Elisabeth's Reviews > Persuasion

Persuasion by Jane Austen
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Mar 24, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, outread-aubrey-challenge-2013, favorites

2018 re-read

I think the definition of a great book is one that you can glean something fresh from every time you revisit it at different stages of your life—and Jane Austen's books fit that definition. On this re-read of Persuasion the thing that struck me most was its tone of maturity compared to her other books; both in the style, which has a little added color and detail and one could almost say liveliness; and also in the story itself. One way this shows up, I think, is that Anne Elliot herself is a person of more wisdom and discernment than any of Austen's other heroines except Elinor Dashwood. Emma Woodhouse and even Elizabeth Bennet, despite their intelligence, need some definite event to open their eyes to the true nature of certain people in their lives; but Anne, even before she receives full revelation of William Elliot's character, already has discernment enough to decide that there is something "off" about him and that he is not the man for her.

Another thing I noticed: in her earlier books, Austen gets a lot of comic mileage out of snobs, bores, selfishness and frivolity (you could even say there's a lot more dinners and dancing). While in Persuasion we still get satire of this kind with Sir Walter Elliot and his daughter Elizabeth, I get the sense that Austen herself, like Anne, is glad to turn away from those characters and spend time with the sincere, genuine people in the novel. Persuasion seems to show more appreciation for nice characters, which is really a refreshing thing to find not just in Austen's oeuvre but in literature and life in general.

2013 re-read

I hadn't re-read this book in a while, and I'd forgotten just how wonderful it is. It's definitely one of my favorite Austen novels. Anne Elliot is a quieter but tremendously appealing heroine; we can empathize with her and feel what she feels. She is a sensitive person who experiences a great deal of emotion, both painful and pleasurable, yet is called upon to conceal most of it. I think there is a heightened sense of characters' feeling and emotions in general in Persuasion, compared to Austen's other novels. There are also much clearer and detailed physical descriptions of people and places, though I don't think Austen ever goes so far as to tell us what color hair someone has!

Another thing that particularly struck me on this reading is that Persuasion seems to contain a much larger number of happy and pleasant people—the Crofts, the Harvilles, the Musgroves, Mrs. Smith. The Crofts are some of the most charming characters in all of Austen, and probably the nicest example of a happy married couple in all her books. Even Lady Russell, though she can be regarded as an antagonist for the role her advice has played in Anne's initial unhappiness, is depicted as a woman of sense and kindness, who in spite of her shortcomings is still a true friend to Anne, and is willing to admit her misjudgment of both Captain Wentworth and Mr. Elliot.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 24, 2012 – Shelved
June 27, 2012 – Shelved as: classics
June 16, 2013 – Shelved as: outread-aubrey-challenge-2013
February 7, 2018 – Shelved as: favorites

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Katie  Hanna My favorite Austen novel.

Marquise Well put! I find it's very true that what age you read her novels affects how you react to them. Perhaps that's largely why this is my favourite of all her novels, I read it at a more mature age than the others.

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