Monday, 11 June 2012
Persuasion by Jane Austen
So I did.
But I didn't like it.
And then I thought that maybe there was something wrong with me, because I didn't like it.
As you're no doubt aware, I love Pride and Prejudice. But apart from Sense and Sensibility, I'd never read any other Austen novel. I aways thought this was remiss, especially as they are spoken about with such warmth, so I snapped them up when I saw them in a sale. But whereas the characters of Elizabeth, Mr Darcy, Mr and Mrs Bennett - even Mr Collins - jump off the page, I did not feel the same about Anne Elliot or Captain Wentworth. In fact, regarding the latter, I had absolutely no clue about him at all from the first half of the novel; I certainly didn't know - and didn't care - why Anne Elliot found him so attractive.
Mr Darcy is appealing from the very first aloof glance - even if you don't like him, his character is established well, you get a sense of who he is and why Lizzie might like him. Lizzie, too, talks, is listened to, has contact with Darcy so the reader can see the state of their relationship from the start.
None of these things is apparent between the two main characters in Persuasion, indeed it took a while to work out what the story was! Anne Elliot herself seems so content to sit back and listen to the other characters talking around her that it seems almost wrong to call her a main character at all!
Many people like this novel a lot, so my question (without any flippancy or sarcasm) is: why? What am I missing? Should I read it again, and will I be swayed towards a different opinion if I do? Have you read this novel? Did you love it or hate it?