Monday, June 29, 2020

Book Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Author:  Jane Austen
Publisher:  Sweet Water Press (2018) (first  published 1818)
260 pages
Genre:  Classic

First Line:  "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."

Anne Elliot is the daughter of Sir Walter Elliot.  She is the middle of three daughters.  Only the youngest daughter, Mary, has married and made a home away from Kellynch Hall.  

Eight years ago, Anne was betrothed to Captain Frederick Wentworth.  However, she was persuaded by Lady Russell, her friend and mother figure, that such a match was not in her best interest and broke off the engagement.  Soon afterward Captain Wentworth left the country.  Anne regretted the break up immediately.  She has never stopped loving him.  

Anne's father can no longer afford to pay for Kellynch Hall and decides to move the family to Bath.  It is decided that Kellynch Hall will be let to Admiral Croft and his wife, who happens to be the sister of Captain Wentworth.  Will Anne cross paths with Captain Wentworth?  Will he still have feelings for her?

My thoughts:  This is a short novel, but very well done.  I often find it takes several chapters before I can get into a Jane Austen novel.  The first few chapters often leave me feeling lost.  This one did as well, but once I got the hang of who all the characters were I found the chapters to be succinct and well paced.

I really like the character of Anne Elliot.  She stands in stark contrast to the other members of her family.  She is sensible, kind and often serving others. While her father and Elizabeth are quite vain and Mary is silly and excitable.  

Captain Wentworth is portrayed as a good, honest, caring man.  However, his behavior is confusing at times.  There is that tension often found in romance stories of neither party being able to tell the other how they feel.  But when he and Anne finally talk, Captain Wentworth explains his confusing behavior, which was satisfying.


"Captain Harville was no reader; but he had contrived excellent accommodations, and fashioned very pretty shelves, for a tolerable collection of well-bound volumes, the property of Captain Benwick."

"He was evidently a young man of considerable taste in reading, though principally in poetry; and besides the persuasion of having given him at least an evening's indulgence in the discussion of subjects, which his usual companions had probably no concern in, she had the hope of being of real use to him in some suggestions as to the duty and benefit of struggling against affliction, which had naturally grown out of their conversation."

"One man's ways may be as good as another's, but we all like our own best; and so you must judge for yourself, whether it would be better for you to go about the house or not."

"Everybody has their taste in noises as well as in other matters; and sounds are quite innoxious or most distressing, by their sort rather than their quantity."

"A submissive spirit might be patient, a strong understanding would supply resolution, but here was something more; here was that elasticity of mind, that disposition to be comforted, that power of turning readily from evil to good, and of finding employment which carried her out of herself, which was from nature alone."

"Here and there, human nature may be great in times of trial; but, generally speaking, it is its weakness and not its strength that appears in a sick-chamber:  it is selfishness and impatience, rather than generosity and fortitude, that one hears of."

"'They come on the Admiral's account.  He is thought to be gouty.'
'Gout and decrepitude!' said Sir Walter.  'Poor old gentleman!'"

"If I was wrong in yielding to persuasion once, remember that it was to persuasion exerted on the side of safety, not of risk."

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