Thoughts and personal notes on Persuasion by Jane Austen: (SPOILER ALERT!)
1. This is my favorite Jane Austen. I first read it as a teenager and loved it, more even than Pride and Prejudice. I just finished reading it again as part of our bookclub’s March selection. Oddly, because I don’t think we planned it, we paired it with Albert Camus’ The Plague ( a nod to the unfolding Coronavirus situation gripping the world). A love story and an epidemic: maybe we should’ve saved time and just read Love in the time of cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez!
2. Persuasion is a love story. Boy and Girl meet. Boy and Girl fall in love with each other. Girl’s friends and family disapprove of the relationship, declaring that Girl could do better than Boy. The girl is persuaded to break off the relationship. Many years later, they meet again. What happens next is the rest of the story.
3. It’s only on the second reading that I realized how often the words “persuasion” and “persuade” are used in the book.
4. Other things I noticed this time around: there’s rampant judgement, arrogance and racism.
5. The heroine Anne Elliot while a paragon of virtue and good sense compared to the others of her family, can’t escape from a degree of self-righteousness. (Does that make her more human and less of a paragon? Or was it just the nature of that time?)
6. I’m deeply interested in the idea of second chances, the idea that sometimes life gives another turn at an opportunity. Will we react the same way this time around? Some decisions need us to be the current version of ourselves and what we may not have been ready to choose the first time, we are now both waiting, and able, to embrace.
7. Resources: Look for the LibriVox recording of Persuasion (audiobook) by Karen Savage (here is a link to the Youtube copy). Listening to it as an audiobook really helped me appreciate Mary’s character!
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