Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane AustenI 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.

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