“My idea of good company...is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.'
'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best.”
by Jane Austen
first published: 1818
my edition published by: penguin Classics
my edition published in 1998
Back Cover:At twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.
Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch-hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt.
My Thoughts: I am a Pride & Prejudice fan, but I would not call myself a Jane Austen fan. I have tried to love others works by her, but failed miserable in the effort with Emma, and The Northanger Abbey. They were such bombs for me that I was really left with no hope of liking any more stories by the beloved author of many. Still, I had Persuasion sitting on my shelf for a very long time, unread. And, I did decide to participate in the Classic Challenge. So, why not read Persuasion for the Classic challenge AND add it to my TBR Pile Challenge? Good idea, Deanna...and so I did. Those two motivators pushed me forward to opening the pages of this book. I am glad that I was nudge forward, because I wound up thinking this story was “most excellent.” Those were the first two words utter aloud upon finishing the book.. Now, is it a story without fault? No. Is it my favorite story of all? No. Favorite classic? Nope. Even so, I did enjoy this story greatly.
The storyline, itself, is not memorable. There really is a lot of lolling around. Not much in way of action, climax, and resolution. Granted, those elements DO exist in the story, BUT they are rather dull standing on their own, and like I said - not memorable. A couple weeks after finishing the book, I am searching my brain thinking; “what was this book about?” “what happened?” Hmmm. One thing, there is a good amount in way of exposition, and I rather enjoyed that part. While I was not blown away with the actual plot line, I must admit, it did indeed work for me. The reason? I do believe that would be due to Anne.
Anne was very compelling - she drew me into the story almost the instant that I felt her presence within the pages. She is not perfect. Actually, I am certain that there are those out there that would be annoyed by her willingness to play second or even third fiddle to her sisters. She did, frequently, let others take the lead while she quietly either followed, or tried to persuade them into other thinking. Her family could be considered superficial, and they certainly were to me. That fact could play a huge annoyance factor too, especially coupled with Anne’s docile type affect. However, while outward appearances persuaded many to choose the superficial path of life, and persuaded Anne to give up her love - the ultimate overwhelming factor for why I was drawn to Anne was that I did not feel she truly allowed herself to be persuaded into the same thinking that was amongst her surroundings. She had qualities of humbleness, and wisdom of her place in life and used her smarts in ways that reflected well upon her. She did her best to not allow herself to compromise again due to outward attitudes, expectation, and “need” to appear a certain way to others. Not saying that she tossed aside societies’ rules, but she just did not necessarily allow them to RULE her. At least, not to the degree they once did. That is the over all feeling I gained from Anne. In the end, she truly does win because she sticks to her guns, and maintained herself in a upright manner.
Unlike, Pride & Prejudice, this was not truly a love story. Do not get me wrong, it is a love story, but for me it was not the main focus rather the catalyst for the theme. It was far more a story of Anne and her qualities and standards which are set apart from those who surround her. With that in mind, Persuasion reminded me of Jane Eyre. And like Jane, the falling in love, and building of a relationship was secondary to the story of the character - of her outstanding qualities that one would like to emulate. With that said, I will put out there that Jane Eyre is a favorite placed above Pride & Prejudice.
I will admit to one thing, Persuasion did feel a bit too perfect. Things occurred, consequences happened, people grew apart, relationships started, love bloomed, and through it all....Anne stayed calm (at least outwardly) and did not sway in her manners. Ummm...yeah, a bit too perfect. I do wish Anne, at times, had a bit more gumption and would not allow her sisters to stomp all over her. I set those feelings aside, and allowed the story to seep into my being, and remind myself for the time this story was written and the roles women were allowed to have in society.
Yes, I enjoyed this story greatly. It does not top Pride & Prejudice, by any means. I did not swoon over Mr. Wentworth, although, I was rooting for him and Anne. And frankly, it is not entirely memorable on a detailed level. Rather, it is memorable with the overall tone, feel, and theme. Will I re-read this book? I highly doubt it. But, it will remain on my shelves for others in my family to read, one day, if they so desire. Unlike Pride & Prejudice, I will not own multiple copies either.
Bottom Line: Persuasion was most definitely worth my reading time. It read smoothly, and quickly while I was anchored in by the character of Anne along with the added presence of Mr. Wentworth. I definitely was engaged throughout, and found it be such an enjoyable read that I could not help but express this book as “most excellent” for entertainment. I do recommend it to be apart of others’ classic reading list.
Side Note: Now that I have read Persuasion, I do believe watching the movie is in order. From what I understand, the 1995 Persuasion adaptation is the one most preferred. Have you seen the movie? If so, which adaptation would you recommend and why?
~ Is not, the first sentence of this book one of the longest sentences you have read? My gosh. Therein-lies the trouble with Austen, for me. Her long sentences are scattered throughout. Or, if not long, then sentences, at times, are full of nonsense. “Get to the point Jane. Get to the point.” is what I would think many times. Ugh. What usually happens when I start reading long sentences such as the first sentence of this book, I re-read. And, if re-reading fails to bring sense to the sentence then I gloss over thinking it of non-importance, or importance that will come to light sooner or later. This method has not really failed me yet. Granted, I am not reading these books to analyze. I will admit though, that first sentence really does set the tone for the character of Sir Walter Elliot. He is a shallow man.
~ Introductions that are placed in classic books are always of great fascination for me. However, I never read them before the story itself. They always contained spoilers. I do appreciate them greatly afterwards. They always tend to fill voids of understanding which then allow me to have room further reflection upon the story. The introduction for Persuasion in my Penguin Classics edition was no exception. I greatly enjoyed this part. Not only did I learn more about Jane Austen, I was able to better appreciate the story and its setting.
~ The Notes found in the back of the book were very helpful. I did not refer to them all that much, but when I did an “ahhh” of understanding came over me. The notes did help clarify words and phrases used in the early 1800s that are no longer used - or at least not used where I live. These clarifications did aide greatly for my understanding of a passage or topic at hand.
Note Worthy Quotes:
“How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.”
“We certainly do not forget you, so soon as you forget us. It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves.”
“How she might have felt had there been no Captain Wentworth in the case, was not worth enquiry; for there was a Captain Wentworth: and be the conclusion of the present suspense good or bad, her affection would be his forever. Their union, she believed, could not divide her more from other men, than their final separation.”
“She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.”