August 9, 2013
Persuasion by Jane Austen (Review)
Author: Jane Austen
First published: 1817
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The Elliots is a proud but now quite broken family of English land owners. Walter Elliot is an appearance-obsessed widower with three daughters, only one of whom has managed to marry, and no sons to inherit his estate. The eldest daughter, Elizabeth, has become the mistress of the house at the age of 13, after her mother's death, and it has not improved her character. Besides, being 28 she now has little or no chance to marry. Anne Elliot, the main heroine, is now 26. 8 years ago she was engaged to an officer, but was persuaded to break the engagement because of his lack of money and position. She hasn't married since, and now she is to be trialed with meeting her fiancee, now rich and successful, again while staying with her younger married sister Mary, an owner of a whining and hypochondriac character.
Persuasion is a bit different from the other Austen novels I've read, mainly because the heroine is older, is supposed to have lost all her charms (at 26!!! Now this is shocking!), and have quite some history. This makes her a good observer and a skeptic rather than an easily-excited girl. Living in such a shallow family, it is surprising how she could get such a good understanding and tolerance, but she has, and it makes her a great narrator.
The usual Austen humour is of course present too: the book is full of mockery towards the notions and ways of rural aristocracy, and some of the situations made me laugh out loud, especially the ones including Mary's scheming. But there are also some beautiful moments in the book, one of which is the relations between Admiral and Mrs. Croft, who consciously choose to spend time together, seem to care about each other and are generally an example of a happy family.
In my book:
Persuasion is a bit inferior to Pride and Prejudice for me, but then what can equal it at all? :) However, it is a very nice and decent book, a comfort read of sorts, written with Jane Austen's brilliant wit and inimitable skill.