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Past Discussions of Group Reads > Persuasion--for those who have finished

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message 1: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker Here's a place for you to discuss Jane Austen's Persuasion when you've finished.

What did you think?
Was it any good?
What critiques do you have?

message 2: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments I guess I'll be the first to comment here. I absolutely loved Persuasion, possibly even more than Pride and Prejudice. What I think made this book so good was Anne's character. While Lizzy from P&P may have been more spirited, Anne was definitely wise in a way that I don't think any younger character really could be. She was very thoughtful and proper, but she also had a certain integrity and strength that I couldn't help but admire, and she was always very kind, even to people who might not have deserved it.

One thing that really separated this book from some others was the style of writing. The style was immensely readable, and I found myself having trouble putting the book down, even though some would say that there isn't very much going on with the plot. I think that is another one of Austen's strengths. In her books the plots are all in miniature, the actions are all very subtle, and the real emphasis is on the people and the events that happen inside their heads and hearts. In that regard it actually reminds me very much of last month's group read, Never Let Me Go, which is also one of my personal favorites.

Another thing I loved about Persuasion was its tone. Austen manages to create the perfect sense of melancholy and regret, and it really helps to place the reader right in Anne's shoes. To me, it's one of the more endearing things about Anne. At the age of 27 she has already lived to see her life pass her by, and knows that her future holds more of the same. She is sad, yes, but she also tries to make the best of it, and she manages to be a truly sweet person none-the-less.

As I was explaining to someone the other day, Austen doesn't write silly mushy love stories. It may seem like that one the surface, but really she has so much more going on. She is really quite brilliant at satire and social commentary. One thing she makes very clear is the true terror that many women felt living during that time. Anne knows that she missed her one chance at a good and useful life. She now has to face the fact that she is always going to be a burden on her family and a failure at the one thing she should have done to serve her family, which was marry a respectable man. Can you imagine how that must feel? It's terrible, utterly terrible, and the good will with which Anne deals with her situation only exemplifies what a good person she is.

Not only does she address the role of women, but she also has a strong commentary on the social institution of class. Anne's father and sister are both relatively high class people, but they are both annoyingly stuck up and pretentious, and they are always judging other people on wealth or class or appearance. All of that, while they are living outside their budget! Compare them to Captain Wentworth, who was of no particular class, but was quite a gentleman, or to Anne's good friend, who was poor and crippled, but was also very sweet. Clearly, Austen is trying to challenge the idea that class determines a person's goodness.

Altogether, I think that Persuasion is a wonderful book which excels in characterization, tone, style, and message, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

message 3: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie | 58 comments I read Persuasion a year or so ago.

I agree with everything in Emily's review. I cannot think of what else to add.

message 4: by Anika (new)

Anika (anlynn) | 106 comments Emily, I think you make a good point about Austen's "miniature" plots; this, I believe is one reason her novels are so attractive to me. Persuasion, like you said, is a satirical reflection of society as Austen knew it. While the story of Anne and Captain Wentworth does progress throughout the novel, much emphasis is laid upon social interactions. Some may look at Austen's novels as love stories, but more than anything, they are social commentaries. The story of Anne and Captain Wentworth is told for the purpose of contrasting various social classes; it is not necessarily the sole focus of the story. Great review, you definitely did justice to the book! This by far my favorite Austen book, and one my all time favorites!

message 5: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Lauren (ashleyllauren) You know, I can't say that I liked Persuasion more than Pride and Prejudice - for me, it just felt like something was missing. Or, maybe not missing, but I feel like the spark, the real *spark*, between Anne and Wentworth didn't happen until the very end (I thought the letter he wrote was fanTASTIC).

Even before that, truthfully, I had a hard time getting into the story. The first few chapters were just full of so much exposition that I found myself getting turned around. I read this on my Nook and couldn't look at the back cover to remind me just which sister I was supposed to follow because Austen spent so much time talking about each of them. And then, even throughout the novel I kept getting turned around between the Clays and Smiths and whoever else loved and talked with Anne, etc. etc.

That being said, I really did enjoy the book, I think I can love anything that comes from Austen's brain. I actually agree with a lot of the things you said, Emily, especially the points you made about class. I think Austen was really trying to say something there. But, even with the high points, I can't say it was my favorite.

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