I’m finally finished with this book!! It should not have taken me this long! I was hoping to knock out two titles for the Austen in August event but life kind of got in the way! Oh well!
All that aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Persuasion :). I have seen the BBC adaptation twice and was pleased to discover that the book is way better! I must say, Captain Wentworth is much more agreeable and likable in the book than in the mini series!
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not yet read this book and plan to in the future, do NOT read further!! You have been warned
The plot progressed a bit slowly in the beginning, which, I must admit, made it challenging for me to stay interested but Austen’s mastery of subtle humor had me cracking up on more than one occasion! Anne Elliot is, by far, one of the sweetest tempered women in literature. You can’t help but admire her everlasting constancy and patience with her family members who continually take advantage of her graceful character and generous heart and then consequently take her utterly for granted when she is no longer “needed”. She’s quiet and unassuming, never needing to draw attention to herself. One can definitely learn a thing or two from this woman!
There is much to be said about the book but here are 4 things that especially caught my attention.
1. Anne’s Avoidance of All Things Silly & Ridiculous
Anne’s family members were quite ridiculous in my opinion! I can’t help but wonder how she managed not to end up like her self-absorbed sister Elizabeth or her sister Mary, the family hypochondriac. And how about Sir Walter’s obsession with appearance? Anne doesn’t drown in the drama. She listens, she soothes, she advises and moves on. I love that about her.
Austen was a master at awkward situations and missed opportunities. Lots of tension. Lots of wondering what the other person’s thinking. Lots of frustration. Too often, not enough time to figure out what just happened. And much of it hinged on one fact:
“Now they were as strangers; nay worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted.”
Anne may have been an easily persuaded woman 8 years ago but not so anymore. This is most evident in the case of Mr. Elliot. She keeps hearing what a great guy he is and how they are so suited to each other but she’s not quick to agree; she remains cautious. While she likes him well enough and enjoys his company, she’s emotionally prudent. She, of course, is still in love with Captain Wentworth, but she’s able to evaluate her opinion of Mr. Elliot apart from that regard. Talk about emotional discipline! A characteristic that, of course, saves her from much misery in the end. Much unneeded drama would be avoided if only more people were that emotionally cautious, just sayin’. I love this bit:
“Though they had now been acquainted a month, she could not be satisfied that she really knew his character. That he was a sensible man, an agreeable man,-that he talked well, professed good opinions, seemed to judge properly and as a man of principle,-this was all clear enough…
Mr. Elliot was rational, discreet, polished,-but he was not open. There was never any burst of feeling, any warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others. This, to Anne, was a decided imperfection…She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.”
4. The Letter
Oh, the letter!! I will not spoil this most important part for those who’ve not read the book yet. Suffice it to say that it was perfection!
Bottom Line: The story is about all that should’ve been, could’ve been, and would’ve been. It’s about the deep current of commitment that runs between two people in spite of themselves and despite the direct hit their affections suffer. It’s about all that changes and all that stays the same. It’s about assumption, misunderstanding and well, persuasion.
Totally worth reading again!