Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion (quoted directly from The Free Dictionary by Farlex):

1. The act of persuading or the state of being persuaded.
2. The ability or power to persuade.
3. A strongly held opinion; a conviction.
4. a. A body of religious beliefs
b. A party, faction, or group holding to a particular set of ideas or beliefs.

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Dover, 1997 (originally published in 1817)
Fiction; 188 pgs

Completed: 09/05/2007
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage, there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt, as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century—and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he cold read his own history with an interest to which never failed—this was the page at which the favourite volume always opened:


Reason for Reading: This is my 2nd selection for the Saturday Review of Books Challenge (recommended by Barbara H), my 2nd for the Classics Challenge, and my 1st for the Book to Movie Challenge. This is my third Jane Austen novel. I have also read Pride and Prejudice and Emma, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Comments: Jane Austen's novels are comfort reads for me, I'm discovering. I can see myself reading and rereading them time and time again. Heck, I've read Pride and Prejudice a couple of times--and rereading books for me is rare. I love the banter between the characters and Jane Austen's style of writing. Her stories are relatively simple on the surface and yet meaningful and complex upon closer examination. Persuasion proved true to form.

On the surface, Persuasion is a love story but digging a little deeper, it is a novel that touches on the classism and elitism of the times. The novel also captures the different definitions of persuasion and questions its importance and value in every day life.

Anne Elliot is one of three sisters, her father being Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall. Facing hard times, Sir Elliot and his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, agree that a move a smaller home in Bath would be the best solution, and so they make arrangements to let their family home in Somersetshire to the respectable Admiral Croft and his wife.

The eldest Elliot daughter is Elizabeth, who took on the role of the lady of the house upon her mother’s death during the sisters’ childhood. She and her father are very close, relying on each other’s confidence and advice. Elizabeth and Sir Elliot share many of the same prejudices and opinions of those they think are beneath them. Neither pays much attention or puts much stock in the usefulness of Anne herself. Mary, the youngest of the Elliot children, is married to Charles Musgrove, a person whom Elizabeth in particular feels is beneath their family. Mary proves to be a bit of a hypochondriac and is quick to find fault with her situation and those around her. This in part stems from her own insecurities no doubt.

Another major player in Anne’s life, the one with the most influence over her is the widow Lady Russell. It was Lady Russell’s opinion that in the end persuaded Anne against marrying Captain Wentworth when first Anne and he met and enjoyed a brief romance. Lady Russell as well as Sir Elliot and Elizabeth felt that Frederick Wentworth was below Anne, not worthy of her hand in marriage. He owned no land, had not enough money, seemed not to be well-connected and appeared to have little to offer. It was with great sadness and broken hearts on both sides that the two parted.

And yet they would meet again several years later when Admiral Croft, his wife, Sophia, and Sophia’s brother, Captain Wentworth, visit the Musgroves, where Anne is staying for a couple of months to be near her sister, Mary and her family. Frederick’s anger and frustration toward Anne is renewed, and Anne more fully realizes what a mistake she made in letting herself be persuaded out of marrying the only man she has ever loved. In typical Austen fashion, the story is not so simple as that. Both have won the affections of others and their own feelings may not ever be reconciled with the other.

Anne is often lauded as the best liked of the Austen heroines. Her gentle nature, intelligence, practical attitude and thoughtfulness quickly won me over. She lacks a bit of the spirit that Lizzy and Emma, two other of Jane Austen’s heroines, share, however, that is in no way a bad thing. For Anne is her own person and earns her place as a heroine to be admired on other accounts.

I very much enjoyed Persuasion and can see why it is a favorite among Jane Austen fans. As the last book ever written by Jane Austen, and published posthumously by her brother, Persuasion is a fine farewell for an author who has a true gift for storytelling and getting her message across.

Favorite Parts: There were many parts of this novel that I enjoyed, including the way Anne took over when Louisa Musgrove was hurt in Lyme, the discussion between Mary and her husband over which of the Musgrove sisters Frederick liked most, and the banter between Frederick and his sister as they argued over whether women belong on ships or not.

Anne by far was my favorite character. I could relate to her on many levels, sharing many of her values and ideals—and even some of her faults.

Miscellaneous: We went to see Rush Hour 3 this past Monday. It was a fun movie to watch, nothing special or memorable. It was a way to stay out of this humid and hot weather we’ve been having.

