Review: Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”

by writereaderly

One might say this was a gentle rendering of the return of hope to a frozen heart. The beauty of this book doesn’t lie in the happily-ever-after plot (Anne Elliott’s rejected love Frederick Wentworth returns after eight years, and behold, they’re still in love), but in the delicate expression of Anne’s opening to long-lost possibility. Jane Austen’s last novel, it is considerably more sedate and introspective than her bouncier first writings. It was a pleasure to read, although it took me a while to sink into an Austen that was not P&P or its alter-ego P&P&Zombies (known and loved inside out). What I found really striking was the limited opportunities courting swains and damsels had for conversation and self-revelation: Anne makes her entire judgement that she is still beloved based on an analysis of 20 minutes of conversation at a crowded concert. The language of implication (still far from innuendo), the sophisticated understanding of interlocutors and their emotional situations, both require great subtlety of communication and intent. Amazing. And how few those opportunities were, and how quickly people made choices for life-long “matches”! Online dating could stand to learn a few lessons, but never fear, ladies, there’s still hope for you if you’re single at the advanced age of 27. Worthy and recommended.

Where it came from: Opshop
Time & manner of reading: Waiting, bed and hitching reads over a day, with curiosity and attention
Where it went to: Undecided
Reminds me of: The luxury of modern openness
Who I’d recommend it to: Any ageing ladies in need of romantic hope 😉
Also reading: The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene; The Reivers by William Faulkner

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