Iamshadow's Reviews > Persuasion

Persuasion by Jane Austen
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U_50x66
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Sep 17, 08

bookshelves: classic, fiction, history
read count: 2

** spoiler alert ** This is definitely my favourite Austen novel, though I like aspects of all of them.

Why this above the others, though?

Well, for me, this novel is, and always has been since the first time I read it at sixteen, a much more mature work than Austen's earlier novels. I can relate better to Anne Elliot than to some of her other heroines. The relationships she has with people are more believable and understandable, too, and Anne's situation isn't one of a whirlwind courtship and marriage. Indeed, the only 'hasty' marriage in the whole work is that of Louisa and Captain Benwick, and even that makes some sense given Louisa's change of character after her accident; her new reserve suits Benwick's personality perfectly.

While Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are about young, new love, Persuasion is about two people, long separated by life and circumstance, reconnecting and finding that what they felt, years beforehand, remains unchanged. Anne and Captain Wentworth's romance is an adult one, with a slow, gradual 'sounding out' of each other's feelings (naturally, with a typical Austenian rogue thrown in to complicate matters somewhat).

And the clincher for me as to what makes this the best Austen novel is the well-developed and likeable cast of supporting characters. The Musgroves leap from the page; vibrant, warm and natural. Anne's sister Mary is contrary and frustrating to live with, no doubt, but is incredibly enjoyable to read and much less grating on the nerves than Mrs Bennett of Pride and Prejudice. Benwick, the melancholy scholar with a tragic past, who finds solace in Anne's attentions and then the arms of Louisa, and the Crofts, both worldly and cultured and completely without artifice, are also dear to my heart. But my favourite supporting character of all would have to be Mrs Smith. Though she features only in a handful of short scenes, most of which she is used mainly as a vehicle for exposition, I really do adore her.

For those who like this book, I highly recommend the 1995 TV adaptation. It's very faithful to the book, and the casting is superb. Sophie Thompson's portrayal of Mary Musgrove is wonderful.
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