Today, though, I am here to review/talk about Jane Austen's final book, Persuasion. Now, as you might know, I am not the biggest Austen fan. I liked Emma quite a bit, but I was still kinda like 'meh' regarding Jane Austen. But. This book changed everything (so dramatic, I know). Persuasion was so good and perfect and awesome, and I am very excited to share my thoughts.
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher/Price: Random House UK (Vintage Classics Edition) / $11.70 here
Genre: Classic, Historical Romance
Number of pages: 320
My rating: 5 1/2 out of 5 stars (favorite!)
My thoughts: I'm gonna skip the overview on this one, but I'll give a quick plot summary. Anne Elliot refused Frederick Wentworth eight years ago because her father and friend, Lady Russell, persuaded her that the match was unworthy. The ensuing breakup left Anne with deep regrets. When Wentworth returns after eight years, now as a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his sister a tenant in the Elliot family's old home. Anne realizes she still loves the Captain as they are thrown together in social circles and the question hangs in the air – does he still love her, even after her refusal many years ago? At the end of the book, Captain Wentworth writes Anne a note revealing to her his growing feelings for her and they are once again reunited.
Okay, this book. It was so awesome. What made me love this book more than the other Jane Austen novels I've read was the maturity of the characters and of the book itself. Anne Elliot was the oldest and most mature of any of Austen's heroines. The book itself was the last Austen wrote, and it is by far the most grown-up of them all. The story itself is more mature, not focusing exclusively on the romance, but speaking to a host of other pertinent social issues. The romance was more subtle than that of Pride & Prejudice and it was just perfect.
I wasn't especially enjoying Anne's character a hundred pages into the book or so. I was finding her a bit colorless and wimpy, unable to stand up for herself and in a continual pity party. But later on, I really began to enjoy her and began to appreciate her maturity and level-headedness. She is awesome. Also, I will not watch the TV adaptation, because she looks like an old woman in that, and I am convinced she is far prettier than that. I mean, she wasn't even thirty, and she looked about fifty in that!
Also, Captain Wentworth. He was another character I grew to like. He was an absolute gentleman, but again, he was a fairly reserved, mature character. He was level-headed like Anne, but he didn't really know his feelings for her until the last quarter-ish of the book. And then, he writes Anne a letter. Holla! This letter basically professes his feelings for her in the most eloquent and passionate way I think I have ever had the pleasure of reading (except for Sherlock's proposal in A Monstrous Regiment of Women, of course). It was pretty perfect. Now if someone will just let my future man know that's my preferred means of proposal, that'd be great. Thanks.
Now for a couple of characters I rather disliked. First, Anne's father is soooo unlikeable at the beginning. He is super judgmental of everyone, highly vain, presumptuous, and selfish. Don't like him at all, though I will say that later on in the book he became more comical and I was able to laugh at him instead of get irritated. Also, Anne's sister Mary is super annoying. She was kind of a baby and was selfish and wanted all the attention. So yeah. Not a fan of her.
The other thing I appreciated about this book and the thing that made me really love it was the way it addresses topics and issues above and beyond the romance and the immediate lives of the characters. I felt like Austen was speaking to women in general when she wrote this about a woman whose life was somewhat orchestrated by those around her. And I don't want to make it sound like this book was advocating "follow your heart" over listening to others' advice – that's not what I mean, nor is that, I think, what Jane Austen meant. I think she was speaking more generally, especially to women back then, who were expected to regard the advice and opinions of their mentors/parents over their own feelings and what they knew to be true. And while Anne's story turned out well in the end, it's not always like that. I think Austen is advocating listening to advice, but also to take control of your own life at some point and make those big decisions for yourself.
Overall, this book is one of my favorites I've read so far this year, and I would definitely recommend it to those who aren't sure what they think of Pride & Prejudice, but want to give Jane Austen another chance. Or, you know, I'd recommend it to anyone.
If you care to read my more concise thoughts on this book in modest, 140 character pieces, I talked about it on Twitter after I finished it, and that conversation isn't buried too deeply on my Twitter page (which you can access by clicking the icon over there on the left).
Thanks for reading and I should have more reviews up this week/weekend. xo, Ella