Wednesday 30 June 2010

DIK Challenge - Persuasion by Jane Austen

My June DIK Challenge book is Persuasion by Jane Austen. This is the first time in the challenge I have chosen a second book from the same DIK lady. Persuasion was a choice of Renee. I think what decided me on this book was a post Renee wrote on her blog about her favourite book moment.

Anyhow - on with the review. I read my first Jane Austen book last year, and I guess like a lot of people my first book was Pride and Prejudice (which I loved). I think in the back of my mind I always thought the next Austen book I'd read would be Emma - as I'm reasonably familiar with the story. Methinks along with P&P it's the most adapted for film and television (Sense & Sensibility is probabaly right up there too). I was unfamiliar with the story of Persuasion so approached the story with some apprehension - was my love of P&P just a fluke.

No. :)

However, I did find Pride and Prejudice easier to get into. But I think a large part of this is the abovementioned familiarity with the story. I think once I've read Persuasion a couple more times it's grade will probably also be A.

Persuasion tells the story of Anne Elliot. Eight years ago she rejected the man she loved - Captain Wentworth - because her friends and family persuaded her that he wasn't rich or important enough. Now, he's back and it's his turn to reject her. Is all hope lost, or will Anne be able to regain the affection of her Captain?

I don't think readers should be put off by the fact that Jane Austen wrote these stories nearly two hundred years ago. Once you sink into the language, you quickly come to appreciate that her themes are timeless, she also has a way of condensing the traits of a character into a single sentence or phrase.
Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot's character; vanity of person and of situation.
So you're immediately able to understand the character's place in the story.

The prose is elegant and beautiful to read, with the feeling that every single word has been chosen with care.
Still, however, she had enough to feel! It was agitation, pain, pleasure, a something between delight and misery.
It's particularly interesting to see when the word persuasion/persuade is used. One of the things I love most is that Austen lets the reader see things for themselves. Some characters behave in a hypocritical manner but you are never told this, you see how they behave and discover the characters for yourself. You need to pay attention to what characters are saying, who they are saying it to and compare it to the conversations they have with other characters. I think this is why the more times you read Austen the deeper your appreciation becomes. (Lol - well this is my opinion after having read two books.)

For the majority of the story Anne and Captain Wentworth are apart. Even though they've been apart for eight years, each still needs to grow that little bit more. Austen brings her hero and heroine's together at exactly the right moment - whether it's the putting aside of pride and prejudice, or seeing what had been there all along. And I completely agree with Renee about her favourite book moment. I encourage you to go and read her post as she speaks about it far more eloquently than I. When Anne reads the letter that Captain Wentworth has written to her, it brings a smile of joy to your face and a warm glow to your heart.
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half in agony, half in hope. Tell me not that I am too late. That such precious feelings are gone forever.
This is definitely a book that I will come back and read again, and makes me more determined than ever to read the remaining Austen books on my shelf.

Spookily the 2007 version of Persuasion starring Rupert Penry-Jones and Sally Hawkins was on tv this week and I recorded it, now I've read the book I'm going to treat myself to watching the adaptation.


Tracy said...

I haven't read Austen yet - although I've seen plenty of movies. I've got Persuasion on my list of DIK books to read in this challenge so it's good to hear how great you thought it was.

Wonderful review. :)

Nicole said...

I think I need to read some Austen. However, I tried Emma once and couldn't get into it... chances are I'd have more luck with Sense & Sensibility since I like that story so much more. Hmm...

~ames~ said...

My first JA was P&P and then S&S. Couldn't quite get into Northanger Abbey. Maybe I'll try Persuasion!

Renee said...

So glad you enjoyed it, Lesley!

You know, for most of my life P & P was my favorite Austen. Yet, as I've gotten older, Persuasion's quieter story has become the one I enjoy the most. It's not quite as easy to fall into--P & P's irresistible, quote-able dialog is just so fun. But, man, Anne's quiet strength and Wentworth's intensity just get to me!

Recently, I did an "audio re-read" of Emma, and was surprised to find that it was much slower than I remembered. I think my memory of it has been supplanted by movie adaptations.

Great review! :-)

LesleyW said...

Tracy - look forward to reading your review. :) And thank you.

Nicole - I can highly recommend starting with Pride and Prejudice. Funny what you say about Emma, I have a friend who suffers from insomnia who reads that to help her get to sleep!

LesleyW said...

Ames - I think it will either be S&S or Emma next. I'm drawn to Emma but people seem to struggle with that one. I also have Northanger Abbey on my TBR pile.

Renee - It was your post that convinced me to make Persuasion my book for this month, so thank you! I think P&P will remain my favourite but I think Persuasion will grow on me. And you were so right about the letter scene, it was just wonderful to read.