Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Persuasion, Jane Austen

Posted by lea at 10:56 AM
Persuasion is a charming and mature love story - not driven by impetuous young passions, but rather by character and virtue. Sounds boring, but it isn't. The heroine is Anne Elliot, a quiet and good-hearted soul who is much maligned by her father and older sister - two foolish, spendthrift aristocrats to whom looks, money and title mean everything. They dissuade her from marrying young Frederick Wentworth from his lack of all the above, but Anne is never able to get over her lost first love.

Eight years later, he returns - a captain in the navy, rich, dashing and now much sought after by women younger, richer and more attractive than Anne, at the ripe old Elizabethan age of 28. Their subsequent encounters cause such bittersweet pain to read. Blinded by his pride and hurt, he ignores and slights her, only to dicover - when he believes he has lost her for good - that he is, in fact, still desperately in love with her.

Persuasion is an extremely satisfying read. A fairytale that's eminently believable with two characters you can't help but root for. Austen's style of writing is, as always, impeccably timed, perfectly tuned and conveys the heartache and ecstasy of Anne and Captain Wentworth in the most delicious way. This was her last finished work, and is worthy of its place in her catalogue.

Another unexpected source of enjoyment in Persuasion is in seeing the development of the English language over the centuries since the novel was published:

Anne had always thought such a style of intercourse highly imprudent; but she ceased to endeavour to check it, from believing that, though there were on each side continual subjects of offence, neither family could now do without it.
(Chapter 5)

He did justice to his gentleman-like appearance... but at the same time 'must lament his being very much under-hung'
(Chapter 15)

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