Friday, April 24, 2015


Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 6:54 PM

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Age: Adult
Category: Classic; romance
Rating: 5 stars

Marta Thinks: What would you consider your favourite Jane Austen book? Pride and Prejudice: ‘…light, and bright, and sparkling…’? Or Emma: ‘…a heroine whom no one...will much like…’? Maybe Sense and Sensibility, or Northanger Abbey, or even Mansfield Park. (The latter which, by the way, I have never been able to finish.) But what about Persuasion? The story of a woman who has ‘…a second spring…’, a second chance at love. Jane Austen’s last novel, and there’s a tinge of bittersweetness to it.

Eight years before the story begins, Anne Elliot, our protagonist, was betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but broke off the engagement after her mother’s friend, Lady Russell, voiced her disapproval. Now twenty-seven, Anne Elliot seems doomed to perpetual spinsterhood, until Wentworth comes back, wealthy and in search of a wife. The plot may initially appear deceptively simple, but with the introduction of Mr. Elliot - distant cousin and heir to Anne’s father’s estate - and widow Mrs. Smith, there is a backplot with an element of mystery.

The best version of this novel is the Oxford World Classics edition, in which the introduction is a wealth of information. Particularly noteworthy point is that ‘the speed with which Austen recounts the story [of Anne’s past courtship] and arranges for it to reach its close is remarkable. It almost suggests...that storyline of youthful romance feels to her slightly dull - as if what interests Austen now is how people who have pasts do their loving.’ I think that sums up Persuasion rather elegantly. Austen makes it clear that what we are reading now is a delicate new love story, completely divorced from the ‘youthful romance’ and that its characters must find a new way to love and appreciate each other.


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