Sunday, 19 February 2017

Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Title: Persuasion
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 256
Genres: Classics

'Her attachment and regrets had, for a long time, clouded every enjoyment of youth; and an early loss of bloom and spirits had been their lasting effect'

Persuasion, Jane Austen's last novel, is a moving, masterly and elegiac love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities. It tells the story of Anne Elliot, who, persuaded to break off her engagement to the man she loved because he was not successful enough, has never forgotten him. When he returns, he brings with him a tantalizing second chance of happiness ...
This is the second Jane Austen novel that I have ever read. The first being Pride and Prejudice, a book I absolutely adored. I could not help but compare Persuasion to it and I am sad to say I was a bit disappointed. I wanted something as full of wry wit and humour as Pride and Prejudice, but it's a completely different sort of story.

Anne Elliot is our heroine, on the cusp of spinsterhood at the grand old age of twenty-seven. She has deep regret of rejecting Frederick Wentworth's proposal many years ago on the advice of a deeply respected family friend. Of course circumstances ensue that bring Captain Wentworth back into her social circle, will they reconnect? That is basically the sum of the story, with a few twists and very mild shenanigans thrown in.

I'm going to be brutally honest here and say that I found the story boring, and hard to follow. I felt incredibly depressed reading this book as the themes of gender inequality and social class started to emerge. I found Mrs. Smith particularly tragic as the portrayal of a widow left penniless by the death of her husband and living as a social pariah. Reading Persuasion made me so thankful that I'm not living in the early nineteenth century, I can tell you. Unmarried or penniless widowed women were not worth much at all.

As for the 'romance' between Anne and Captain Wentworth. What romance? They barely speak to each other for the majority of the book. They exchange a couple of furtive glances whilst Anne obviously wants to say so much to him but because of social convention she just has to stay silent and hope he can miraculously read her mind. It just didn't appeal to me personally as evidenced by that fact that it took me a whole week to read which is unusual for me.

Needless to say, this is not one of my favourite Jane Austen novels so far, and I can only hope I will enjoy her others more. 

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