Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Jane Austen is always a good experience for me. And Persuasion has been no exception. However, I don't think this book lives up to her other novels. Although intriguing, much less intriguing; witty, but not as witty as expected. In my mind, the bar is set very high for Miss Austen, as I have seen what delights she is capable of. This is not Jane Austen at her best.

Anne is a good girl, an obedient daughter, and, let’s face it, a boring, backbone-less character. Next to her silly siblings and friends, certainly we like her the best, but if there’d been an Elizabeth Bennett among the party. . . Anne wouldn’t have had a fighting chance at “favorite character.” But, she is not without some virtue. There’s nothing worse than thwarted love for the sake of duty, followed by burning, torturing regret. Anne carries this regretful spirit and suppression with dignity. She is not happy, but she’s not sad—she’s empty. Nothing in her life makes sense, and she doesn’t fight it. She’s hopeful, yet consigned. When her lost love +/-
returns and shows interest in another—a younger, livelier, more beautiful woman—Anne retreats and hides her secret longing. She doesn’t let the feeling overwhelm her and pushes forward, no matter how much her heart fights against it. Her face is perfect serenity, while her heart aches with pain. Sufficeth to say, though she bears her cross without complaint, she will not be so easily persuaded again. Endurance is the theme, perhaps too well driven home. And her Captian Wentworth did not steal my heart.

Really, I am being too severe. Overall, I loved the book (How could I not, I ask you, as an Austin fan?), even with it's flaws. The story is still compelling, and we are still waiting on hold every moment to see if Wentworth will really ignore her and move on with his life with someone new, or if he’ll come back to the woman he once loved so well. Perhaps if Austen has been permitted to stay on earth a little longer, she would’ve had time to smooth out these problems. As it is, I would much rather have read this book than not.

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