I’ve changed my mind about Jane Austen.
I used to feel like this.
but now I feel like this!
I thoroughly enjoyed Persuasion. What really helped me was reading this quote from Virginia Woolf:
of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness
(from A Room of One’s Own)
Sure, the tension between Anne and Wentworth was excruciating, and oh! how my heart fluttered at the…well, I won’t give it away. But, I was underwhelmed (and a little mad) when I read the ending. I wanted Austen to give it to all those phony so-and-sos. Then, I read that quote and re-read the ending, and found out that she did. She’s sly, and has much to say that isn’t evident at first blush. You might just miss it if you stick to the surface (and I’m sure many people do).
The other thing that thrilled me was learning about free indirect speech. Wallace brought it up during the Unputdownables read-a-long and I, English Major That I Was, had never heard of it! Move over James Joyce, Jane Austen was doing this in the early 1800s. Here’s an example:
How Anne’s more rigid requisitions might have been taken, is of little consequence. Lady Russell’s had no success at all–could not be put up with–were not to be borne. ‘What! Every comfort of life knocked off! Journeys, London, servants, horses, table,–contractions and restrictions every where. To live no longer with the decencies even of a private gentleman! No, he would sooner quit Kellynch-hall at once, than remain in it on such disgraceful terms.
I also loved all of the playing around with the word persuasion. It’s not a cut and dry thing where being persuaded is good or bad (just like being “sure” of your affections, or “knowing” your mind, or being of a certain class). Austen does not make it that easy (and I just love authors that do not make it that easy).
Some say that this is a most atypical Austen novel, and here I had to go liking it so much. Now I have to go read them all and find out for myself!