'In Persuasion, Jane Austen is beginning to discover that the world is larger, more mysterious, and more romantic than she had supposed' Virginia Woolf
Jane Austen's moving late novel of missed opportunities and second chances centres on Anne Elliot, no longer young and with few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier,…
Why read it?
5 authors picked Persuasion as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
This is the odd one out in my selection, because it was actually written at the time it was set.
It’s Austen’s only novel featuring more mature people, Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth, the man she was forced to jilt when she was a girl. The slow, measured reunion of two people you would like as your friends has to my mind never been better.
This story showcases two people getting over themselves. This is a theme in many of Austen’s works. She doesn’t believe in the ‘renovate your partner’ thing and honestly, I’ve never seen that work in real life. What we have here, are two people who inspire each other to emotional bravery, constancy, and vulnerability (in the 1800s – I give them a little grace for this).
If you’re not familiar with the story, know that the couple were once engaged, and the lady was persuaded to step away. Eight years pass, and true love holds true indeed – but there are…
There is recourse to the enduring classic and Jane Austen’s Persuasion has to be the favourite. The opening chapters depict the lonely figure of Anne, the middle sister of three, who has lost her bloom, struggling to live well at a time when her future, and her family’s, is precarious has the all the melancholy of lost hope and neglected chances. This is a novel where the spectre of autumn hovers. Yet, as the plot progresses, the spectre lifts and is chased away and Anne moves towards a late blooming. As a young woman, she was persuaded to turn down…
I chose the author’s last complete novel, posthumously published, instead of the more famous Pride & Prejudice, though I allow myself to re-read both once a decade. There’s a poignancy from an author who understands the consequences of missed opportunity. Anne Elliot was unwisely persuaded to reject the man she loved. Several years later she is effectively an old maid, while his fortunes have risen and make him a fine catch. Fate throws them together but old wounds run deep, creating suffering on both sides.
If Pride and Prejudice is the gateway drug, Persuasion is the apex of Austen’s powers and second for that reason. While coping with an illness that would kill her a year later, Austen created in Anne Elliot a non-traditional, non-scrappy heroine who will, despite her own grief and the mendacious efforts of those around her, find the happiest of endings. Persuasion is elegiac, thoughtful, consuming, and sometimes despairing, and the love letter at its end has all the heft and thunderclap of a thousand thrillers.
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