Persuasion by Jane Austen

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Amazon Synopsis: What does persuasion mean - a firm belief, or the action of persuading someone to think something else? Anne Elliot is one of Austen's quietest heroines, but also one of the strongest and the most open to change. She lives at the time of the Napoleonic wars, a time of accident, adventure, the making of new fortunes and alliances.

A woman of no importance, she manoeuvres in her restricted circumstances as her long-time love Captain Wentworth did in the wars. Even though she is nearly thirty, well past the sell-by bloom of youth, Austen makes her win out for herself and for others like herself, in a regenerated society.

Another holiday read this book has been on my currently reading shelf for months. My relationship with Jane Austen's writing  is very love/hate but my love on the film adaptations for this novel made me truly believe I would adore this as much as Pride and Prejudice. Alas not everything works out. 

Jane Austen has an incredibly placid writing style that does not boast the dramatic flare of other authors - Jane Eyre is a prime example. The majority of the narrative is driven through conversation or simply by the narrator just telling you the information. It is for this reason that many people tend to be on either sides of the scale when it comes to Austen's work; they either love her style or can barely get through it. Personally I adore Pride and Prejudice but have had difficulty with her other works - Emma I could barely finish and still loath it to this day, and as you will read Persuasion was also a more slow and underwhelming read for me.

As an avid reader it is easy to see the greatness of the style and eloquence of Austen's writing but the structure of Persuasion seemed to focus more on secondary characters and their faults rather than the romance of the two main characters. In truth, I did not think that I could call Wentworth a main character after he was introduced so late and featured so little. Despite how easy it was to recognise Austen as  great writer it was hard to see this as a great story.

The characters were all over zealous in how ridiculous they were. The Elliot family were so flamboyant, and arrogant, at times that there was even a trope gag of the 'Elliott pride' featured throughout. It seemed as though Anne and Wentworth were the only sane characters within the entire novel yet their interactions gained what I considered to be too little a spotlight. It would have been nice to gain more details about their relationship before Wentworth left for sea instead of following them on so many walks in the countryside, but I do also appreciate the way that Austen allows the audience this chance to imagine and adapt themselves according to their own ideas of the past relationship.

The relationship seemed rushed towards the end and predictable; featuring Austen's trope of always having the second male love interest as some rascal that has a dark past/heart. I just grew a little bit tired whilst reading this. Tired of having to listen to incessant characters ramble on for hours in one great big unreliable narrative to the point that it was just 18th century Gossip Girl so that I could have two truly great characters come together. It ruined the ending as by the time I had reached it I no longer had the desire to see our two loves come together as I had going in and do at the end of the television/film adaptations.

This story translates wonderfully on screen and indeed does make for a lovely story of second chance love but it took me months to engage with the meager 200 pages of my edition and in the end I read it whilst away on holiday on my Kindle. Though I adore Jane Austen's writing some of the time I also cannot bare to read it at others. It is not hard to recognise whilst she is considered a classic author and despite wanting to love all her books, even feeling the need to, I struggled to become absorbed by this book. Hopefully some of her other works will not reap the same results.


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