In my August Monthly Goals post I mentioned that one of the things I wanted to do this month was to read Classics and Non-Fiction. I’m going to try and read at least 3 (maybe 4 – one for each week) and share my thoughts with you!
This is my second Austen book. Last year I read «Pride and Prejudice» and while it wasn’t my favorite classic of all time, I really enjoyed it. «Persuasion», however, had a very boring beginning, and my mind kept wandering away from the story.
«Persuasion» was also the first book by Jane Austen that I read in English, and I struggled! It understood what she was saying, of course. But I found the writing style too flowery, too over the top, and some weirdly constructed sentences (that were probably just right for the time it was written) constantly pulled me out of the story.
‘It is a sort of private novel. In the heroine Anne Elliot, we have glimpses of Austen and what happened to her; the lost romance and the lost youth’ Julian Fellowes
Eight years ago Anne Elliot bowed to pressure from her family and made the decision not to marry the man she loved, Captain Wentworth. Now circumstances have conspired to bring him back into her social circle and Anne finds her old feelings for him reignited. However, when they meet again Wentworth behaves as if they are strangers and seems more interested in her friend Louisa. In this, her final novel, Jane Austen tells the story of a love that endures the tests of time and society with humour, insight and tenderness.
1 – Jane Austen had a very particular style of writing novels, and I love how forward she was with the character traits. Just by reading a couple of pages (even paragraphs) you immediately knew what trait/quality she was condemning and which one she was praising. In «Persuasion» there were a couple of characters that really stood out, the first, of course, was Anne Elliot. She was distinct in a quiet way, always helping others, always having the patience to avoid conflict and smooth dramas. I really liked her. Even though, she could have been braver and more forward at times. The other character that couldn’t possibly be ignored was Mary, Anne’s sister. In the way she was written, you can see the satirical way Jane Austen often approached her character, not leaving anything for imagination. She was flippant, annoying, rude, and often rather stupid, without really noticing this for herself.
2 – The slow-burn possibility of a romance was what essentially drew me into the story. This is something I love reading about – the hidden glances and small gestures always kept me guessing on the true intentions of many suitors Anne seemed to collect as the story progressed.
3 – There is no doubt that this book was written for a completely different time period. Some affirmations about women did get me rallied, but in general, I was able to leave them in the time they belonged to and enjoy the overall story. However, Jane Austen did incorporate some subtle hints of women’s influence, decisiveness, cleverness and how indispensable they were for the household, even during the times when women weren’t allowed to do pretty much anything, and couldn’t be heirs to their families estates.
4 – I won’t be going into too much detail to analyze this book, however, I had to mention the themes that stood out to me the most in this book – with the first being Persuasion, of course. This novel explores the two facets of one’s convictions and wonders whether we should always decide on our own or listen to the opinions of others, and what that wavering conviction in ourselves can bring us.
The second theme that was very interesting to read about was the difference of couple’s lives – on one hand, we had a standard relationship at that time, where the husband would be the representative of the family in the outside world, taking care of all financial and economical issues, while the wife would be the household “manager”. But on the other hand, Jane Austen gave us a very happy and idyllic couple – the Crofts, where they had equal participation in all aspects of their common life and couldn’t be happier about it.
It was interesting to see this beginning of paradigm change and the reaction of other characters.
As much as I enjoyed my time in Bath, following the Elliots and many other characters, I had difficulty getting into the story, mainly because of the language and writing style, which I’m not used to. I’d like to read other Jane Austen books, for sure, mainly to see which character will end up being my favorite. For now, Anne Elliott is in the lead!
What Jane Austen’s novel is your favorite? Have you read «Persuasion»? Let’s chat in the comments below!