Tuesday, June 8, 2010


So apparently I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, something I never expected to be the case. After my thorough enjoyment of Emma, I was excited to read Persuasion, Austen's final novel and perhaps her tightest narrative. It is a pleasure to read, characteristically witty, and there's even a bit of suspense until the end.

Anne Elliot is the second daughter of the pompous and arrogant Sir Walter Elliot. Her older and prettier sister is cut from Sir Walter's mold, as is their youngest sister Mary. Anne, however, took after their late mother, and is interesting and generous, intelligent and kind. Eight years before the events of the book, her father, sister and family friend had convinced her to reject the marriage proposal of a poor sailor, Frederick Wentworth, though she loved him dearly. Since then she has struggled with that decision, never again falling in love, rejecting all subsequent marriage proposals because of her continuing love for Wentworth, and wondering what would have happened if she had given him her hand.

When financial hardship forces Sir Walter to rent out his estate, Anne is reacquainted with her former love. Now Captain Wentworth, having received promotions and compensation for his success in the Napoleonic Wars, is a wealthy and desirable man who has neither married nor forgiven Anne for what he saw as her weak-mindedness. He enters into a flirtation with both of Mary's sisters-in-law, which comes to a head after young Louisa suffers an injury on a trip to Lyme. Enter William Elliot, Anne's cousin and the heir to Sir Walter's fortune, who fixates on Anne as an eligible bride and the key to securing his inheritance. The action moves to Bath, and though you know Anne is going to get the man, you're not quite sure which one it will be.

Anne Elliot differs from Austen's other heroines on a couple of counts. She is "past her prime" at the ripe old age of 27, and she has a strong sense of morality rather than a steadfast reliance on propriety. The entire novel is seen through Anne's eyes, and her inner dialogue so clearly illuminates her personality the reader is completely immersed in her story. I'd highly recommend it to Austen devotees and neophytes alike.

Next up: Atonement by Ian McEwan

1 comment:

Big Girl said...

LOVE Persuasion. It's my favorite Austen.