by Jane Austen
Link: Amazon | Powell’s
You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.
Jane Austen does a spectacular job of injecting societal criticisms within a romance story. If one is looking for romance, there is plenty to find in Persuasion. If you look deeper, Austen uses her protagonist, Anne Elliot to think and say out loud how society is holding her back from what she wants to do with her life. It starts with her father and sisters, extends to her good friend, Lady Russell, and onto her interactions with people at her country house and in the city.
Persuasion is about Anne Elliot, who is the typical middle child that is ignored by both her sisters and father, unless they want something from her. Her father, Sir Walter Elliot, is extremely vain. In order to put up appearances, he has put the family on the brink of bankruptcy but refuses to change his spending habits. Her oldest sister is cold and distant while her youngest one is an attention seeker. No one outside their family much cares for any of them except Anne. She does not realize this since she assumes everyone is ignoring her. Eight years ago, she was engaged to a naval officer named Frederick Wentworth. At the time, military men were not deemed very high class, so her friend, Lady Russell, persuaded Anne to break off the engagement since she knew her father would not go for it. He would not think a navy man could provide for his daughter and was not the right class. Now, Wentworth has come back into her life as a wealthy successful captain. Shockingly, he is still single. The novel goes through a series of events where Anne tries to avoid Wentworth since it pains her to see him, since she assumes he hates her after breaking his heart many years ago.
Austen writing is clever, funny, sarcastic and biting. Her descriptions of Sir Walter Elliot’s ridiculous actions made me chuckle every time he showed up, even though he was a loathsome character. I also enjoyed the feminist slant she had when she would bring up double standards towards women of the time, and some of them are still being used today.
I do wish more dialogue had been used in the story. I felt the parts with dialogue were stronger at getting Austen’s various points across. This was a pleasure to read though.