Persuasion by Jane Austen
Published by Penguin English Library, 1818
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: There are definitely a few other Austen novels I would revisit before turning back to this one.
Reviewed by Indiana
As I’m sure many in the book blogging community have already read Persuasion, I’ll keep the summary brief. At age 19, the protagonist, Anne Elliot was persuaded to break off her romance with Frederick Wentworth. He was a sailor with a promising career, but he lacked stature and “old money.” Eight years later, Anne is still single and things are looking rather dismal for her and her family. She hasn’t been able to find someone else suitable to marry and none have really caught her eye since Wentworth.
During a rather surprising visit, Wentworth returns and is said to be looking to marry. At first he pretends to have forgotten about Anne and befriends a few other women in Anne’s social circle.
In the meantime, Anne meets William Elliot, a theatrical and cunning man who clearly intends to marry her. But Anne discovers more than a few awful flaws in William, just as she begins to fall for Wentworth again.
It’s a classic love story, although I would argue the romance doesn’t really come into play until the last few chapters. The bulk of the book is about the harsher realities of love.
After having not read an Austen book for about two years, it was interesting to revisit the way she portrays her female protagonists. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary fiction and it seems like most books have a sort of fiery female character for a lead, or maybe she’s a bit quiet, but she’s extremely clever. I didn’t find Anne to fit into that mold. Instead, she’s wise almost to a fault. She is cautious and thinks of her family first, even if it’s detrimental to her to do so. Even if a sibling is rude to her, Anne does not call them out on it. She has a sense of propriety but doesn’t put too high a stake in staying only within the realm of “high society,” often visiting her poor and ill friend.
*Spoiler in the next paragraph*
One thing I do wish Austen had spent a bit more time on was Wentworth’s character and on how the couple fared once they got married. It was a rather abrupt ending. Although it was Austen’s last completed novel so maybe I should just be happy that she finished it at all.
What are some of your favorite Jane Austen books?