Friday, August 24, 2012

Reading Free For All: Persuasion


Ahem, okay. As I said talking about For Darkness Shows the Stars, it has been a while since I've read Persuasion. I mean, years. I was way over due.

I love this book. I love this book so much. It's the sort of love that doesn't fade over time but surprises me each time I read the book.

Anne and Frederick are so steadfast in each other but they aren't without faults. She's easily persuaded in her youth (though she doesn't regret it) and he shows he's stubborn and proud. I think they have temperaments perfectly suited to each other.

So, I lied in my For Darkness Show the Stars post. I do sigh a little over Wentworth before the letter. There might be a little before that, mostly due to Austen's excellence in describing how he lights up around Anne. It gives his words a decidedly swoon-worthy air. But that letter... I can never get over that letter. I squeal and flail every single time and I reread it semi-frequently. It's so candid and beautiful. Just the phrase "You pierce my soul." Oh holy... That sentiment is just so delicately put for something so deeply felt. I can't even...

There is something about their relationship that always hits me even in a way that one like that between Elizabeth and Darcy doesn't. It's not about them learning to love one another. They were always in love. They had this natural affection for one another. They were driven apart and stayed apart by weakness on both sides. But they both grew and in a sense did so together. Even while being apart they managed to both grow in a way that kept them suited to one another. There's something so fateful about that kind of relationship. I may be a little less showy and witty than than in Pride and Prejudice but it strikes a little deeper. Especially considering how little page time they actually spend together.

The side characters are no less entertaining, or grating as the case may be. Mary and Louisa Musgrove both set my teeth on edge. They're supposed to so Austen gets so many points for that. I had the same reservations about Mr. Elliot as Anne. No one gets along so well with everyone without being disingenuous. Lady Russell cares so much that you can't really dislike her, even if her affection frequently leads her a little astray. Walter and Elizabeth are in it so little and are so dismissive that I find them equally as easy to dismiss. Austen's novels always have a very colorful background cast.

Austen excels at setting characters in contrast to each other without saying that's what she's doing. It would be so easy for the narrator to mention the Mrs. Smith doesn't let her real illness ruin her temperament but Mary allows her frequent fake illness to ruin the day of everyone around her. They have such different natures and one is filled with the reality of living too high and the other filled with fake superiority. This is a theme frequently depicted in Austen's novels.

I know we're talking about Jane Austen (I mean she's Jane Austen, I have an action figure of her!) but I am always a little in awe of her. Scratch that, I'm always a ton in awe of her. She has a way with dry wit and making the relationships between characters seem so natural. And as someone with four sisters, we really do operate like that. A more stable level-headed one and an emotional one (or more of each with varying degrees in between for more siblings). Even so many years later they are so true because they speak so much to the nature of people rather than just to the nature of the society.

Once again, I know, nothing new and no surprise when I give Persuasion a rating of Beyond Epic.

The chest aching envy that woman can invoke in 200 pages makes me so jealous. I want to be Anne Elliot! I can't even tell you how many times I reread the last 15 pages. THAT LETTER!

The letter will now be printed out and put on my wall.

I think I will next start The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Though, I think it might be time to consider the construction of a new list. But we'll see.

Ta ducks.


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