Hello again! I’ve just finished reading the brilliant ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen, and I thought it was about time for another classic literature review, as this blog is about books from all genres!
I started reading this book because I haven’t read many Austen books, and I wanted to read another one! Recently, it was Austen’s birthday, and so I was really excited to try her writing again. I didn’t know anything about the book before reading it- the blurb gave lots of the plot away at a glance, so I decided not to read it- and I really enjoyed it.
‘Persuasion’ is about a young woman, Anne, who had an ‘attachment’ to Captain Frederick Wentworth when she was nineteen, and she was encouraged (‘persuaded’ ;)) by her friend, Lady Russell, on whom she depended for advice because of the early death of her mother, to break off the engagement due to the Captain’s lack of fortune and status.
Now, eight years on, Anne is still unmarried at a time when most women were married by this age, and her home, Kellynch, is let out to Admiral and Mrs Croft due to a lack of funds. Mrs Croft’s brother is Captain Wentworth, and Anne’s connection to the family means that she has to watch as her former lover pursues the hand of her sister in law, Louisa. Anne also has to deal with the advances of Mr Elliot, the gentlemanly cousin who will inherit Kellynch on the death of Anne’s father, unless he has a son. Throughout the book Anne faces several problems and issues, such as who to trust for advice, how she will appear to society, and the fact that she cannot help but still feel something for her former love.
Although this book was confusing at times, following similar conventions to other Austen books in that Austen uses similar or even the same names for different characters (there are about four Charles’!), and the fact that everyone in the book seems to be related to everyone else, or have some kind of connection to the others in the book, is very confusing, it was still an enjoyable, interesting and good read! In a way, the confusing element of everyone seeming to be related to everyone else showed some insight into life in the 1800s, as it shows how families often used the same names, and Austen clearly projects an image of the time in which she was living, which is interesting to read about for any history lover.
One of the things I loved about this book was the setting. Unlike ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which pretty much sticks to the same house and setting of Yorkshire, ‘Persuasion’ moved between the countryside and the city of Bath, giving a broad view of 19th century society and life. I really liked the parts when Anne was staying at Uppercross, the house of her sister Mary and her husband Charles, as these bits were in the countryside, and I could vividly imagine the country life of Anne.
I thought the trip to Lyme (which I have never heard of but presume is a coastal village) was a very good part of the book as well, and made for an interesting turn of events. After visiting Uppercross, Anne travels to Bath to be with her father and other sister, Elizabeth, as well as Elizabeth’s friend Mrs Clay. Here she again continually bumps into Captain Wentworth, as well as becomes acquainted with her new amour, Mr Elliot. The city life in Bath also sounds amazing, and the whirlwind of parties and acquaintances just sound so much fun to me, although they often become a drag to Anne.
I also loved the characters in the novel. Austen is like Dickens in that she paints her characters like caricatures and paints them so vividly that they appear like actual people, with faults and annoying habits. Like Mrs Bennett in ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Anne’s sister Mary is continually ill, complaining and moaning, until someone invites her to a party, and then suddenly she can manage to get up out of bed. Sir Walter (Anne’s father) was also a humorous character, and his great pride and vanity, although based on status, made him a life-like character even for someone living in the 21st century. That’s something I love about Jane Austen- her characters are obviously based in the 18th century, but their character traits can still be relatable to a modern day reader!
I really liked the character of Anne in this book. I thought she was interesting and different to other female protagonists from classic literature, and the fact that she accepts and understands her faults is a great aspect of the book. This is one of my favourite quotes from the book, as I will often say things I wish I could take back, but this is something that makes us human, and interesting:
“She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt the she could depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or hasty thing, than those whose…tongue never slipped.”
I also really liked the passages where Anne lamented about the awkwardness of her and her former love meeting again, and I can just imagine the meetings where the Captain and Anne are forced to spend time together being part of a more modern setting.
Unlike other classics, this book did not waffle on for ages about boring aspects of life, and there was actually a lot of action and plot, which I thought was good, and I was pleasantly surprised with this element.
Finally, I loved the ending of this book, and I’m so glad that it ended the way I wanted to end, as throughout the book I kept thinking that the ending could go either way, and I’m glad it went the way that it did! Overall, clearly I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’m really glad I decided to give another Austen book a go, after loving ‘Pride and Prejudice’! Now I need to get through some more! I fancy reading ‘Northanger Abbey’ next I think…
Have you read this book before? Do you have a favourite Jane Austen classic? Can you recommend another Austen book to read next? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below!
Currently reading: ‘The Gift Counselor’ by Sheila Cronin (review coming soon!)