Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Review: 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen

Persuasion'Persuasion' is one of my favourite Austen novels but I haven't read it in ages so I decided to reread it for Austen in August, hosted by Roof Beam Reader. I still absolutely love it.
Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
What I find really interesting is that she wrote this after 'Emma'. There is such a difference between Emma and Anne Elliot, the protagonist of 'Persuasion'.  Where Emma is stubborn and convinced of her own right, Anne was too easily convinced and as a consequence seems to lose the last bit of backbone she  had. Yet where Emma becomes more open to others, Anne's resilience and independent spirit comes through, which eventually makes her happy again.

I quite like the plot of this novel, especially because I feel it is very different to most of the other Austen plots.  Although there is a resemblance to 'Sense & Sensibility', impoverished family, I feel this novel is a real departure from the somewhat fluffy, if still amazing, love stories such as 'Pride & Prejudice' and 'Emma'. I feel that in this novel Jane Austen looked much closer at the consequences of the expectations of women. Anne rejected the man she loved because of the expectation she would marry someone richer and more worthy. As a consequence, she is now miserable and her family financially ruined. Although there is still love involved, it is a novel about humans after all, it is very much also about Anne finding her own voice. Anne is also presented in a much more emphatic way than most other Austen characters are.

If you are looking for a fluffy romance than this might not be your cup of tea. It is not very fluffy, it is an almost bitter and resentful love that is portrayed in the book. Austen had a keen eye for people, I believe, and this is one of her books in which I feel none of the characters are over the top parodies of real-life people. There was a 2007 BBC series and I usually love the BBC versions so I am definitely going to watch that one and a movie in 1995, which might be even better. I think I know what I'm doing tonight!

I give this book...


I love this book by Jane Austen and I think all Austen lovers who haven't read it should do so right now! It is confrontational at times but also very warm and the end feels much more deserved than in 'Mansfield Park'.


  1. I liked this book, to be perfectly honest I liked all of Austen's novels, but Emma is the only one I really loved, mostly because I felt she was a much stronger heroine, although I've been known to watch the 1996 BBC Pride and Prejudice on repeat!

  2. Great review! I haven't read it yet, but I find it interesting how Jane Austen wrote two polar opposite protagonists...and I always like stronger characters so maybe I'll try Emma later on in my life >.<

  3. I love this book too although I do like Emma's spirit a lot (Clueless is also my favorite adaptation of an Austen novel so I'm quite partial to it).

    I also love and recommend both of the Persuasion adaptations you mentioned-have a fun night!

  4. I loved this book! I like how Austen combines romance with social criticism and personality analysis. Great review!