Now I am anxiously awaiting the movie version of Persuasion (the one starring Amanda Root) to arrive in the mail from Netflix. Hurry, hurry, hurry!


  1. Persuasion is a great book. I reread it a few years ago but you're making me want to read it again. I've actually been feeling that way about all her books.
    I'm looking forward to seeing the new version of Persuasion that aired on tv earlier this year in the UK.

  2. I really need to read a Jane Austen, I have only ever read Pride and Prejudice and that was a few years ago.

  3. I've added your review to the Book to Movie listing. I've never been interested in Jane Austen's books but then I've never given one a chance yet either. Not sure what it is about them that just doesn't interest me.

  4. Great review! I've had this one on my TBR for a longgg time now. I think it's time I bumped it up. If I can find it in all the boxes, that is.

  5. Tanabata - I really enjoyed it. I didn't know there was a newer version out. I'll have to check that one out too.

    Kailana - If I hadn't reread Pride an Prejudice, I might not have bothered with her other books. I admit the first time I read P&P, I wasn't too impressed. The second time was the charm though and now it's one of my favorites.

    Callista - Thanks! I feel that way about some authors too, just not interest in them even though they may be well known or popular. And I never really know why that is; just as you said, sometimes a book or author just doesn't interest me.

    Andi - Thank you! I hope you enjoy it when you read it. :-)

  6. I've really got to read Persuasion. Great review!

  7. That's quite a long first sentence! I didn't like Persuasion quite as much as her others. But can you believe I haven't read Pride and Prejudice yet?

  8. Great review, Wendy! And what a nice cover, I like it.

    I've not read a Jane Austen's novel yet, but I will soon. I've heard many great reviews about her works.

  9. Thank you Carrie K and Melody! :-)

    Alisia - It is a very long first sentence! Haha Pride and Prejudice is still my favorite of the three I've read by Austen. We'll see how it holds up when I get to the rest of her books.

  10. This is the first Jane Austen book I ever read. I really enjoyed it alot!

    Great review!

  11. Great book - liked it alot when I read it last year and your review makes me want to dig it up again for a reread already!

  12. Stephanie - Thank you. :-) It is a great book.

    Heather - Jane Austen's books seem perfect for rereading. I definitely want to reread this one someday.

  13. I read that long time back. Time to re-read it. I am re-reading a lot of classics right now.

    Persuasion is a very good book to re-read.

    Thanks for recalling it for me!

  14. Woah! You seriously met a lot of goals in reading this one book!

    It's been a long time since I've read this book. I don't remember liking it very much but I think that was because P&P was overshadowing it. I really ought to give it another chance.

    Maybe next year I'll get around to doing the whole, "Read every book that author X ever wrote" thing, in which case Austen would definitely be on my list!

    Thanks for the review.

  15. I came over from Semicolon's and was surprised to see my name mentioned! I'm glad you enjoyed my review. I enjoyed yours, too.

    I have to admit that first sentence of the book itself would have squelched my interest if I had not already seen the film version and knew what was coming.

  16. I'm glad you enjoyed Persuasion - I think you will really like the film.

  17. Gautami Tripathy - I think it would be a good one to reread. I'll probably wait a while before I do read it again though. Thanks for stopping by!

    Carrie - I decided to try and simplify my reading/challege life a little. LOL

    It will be interested to see how the books compare if you do decide to read them all next year. I've noticed that Austen definitely has certain hallmarks that appear in every book.

    Barbara H. - Thanks, Barbara! Your review inspired me to read this one sooner than I had planned. :-)

    I agree about the first sentence. It is off-putting.

    Tara - Thanks, Tara! I'm looking forward to seeing the movie. It arrived in the mail, and now it's just a matter of getting my husband interested.

  18. Persuasion is one of my all-time favorite books, and the movie you're waiting for is great, too! Enjoy!

  19. Gentle Reader - I can see why it is one of your favorites. It's very good. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie. :-)

  20. While I've only read Pride and Prejudice and most of Emma (had to put it down when I went back to grad school and still haven't picked it back up yet), this is the book I know the least about. You're review is very encouraging - I'm glad you liked this book so much!

  21. Although Persuasion was sitting on my TBR shelf along with some other of Jane Austen's novels, I think my first real interest in it was sparked with the mention of it in the movie Lake House. Anne doesn't quite have the spark that Emma and Lizzy have, but I really do like her character.


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