Monday, March 31, 2008

Persuasion by Jane Austen

--by Abby

Having only finished Northanger Abbey a week or so ago, jumping into Persuasion may not have been a good idea. However, after excessive amounts of engineering, my little heart cried out for Austen, my bathtub and a bottle of Shiraz. Like Sandra Dee, to my heart I must be true.

Back story: I picked up Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (along with I Walked the Line, by Vivian Cash) at a used/new bookstore in Pendleton, SC about two months ago. None were used. Persuasion set me back $2.50 plus tax. Point being, the edition pictured here is hella cheap.

I am now 68 pgs into the 188 page volume. Time enough to blog a bit. My initial impression of this book wasn't good. I'm pretty sure it's because of my recent reading (and loving) of Northanger Abbey. The styles are really different. I mean, it's still Austen, but Persuasion was written more than ten years later and has a much more formal feel. It certainly isn't as funny, but the personal anguish is deeper and more respected. In short, Persuasion criticizes most of the characters (as in -Abbey) but not it's heroine. Anne's emotions are taken very seriously and given much weight.

Now that I'm into Persuasion I am enjoying it. Synopsis thusfar (spoiler-free really, most of this is on the back cover): Elizabeth, Anne and Mary are sisters, their mother is dead. Elizabeth is the incarnation of her father (the baronet), vain, beautiful, and proud. Mary (the only married sister) is also excessively proud and uses Anne as a personal servant. Elizabeth rather ignores Anne and has no use for her at all. Anne is neither fair, nor proud. Years ago she was engaged to a charismatic naval officer, but their neighbor and family friend Lady Russell put an end to it (she thought a navy man below Anne's rank).

As the story begins the family has fallen upon financial difficulties, and has decided to move from their home at Kellynch to a smaller place at Bath. The Kellynch house is to be rented to an Admiral Croft, who happens to be the brother-in-law of Anne's ex. Drama ensues as her jilted lover begins a relationship with one of her neighbors.

Mostly, I'm engaged by the uncertainty of this story. I want to believe that Anne will end up with her old flame, and it seems like an Austen-y thing to do, but at this point I don't see how it will happen. Ah, the tangled web!

No comments: