Monday, August 24, 2015
Persuasion, by Jane Austen
I think you can't go to England unless and until you brush up on your Jane Austen. Hence, I picked up Persuasion as I honestly can't remember when the last time was that I read it. It's entirely possible that I have never read it, although I do feel quite certain that I watched the BBC production.
Alas, our visit to England does not involve a visit to the Lake District for the simple reason that we lack the time. If we wish to see that, we'll have to go back again. (I have no objections to this idea.) Picking and choosing the places we most wanted to visit, I think you could consider our upcoming travels to be more history based than literary. Still, I maintain that you really can't consider a trip to England without reading some Austen.
Persuasion was a delightful read. I say that not being a devoted Austen fan. I tend to leave wide gaps between my Austen books but having just finished Persuasion I'm not totally sure why that is. My last read was Emma back in 2012. Three years! Mildly ridiculous. However it was a happy accident than I picked Persuasion without realizing that this was the novel that Austen wrote on the heels of completing Emma. Persuasion is also Austen's final, completed novel to write (but hopefully not mine to read).
Anne Elliot of Kellynch Hall is the main female character in this novel. She is 27 years old, unmarried and unloved by her widowed father or either of her ridiculous sisters. She has but one friend, a Lady Russell who was friends with Anne's deceased mother. Although Lady Russell might mean well, she had previously persuaded a 19-year old Anne to break off an engagement with the man she loved, Frederick Wentworth. At the time, Wentworth had no name and no connections. Lady Russell did not think him a suitable match. In his distress over the broken relationship and his determination to prove Lady Russell wrong, he went out into the world to seek his fortune and found it. Now these many years have passed and circumstances bring Anne and Frederick into the same society again and there is great tension over whether or not they will end up together again. This is Austen though which makes it entirely predictable. The joy is in Austen's ability to turn a phrase and fill her stories with deep emotion and great hilarity. She is altogether charming and reading her books are such a pleasure.
Not that I'm the world's greatst advocate for reading Austen, seeing that I leave such large gaps between my reads, but if you haven't read an Austen then do try one! Any will do. They are each fun in their own way. I'm glad to have spent some time with Austen again and I'm also glad to know that there are several additional titles that I still have to look forward to re-reading.