“ Author: Jane Austen / Format: Hardback / Date of publication: 01 February 2004 / Subcategory: Classic Fiction / Publisher: CRW Publishing Limited / Title: Persuasion / ISBN 13: 9781904633280 / ISBN 10: 1904633280 / Alternative EAN: 9780755331499 „
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From Jane Austen's first full-length novel to her last: after reviewing Northanger Abbey, I've moved on to Persuasion. Both novels were published together after Austen's death in 1818, but whereas Northanger Abbey had been completed in 1798, Persuasion had been finished only two years before, in 1816. It is more subdued than Austen's previous novels, particularly the youthful Northanger Abbey (especially as both are set partly in Bath), but it is still a very enjoyable novel.
Persuasion tells the story of 27-year-old Anne Elliot, daughter of the vain Sir Walter Elliot, and sister to the haughty Elizabeth and selfish Mary. Several years before the story began, Anne fell in love with the dashing Captain Wentworth but in view of his position in society and his unlikely prospects she was dissuaded from the match by her well-meaning friend, Lady Russell. Now, the family home of Kellynch Hall must be let to save money, and the new tenant Admiral Croft is the brother-in-law of Captain Wentworth which makes his presence in the area inevitable. Will Anne be allowed a second chance at love?
I have read the novel a few times now and I find it a very easy book to read. It is shorter than many of Austen's novels, and has a comparatively simple plot compared to, say, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. While I was reading it I was never in a great deal of doubt as to the eventual fate of the central character. Many of the characters seem to be toned down from previous Austen creations, such as Elizabeth Bennett's sisters. Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove, for example, while being rather flighty, are not really malicious or nasty, and Anne's sister Elizabeth, though she is certainly a character to be disliked, doesn't have a great deal of impact on the story. On the other hand, the characters are well-described and Anne's feelings are particularly well-documented: it is a testament to Austen's talent that the story remains absorbing and moving even though it is reasonably obvious what is going to happen.
The novel is interesting for having as a main character a woman who was 'past her sell-by date' as far as the early nineteenth century was concerned: an unmarried woman of this age was well on her way to being left on the shelf. The unmarried Austen was growing older herself and the book may have been written partly as a comfort to her and other women who felt they were 'past-it'.
The book also deals with the issue of old versus new money. Sir Walter Elliot represents the old landed gentry, and is not a wonderful example - he is lazy, obsessed with titles and unwilling to cut down on his expenditure, leading to the necessity of letting the family home in order to save money. Lady Russell is another example: much more sensible, kind and decent than Sir Walter, she is nevertheless blinded by status and position. These two are contrasted with Captain Wentworth and Admiral Croft, who make their money in the navy and are portrayed as kind and decent.
Though I found the novel's ending to be in part predictable, there is a sense of unease which is explained by the date of the novel's completion and the events which took place in real life shortly afterwards. Will there be a happy ending?
Overall, Persuasion is not my favourite Austen novel, lacking in the satire and strong humour to mark her earlier work. However, it has strong characters and is an absorbing read, so I definitely recommend it.
Persuasion, one of six completed novels by Jane Austen, though written in 1815-16, was not published until 1818, a year after its authors death at the age of forty-one.
The story centres on the Elliot family: Sir Walter and his three daughters. Sir Walter, a widower, is a vain, snobbish individual whose main indeed, only reading matter is the entry concerning himself in the Baronetage. His haughty, unmarried eldest daughter, Elizabeth, being very like himself is something of a kindred spirit however, his two other children are regarded as of very inferior value. The middle daughter, Anne, is twenty-seven years old when the story begins; despite - or perhaps because of - her intrinsic elegance of mind and sweetness of character, she is generally disregarded by her father and elder sister. Mary, the youngest sister and the only married one, lives nearby with her husband, Charles Musgrove, and two young children, and occupies herself primarily by feeling neglected and put-upon and by complaining about anything and everything.
Although still an attractive young woman, Anne our heroine, as you may already have guessed is described as having lost early her youthful bloom, and we soon learn the reason for this. Several years earlier, at the age of nineteen, she fell in love with, and briefly became engaged to, a young naval officer, Frederick Wentworth. However, the match was regarded as unsuitable by her father and Lady Russell, a trusted family friend Frederick being a young man with nothing but himself to recommend him - and Anne allowed herself to be persuaded, against her own better judgement, into breaking off the engagement. Naturally, she has regretted this ever since.
Forced by straitened financial circumstances to rent out the family home, Kellynch Hall, Sir Walter and Elizabeth move to Bath, while Anne moves in temporarily with her sister Mary, enjoying the society of Marys husbands family nearby Mr and Mrs Musgrove and their two lively daughters, Henrietta and Louisa. The new tenants of Kellynch Hall prove to be an Admiral Croft and his wife; by coincidence, Mrs Crofts brother, a frequent visitor to the Hall, is that same Frederick Wentworth, now a successful and prosperous Captain Wentworth, once rejected by Anne. Mortified and, of course, still in love with him, Anne strives to avoid his company, but finds this to be difficult, particularly as he quickly becomes friendly with the Musgrove family and appears to be romantically interested in one of the daughters .
