Persuasion: Part One (By an Austen Convert)

Does anyone else just hate this book cover? This is the cover to the edition I’m actually reading (as opposed to sometimes when I just post whichever cover I think the prettiest), and I think it makes Anne look so…dowdy! And that nose?! I know Anne is supposed to be somewhat on the plain side, and I’m assuming this rather unfortunate looking female is supposed to be Anne, but I never thought she was supposed to be that, well, plain! Most of this might be because I absolutely adore Anne, and think better of her than do of many other of Austen’s heroines!

Let me just begin by saying that my love for Jane Austen has never ran particularly deep. I’ve always loved Pride and Prejudice, of course, and because of this enrolled in a class my sophomore year of college that was completely devoted to her works. This was, of course, also the semester I enrolled in my Shakespeare class, my British Literature survey course, and a course on magical realism. These classes were FANTASTIC. But coupled with the attention that I’ve found Jane Austen required, and the demands of all of those other courses at the same time, but I found myself just not reading the books, hating the discussions, and getting by in the class by my charm and the skin of my ‘writes essays well under pressure’ teeth. Since then, I’ve just always had trouble with Lady Jane, and I knew taking on this section of my master list might take some deeper persuasion *PUN!! PUNNY PUN PUNS!!*. Anyway, my first plan of attack was to pick a work I knew (or remembered) relatively little about, as this would give me the chance to read it with a clean slate. After reading some other reviews around the blogoverse, I decided that Persuasion was what I needed for my springy mood and this place in my life! I picked up the book and, with a pen in hand (a habit I reserve for me “serious” reading!), found that when I give it the dedication it deserves, I’m loving Austen’s work more and more!

It’s so tragic that the intervening of meddling but well meaning adults has such tragic consequences from the beginning of the couple’s relationship onward! It’s a great example of the dichotomies that Austen develops throughout the work, trade offs of things like influence versus feelings, wisdom versus judgement, money versus passion, and ultimately self versus others. It’s taken me some time to tease it out (as I’m only half way through the book, and I like to take my time to really absorb and comment on what I’m reading, including the wonderful notes in the back of my Penguin edition) and I’m not entirely sure I’ve gotten it all hammered out, but they are opposing themes I’ve having fun looking for underneath it all. SIDE NOTE: having taken the class on Jane Austen has left me with REALLY lovely annotated editions of all her novels and her juvenile works.

Now that I’ve gotten my one “analysis” attempt over with, it’s time to tell you that, up to the second half, I’m really not liking this new Wentworth! I mean, I know he’s been jilted, and it sucks that right after that happened he made is fortune and that Anne totally missed out on that. But still! She’s able to see the good in him, and yet he’s all “make Anne do it” and “wouldn’t it be great if Anne stayed behind with the sick whiny boy” and “Oh, Louisa, let me bounce you down the steps like a toddler”. It’s a little gross and I want back the dashing, romantic, well spoken and perfectly hero-esque Austen man that was with Anne the first time around! This also brings me to the point where Louisa takes her tumble and EVERYONE is just like

And it just perfectly reminds me of how much I always love Austen’s swooning ninny females and the frantic ‘chicken-sans-head’ mothers that she seems to give us in every novel! I’m not sure what that says about what Austen thought of women in general (and women without money in particular, as this is what seems to be the case for a majority for her characters) but it sure does make for some pretty epic comic relief!

Before finishing, I want to mention that I’m absolutely adoring Anne. I think it’s so sad and tragic (and totally par for the course where Austen’s heroines are concerned) that she is so misused and disliked by her family when, really, she is such an example of loyalty and devotion to those around her. I hate that she hates her life, and I wish that Wentworth could just get over it so that the two of them could be happy and together and she could finally be with someone who loves and deserves her. So far, the only promising solution other than that is this Mr. Benwick fellow, and from what I know of Austen, I’m sure there is something we don’t know about him yet. I’m looking forward to the second half immensely, and really crossing my fingers for a romantic Austen ending!

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