Synopsis: Anne Elliot is the second of three daughters to the widowed baronet of Kellynch-hall, Sir Walter Elliot. At the age of twenty-seven, Anne is generally overlooked by her father and his favored eldest daughter, Elizabeth. Due to her father’s spendthrift ways, the Elliots are forced to let Kellynch-hall to an admiral and his wife; Sir Walter and Elizabeth take up residence in Bath, while Anne stays with her youngest sister and her family at the nearby Uppercross Hall.
Eight years prior to this misfortune, Anne was happily – and somewhat secretly – engaged to Frederick Wentworth; however, Anne was persuaded to break off the engagement by her friend and mother figure, Lady Russell, who believed him to be an unworthy match. Anne never recovered from the breakup, and remained quietly constant in her love for Wentworth over the next eight years.
When Wentworth unexpectedly returns as the wealthy and accomplished sea captain, Anne’s world is turned upside down. While she struggles to conceal her feelings and discern his, Anne has no reason to believe that Wentworth still loves her, yet still holds out hope.
Thoughts: Persuasion has been on my TBR list of Classics for quite some time, and fortunately, I was not disappointed in this one. As Austen’s last completed novel, Persuasion has her quintessential tone and style, yet also has a distinct maturity. I found myself comparing Persuasion to Pride and Prejudice throughout my reading, and while I think there are similar themes in both, some of the ways in which Austen deals with those themes are decidedly different. One of these ways is with our heroine, Anne Elliot. Anne is relatively old at age 27 (even verging on spinsterhood – the horror!), which contributes to the more mature tone. Whereas Lizzie Bennet is very strong-willed, Anne is a bit of a doormat. Her sisters seem to be in a contest over who can come up with the best put-downs, yet Anne handles these jabs with a grace that a younger character might not be able to muster.
When I was discussing this book with a fellow reader, they mentioned thinking Wentworth is a lot like Mr. Darcy, which I couldn’t agree with less. Yes, Wentworth might be a little aloof at times, but he hardly ventures into rudeness as Darcy frequently does. Comparisons aside (both men have their merits!), I really enjoyed Anne and Wentworth’s story – they certainly have what you could call a quiet love. Anne’s youngest sister, Mary, is incredibly annoying, but is also funny because she’s just so ridiculous. Also, I really liked how Austen actually depicts a loving marriage with Admiral Croft and his wife, Sophia (Wentworth’s sister). Austen is famous for her commentary on marriage, so it was a bit refreshing to see two characters who married for love, and who Anne clearly admires (#RelationshipGoals – if Anne had Twitter). As you might guess, Persuasion is very character-driven, so don’t expect it to have a completely riveting plot; however, the story builds up to one of the most perfectly executed love letters I’ve ever read.
Bottom line: Loved it! Though maybe only a teeny bit less than I love P&P. But seriously: if there can only be one reason to read this book, it’s that letter.
P.S. I’ve seen a couple of movie adaptations of Persuasion out there – does anyone have a recommendation for which is best?