Oh my goodness, I really loved this book.
I was quite concerned that I wouldn’t, after my reaction to Northanger Abbey last year. I still chose to read this, because everyone seemed to think this book is the best after Pride and Prejudice. I definitely agree, it’s come in very close, but it didn’t have quite the same “unputdownable” effect that Pride and Prejudice has on me.
I loved Anne, the protagonist of Persuasion. She’s so down to earth and definitely far more mature. I felt like I could totally relate to her- she’s undervalued, she finds social occasions tedious, she’s a bit shy and nervous and thinks very deeply about everything.
Her family… my god. I have no idea how Anne even tolerated being in the same room as them. I would have absolutely bitch slapped the dumb out of them. They were atrocious! You can definitely see why Jane characterised them like that- they’re definitely showing the reader how the aristocracy has fallen and resting on their imagined laurels. Society at that point was trying to come to terms with self made men rising to ranks of power, through industry or the military, and the established gentry were struggling to accept their positions had the potential to be usurped. Sir Walter is the caricature of this type of gentleman- all bluff and vanity, while Captain Wentworth, with his impeccable manners totally shows that the nouveau riche were totally as genteel as the landed gentry.
I loved the ending as well! Of course, I knew what would happen- it’s Austen after all. But that letter. My god! If I ever get a letter like that, I shall die. I must say, I got very teary reading it!
“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.”
Le sob. But they finally get together, tell her family where to shove their opinions and get hitched.
I hate to think of it, but the narrative structure of this novel points to a fall happening very soon after the ending of the novel. It has a kind of rise and fall motion, so something good will happen, followed by a calamity. Ron Lit explains it far better than I can in this video, but I definitely noticed it while I was reading. It makes me sad, seeing as I really want Anne and Wentworth to have a happy life together, but there’s no denying the possibility was there.
And let me address the fact that Jane makes a dick joke in this book. It was glorious.
We also have Jane sticking it to the patriarchy.
“Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”
Virginia Woolf applauds you. I applaud you. Charlotte Bronte does not applaud you, but that’s because she was a jealous creature. But I think if she’d bothered to get over that, she would applaud you too.
I loved Persuasion. It’s an all-round quieter book than the other two of hers I’ve read, but that adds to it’s charm. I’ll definitely be going back to this book more than once.