Apparently this was the last book Jane Austen ever wrote, rather than one of the first, as I had supposed. I definitely notice a formula in Austen’s stories: the unlikely protagonist who is quiet, retiring, but deep and intelligent. The wealthy suitor who doesn’t seem to pay her any attention at first. The bubbly fluffy pretty girl who seems to catch his eye instead. The rake who courts the protagonist and almost turns her head for awhile, until she learns what a scoundrel he really is–and who meanwhile serves to incite jealousy in the real intended suitor.
In this iteration, Anne Elliot is an older unmarried female, which is unusual–but she is unmarried because while she fell in love in her youth, a woman by whom she was guided had reservations and encouraged her to break off the engagement (hence “Persuasion”). She was wrong in her estimations, and Anne never forgot Captain Frederick Wentworth. When she encounters him again eight years later as virtual strangers, she feels she has lost the bloom of her youth, and she is forced to watch him flirt with women of her acquaintance while she eats her heart out, and tries to forget him.
Then her cousin (weird) shows up and wants to marry her, though he has motives of his own. She has reservations about him, and finds out only after gossip spreads all over town that they are as good as engaged what he really is. Captain Wentworth (spoiler alert), by now reconciled to the fact that he still loves her despite the slight from years ago, hears of this too and is about to leave town, jilted for the second time. But chance enables her to convince him, indirectly of course, of the constancy of her feelings.
One thing I truly hate about Austen novels is that after an entire book of setup for the moment of confession, she summarizes it instead. We don’t get to see what he said and what she said–she just tells us they said “all that they ought,” or perhaps that they talked over the minutiae of the previous days and months and explained all that was in each of their hearts. It’s definitely anticlimactic.
And yet! I continue to read and reread all of her novels.
My rating: *** 1/2
Sexual content: none
Political content: none