January 18, 2016 by Betty
Author: Jane Austen
Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
I gave myself the goal of reading at least one classic novel a month. I have always heard so much praise for Jane Austen’s writing and I had never read anything by her, so this month I decided to start myself off with Persuasion by Jane Austen. Here are my thoughts on the novel.
Something I have always found a little tedious, particularly with classic novels are their slow starts. Granted some are very fast paced and full of intrigue from the start, but I felt that was not the case with Persuasion. The first three chapters were very informative and allow the reader to learn Anne Elliot’s background and past up to the current timeline of the story, however I found it a little wordy and drawn out. I had to force myself to keep reading past the beginning, but beyond that the story picked up speed. Persuasion, like many of Jane Austen’s literary works (haven’t read any others, but I’ve seen movies and get the general gist of the story), tend to focus on certain traits of personality of the characters, i.e. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, etc.
Persuasion focused on how the main heroine, Anne Elliot, was persuaded at the young age of nineteen to break her engagement to, the now, Captain Wentworth. Later in the book, Wentworth discreetly ridicules Anne’s character by telling his female companion, “[…] Anne Elliot was not out of his thoughts, when he more seriously described the woman he should wish to meet with. ‘A strong mind, with sweetness of manner,'”. (pg. 60) Here he jabs at Anne for not having been “strong of mind” when she was persuaded against her own better judgement to to break her engagement with Wentworth. Through the course of the book, the reader glimpses the vanity on both parties sides as they accept the attention of possible suitors and their pride as they act as though they are barely more than slight acquaintances.
When the novel finally got to the part where they reconcile I saw singing hallelujah to the heavens. I had heard mention of a “letter” that Captain Wentworth gives Anne laying bare his love for her and when I got to that part I just….exploded….
I loved it! At great introduction into Jane Austen’s works. I definitely plan on reading more of her novels. Hope fully I can get around to reading all her novels, maybe even this year. My next classic novel I have planned to read is The Old Man and The Sea by Earnest Hemingway.