Friday, 18 March 2016

Classics: Persuasion

Rating: 5/5

Persuasion narrates the emotional journey of its protagonist Anne Elliot, who chances upon Captain Wentworth, a suitor she was persuaded to reject seven years earlier, and whose reappearance causes her to reflect on her past decisions and contemplate her marital future.Vividly depicting the society holiday towns of Lyme Regis and Bath and infused with its author's trademark wit, Austen's last completed novel, set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, is an entertaining and enduring account of the dilemmas facing young women in the early nineteenth century.

How completely gorgeous is this edition!? I can't stop staring at it, so pretty! Anyway, I'm a relative newbie to Austen, I read Pride and Prejudice back in January for the 2016 Classics Challenge and I loved it, and I luckily got to review this edition of Persuasion as my next Austen! I think I may actually love Persuasion a teeny bit more than I love Pride and Prejudice! You have girl meets boy, both fall in love, girl persuaded by family and acquaintances to leave him because he's not "appropriate". They meet again years later, feelings are lingering. Boy is jealous of other boy showing interest in girl, feelings are realised and conversations are overheard and everything is okay in the end! 

If you're reading that and thinking...this is familiar...then you're looking at the original template for a few contemporary romances, in one form or another. There's definitely a few elements well used in contemporary books, and I'm thinking this is the original basis! I found this book to be well paced, there was lots going on even when it wasn't anything to do with the romance courtesy of various other characters! 

Austen's wit is present throughout the book, as are her beautiful and vivid descriptions of the various different locations. We spend a lot of time in Lyme Regis and Bath in this book, and it was nice to see the places through the eyes of an author who saw what the place looked like before all the modern houses and buildings popped up and ruined the aesthetic a little bit! Austen describes each location so well you get a feel for the place and an idea of what the place is like. 

I particularly liked that this book has it's differences to P&P, there isn't tonnes of balls and lots of visiting other people. I mean there is visiting going on, but it's not the same as in P&P and I guess I had this kind of idea that each Austen book was similar to the others with characters and settings and what happens, but this book is very different. You still get to see the manners and etiquette of the time, don't get me wrong, but this book has a different feel to it, it felt more relaxed, we spent a lot of time with various family members and only occasionally a few other people socially, whereas P&P was a whirlwind of balls and visits. Or I think so anyway! 

I liked getting to read about the navy at the time and how it worked and what things where like, it was nice to see another group of people to the usual gentlemen that don't really do much! I liked how the romance had already happened once, and they where rediscovering their feelings for each other, and it was a truly brilliant romance. Austen writes romance so well, she always gives you plenty of warm and fuzzies and has you smiling at the book and it's just perfect. 

I have to mention the letter scene, because it was ADORABLE. I was squealing a little bit while I was reading it because it was so obvious he was listening in and then the letter, and then the casual "oops forgot my glove" move and it was such a perfect scene! Things where wrapped up so nicely in the book, and it was perfection I tell you!

Anne I completely loved, I felt for her so badly. She's not considered very important to her family, "Was nobody with either father or sister: her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give away- she was only Anne". She had Lady Russell, admittedly and I liked that she was at least like family to her. I loved watching Anne acquire her own group of friends who appreciate her, the Admiral and Mrs Croft, Captain Benwick and so on. She's quite different from Elizabeth, I feel, she's quieter and I related to her a lot more. She does so much for everyone, but hardly ever does anything for herself, and she's intelligent and just such a kind person! 

I completely understood her anxiety at seeing Wentworth again, and her feelings on their situation. They'd gone from being so close to being seemingly nothing to each other, and then she has to see him again and it's awkward, and upsetting and then she's watching him spend all this time with Louisa and Henrietta. I felt for her so much and I was rooting for her the entire time! 

Anne's family weren't that great. Her father was so vain, like seriously. SO vain. I've never read about a man quite like him before, he only cares about how he looks and who he knows! He doesn't seem to much care about his daughters either, except for Elizabeth! He cares about looks so much it's ridiculous, and he is so stuck up. Then you have Elizabeth, she was a bit of a cow if I'm honest. Just as stuck up as her father, and repeatedly says Anne is nothing to her and prefers the company of her friend Mrs. Clay who's totally gunning to be her new stepmother and she doesn't realise! Elizabeth is just nasty. 

Mary is Anne's younger sister, and I will admit...I liked her more than Elizabeth. She's a bit over dramatic, and she demands Anne looks after her when she's sick and spends time with her but at the same least Mary wants to spend time with Anne! She's not a perfect character, don't get me wrong, but she's the best family member Anne has I think, even if Anne does end up doing a lot for her. Her husband is incredibly nice to Anne as well, making sure Mary isn't taking advantage of her, as is the rest of the Musgroves. Mary really wasn't that bad, she wrote to Anne, spent time with her, and was the nicest family member to Anne!

Lady Russell gets a mention too, she's much kinder to Anne than her own family is, even if she did rather mess things up for her with Wentworth in the first place, she meant well. Sort of. She was more vexed about Elizabeth's friend Mrs Clay being in favour more than Anne, more than Anne herself was. I felt like she was at least looking out for Anne. Then in the end she just wanted Anne to be happy. 

The edition itself is a brilliant one! Not only does it have a beautiful cover, but it's an affordable price for those of you who like to collect classics! This edition had one thing that my edition of Pride and Prejudice was lacking....notes. As you're reading Persuasion, there's a few phrases, terms or publications and so on, marked and with a corresponding note to explain what it means or what it is and gives you some context and understanding of the book! This certainly made it easier for me to understand! 

This edition also contains some photos at the front, portraits of Austen and some family members and photos of the places she has lived or visited. I loved seeing where she would have written her books, or where she may have drawn inspiration from! It was a great visual to have. Not to mention the back of the book has over 20 pages or so of pure information on Jane Austen. It has information on every single aspect of her life such as, education, real life romances, her illness and so on, as well as information on her and her writing. I've never seen so much information on her gathered all in one place, and the fact you can read it after reading the book is brilliant. Any questions and brief wonders you may have had about the author while reading are most likely answered in these notes! 

Persuasion is, I think, by far my favourite Austen book so far! I don't like P&P any less though! Written with as much wit as Austen puts in to all her books, with vivid descriptions and plenty of scenes to squeal at, it's a perfect romance read! This Alma Classics edition also goes above and beyond and helps you to understand the book and the author even more, and certainly made reading the book easier! 

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