The Monday Read – Persuasion

Today I am reviewing two things, Jane Austen’s Persuasion AND the way I read Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

The Book:

Title: Persuasion
Author: Jane Austen 
Length: 170 pages
Rating: 5/5

I don’t consider myself to be a die hard Jane Austen fan. Romance novels aren’t my cup of tea and it took me three tries to make it through Pride and Prejudice. Despite that, after finishing Persuasion I can say that I have read every single one of her novels. And let me tell you, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I saved the best for last.

Persuasion was the last book that Austen wrote (it was published post-humously alongside Northanger Abbey). It is definitely her most mature book. For one thing the characters are much older (Anne Elliot is 27). Rather than being dreamy and optimistic, the book starts out with a future that looks very likely to include a sad spinsterhood.

Austen’s wit and sharp tongue are fully in tact, but much more mature, perhaps even subtle. I appreciate the way Austen developed her talent over her lifetime. As a young writer, her witty sparkle was sometimes even overwhelming. In fact, once in a while she sounded just plain angry. If you have ever read “The History of England by A Partial, Prejudiced, and Ignorant Historian” that she wrote as a teenager, you will know what I mean.

The plot moves a bit slower. Less crazy stuff happens (for a long time I was waiting for a dastardly villain to pop into the scene and mess everything up ala Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, but he failed to make a show). Perhaps the slowness is why Persuasion gets such a bad rap online. I heard and was preparing myself for a less fun, less extravagant, less humorous, and all around less interesting novel. I was surprised to find much humor, fun, and romance. It was (granted) much more subtle.

For example, the romance. Oh the romance! Oh it was cute and sweet. However there was no grand meetings or dramatic letters. There were sweet little gestures of care. There was Captain Wentworth offering an umbrella and pulling naughty children off of her. It sounds like nothing, but hey – isn’t that love in the real world? The way Jane Austen describes such teeny but realistic gestures of genuine care was incredible. I just want to absorb her every word.

The humor, character development, and other aspects of the novel were the same as the romance – mature and realistic.

All in all, this was a fun, easy, and short read. It is definitely different than “typical” Austen (seriously though, how typical can you get with only six published books?). However I would say that it stands next to Mansfield Park as one of her very best books.

The Method: 

This was my first time participating in an online read-along community. Heidi at Literary Adventures Along the Brandywine hosted a read-a-long. She posted her favorite quotes and discussion questions every week on her blog. Instead of devouring the whole book in one sitting (which wouldn’t be too hard to do, considering that it is Austen’s shortest novel), I was forced to savor each chapter bit by bit and really think critically about the events, character development, and potential themes.

It was SO fun to have people to talk about the book with while I was reading it. I am completely sold on the online book club and read-along idea. Does anyone have any other classic literature clubs or online reading challenges that I could join?

Author: Susanna

I'm Susanna, a 20-year-old Christian girl incorrigibly addicted spontaneous adventures. My first dream was to become a pioneer. Unfortunately, I was born a couple centuries late, so I've decided to read, cook, run, and travel the world until my time machine is finished. You'll mostly likely find me getting into trouble and/or eating licorice. I am currently blogging the misadventures of a middle-school teacher in training. Come join me on my quest to become the next Ms. Frizzle!

10 thoughts on “The Monday Read – Persuasion”

  1. The only Jane Austen book I have read is Emma. I tried to read P&P before, but it was long before I was used to reading classics, so the whole endeavor felt very overwhelming. And now sine I've been in the play and have watched the movie more times than I can count, I'm kinda bored with the story. I know next to nothing about Persuasion, but I've heard many good things about it and really want to read it. There's also a Young Adult book that's sort of a retelling of Persuasion that I think sounds cool, For Darkness Shows the Stars.
    Great Review! 🙂


  2. Oh, I'll have to read this!! I actually haven't read any of the Austen novels (gasp!) but I've watched both version of Pride and Prejudice and Emma a million times…I should probably read the books now! =) Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Persuasion!


  3. I'll have to look into joining an online reading community. I need something to keep me motivated. =) I've only read Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, but would love to read her others. You should do a post where you rank her books.


  4. GASP! I am astounded! Just kidding. Her books aren't for everyone. It took me quite a while to start enjoying them. But I'd say give them a try; I think there is a very good chance that you would like them a lot.


  5. Persuasion is a great book, although it is very different from her other novels so it isn't a very accurate picture of what most people think of when you say Jane Austen. I love it. And it is pretty short, so it makes for a good quick read. I say go for it!


  6. That is a great idea! In short, it would probably go like this:

    1. Persuasion
    2. Mansfield Park
    3. Northanger Abbey
    4. Pride and Prejudice
    5. Emma
    6. Sense and Sensibility


  7. WOAH! Sounds like a library worthy of a visit! If you like reading it digitally, Jane Austen's books are out of copyright and thus quite easily available online and on the iBook store for free.


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