Whew. Just took my Jane Austen final today (I’ll probably be writing a blog post off of one of the final essay prompts, by the way) and finally finished Persuasion, for the third time, this afternoon.
Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot, the second daughter of a vain, silly baronet, who fell in love with the dashing Captain Wentworth when she was 19. Though he was in love with her too, her father and family friend, Lady Russell, forced her to break off the relationship because they felt he was not a suitable match for her. Now, eight years later, Captain Wentworth is back in town and has made his fortune. Anne still loves him, but does he still love her?
Persuasion is Austen’s last published novel, and has been described by many as “autumnal” and “mellow.” This is one of the reasons I like Persuasion: there’s a lot less of the urgency that you find in her earlier novels. It really is very mellow and just…enjoyable. But then again, that’s all it is: enjoyable. I do love it, because it IS Jane Austen, but it’s still not in my top three. (Like I mentioned in a previous post, I’ll do a whole Jane Austen entry later.)
Anne and Captain Wentworth definitely make one of the best couples in Austen, as do Admiral and Mrs. Croft. The Crofts are one of the very few truly happy, already established couples that we see throughout Austen’s novels, and it’s refreshing to see a happy rather than highly dysfunctional marriage. They truly enjoy being with each other in a way that I aspire to in my own life. I think Anne and Captain Wentworth also make this cut because they remained faithful to each other for more than eight years—even without being in contact. A little unrealistic, perhaps, but the romantic in me wants to believe those kinds of things can happen.
Anne herself is also pretty awesome, since she’s basically the only rational one in her entire family. The fact that she can handle her conceited father and older sister and a younger sister who constantly believes she is being “ill-used” is more than admirable, because really, if I had been in her position, I would have blown up at them more than once, nineteenth century decorum be damned. And I generally consider myself a pretty easy-going person. But I could not have dealt with some of these people because they were so absurd.
Anyway, like all of Jane Austen, you should read Persuasion. I don’t think it’s as wonderful and amazing as some of her other ones, but it’s still very good, and I’m glad I’ve read it three times 😉