I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.
By Jane Austen
Written at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Persuasion is a tale of love, heartache and the determination of one woman as she strives to reignite a lost love. Anne Elliot is persuaded by her friends and family to reject a marriage proposal from Captain Wentworth because he lacks in fortune and rank. More than seven years later, when he returns home from the Navy, Anne realizes she still has strong feelings for him, but Wentworth only appears to have eyes for a friend of Anne’s. Moving, tender, but intrinsically ‘Austen’ in style, with its satirical portrayal of the vanity of society in eighteenth-century England, Persuasion celebrates enduring love and hope.
Persuasion is unique among Jane Austen’s works. It was her last completed work, and was published in 1818 after her head the year before. It is also her only work to star a heroine who is past that early age where marriage is most likely to happen.
Anne Elliot, the key figure of the novel, is in her late 20s. An old spinster! In her younger, “more desirable” days she entered into a relationship with a young officer, but was persuaded by her stubborn family to end it. Anne seems to be one of the few kind, grounded, but still quite clever people in her family, and her friends and acquaintances value her presence. However, she never gets over that broken engagement and is closing in on 30 without any marriage prospects. In true Austen fashion though, that same officer reenters her social circle, queuing confusion, awkwardness, and love triangles galore!
If you’ve read, or even seen on screen, an Austen work before, none of the plot twists are turns should surprise you. You know there will be poor communication, situations that are not what they appear to be, a scoundrel or two, and some crazy, self-centered relations.
You know where the story will end up, and what some of the key way points will be, but you’ll be entertained nonetheless. Anne is the eye of the Elliot hurricane, with an absolutely delusional father and older sister, a hypochondriac younger sister, an “aunt” who knows best and a gaggle of other friends including silly girls, mysterious cousins, and the tenants who bring Anne’s former love back in the first place.
Should You Read This?
If you consider yourself a fan of Jane Austen, or of regency-era romance in general, read this. Austen’s signature social commentary is on display (though not as sharply as in some other novels, perhaps due to her illness and early death) and the story, while predictable, manages to be funny and sweet.
It might also be of interest to history fans, as it is also illuminating regarding age, status, the military and the ability to make your own fortune following the Napoleonic Wars. Romance and social history? Sign me up.
Summary from Goodreads