Persuasion by Jane Austen

Back in September, I took part in The Classics Club’s 21st Spin event, for which my result was to re-read the wonderful Persuasion by Jane Austen. Having loved all of Austen’s finished novels, I took the opportunity, when creating my new list for the club, to include them all for a re-read.

I was thrilled with my result, as Persuasion, published posthumously in 1817 after her untimely death, is one of my favourite of Austen’s novels: being in turns both achingly sad and intensely beautiful. It is a true Cinderella story of the quiet, diligent and kindhearted Anne Elliot, who is overlooked by her vain father and selfish sisters. Anne is perhaps Austen’s most adult heroine, who while she is not as witty or feisty as Lizzy Bennett or Emma Woodhouse, I think it is hard not to like her and sympathise with her. Some might want her to be more forthright, but I admire her loyalty and thoughtfulness and she is strong in her own way.

A young, pretty Anne had a real chance for happiness when she and the dashing Frederick Wentworth fell madly in love, but her snobbish family and good friend Lady Russell persuaded her to break off their engagement, as they believed the young naval officer wasn’t good enough for the daughter of a baronet. A decision that Anne comes to deeply regret. Eight years pass, as Anne thrifts away her youth and bloom in service to her demanding father and sisters, whose pride, vanity and lavish spending has brought the family to near ruin.

Meanwhile Wentworth – now a successful, wealthy naval captain, looking for a wife – walks back into her life, as his sister and her husband, Admiral Croft take tenancy of Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate, which Anne’s family can no longer afford to run. Emotions run high as the former lovers are forced into awkward society together. Does he still love her? Can he ever forgive her? Could they ever be happy together again? Then throw into the mix the young, pretty and exuberant Musgrove sisters to turn his head, and the appearance of the handsome, prodigal heir, Mr Elliot to test Anne’s family loyalty.

All in all, I think Persuasion is a beautiful, delicate and heartbreaking classic about love lost and love won. All written with Austen’s careful, ironic observations on the people, etiquette and society of Regency England. Which made for a wonderfully comforting re-read – getting re-acquainted with its characters was like meeting up with old friends. Great read.

I’d love to hear your thoughts: Have you read this? What do you think? Have you read any of Jane Austen’s other wonderful novels?

 

This is book #12 for my Classics Club II.

25 thoughts on “Persuasion by Jane Austen

  1. As I hope to reread all the Austen novels in published order sometime in the future I fear it will be some time before I get to Persuasion but, as many of the comments above suggest, it has I believe a special quality to it (https://wp.me/s2oNj1-elliots). But first I want to finish the juvenilia and the incomplete novels such as Sanditon and The Watsons. Ditto for the Brontës!

    1. Hello Calmgrove, thank you for stopping by and commenting. 🙂 I have to agree Persuasion really does have a special quality to it and I hope it won’t be too long before you can enjoy a re-read of it. I also recently got my hands on a collection of Austen’s shorter/incomplete works, which I am hoping to start reading soon.

  2. What a lovely review Jessica. You had me aching to know what happened at the end. I have read Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility. Three to go!

  3. I think I mentioned before that this is my younger daughter’s favorite Austen novel. She likes the plot and the maturity of the heroine. I feel sure when I finally get around to reading one of Austen’s novels, it will be this one. I’m glad you really enjoyed revisiting this one. 🙂

  4. I re-read this one a couple of years ago and although it’s not my favourite Austen, I appreciated the more thoughtful mature heroine, Anne, and sympathised with her situation. Captain Wentworth on the other hand is not a patch on my Darcy… 😉

    1. Although not your favourite FF, it is good to hear you still appreciate the mature, thoughtful Anne and her sympathetic situation. Haha I have to agree that Captain Wentworth is not my favourite Austen hero either, that honour has to go to the dependable Mr Knightley 😉

    1. Hello Anne, thank you for stopping by and commenting. Always nice to hear from a new face. 🙂 I hope you enjoy your re-read of this as much as me and that helps you decide which is your ultimate favourite. I find myself caught between this and Sense and Sensibility for my ultimate favourite. 😀

  5. My favourite Austen too. I so enjoy watching Anne blossom into a strong, independent woman capable of grabbing love with open arms. I also love the time spent in Lyme Regis in particular, especially now that I’ve had my own walk along the Cobb (minus a Louisa Musgrove mishap!)

    1. Brona, I am so pleased to hear this is also so many other people’s favourite Austen, particularly has it tends to get overlooked for Pride and Prejudice. I haven’t been to Lyme Regis, but I would really like to. 🙂

  6. In some ways, I think Persuasion is probably the most gentle of Austen’s novels. I’ve always liked Anne, as she is quiet like Fanny Price and Elinor Dashwood, but with a bit more charm and maturity. I also got a little tearful the first time I read it and reached the letter at the end. A real comfort read.

    1. Alyson, this really is a gentle, comforting read and I was certainly tearful the first time I read it too. And, Anne and Elinor Dashwood are my two favourite Austen’s heroines. 🙂

  7. I think it is my favourite Austen – definitely a great read.

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