I shall begin by declaring that Jane Austen means the world to me. When the world gets a little too heavy, I find myself yearning for the comfortable familiarity of Jane Austen’s books, and the wonderful assortment of characters she’s blessed us with. I won’t delve in too deep, but when I wrote Dear Jane, I truly meant every word of it. So when the next prompt I choose for the RWC 2021 was to re-read a favourite, I knew it had to be an Austen.
Pride and Prejudice might be Jane Austen’s most popular book (and rightfully so), but let’s talk about Persuasion, which in my humble opinion is her most mature and finest work.
Unlike her other books which feature young, charming and witty heroines, in Persuasion, we meet Anne Elliot, who at 27 (ridiculously young by todays standard) is considered to be old and beyond her prime, having lost her youth, her charm and her bloom.
Once deeply in love with Frederick Wentworth, she was persuaded by her older friend Lady Russell to end that engagement owing to Wentworth’s social standing. Eight years on, she is now lonely and introspective and almost always overlooked by her sister and her embarrassingly vain father.
However, life does tend to offer second chances, and when Anne’s paths cross with Wentworth again, eight years after having broken his heart, will she let the ‘Elliot Pride’ get in the way or find another chance at love?
Each time I have read Persuasion, I have found something new to admire and reflect upon. Perhaps that is the beauty of timeless works such as these and also why I have very strong feelings about Persuasion being so underrated.
This time on reading Persuasion, it was Anne’s inner musings that stood out for me. Unlike Lizzy Bennet who is witty and delightful, Anne is quiet, introspective and spends most of her time observing and reflecting upon the behaviours of her friends and family. These inner thoughts form a crucial part of Persuasion, being used by Austen as a medium to comment on the social structure, classism and idiosyncrasies of Victorian England.
That being said, the gradual romance, the simmering tension, and the ‘will they won’t they’ between Anne and Captain Wentworth never fails to make my heart skip a beat. The rush of first love might be preferred by some, but I’ll take a slow burn romance any day.
Darcy’s proposals might be iconic, but how can one not help but swoon at ‘You pierce my soul. I am half agony half hope’ </3
And there lies the beauty of Persuasion. It might be too melancholic for some, but for me, it is my most favourite Austen ever!
The Reading Women Challenge – Total Prompts Completed 5 / 24
- A book with a rural setting
- A book with a cover designed by a woman
- A fantasy novel by an Asian author
- A book by a Neurodivergent author
- Reread a favourite