Thursday, 5 December 2013
London, Penguin, 2007, 272p
My book hangover is cured!
If anyone was going to fix me, it had to be Jane Austen. Persuasion is my all time favourite book. It is like comfort food to me - warm, relaxing, like spending an evening with an old friend. I have read it a million times, and every time I have laughed and cried and gotten heart burn from forgetting to breathe.
When the lives of Anne Eliot and Frederick Wentworth cross again, eight years after she was persuaded to break off their engagement, neither can be sure what the other now feels. Anne is a gentle, intelligent and practical young woman; modest and quiet unlike her humoursly self-centered family. And Wentworth is noble and agreeable, bursting with emotions but terrible at revealing them.
So like every other perfect couple in history, they convince themselves that the other no longer loves them. Frederick's friendly attention to Anne's nieces convince her that he must love another; and her determined modesty makes him believe she could never return his affections. Oh, why don't they just tell each other!?
And this is exactly why I get heart burn. Austen writes so well - building the suspence, carrying the novel through stolen glances and mistaken actions. I find myself drawn right into the room with Anne and Wentworth, watching their every move, trying to be patient, knowing they will come together eventually.
I have oodles of respect and love for Jane Austen. She is so clever and timeless. Her characters are vivid and true - we all know someone like the people in this story. And the locations remain alive today, places like Bath and Lyme Regis, still classically regent. This book mocks the foolish ignorance of the upper classes, challenges the percieved differences between the sexes, and celebrates the sensibility of educated women.
But the most incredible element in this novel is that letter - Captain Wentworth's confession. I can say no more; you must read Persuasion to understand.