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Persuasion - Book Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published February 26th 2013
A Jane Austen Classic
Anne Elliot is the overlooked, 27-year-old middle daughter of the vain Sir Walter, a spendthrift baronet who is all too conscious of his good looks and rank. She is wholly unappreciated by him, her cold older sister Elizabeth and her fretful younger sister, Mary. Anne feels like time and youthful good looks have passed her by, and her feelings intensify when she is thrown into company with Captain Frederick Wentworth, the man whom she was persuaded to reject more than eight years ago.

Anne, then a lovely, thoughtful, warm-hearted 19-year-old, had accepted the proposal of marriage from the handsome, confident, and ambitious young naval officer Frederick Wentworth. But, due to his lack of connections or wealth, Sir Walter and Elizabeth deemed him unworthy of an Elliot and Anne was forced to break the engagement. When Anne re-encounters her former love, now titled and with wealth and reputation, she is suitably embarrassed and yet cannot forget her heart's attachment.

Persuasion (1817) Jane Austen
Persuasion (1817) Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane Austen was first published in late December, 1817 (1818 given on the title page), after Austen's death in July 1817. Both Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published posthumously, but whilst Persuasion is Jane Austen's last completed novel, completed in August 1816, Northanger Abbey is believed to be Austen's earliest completed work. Austen began writing Persuasion directly after finishing Emma (1815), whilst at the time of Northanger Abbey's completion, Austen had already started writing Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813), the first two of her manuscripts to be published and arguably her most famous works.

Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, linked though they are by the fact that the two books were originally bound up in one volume and published together, are also linked in setting: both stories are set partly in Bath, a fashionable city with which Jane Austen was well acquainted, having lived there from 1801 to 1805. Although Jane Austen is said to have disliked Bath, her heroines, Anne Elliot (Persuasion) and Catherine Morland (Northanger Abbey), enjoy the society and lifestyle that Bath brings them.

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 18 July 1817) was an English novelist who earned her name in English literature through her works of romantic fiction, set amongst the landed gentry. Austen's works display realism and social commentary that have cemented her historical importance among scholars and critics her works are 'classics'. Austen herself was part of a large family; she had six brothers and one sister; Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. Both Jane and her sister Cassandra were thoroughly educated by their father and brothers and died unmarried.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1804) Cassandra Austen

I enjoy reading classic novels and I enjoy Jane Austen Persuasion was no exception. Anne Elliot is a lovely, refined, sensitive heroine whom I enjoyed following through the story. Although Anne isn't fiery and unconventional like Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice, 1813), spoilt and self-satisfied like Emma Woodhouse (Emma, 1815) or gentle and curious like Catherine Morland (Northanger Abbey, 1817), she is a patient and reserved character/heroine whose love story I liked quite well. Persuasion has been said to have a slow pace at times, but the gradual build-up of the overarching love story allows for plenty of character development and alternate plot lines. If you enjoy classic novels, romance, the works of Jane Austen or you'd just like to try something new, I recommend Persuasion.

Persuasion (1817) Jane Austen
My personal copy of Persuasion (1817) by Jane Austen

Jane Austen's published novels:
Sense and Sensibility (1811)
Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Mansfield Park (1814)
Emma (1815)
Northanger Abbey (1817, posthumous)
Persuasion (1817, posthumous)

Northanger Abbey and Persuasion original title page
Northanger Abbey and Persuasion original title page
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Cost: From $9.95 for a paperback copy on QBD online.
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