Reading the Classics: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane AustenI decided to read Jane Austen’s (1775-1817) Persuasion (1818), after enjoying Pride and Prejudice (1813) last month. The story is excellent and I can see why so many readers often say: this is my favorite Jane Austen story. For those who don’t know, Persuasion is about a young woman, Anne Elliot, who 8 years ago, turned down the attentions of young suitor, Frederick Wentworth. She loved him but was persuaded by a friend of the family, Lady Russell, that he was not a good choice. This novel explores how two people’s love for each never wavered over time. I bought a copy of this book earlier this year in paper from Barnes and Noble. They actually had a sale on these.  I’ve quit trying to read the free or paid Kindle editions because they’re riddled with typos and do not render the text correctly.  So back to paperbacks.

When the story opens, her family are in financial ruin and Anne Elliot finds herself on the brink of spinsterhood. Her father gives up hope of her ever marrying well.  When Anne hears that she is to see Captain Wentworth again after so many years, she is afraid of his reaction to her.  Her feelings for him hasn’t changed and she’s regretful in how she treated him.  The two  spend awkward moments together when they are  unexpectedly thrust into each other’s company during visits with family or friends. The author doesn’t allow them much direct conversation. I loved how she made them communicate non-directly with each other with overhearing each other’s conversations or the glances they would share. It’s understood that Captain Wentworth is still hurt by Anne’s actions of the past (from his brief POV) but for 80% of the story, Anne can only discern from how he treats her that maybe he has gotten over it but she’s unsure. He treats with her respect and is civil but does he still love her? She’s uncertain. Only the reader is privy to his thoughts about her and the past.

The last fourth of the novel really takes off and I don’t want to say more for fear of spoiling it. I think every reader should pick up this book if its been on their lists for years.  It’s a timeless story about the enduring love of two people.  I am often in wonder of how stories such as these stand the test of time so well.

As usual, what stood out  in the novel are the characters and the conventions of the time. I love period pieces so it’s been a joy to read each word and find myself lost in this time. It was a pleasant stay and I’d love to read more of her world but I must move on to other writers. There’s plenty to quote from this book but I won’t do that. Each new reader should read this book without spoiling it. I’m glad I didn’t know much about this story going in. To conclude, I loved Persuasion and I am definitely a Jane Austen fan. This book is a 5/5 for me. Excellent story. Thanks to all those who praised this book and leading me to pick this one up. This is a title I don’t hear as often as I do Pride and Prejudice. Clearly this is the better novel if comparing the two but that’s my opinion.

There are several movie adaptations of Persuasion. The 2007 and the 1995 version after doing a search. Not sure which one to try so will do a bit of research on that. Anyway, I do have all of her work and will be reading them this year for sure.

Edited in spots to clarify my thoughts and understanding of the story and characters.

8 responses

  1. I’m very glad that you enjoyed this so well, Keishon. In my opinion, Austen had a really keen eye for her society’s traits, foibles, and nuances. And she knew how to draw interesting characters.

    • I agree. Her characters and the witty take on societal conventions are her hallmark.

  2. I reread Persuasion annually. Or listen to the audiobook. Wentworth’s letter to Anne is maybe my favorite fictional love letter, second to Miles Vorkosigan’s apology letter to Ekaterin Vorsoisson. 😍

    I am biased but I would recommend the older film adaptation over the newer one. The newer one butchers The Letter. I may have ranted in a blogpost about it at the time. (Wow, I feel old in internet years now.)

    • That letter! I read it over and over again. It was amazing. Thanks for the advice on the which version of the movie to watch.

  3. Persuasion is one of my favorite books by Austen, Keishon, which I probably already told you. And your review is lovely. I will be watching the 1995 film version of Persuasion soon, and I am looking forward to it because it will be new to me. It was a lucky day for me when I decided to do a Jane Austen readalong…. I enjoyed all of the ones I read. The only one I haven’t read yet is Sense and Sensibility.

    • We can do a buddy read on it if you want, Tracy. Just let me know when and later in the year works for me.

      • A buddy read on Sense and Sensibility sounds great, Keishon. Later in the year sounds good to me too. I will let you know when I am ready and / or if you get in the mood sooner … just let me know. I am flexible.

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