Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot, a twenty-seven year old who has never married, which is a bit scandalous at the time. She had a chance years ago at marriage with the naval officer Frederick Wentworth, but her deceased mother’s best friend and her surrogate parent, Lady Russell, persuaded her to break it off because he wasn’t worth of her. Anne has regretted it ever since and has yet to find anyone who she is interested in marrying. Eventually Anne and Wentworth reconnect when she leaves home to stay with her sister and their feelings are still similar to 8 years ago. Anne has to decide if she made the right decision all those years ago and more importantly, if she admits to making a mistake in rejecting Wentworth, will he take her back?
It is obvious why this book doesn’t have the universal appeal of a story like Pride and Prejudice. While I did enjoy it, Anne and Wentworth are quite boring characters, especially if you’re comparing them to Elizabeth and Darcy. Elizabeth and Darcy are both strong-willed with convictions, whereas Anne is more of a people pleaser, going along with what her family suggests even if it’s not what she feels in her heart. I found it a lot harder to relate and care for her and Wentworth as a couple because they “nice” was the best word I could come up with to describe them. There’s nothing really wrong with them, but there’s nothing so defining that it made me want to read retellings of their story the way I do with Pride and Prejudice and Emma.
Overall it is a beautifully written work. There’s a line I cannot remember fully to quote accurately, but it involved I believe Wentworth discussing how while yes, women have it hard waiting for their husband to return from sea, the men have to stand on the ship, looking to the pier and hoping their loved one is there to welcome them back. I cannot remember it entirely but it was so beautifully worded and phrased I had to close the book for a moment just to think about it. Absolutely gorgeous. Not my favorite Jane Austen, but well worth reading.
Author: Jane Austen
Three Descriptors: Moving, Romantic, Complex
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