Kelly's Reviews > Persuasion

Persuasion by Jane Austen
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's review
Jun 12, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, brit-lit, regency, owned, 19th-century, its-the-quiet-ones
Recommended for: fans of Romantic style
Read in March, 2006

This is the least Austen like of the Austen novels. Her famed satirical, biting wit in large part takes second place to a growing Romantic sensibility. There is a focus on beautiful imagery, improbable romances and feelings, and heroes that are rather more gothic than realistic. Melancholy emotions rule this novel, even more so than Sense and Sensibility. They're mostly relentless up until the end. Even then, the tone changes in a rather dramatic style that is not at all typical of Austen. My problem with this novel is that she started off mocking, satirizing, and tearing apart overly sentimental novels. And then she ended up writing a novel that while not 'sentimental' per se, seems to get involved with the sensibility she once made fun of. Don't know if I'm saying that correctly.

Don't get me wrong, it's still beautiful. I still loved reading it. Her wry voice peeks through at times, she can't help it. But I can't help but wonder what happened to make her change so completely. I know this was written when the Romantic movement had taken firm hold. It's often taught as a proto-Romantic novel, and that actually does seem to fit. I really like it. The story is suitably melancholy and lovely for what it is trying to do, and I certainly read enough novels like this. This sort of thing is just not generally what I look for when I look to Jane Austen, that's all. Still! Recommended!
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Tristan I can see what you mean. There is some wit, but it is very unlike any of the novels published during Austen's lifetime. While I liked this better than Mansfield Park or Sense and Sensibility, I thought it a completely different beast from Austen's other work, evaluated almost on an entirely different set of criteria.

Kelly Yes, it's a very different author than the person who wrote Northanger Abbey.The humor is still there, the insight, but with totally different priorities.

message 3: by Ellie (new) - added it

Ellie A lot of it has to do with Austen's changing circumstances. She used to mock clerics in P&P through Mr Collins, while in Mansfield Park her heroine's beau is lauded for being the same thing. In P&P marriage refusals were followed by more marriage offers rather than years spent mourning lost opportunities. Also, the British Empire was going through so many social changes that impacted the landed gentry it was inevitable they should take their toll on the way Austen began presenting her characters. She was very in touch with social changes and her views were often reflected in her writing.

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