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Persuasion - Jane Austen
Member Name: dawnymarie
Persuasion - Jane Austen
Advantages: It's an Austen classic - it was a pleasure to read
Disadvantages: Took a few pages to adjust to the sentence structure
Easily enticed to read this one...
I have read Pride and Prejudice and; of course, I loved it. This prompted me to read another of Jane Austen's works and after reading positive reviews I decided on this one. Easy to get hold of, as it is considered to be a classic, I purchased and anticipated a good read.
The middle sister of three is Anne Elliot, daughter of Sir Elliot who considers himself of some importance in society. Much overlooked since her beloved mother died, Anne, is deemed a no hoper in the marriage stakes and her father devotes all of his time and effort to her older sister, Elizabeth. Good friend and mother figure to Anne, Lady Russell, despairs of her treatment and takes on a nurturing role. Lady Russell deems herself such a good judge of character that she persuades Anne to break off her relationship to the love of her life, Mr Frederick Wentworth. The separation of the two young lovers proves to cause much suffering, he goes to sea and she remains with Lady Russell in silent contemplation. Some eight years later their paths cross again, both older and wiser and both still hurting. Pride, expectation and circumstance now stand in their way - can love win through?
The Jane Austen experience...
Opening the pages of a classic novel, when I have currently been reading modern works, was initially a challenge and when only a couple of pages in to the story I wondered if I would be able to get into it. The structure of sentences are very different and the introduction of Sirs and Ladies was a task to remember. I did continue, to my delight, and once I got going I found that I was easily remembering who was who and getting into the structure of composition.
I had an idea of the plot and the likely outcome early on in the prose but it was the journey and development of the protagonists that I was interested in. I was also in the mood for a boy gets girl ending and felt sure that was what was in store for me here. That is what I hoped.
Anne is the overlooked sister who is overshadowed by the perceived beauty and mind, energy and grace of her older sister, Elizabeth. Also coming a meagre third in ranking to her sickly younger sister, Mary, who married a man who preferred Anne but was declined. Elizabeth's traits soon became clear and her pride and importance were prized above anything else. I didn't warm to her at all as she was so materialistic and proud. Much like her father who also never gained my interest as he was so vain and judgemental of others. Mary I warmed to a little bit but she was selfish and insecure. Mary put her own feelings and wellbeing before anyone else's and had little regard for Anne, she placed great demand on Anne for attention and company but had no interest in her happiness and thought Anne very unimportant.
Anne's character was developed beautifully. She was easily persuaded and influenced in the beginning of the prose and is only very young when she is parted from Mr Wentworth. She placed faith in Mrs Russell and thought that she knew best. She had an element of pride and judgement but, importantly, she had compassion and she slowly began to develop strength of character that allowed her to maintain her gentle nature but put her point across well. People soon began to rely on her to know what to do in challenging situations and she was wanted for the first time after being shunned by her father and sisters.
The prose has a great emphasis on the importance of a person, what class they are in, family connections and wealth. This being a tool to work out if they are worthy of invitations to parties or social events. Expectations and, of course, persuasion are themes that you would expect with the class structure of the families in the prose. It was interesting, though frustrating, to imagine being restricted and judged by others in relation to your acquaintances - being scrutinised to see if you were being seen in areas and with people who where worthy of the family importance.
When Mr Wentworth is young he is considered by Lady Russell as a bad match for Miss Elliot, he was a nobody with nothing to offer. Came from no significant wealth or fame, nothing else for it only to end the relationship. Now that he is Captain Wentworth, a classy looking man who has made his money at sea over the last eight years he is gradually accepted and even seen as a possible suitor for Miss Elizabeth. Surprising what money can achieve. He is the same man with the same morals and ethics but now has a title and wealth so he can be accepted into the special circle of society that he was excluded from previously. Though this is pretentious it is also believable and the development of Mr Wentworth in his new role and importance is developed with precision. He comes across as a very attractive suitor for one of the Elliot girls now.
I was happy to see the pair meet up and have uncomfortable moments - in which emotions of anger and joy were described between Frederick and Anne. These emotions were felt within themselves more so than towards each other and on Anne's part anger was not an emotion that she was familiar with. It was understandable that Mr Wentworth would feel this mix of emotions and even deny himself a second chance with the love of his life, he feared rejection again.
The appropriate inclusion of a love rival in the form of Mr Elliot, a cousin of Anne, Mary and Elizabeth, ensured that there were plenty of temptations and attention given to Anne. All is not what it seems with this fellow and Anne knows it - she is not willing to fall into his arms easily. But he will give chase as he is used to getting what he wants. Austen developed this man into a well rounded character and he added intrigue and interest to the prose. I was always left wondering about his past and what his intentions were, he was mysterious and I liked it.
There are many other characters who add interest, most remain two dimensional but that was more than sufficient otherwise I may have found it distracted from the story - which, after all, is why I was reading the book.
There was not as much passion as I would have liked but that doesn't mean that the prose was lacking as it still held my attention. The pace was good and especially nearing the end - I could not put it down.
I'm not saying whether my hopes of a happy outcome came to fruition - that is for you to guess or find out for yourself, if you don't already know. What I will say is that the ending of this story was satisfactory with all loose ends tied up.
I really enjoyed this book and am glad that I stuck with it, though I have to say that it does not compare to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice or to Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, both of which evoked much more passion in my opinion.
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This is a fine piece of writing and it was a pleasure to read. Initially, I was doubtful of continuing due to the style and structure of writing and the number of characters to remember by title. After a few pages went by I was reacquainted with this author and settled in to enjoy the developments and challenges in Anne Elliot's life. I warmed to Anne quickly and felt empathy for her. Mr Wentworth made a worthy hero and the villain of the prose, Mr Elliot filled his role well. A bit of mystery came into the prose when Mr Elliot entered into the equation and I was very interested in his history and current motives. I felt I needed to put more effort into reading this book and it provoked much thought as I carried on - I liked that though. I can highly recommend this book, though it is not in the league of Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering Heights - they are both held dear in my heart though so I am biased towards them.
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Summary: I could be persuaded to read this again in the future