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Persuasion - Jane Austen

Updated March 2020: Still wonderful.


Original review April 2016:


Sigh. Happy sigh. I really needed a great book. I don't know what was going on there for a while, but I started to feel like I had angered someone and my punishment was to read books that infuriated me for the rest of 2016.

Persuasion is best read when you have some time so that you can just really go over and over the words that Jane Austen wrote. This was her last book and you can see all that she has learned through her previous books paying off in this, her final one.

The book starts off telling of the diminished fortunes of the Elliott family.

Mr. Elliott (a baronet) is now seeing that unless he lets his home or does some other belt tightening, he may have to start selling off pieces of his land. He still maintains with two of his three daughters, Elizabeth and Anne. Through some persuasion, he finally deigns to let his home. The reader and Anne soon find that Mr. Elliott's home will be let to Crofts. The wife of Mr. Croft is the sister of Captain Frederick Wentworth who at one time was engaged to Anne when she was 19. Seven years later, Anne is still unmarried and thinks of Captain Wenworth and is pained for agreeing to turn down the match after her father and Lady Russell were so against it.

We get to watch Anne do what she can to show that she is not still focused on the past when it becomes clear that Captain Wenworth and she will soon be face to face again.

I have to applaud Jane Austen. She does a very good job of showcasing primary and secondary characters from beginning to end. No one is a caricature (i.e. cartoon villain) instead you get to see everyone's flaws and in some cases, some of these characters recognize they were wrong in the end.

I loved Anne a great deal in this book. Dealing with her family not seeing her as important, unless it was Mary needing her to help her through her "sicknesses" they really don't think of her at all. She clings to her relationship with her mother's former friend Lady Russell and takes her advice in all things. At first you may feel frustrated with her. You wonder why in the world did she not write to Captain Wenworth, or try to get him alone to let him know that she was sorry and or at least that she was thinking of him. However, from her point of view, she was not forgiven by Captain Wentworth and it seemed at times he was quite cold to and indifferent to her after they initially met again.

Captain Wentworth at times is definitely a puzzle until you get towards the end of the book. You start to wonder what his real feelings are for Anne. What are is his feelings for the other young women he has met. He and Anne barely say any words to each other, so you start to wonder what in the world is Anne thinking of by still carrying feelings for him though she keeps talking about how she has hardened herself.

Other characters in this story, such as Mary, he husband Charles, Charles two sisters Henrietta and Louisa, the Crofts, Lady Russell, and Mrs. Smith are very important to how ultimately the story of Anne and Captain Wentworth will be played out.

I can honestly say that I wanted to wring Mary's neck. Good grief how had her husband not murdered her. I can imagine a future when her sons are grown up and are just as spoiled as she is. I cracked up at the back and forth shit talking Mary did about her husband Charles and her in-laws the Musgroves. And God love Mrs. Musgrove for shit talking her and how she was raising her grandchildren. You know you're children have to be the spawn of evil if the grandparents are even like, "hey, don't bring them by. Thanks". I see Mary and Charles being Mr. and Mrs. Bennett in a few years.

Lady Russell, though not as self absorbed as Mr. Elliott, definitely has he snobbish ways about her as well. It was good though to see her brought down slightly by realizing she was wrong in so many things and was wrong with regards to Anne turning down Captain Wentworth. Unlike with Mr. Elliott and Elizabeth, you can see that she will learn from her mistakes. Mr. Elliott and Elizabeth just wanted people around to fawn over them for the rest of their lives.

The plot is quite easy to follow (not a bad thing) and it really is about Anne at first doing what she can to make sure she gets past seeing Captain Wentworth. Then it is her making sure she can deal with it, if and when possibly Captain Wentworth gets engaged. And then she is deciding what to do when she starts to think for just a moment that it is possible he is jealous of another man's attentions to her.

The flow was great and I had a hard time putting this one down. I read so fast that I often had to go back and re-read passages to myself. The dialogue was wonderful and the letter that Captain Wentworth writes to Anne is the most romantic letter I have read in a book. I seriously swooned when I read it and it remains one of my favorite passages in Jane Austen's work to datte.

The setting of Uppercross, Lyme Regis, and then Bath are made to great use in this book. You have the players moving all about, and you realize that if Anne who did not want to come to Bath, would have been sorry if she had not unearthed some truths about some of the people around her.

The ending was great, though you had to wonder at the slightly melancholy tone about Anne standing by as a naval wife and having to wait for her now husband to be called away to duty.