Friday Favorites: Persuasion
Friday, May 21, 2010Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
I've been a Jane Austen fan for a long time. I've read her six completed novels and have loved all of them, but in very different ways. Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility introduced me to the brilliant author. They are beautiful odes to love conquering all and the huge blessing it is to have a sister you love, no matter how different you are. Their main characters are shaken by misunderstandings and steered by naïveté.
Northanger Abbey and Emma feature somewhat silly girls that let their imaginations run away with them. You somehow still love them, because though they may be simple or selfish, they really do have good hearts. Mansfield Park is Austen's picture of perfecting one's character. Fanny is just so damn good that it's a bit frustrating.
Of course all of these books are much more complicated than my quick sentences allow me to explain. So you should read all of them!
But Persuasion, this book is different from all the rest. Maybe it's because it was the last full novel she wrote. Maybe it's because she had experienced a bit of love in her life by that point. Whatever it is, it gives this book a depth and soul-shaking intensity that makes it my favorite.
The premise is simple. Anne falls in love with Wentworth, but her family says he's too poor and persuades her not to marry him. All of this happens before the book begins and in the opening chapter we are 8 years in the future. Anne is still single and Wentworth returns to her town. Now they are both older. Any feelings they share or don't share aren't based on infatuation or young love. They are both mature and have had years to decide what they really want out of life. This slow burn is intoxicating.
If you've never read Persuasion you're missing out. I love Austen's more celebrated novels (P&P and Emma), which have been made popular by movies and modern remakes (aka Clueless), but it's Persuasion that won my heart.