My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the Author:
Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen’s plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favorable social standing and economic security.
Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, humor, and social commentary, have long earned her acclaim among critics, scholars, and popular audiences alike.
Publication Year: 1817
‘Persuasion’ revolves around the life of the Elliot family of Kellynch Hall that occupies a high position in the social hierarchy. Due to the reckless and lavish lifestyle of Sir Walter Elliot, the family finds itself in financial trouble. In order to follow the best course of action for their predicament, they are forced to rent their estate until they are recovered from debt. They move to Bath where they can live modestly with fewer expenses without sacrificing their status.
The family hands over the Kellynch Hall to Admiral Croft and his wife who are found to be most suitable and agreeable tenants. However, the middle daughter Anne soon discovers that Mrs. Croft has a brother, Captain Wentworth whom she is acquainted with. He’s the guy she fell in love with eight years ago and both had vowed to marry each other. But, she was very young and he had no fortune and social standing; hence, the opposition from her family had persuaded her to call off the engagement.
As luck would have it, Anne finds herself getting included in the same social sphere and the company of her former lover Frederick. She is forced to confront her past that she had tried very hard to put behind her. As new alliances are renewed, Anne considers the possibility of reuniting with the love she had abandoned and start over again.
I loved reading this book. I found myself very interested in events and incidents happening around all the different families with different values and social class. However, I was very eager to know about what happens with Anne’s love life and the beginning was too slow and I wasn’t patient enough, so I gave up halfway and watched the 2007 movie! I liked it but alas! Even though the actors did a great job, I don’t think the blossoming of their relationship was given much time.
“She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.”
In the book, the portrayal of their relationship is slightly better but I didn’t find it interesting or passionate enough. Perhaps, it might be because we don’t learn much about their history and circumstances surrounding their break up. I felt that their affection seemed implied at a lot of places which wasn’t enough to convince me and I felt I was missing out on the bond they have.
Aside from that, I loved the different characters. Anne is a quiet, gentle and caring girl. She loves reading and doesn’t care much about society and class which contradicts with the characters of her family members. She is perhaps one of my favorite protagonists of all time. She isn’t treated as an equal by her family members who are so entitled and inconsiderate. I felt really bad for her; they didn’t deserve her. Frederick did not make a lasting impression on me.
I found Sir Walter Elliot to be very comical. He was vain and full of pride. I found him disagreeable but I chuckled a lot while reading about his opinions and his actions when it came to securing his place in the high-class society and his obsession with maintaining his appearance. Her sisters Elizabeth and Mary were no better. That being said, I loved almost all the side characters.
Overall, I found this book to be moderately engaging. I wasn’t a very big fan of the romance but I enjoyed the ironic tone of the book and the way it poked fun at the ridiculousness of the characters. It also displayed the complexity of the class system and all the rules they had to follow and treatment they received based on it. Also, it dealt with the question of whether it’s ok to be firm in your beliefs or let yourself be persuaded. Anne finally makes peace with the decision she made in the past.
I definitely recommend this classic.