So, finally here to discuss Persuasion. I have certainly read the beginning of the book a few times (I had actually just begun to do so again when Heather said she was going to do it next on Craftlit), but I amn’t sure I had previously finished it. Not that it’s a bad book, by any means, but somehow it hasn’t generally grabbed me so much as some of the others. Thankfully, listening along with Craftlit worked out very well. Some of the characters are still annoying (but then, I do get annoyed by characters, as my regular book-post readers will know), and the attitudes are worse, but that is a lot of the point of Jane Austen’s novels: she aims to show up the snobbery and other vices of the class-based society she describes, and to have (eventually, with many many false steps along the way) virtue win out. Usually.
Anyway, Heather’s commentary was helpful and fascinating, as always, although we didn’t manage to convert my DH. (He has disliked JA’s writing since school, and isn’t compelled by Austen’s portrayal of the social nuance and patronising behaviour described in her books.) Thankfully he’s enjoying the current Craftlit book (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court) much more, as he expected to. I’m finding that quite interesting, as I’m not at all familiar with it, which Heather’s obviously expecting everyone to be (it is an American classic, after all). I’d heard of it, of course, but don’t know the story at all, so being told repeatedly that it’s not what we’ll be expecting doesn’t mean very much to me.
Now, as to Persuasion itself; well, as above it’s not my favourite Austen novel. Part of my problem with it is that so much of the story, and especially the character development, happens before the start of the novel. The former wouldn’t bother me half so much as the latter. In short, Anne Elliott many years ago allowed herself to be persuaded not to marry a penniless young naval officer, and has since learned to regret it, particularly now that he’s turned up in her circle again, as a very successful and far-from-penniless (as her family has become, in the meantime) career officer. Of course, having rejected him before she can’t throw herself at him now (pride good and bad showing itself as one of Austen’s recurring themes) and has to watch while younger friends do just that. I suppose what I do like about JA’s work, is that while the ending generally is happy and predictable, the path to get there really isn’t so much, and that’s what it’s worth reading for.