Monday, 11 June 2012

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I recently asked my Facebook friends which book I should read - I'd just bought Persuasion and Northanger Abbey - and Persuasion was regarded as the book I should opt for first.

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?

Please help!

34 comments:

  1. Sadly, I haven't read any books by Jane Austen, despite owning a copy of a number of her classics. Guess I really need to get around to reading them. :(

    On a brighter note, you've been nominated for an award! :D

    http://michaelabayomi.blogspot.com/2012/06/7-x-7-link-award.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you Michael - I'll pop over soon to check it out :-)

      Delete
  2. Oh dear, if you think that about Anne Elliot wait until you meet Fanny Price in MP!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. i've never read Persuasion but love Sense and Sensibilty. i love classic novels.

    Teresa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sense and Sensibility is a great read.

      Delete
  4. I haven't read it either - I've only read P&P. I did start it once as a teenager and put it down again, which doesn't happen very often!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because I'd been told it was so good, I perservered.

      Delete
  5. As a freakish LOVER of this book, I can at least tell you why I like it: it seems like Anne is just sitting and watching the whole time, but underneath she's seething and bubbling. Every time she and Cap. Wentworth are even close to the same vicinity her hair is on end. And then that letter he writes her at the end!!! Ah!! It made me giddy for days.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just didn't get the 'seething and bubbling' part. Maybe I should read it again.

      I did think the letter was lovely - more that he was writing it in front of her and responding to what she was saying. But that was the first time I really understood the character, which was a bit late.

      Delete
  6. Sorry, I haven't read it:( I have to be honest, I rarely pick up novels I don't like. I may feel differently about them, may not agree with the ending or would like the characters to do something different, but I usually enjoy what I read. I don't know if it's just me, but for that reason I think I would make a bad reviewer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought I would like it because I like Pride and Prejudice so much.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. One day, Alex, I'll talk about a book you have read and really surprise you!

      Delete
  8. Persuasion is actually my favourite Jane Austen novel! Hmm... I'd probably have to re-read it to tell you exactly why. I think I connected with the character of Anne and her story about waiting. I also saw the BBC movie version first and really liked it, which may have helped my imagination along when I read the book.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I haven't read that one--but it is on my list. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it, Dana.

      Delete
  10. It's okay to not "like" a Jane Austen novel, and perhaps you just weren't in the right frame of mind. I'll be honest - Austen and classics are for winter time, hunker under an afghan and read. I truly believe June, July, and August are for "trashy" reads, so you can be distracted by squirrels on the fence or waves on a beach. I do think the movie version Persuasion was actually quite good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never thought of reading by season. I read P&P in the summer. I just assumed if I liked one, I'd like the others!

      Delete
  11. Well, I come here as a massive non-fan of Jane Austen. I know, I know, I'm sorry, I just can't help it. However, after reading that you liked one and didn't like another, I'm wondering if I've been a little harsh. My dislike stems from A-levels and studying Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. I will say that I don't really think I 'got' my English teacher for this part of English Lit, not helped by the fact that I praised the ground my other teacher trod. But my memory is of her great excitement at her pronouncement of another section of irony and the class sitting there thinking, Is this it, is this all there is to comment on? I have to say that struggling through the boredom of my English Lit titles did put me off reading for years after. Thanks goodness for The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay) who brought me back.
    Anyway, I digress. I'd be interested to know if you tried any more Austen and liked them. I might be persuaded to try one myself if you do!
    Great post as ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I studied Jane Eyre, Far from the Madding Crowd and Wuthering Heights at A-Level, and I'd be happy never to read them again. Studying to the nth degree doesn't do the novel any favours!

      Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favourite novel. That's the one I'd advise you to read. Sense and Sensibility is another good one.

      Delete
    2. OK! Maybe I'll give Pride and Prejudice a shot. I can't believe I'm saying that, says my 18 year old self!

      Delete
  12. I haven't read it, so I can't help you out here. My favourites are also Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility :-) Though I don't think I've ever read the whole of either of them ... I've watched the movies tons of times though! (Yeah, yeah, I know it's not the same ;-) )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh you should really read the whole of P&P - so good!!

      Delete
  13. So, I think you know by now that you're one of my chosen Inspirational Bloggers, much deserved of the award for, well, writing blogs which make me think and smile and encourage me to put pen to paper. Congratulations! I'm afraid that I need to ask some work of you though. The rules, if you choose to accept them, follow. It took me a bit of time to put together my post but it was fun. I hope you'll take up the challenge and look forward to reading your post :)
    1. Display the award logo somewhere on the blog.
    2. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you.
    3. State seven things about yourself.
    4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs.
    5. Notify those bloggers that they have been nominated and of the award’s requirements.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for this - it's such a lovely award to receive!

      Delete
  14. This is a very good post. I love this book!

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gina. I'm going to have to read it a few more times, and then I may like it too.

      Delete
  15. I haven't read it either. Oops!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have the comments here persuaded you (did you see what I did there? lol) to try the novel or stay away?

      Delete
  16. Hi, I haven't read it...but I read Sense and Sensibility (the graphic novel version anyway) and was quite disappointed with that one. I think Pride and Prejudice is by far her best work, even if it does remind me of Much ado about nothing! I always worry that I have missed the boat on things - sometimes I have - but everyone appreciates different things in a story and you gave this book the benefit of the doubt by reading it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a graphic Sense and Sensibility?? That quite random!

      The best bit about reading the classics is that technically we've all missed the boat by reading them 200 years too late, so we're all playing catch-up!

      Delete
  17. "Persuasion" is a great literary work, and, to my mind, Jane Austen's finest book. This was her final completed novel before her death, and was published posthumously. As is often the case with Ms. Austen's fiction, "Persuasion" deals with the social issues of the times and paints a fascinating portrait of Regency England, especially when dealing with the class system. Rigid social barriers existed - and everyone wanted to marry "up" to a higher station - and, of course, into wealth. This is also a very poignant and passionate story of love, disappointment, loss and redemption. The point Austen makes here, is that one should not ever be persuaded to abandon core values and beliefs, especially for ignoble goals. There are consequences, always.

    ReplyDelete

Please comment - I love a good chat!