY mixed things about this one, but it sounds like it really worked for you. I'm actually really curious about this book in particular (I guess because of the mixed reviews), but it's the only one I don't own. Have you read Jane Austen Book Club?

  12. I'm embarrassed to admit this but I've never read a Jane Austen novel. I keep meaning to but just haven't picked one up yet. It is one of my goals for this year though :) Great review!

  13. This is one Austen I haven't read yet but am dying to. I don't know what's taking me so long!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  14. Janssen, I put holds on EVERY Austen movie at my library. I bet they all come in at once like all the Dessen books, the Hunger Games, Frankie, and Wintergirls did!

    Mercy's Maid, Crazy to think of 20 being old! There is always one "old before her time" character- bedridden and ill and like 31.

    Laura, I really loved it too!

    Kim, I dropped off in the middle but it picked up easily, if you're not too concerned about the supporting characters. :)

    Carrie, I had to reread the final scenes already!

    Andi, I can't tell you how many times I comment "it's in my TBR!"

    Shannan, thanks for visiting! This one was slow to pick up for me, so don't give up.

    Trish, I tried The Jane Austen Bookclub on audio and did not enjoy it at all. I think I'm just not cut out for audio books though. Should I try it again in paper format?

  15. I've never read Austen, but really want to for my Classics challenge this year. I've read some short stories through daily lit, but never a book. Maybe I'll it a try...

  16. I have not read this in its entirety...but I will say that I loved the most recent Masterpiece Theater rendition of Persuasion:

    Check it out!

  17. I think it is a fun book, but I'd like to re-read it again once I've read all of her books (at the time I think I had just read P&P). The movie was actually pretty good as well--or maybe I was just having a sappy evening alone? :)

  18. Great review! I've never read Persuasion and I realized that I NEED to read it.


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