Jane Austen writes so wonderfully, and has such a merciless eye for character and social foibles, that her novels are always a joy to read you want to quote endlessly. In Persuasion, her final completed novel, the satire is milder than in some of her previous work though still typically withering in places - and it has been suggested that Anne Elliots love story has parallels in her own life, although there is little evidence for this. Some readers have found the character of Anne to be a little too good to be true indeed, Austen herself wrote to her niece Fanny that, You may perhaps like the heroine, as she is almost too good for me.. I liked her, although I did, at times, wish she would assert herself a little more but then, the perils of being easily persuaded is one of the themes of the novel.
Like other novels of the period, "Persuasion" also offers a fascinating insight into the social context and rigid class system of the time - and Austen is, as always, an unflinching observer of the world she inhabited.
Jane Austens work has provoked both love and loathing among her critics. Mark Twain memorably commented that he would like to dig her up and hit her over the head with her own shin-bone. (Im not quite sure what heinous offence could have provoked such a violent reaction!) However, I prefer G K Chestertons observation that, [Although] Jane Austen was born before those bonds which (we are told) protected women from truth, were burst .. Jane Austen may have been protected from truth, but it was precious little of truth that was protected from her. The romantic subject matter of her novels may seem trivial to some and be easily disregarded as womens fiction but as Chesterton suggests, a great deal more is revealed than you might at first think.
Persuasion and Austens other five novels are widely available in bookshops and libraries, or you can purchase the Penguin Popular Classics edition from Amazon for just £1.50 (or from £0.01 used!).
At the age of 19, Anne Elliot falls head over heels for Frederick Wentworth. Anne is the daughter of a baronet, Sir Walter Elliot, and Frederick has no connections or money or any other advantage to recommend him. Under such circumstances, is it possible to judge whether or not Anne should go ahead with an engagement? In any case, Anne is persuaded by Lady Russell - a family friend and close personal friend - that refusing Frederick's proposal is the wisest course of action. Some 8 years later, when Anne is 27, circumstances drastically change. Her father, Sir Walter is financially embarassed and is forced to let the family home, Kellynch Hall, to Admiral and Mrs Croft and retire to rented accommodation in Bath. This paves the way for a renewed acquaintance with Frederick, now Captain Wentworth, as Mrs Croft is his sister. The renewed acquaintance is obviously difficult and Frederick goes out of his way to ignore Anne, chosing instead to blantantly court the affections of her sisters-in-law, Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove. The state of affection between Anne and her family - Sir Walter, Elizabeth and Mary - is unlikely to promote her peace of mind. In fact, Mary, wife to Charles Musgrove, is more than happy to hope for a speedy marriage between Frederick and either Louisa or Henrietta. This difficult and, perhaps, unnatural state of affairs is brought to a swift close after a visit to Lyme by Anne, the Musgroves and Frederick. At Lyme, Louisa suffers a serious accident and is placed under the care of the Harvilles who are good friends of Frederick. Louisa's affections are rapidly gained by Captain Benwick, a close friend of the Harvilles, and Henrietta's affections are committed to her cousin, Charles Hayter. This means that Frederick is free, whether or not he wants to be, to pursue other potential brides including Anne. Over in Bath, Sir Walter and Elizabeth, his eldest daughter, are quite happy parading around and sucking up
to any important sounding friends and relations. A welcome addition to their circle of acquaintance comes in the form of William Elliot, the heir and nephew of Sir Walter. The young Mr Elliot, recently widowed and desperate to promote goodwill between himself and the Elliot family, seems too good to be true as, previously, he was married to a rather "unsuitable" woman and wasn't the slightest bit interested in the family or the estate. Still, Anne is momentarily mutually attracted to him - a blessing in disguise because this spurs Frederick into action. Although Anne still loves Frederick and deeply regrets "losing" him 8 years ago, Frederick has yet to show whether he retains any affection towards her. To the background of the cheerful, noisy Musgroves and the parading, indifferent Elliots, Anne and Frederick must come to some kind of understanding. A thousand little obstacles stand in their way: the demands of family, the bustle of Bath, the past regrets and disappointments, the uncertainty of each other's feelings, the influence of Lady Russell, the attentions of William Elliot and many more trivial afflictions. It is hardly unreasonable to presume that, finally, Anne and Frederick will get their act together rather than pass up another chance for happiness. Everything points to this conclusion. However, in getting to this conclusion there are a thousand little details, sub-plots, characters and surprises to engage the reader's attention. This novel, like all of Jane Austen's novels, is highly diverting and captivating. Austen manages to inject both life and character into the most mundane elements of everyday life. Persuasion is Austen's last finished novel. To those of you out of the literary loop, it may be surprising to realise that this novel, last written but not last published, makes up a total of 6 finished novels. On these 6 novels alone rests Austen's reputation as one of the finest female writers in
this country. It is all but impossible to suppose that "Persuasion" (or indeed any of the other novels) could disappoint as a picture of late 18th century life, as a picture of modern life, as a snapshot of society or as a highly entertainly story. There is nothing you could say about one of Austen's novel that could not apply to them all; the stories may change but the attractions remain the same. Read it - read them all.
Differing from Austen's other novels in adopting a more sober tone, this one describes the ordeals of Anne Elliot, who has been persuaded by her family to reject Captain Wentworth. The novel opens several years later, when she is 27 and still unattached.