I’m always a little dubious about certain ‘Classics’. Give me a Charles Dickens or an HG Wells any day of the week and I’m happy. I become a little more dubious around what I call ‘society’ classics, like George Elliot and Jane Austen. It all stems from the time I read Middlemarch and found it to be a 900 page soap opera where NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS!! Although so far I have never been disappointed by a Jane Austen novel, when I have to read a book that essentially revolves around social customs and classes I break out in a cold sweat! .
So I was a little apprehensive when my recommended book for the month from my Penguin Reading challenge was ‘Persuasion’, but at 249 pages I thought I’d just crack on and get it over with.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Persuasion is about a young woman named Anne Elliot who, previous to the beginning of the story, was betrothed to Naval Officer Frederick Wentworth, but broke it off after being ‘persuaded’ (see what they did there!) by her family and a close friend that the match was beneath her. It is seven years later and Anne discovers that Wentworth has returned and is, lamentably, involved in her social circle. What follows is a deep exploration of Anne’s feelings, thoughts and regrets on the decision she made 7 years ago, and the circumstances that may allow her to make amends.
As I said before I haven’t been disappointed by a Jane Austen novel yet, and this one was no exception. It is essentially a ‘will they wont they’ story that does keep you guessing until the end. Whilst it is a basic storyline it is laced with little dramas that keep you engaged but do not overshadow the main story.
In the introduction in my book it says that Jane Austen once described Anne Elliot as “almost too good for me” I can understand what she means as Anne is a very self-effacing heroin. She puts others thoughts and needs before her own and has an equitable view of the world. Unfortunately in my eyes this does make her far too pliant, and whilst this aspect of her does lend to the back story of why she never married Wentworth seven years ago, when she is insulted and exploited by her family I did find myself wishing she had a little more gumption.
Aside from that I found it a very pleasant societal love story.