I have to say, I enjoyed Persuasion a whole lot more than I did Pride and Prejudice. Like the Bennets of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion’s Elliots are a self-important clan, making for some great comedy when in opposition against their rebelliously modest daughters. However, unlike Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot is an adult, and therefore much more equipped to comprehend and analyze the action of the novel in a mature, comprehensive way. Anne’s thoughtful take on both society and love render her a heroine to truly admire.
The plot of Persuasion begins eight years after the ill-fated relationship between the young Anne Elliot and upstart seaman Frederick Wentworth has reached its demise. Anne, the daughter of a proud father and the favorite of her late mother’s closest confidante Lady Russell, allows herself to be persuaded to end the relationship. Sir Walter, Anne’s father and head of the Elliot family, disapproves of Frederick’s lack of wealth and prestige and Lady Russell, Anne’s most trustworthy advisor, condemns his unproven, yet excessive, ambition. However, much to the entire society’s surprise, eight years after Anne ends the affair Frederick returns as the wealthy and accomplished Captain Wentworth.
While the focus of the novel revolves around the rekindling of the romance between Anne and Captain Wentworth, Austen’s novel is at its best when it allows Anne to discourse on subjects ranging from redemption to poetry to passion in men and women. Atypical of most romantic heroines, Anne is considered a bit older at twenty-seven. However, instead of detracting from the appeal of the romance, Anne’s maturity succeeds in adding thoughtful insight to the charming affair that unfolds.
While I still do not consider myself one of Austen’s greatest fans, Persuasion did much to improve my opinion of the renowned author. I look forward to reading others’ reviews and comments on what I now consider to be Jane Austen’s best work.