I just finished reading Persuasion by Jane Austen, the third stop on my quest to read all of Jane Austen’s novels. It’s her shortest novel and her last*, I believe it was written somewhat hastily while her health was in decline – she died before it was published. It was highly recommended to me by the family Austen expert, who said it was Austen’s best novel. I’m not sure if I feel the same way about it, but I actually liked that it was short and that there were less twists and turns than normal.
Anne Elliot, the main character, is actually really likable. She’s 27 so a “spinster” in Austen’s time, and her family messed up her chances of happiness 9 years ago by not liking Frederick Wentworth, who she was engaged to marry. She ended up breaking off the engagement to please them, but regretted it deeply, and 9 years later Wentworth is back in town, super rich, and looking for a new fiancee. Anne suffers terribly as she watches Wentworth woo her neighbor, but in the end he realizes that it’s been Anne all along. They end up getting re-engaged and, since he’s now rich, the family has no objections this time, those shallow bastards.
The part I don’t like is that she’s basically been portrayed as ugly by way of sadness, but ends up pretty again in time for Wentworth to be interested a second time. What I do like is that she, at the ripe old age of 27, ends up with multiple possible suitors. Jane sez: Don’t give up, ladies! We won’t Jane, we won’t.
* I stand corrected, I now believe that Sanditon is her last novel.