Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth.
Anne and Captain Wentworth used to be in love. But Anne was convinced by a close friend that Captain Wentworth was an unworthy match, and she broke off their engagement. Eight years later, Captain Wentworth is a wealthy and respected naval officer who finds himself back in the social circles of Anne Elliot – and in search of a bride. Anne has lived these past eight years with stinging regret and this story follows her agony as she watches Captain Wentworth pursue other romantic interests while she remains single. We all know how it ends – Persuasion is the ultimate second-chance romance.
Jane Austen is known for spirited heroines like headstrong Elizabeth Bennet and independent Emma Woodhouse. Anne Elliot is far less exciting. I started reading Jane Austen when I was in high school and have reread my favorites of her books many times over the past 15 years. When I was younger, Persuasion was my least favorite, and I had avoided rereading it until this year. Persuasion lacks the witty banter of Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, but the romantic resolution is far superior.
Jane Austen masterfully portrays the emotional turmoil Anne Elliot endures, capturing the reader in her misery. I imagine the relief and joy I felt at the end was surpassed only by Anne herself. And, as we can expect from any Austenian novel, there is great social commentary and the most wonderful feminist rants, as exhibited by this conversation between a friend, Captain Harville, and Anne:
“…I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.” (Captain Harville)
“Perhaps I shall. – Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove any thing.” (Anne)
Indeed, Anne’s story and her patience for Captain Wentworth shows her to be the greatest foil against the stereotype of woman’s fickleness.
And she is rewarded with one of the most (perhaps even the most) beautiful love letters in literature.
Jane Austen is an uncommon choice for a book blog because most readers tend to review the newest titles and partner with publishers to boost book sales. I will definitely participate in that part of book blogging and instagramming, but I also want to bring new light to classic books that most modern readers overlook.
It’s easy to ignore these titles as dense or boring; but truly, especially for Jane Austen, that couldn’t be more inaccurate. If you’ve never read Jane Austen, I won’t be offended if you start with Pride and Prejudice. But you won’t be disappointed with Persuasion either.
5/5 Stars. Highly recommend.