by Jane Austen
–review by Bronto Incognito
Age: Adult or Young Adult
Contains: Not much of anything by today’s standards…
“…there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.”
Book-a-likes: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (both start with a couple already broken up), Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger (both let other people’s opinions/societal norms interfere with their smooching possibilities), and just for funsies…Sk8er Boi by Avril Lavigne
My bestest friend in the whole world is a huge Jane Austen fan while I, on the other hand, had only read Emma before picking up Persuasion. But this one is by far her favorite and so when the church book club selected it AND scheduled their meeting on a day I could actually come, I figured I should give it a go.
After primarily reading YA, Middle Grade, and modern adult fiction it did take me like 30 pages or so to get back into the language and style of something more classic like this. But once I got it going things went pretty smoothly.
You know, other than the fact that I keep getting distracted from pleasure reading by the likes of these…
But once I found the time to dedicate to reading for myself I really did enjoy it!
So Persuasion tells the story of Anne Elliot who several years ago let her father and a close family friend, Lady Russell, talk her out of marrying the possible love of her life, Captain Wentworth. Only thing is, he wasn’t a captain then. And given that kind of uncertain future (who can trust what’s going to happen in the military) and her dad’s obnoxious obsession with his own status and rank, the pair persuade Anne to keep her options open and turn the poor boy down.
Now jump ahead a few years and Anne’s still single, her dad and older sister have overspent the family funds, and her obnoxious younger sister, Mary, spends all of her time being “sick” and complaining about her husband and children.
So through some efforts on Anne’s part the family off to live in Bath while they rent out their house, and Anne’s to spend time with first Mary and then with Lady Russell before joining them. Which is all fine and good except oh, wait…the new tenants are former navy and friends with Captain Wentworth and guess who’s also still single and going to be staying with them for a while?
Captain Wentworth shows and the two of them are forced to intermingle and do this awkward little dance where both pretends like they’re completely over the other person and not affect AT ALL by the other’s presence and that life isn’t a painful ball of regret whenever the other person’s name gets mentioned.
To make matters worse, most people have NO idea that Anne and Wentworth were ever a thing, so no one takes caution when speculating all the dang time over which of Anne’s young, pretty, flirty cousins Wentworth should end up with. And Anne has to grin and bear it the whole time, reminding herself that Wentworth deserves to be happy with someone and she had her chance and blew it.
If you’re a shipper (like I am) this book has some great strained moments of unspoken jealousy and passion. Like when Anne finally overhears Wentworth complimenting the splendorous wonderment that is Anne Elliot or when Wentworth has to sit by and watch Anne spend an evening chatting with a very Wickham-like cousin, who would definitely make an “approved” match by her father’s standards. And who keeps getting in the ever-loving way of poor Anne who just wants to talk to the boy she likes!
Because yeah, she still loves him (of course) and everything else was just pretend and it seems like he likes her, too, but she can’t tell for sure and even when she thinks she can tell for sure what if it doesn’t mean anything or come to anything and GAH! Come on…plenty of us have been in this situation before. It’s so relateable it’s ridiculous.
I do have a few minor problems with Austen’s writing. Like why is there both a Charles Musgrove AND a Charles Hayter??? Was she really that short on names that she couldn’t come up with something else, even for minor characters? Next thing you know she’ll be naming a character after her own self…oh. Wait…
And the end of her books suffer from the same problem that all 90s romantic comedies did: you never really get to see the couple together. It’s all lead up and then the hookup and poof! It’s all over! But on this one I’ll cut her some slack. You know…seeing as how she was dying and all around the time she was writing this…
I’m just generous like that….
So if you’re a fan of Austen or have been looking to give her a try i can definitely recommend Persuasion. It’s shorter than Pride and Prejudice and Anne is a much more respectable character than say Emma (who turns out all right in the end, but starts off pretty dang spoiled…).
What are your thoughts on classics? Love them? Hate them? Haven’t given them a try yet? Let us know in the comments down below!
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