Monday, April 29, 2013

Vintage Reads: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Monday, April 29, 2013
Persuasion
Well, this is a feature I haven't done in a while. It was previously known as Book Thoughts, but I thought that was pretty boring. Now it's Vintage Reads! (Thoughts?)

For those of you who don't know, Book Thoughts/Vintage Reads is an extremely irregular feature that I do whenever I read a classic book that I just have to talk about. These posts are part discussion-part reviews.

Feel free to check out the previous posts!


Genre: Classic
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Classics
Series: Standalone
Source: Bought
In her final novel, as in her earlier ones, Jane Austen uses a love story to explore and gently satirize social pretensions and emotional confusion. Persuasion follows the romance of Anne Elliot and naval officer Frederick Wentworth. They were happily engaged until Anne’s friend, Lady Russell, persuaded her that Frederick was "unworthy.” Now, eight years later, Frederick returns, a wealthy captain in the navy, while Anne’s family teeters on the edge of bankruptcy. They still love each other, but their past mistakes threaten to keep them apart. Austen may seem to paint on a small canvas, but her characters contain the full range of human passion and moral complexity, and the author’s generous spirit renders them all with understanding, compassion, and humor.
Summary from Goodreads. 
I'm currently reading Persuasion by Jane Austen. It's an Austen novel, so of course I'm loving it. (I mean, come on, the romantic tension between Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot is perfect.) It's got me thinking about why Jane Austen is still so popular today. 

Let's explore, shall we?

It doesn't FEEL like a classic
Yes, Austen's books have beautiful prose that reads in a way books today just don't. But they also feature universal themes of love, growing up, and family. Who hasn't had the "Does he like me? How do I look? Do I have anything in my teeth?" worries like Anne does? How many people have felt overshadowed by an older sibling like Elizabeth? Austen's stories may feature the etiquette and scenery of the time, but her novels' hearts span the centuries.

Who doesn't like a little snark?
One of my favorite things about Austen's books is the way she criticizes the society around her. She's clever and shows it through her quips. 

She's a damn good writer
Yes, this one should be obvious, but it's worth saying. Jane Austen is an absolutely amazing writer. Here are a few quotes that I love from what I've read of Persuasion so far.

"'There is hardly any personal defect,' replied Anne, 'which an agreeable manner might not gradually reconcile one to.'"

"Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement." (p. 61)

"Her spirits wanted the solitude and silence which only numbers could give." (p. 85)

Why do you think Jane Austen is still so popular today? Do you have a favorite Austen novel?

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