I belong to the special sect of people who occasionally exclaim “Hmm, I need to read more classics” but never bother to read more than 2 or 3 classics per year. When you’re a stickler for finishing Goodreads reading challenges, a classic–which takes more reading time than, say, a YA book–will only slow you down. Or so I explain in a nasal voice every time someone replies to my exclamation with, “So, why don’t you?” *shrugs*
I may not read as many famous classics as I want to, but I’ve read a lot of Jane Austen’s works. I love Jane Austen, I love all her heroines, I love her books–did I tell you I love Jane Austen?
Putting all the rambling aside, I read Persuasion recently and I LOVED it. It’s definitely one of Austen’s best.
Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
This book has the usual staples of an Austen work–English customs, irony, and a heroine you cannot help but love. Seriously, I loved Anne, the main character! She’s 27, which in 19th century England meant that you were not fit to be part of the social world anymore.
8 years before the time in which the novel is set, Anne had rejected Captain Wentworth’s courtship after being persuaded by her friend that he had no means of supporting her. And now, guess who’s back, single, ready to mingle, and a Captain to boot?
Persuasion is about, well, persuasion. It’s about Lady Russell persuading Anne to give up on good ole Wentworth. It’s about Wentworth persuading himself that Anne didn’t love him enough. Do they find their way back to each other or each fall for someone else? That’s for you to find out!
What made me love this book even more was the gender roles and whiffs of post-colonial feminism. Mrs. Croft (Captain Wentworth’s sister-in-law) takes over the reins to their carriage from her husband. Lady Russell is shown to be fiercely independent and a well-read thinker. Anne is excellent in emergencies. Austen was really ahead of her time. If you haven’t read this book, please do!
Rating: 5 out of 5!
Have you read Persuasion before? What did you think of it? Also, my school never had the note-worthy classics as assigned reading. I wonder what English teachers would’ve said about this book. Did they ruin this book for you? Or did you actually start reading more after this book? Let me know in the comments!