Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Persuasion by Jane Austen

PersuasionSUMMARY (from Goodreads): At twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.

MY OPINION:

Persuasion is the first book by Jane Austen I have read since I tried Emma in high school and could not make past the first few pages. Maybe it had been because of the translation or I just had not been up to it then. I read Persuasion in English and after getting used to the writing style in the first two chapters, I could not believe I had been intentionally avoiding Austen for such a long time.

As already mentioned, it takes some time to get used to the language of the late 18th/early 19th centuries. However, when I got past this I found the book very enjoyable, both for the plot and the characters as well as for its language and writing style.

Anne Elliot is a character I can easily relate to and sympathise with. Being the middle child, she gets little or no attention from her father, despite being the most sensible and pleasant one of the three Elliot sisters. She is a quiet, good-natured person who would do anything to please everybody. She even gives up her love to indulge her family’s pride.

Her older sister Elizabeth is very much like her father who appreciates her above all of his daughters. She shares his feelings of pride and social value; nowadays we would call them snobbish. Mary, Anne’s younger sister, is in addition to being proud, also eternally unhappy; she is always complaining, she longs to be in the spotlight and I think she is a hypochondriac.

A major theme in Persuasion is social status. Every character is constantly concerned with what is or is not proper for a person in his or her position. Concerning social position, characters are generally narrow minded, which is a real obstacle for love which wins only by improving one’s social position in  order to become an appropriate match. This was actually the only thing that bothered me in this book.

Another compelling feature of Persuasion is its historic testimony about socially acceptable behaviour in the past. I find it especially intriguing how little time and chance young people had to get to know each other and fall in love. Otherwise, the plot flows smoothly, there are beautiful descriptions of scenery, and some unexpected twists continue gripping the reader’s interest throughout the book.

RECOMMENDATION: Persuasion is a timeless book which deals with topics important at any point in history. I think anyone could find it to be an interesting read. 

2 comments:

  1. Great review! You really pointed out all the right things. I'm so glad your first real Austen experience is a good one. I'm glad! Anne is a great heroine and oh, that romantic letter written by Frederick - aw.:)

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  2. I liked Persuasion, too. Anne's father and sister made me laugh at the stupid things they thought were important. It's a great book but it took me a couple reads before I really liked. Nice review. =)

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