Review | Persuasion: by Jane Austen

I am a true fan of Jane Austen. I read and reread her novels. Her leading female characters are strong and independent thinkers. While conforming with much of early nineteenth century British society, they challenge the “proper and acceptable” position expected of women. Anne Elliot, in “Persuasion”, is no exception. It is no wonder that Austen’s words continue to speak to us in the twenty-first century. Austen’s plot lines are timeless. Her final home, in Chawton, England, draws Austen fans to visit and inspired Natalie Jenner to write “The Jane Austen Society” in 2020. Austen is a master.

Austen compresses the social debates in her novel into one term – persuasion. There are no juxtapositions as in “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice”. Persuading someone on a certain course always assumes future and forward actions not yet accomplished. There is life changing risk involved. Consequently, the responsibility of persuasion is great.

Lady Russell warns Anne Elliot, at the young age of nineteen, not to pursue an engagement to Frederick Wentworth. It would be an engagement that would last a number of years, until Wentworth establishes certainty of financial independence. Lady Russell’s “persuasive” instruction is falsely well intended. She sees the engagement as youth killing for Anne, however, after being persuaded to decline the engagement, Anne’s youth is killed anyway. The novel is Anne’s story at the age of twenty seven.She is unmarried. Her family is moving in order to lower their expenses and get out of debt. Wars come to an end putting sailors on shore. Anne’s future appears to be one of waiting on her image-obsessed father and extravagant older sister. Frederick Wentworth reenters Anne’s life, after an eight year absence. Can dead affection be revived?

Austen referred to Anne Elliot in one a her letters as, “A heroine who is almost too good for me.”

Many believe “Persuasion” may be Austen’s most romantic story. However, it is far from frivolous in it’s dealings with pain, loss, the past and memory.

The city of Bath, England, inspired Austen’s setting for “Persuasion”. Austen made Bath her home, from 1801 – 1806. She was unwell and perhaps hoped the restorative spa resort would improve her health. The city was thriving and popular with fashionable society.

“Persuasion was written in a race against failing health in 1815 -1816. Along with “Northanger Abbey”, Persuasion was published postumously in 1817, the year of Austen”s death.

Jane Austen personally knew of broken engagements. She loved and was loved by a young clergyman who died. She never married.

Published by Audrey Newhall

I am an avid reader and contributor to Penna Book Reviews

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