Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Book Club Report: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Last Thursday my book club got together and discussed Jane Austen's last novel, written while she was sick and published after she died.

Short summary: 27 year old spinster Anne Elliot regrets ever being persuaded not to marry her first love Frederick Wentworth - especially when he shows up 8 years later.

The group's verdict: We all enjoyed this one, even if it wasn't our favorite Austen (Pride & Prejudice and Emma fill that slot for us). We had a lively discussion. We listed many reasons for hating Anne's sisters and father (all very self-absorbed), and wondered why teenaged Anne would defer her own happiness for the likes of them. We pointed out that Anne's "loss of her bloom of youth" was probably due more to her sorrow over a bad decision than aging (because 27 is so totally NOT old). And we reasoned that if Jane hadn't died after writing her first draft, she probably would've written a much better scene at the end where Anne and Wentworth walk back to her house after he writes her that letter (and oh! that letter!). As it is, it seems like a place holder to be fleshed out during the revision process.

Up next: We're taking a break for July, and then reading Anne Patchett's THE PATRON SAINT OF LIARS for August. I actually read this title years ago and didn't much like it...but I do have a lot of friends who loved it. So it should be an interesting one to discuss!

22 comments:

Allison said...

I'm glad you like Persuasion, it actually IS my favorite Austen. I just love and adore Captain Wentworth :)

Sandy Nawrot said...

My favorite it P&P, but I did adore this one as well. Austen is so adept at creating characters that are maddening, but in a fun way. You almost have to laugh at the ones who are over-the-top asses! And that letter at the end...wasn't that awesome? I think you are right - Austen definitely would have refined the ending had she lived. I just finished a biography on her (reviewed it last week) and she was big into revisions.

celi.a said...

Ah, my favorite of the Austen novels! I remember after reading this one for the first time that I was so thankful for one Austen heroine who was very like me. *grin*

Zibilee said...

I haven't yet read this one. I am kind of trying to ration the Austen since I know the supply is finite. I have a really nice volume that combines all the books in one big volume, so when I read this, it will be from that book. Great review! It sounds like you have a really cool book club!

Lauren said...

This is my favorite Austen. It's the saddest and weirdest, I find, and I love the idea of Anne Elliot being a 27 year old being a useless old hag. It makes me snort, just thinking about it.
Dementedly, Lauren

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I haven't read Persuasion but I would love to read it. No time of course. It seems to have a rather different premise but so few books can beat P&P.

Steph Su said...

I started this eons ago but got distracted. I will get to it... eventually, just like I will get to all the Austen novels (other than P&P and Emma, which I loved, and S&S, which I read most of and then stopped cuz I wasn't attached) I haven't read yet. :)

Kristen M. said...

This one is probably my favorite as well. There's just something about Anne.

Serena said...

I still haven't finished this novel yet, but it is on my to-do list for the everything austen challenge!

diaryofaneccentric said...

Persuasion is on my list of books to read before the end of the year. I'm looking forward to it, though not sure it can top P&P.

--Anna

Sandy Shin said...

I just re-read PERSUASION recently and adored it as well. It's not my favorite of Austen, but I did like the relationship between Anne and Wentworth, and yes, that letter! :D

I knew it was Austen's last book, but I never thought of it that way: that the ending was a placeholder for revisions. It does make a lot of sense.

Nymeth said...

This is going to be my next Austen - I hope to get to it sometime this summer. We'll see if it beats P&P and Emma for me!

Aarti said...

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. I love it and plan to reread it for my Flashback challenge, if I can ever maneuver my reading schedule enough to et back to it!

Mary (The Sweet Bookshelf) said...

This is my favorite Austen.

Second chances are hard to come by, and this is an amazing tale!

Plus Capt Wentworth is the stuff dreams are made of!!

reviewsbylola said...

I wouldn't say this is my favorite (that honor would go to either Emma or Mansfield Park) but I really liked it.

Amanda said...

I have to admit this is one of my least favorite Austen novels because I think Captain Wentworth is a jerk.

Heather J. said...

I just listened to the audio of this and really enjoyed it - my review will go up next week during Audiobook Week. :)

Staci said...

I'm going to read this one during the my summer break!

Jenny said...

It's been years since I read Persuasion, and I hardly remember anything about it now. I doubt it'll beat Emma out as my favorite Austen, but we'll see. I'm definitely going to read it again soon.

irisonbooks said...

Persuasion is definitely my favourite Austen. I need to reread it, as well as Emma - I never quite liked that one as much as I do Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice.

Faith said...

As a hardcore Austen fan, this one is my favorite. :)

stacybuckeye said...

I've only read three Austen so far, but I really liked this one. It comes between P&P and S&S. I think it has a lot to do with that letter. I read it to my husband :)