7 – ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen

21st January

Dear Diary,

I have just finished Volume 1 of ‘Persuasion’, and I have a confession to make: I am beginning to lose faith in Victorian literature.

You have already heard my feelings about ‘Jane Eyre’, and after the first half of this book, I am again starting to feel disappointed. Anne Elliot is such a boring central character, whose actions are so unnoteworthy that I frequently find myself drawn to the remote control, rather than my book. As for Mary, well, I’m sure she frequently appears at the top of lists of ‘Fictional characters you wish had mysteriously been eaten by wolves near the start of a book’.

I’m trying to stay strong, and the introduction of the nautical types brings some interest, but I’m finding it hard to focus on the storyline (which is even worse when you consider that there really isn’t one). I’ve got a shelf-full of Dickens, Hardy and Eliot: what do I do if I get let down again?

Yours in trepidation,

Tony

23rd January

Well, I’ve just finished ‘Persuasion’, and I’m happy enough to give 19th-Century literature the benefit of the doubt for now; however, it was a close-run thing. Despite never reaching the dramatic, comedic (and even sarcastic) heights of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Emma’, the second volume did have some redeeming features.

The first part of this volume used the location of Bath to great effect, and Anne became more elegant, beautiful and wise with each passing page, with the arrival of the Musgroves and co. throwing greater emphasis onto the idiocy of Sir Walter and his eldest daughter. In addition, the intrigues and intricate byplay of the social life in the (not-so) big city approached the human relationships Emma Woodehouse dwelt on (and created). However, the 120-odd pages couldn’t fully make up for the weak first volume, especially when the ending was so predictable and soppy. Yes, they may have had to wait donkeys’ years to find true love, but after only 236 pages, you can’t expect the reader to be cartwheeling around the living room out of joy for them.

Oh well, despite the lack of complete satisfaction, I’ll keep on with my plundering of the canon for now, but it may be a while before I’m ‘persuaded’ to read this book again…

Yours in anticipation of better books to come,

Tony

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2 thoughts on “7 – ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen

  1. Tony, I'm glad Persuasion made you rethink your aversion but I do need to make one gentle little correction. Austen, technically, is not Victorian. She's 19th century, just, but not Victorian.

    I think you need to be in a different sort of headspace to read Austen – you are welcome to read my favourite writers post on her. I won't be cheeky and link here but if you are interested click on the category Favourite Authors in my blog to find it or on Jane Austen in the Tag Cloud.

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  2. Don't worry, I'm well aware of this (a Facebook comment at the time reminded me of that); I put it down to poetic blogging licence 🙂

    I like Austen, but I don't like all Austen, and I would have to say that this is (possibly) my least favourite (although I'm not a big fan of S & S either). I'm much more of a Trollopian than an Austenite in any case – as you can tell from my posts this year!

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