Author: Jane Austen
First Published: 1818
Page Count: 131
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Though it feels a bit short and less dramatic than Austen’s other novels, Persuasion still tugs enough at your heart-strings to make it a worthy read against the rest of her work.
*Heartfelt Romance *Laughable Characters
*Little Dialogue *Meek Heroine *Dull Beginning
“She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.” Anne Elliot found in Captain Frederick Wentworth a man she would be more than happy to call her husband. However, after much persuasion from those close to her, she was talked into calling off the engagement as it seemed beneath her. Over five years pass before Anne and the Captain meet again by chance when his brother-in-law and sister rent out Anne’s father’s house. After so many years, could any feelings still exist between the two? Or was their chance at happiness destroyed when she called off the engagement many years ago?
There is nothing better than reading a Jane Austen novel at Christmas time. Luckily this book, like all the rest, delivers in the romance department and that makes for a truly cozy read on a rainy December day. The awkward yet adorable romance between Anne and Captain Wentworth drives the story. The reader is always questioning whether love can still exist between the two after all that has happened (although with Jane Austen we can pretty much guess the answer is yes). However, even if love does exist, how can one overcome the pain, damaged pride, and strange feeling they would feel seeing each other after so many years? Aside from romance, Austen always has a knack for making perfectly deplorable characters who add humor to the story. In this case, Anne’s family and acquaintances take on this role with their mortifying views on society, class, and of course marriage.
Unlike other Austen books I’ve read, this one felt like it took longer to set up the story before we really met Anne and Wentworth. It was slower in getting us to the heroine’s story, although once I met Anne Elliot I was not jumping for joy. She is extremely meek in that she does whatever everyone wants without any thanks; in fact it is almost assumed that she act as the rug the other characters wipe their feet on to put it in simplest terms. I’m not unfamiliar with this sort of heroine since Fanny Price of Mansfield Park had this same type of character, but I wasn’t fond of it in that book either. Both of their weaker personalities derive from their purely good characters, but it is a bit dull. Another aspect of the book that felt lacking was the dialogue between Anne and the Captain. Luckily the side glances and looks of longing were enough to make you feel the desire between both of them, but a few phrases of passionate dialogue could’ve gone a long way in really upping the romance.
This is not my favorite Austen novel by far, but it was surprisingly enjoyable considering the rocky start and the short feel of the story. I’d highly recommend it to any Austen lover, because it is a very simplistic example of the romance stories that we are so familiar with. And seeing as it’s so short, it would also be a great introduction to Austen’s work if you haven’t worked up the nerve to try it before.
*TV Adaptation: (Starring Sally Hawkins 2007), (Starring Ann Firbank 1971)
* Film Adaptation: (Starring Amanda Root 1995)