Author: Jane Austen
My Rating: 4.5 stars
I recently buddy read this book with my Mum and really really enjoyed it. This classic love story of Austen’s is beautiful, slow burning and full of intrigue and a really great one for those classic lovers. Caution: Slight spoilers ahead.
Written at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Persuasion is a tale of love, heartache and the determination of one woman as she strives to reignite a lost love. Anne Elliot is persuaded by her friends and family to reject a marriage proposal from Captain Wentworth because he lacks in fortune and rank. More than seven years later, when he returns home from the Navy, Anne realises she still has strong feelings for him, but Wentworth only appears to have eyes for a friend of Anne’s. Moving, tender, but intrinsically ‘Austen’ in style, with its satirical portrayal of the vanity of society in eighteenth-century England, Persuasion celebrates enduring love and hope.
This book is gorgeous and beautiful and the more I think about it and the more I read quotes from it, the more I love it. I read this book with my mother last month as we had been wanting to read it for a while and I had so much enjoyment while reading it.
A lot of people choose not to read classics for various reasons – too slow, difficult to read, boring or just not interesting for them. All of those reasons are valid and I agree that some books are not for everyone. However one of the reasons I love reading classics is that it shows you how far fiction has come and also where we have been.
Jane Austen has a very distinct style of writing and it does take a little bit to get into it. I was quite unsure of this book for the first three chapters but when you finally remember all the characters names and where they fit in the story, you are engaged and just want to keep reading. The pace is slow to start but does speed up, especially when certain characters enter and exit and you just want to know more.
The story follows Anne Elliott, who seven years ago refused to marry a man she loved, who has now returned on the scene, richer, with more influence and appears to hold much disdain for her. No, not disdain, but nothing. We follow Anne as she is enveloped in a social season where her family has moved away for a time, leaving her with her sister and this social group, which includes the ever present Captain Wentworth, who does not give her much response.
Anne and Captain Elliott are absolute stand out characters in this book. I really relate to Anne and I see a lot of myself in her; in her sensibilities and thought processes. I love that despite Captain Wentworth endeavouring not to have anything to do with Anne, he can’t help but watch over her and keep an eye on her. Their story is slow and other characters invade so they don’t have a whole lot of interactions on page but whenever they do, they steal the show.
There is such a variety of other characters and of all sorts. We have the very stuck up Sir Elliott and Elizabeth, Anne’s father and older sister. We have Mary, another sister who is Lydia Bennett kind of annoying, and Charles, her husband who is kind and I think probably very much regrets his choice in marrying Mary. There are so many other great characters like Louisa, Henrietta, Mr Elliott and Lady Russell, all of which bring different perspectives to the table, a very realistic thought when you think about how complicated social circles are. Some of these characters are horrible and incredibly annoying but they make you feel something which adds to the story. If all the characters are lovely and perfect, what is the point of reading?
The book starts with a lot of sadness which is a bit depressing. Anne is so full of regret with her decision about Captain Wentworth and I think it is important to see that. I like seeing how the story lightens up however when she sees him more but also when she is away from the influence of her father and sister. I think that her real unhappiness comes from them and that when you place her around other people like Captain Harville and Mrs Smith, her real attitude comes forward. She is kind hearted and passionate which is lovely.
I love how the story wraps up even though it is slightly abrupt. The conversation between Anne and Captain Harville continues the healing between Anne and Captain Wentworth and I really adore the way Austen allows her characters to discuss things. Their reconciliation is not assumed or taken off the page but actually written which is a really great ending. You finish the book with a smile and sometimes the happily ever after is the best part.
Recommended for: If you love Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte or classics you will enjoy checking out this book. If you are not a lover of classic I recommend checking it out too if you love romantic books – it’s always great to see what writers wrote back in the day.
Quotes (Spoiler Free):
“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”
“My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’
‘You are mistaken,’ said he gently, ‘that is not good company, that is the best.”
“Once so much to each other! Now nothing! … There could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so simliar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become aquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.”
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.”
This book is one I have really enjoyed and will be adding to my re-read pile. Since reading it, I can see why people claim it as one of her best and if you are wanting to try out a new classic, I can definitely recommend this one.
If you’ve read it, or any of Austen’s other works, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
xx Maddy xx