I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
Jane Austen once compared her writing to painting on a little bit of ivory, 2 inches square. Readers of Persuasion will discover that neither her skill for delicate, ironic observations on social custom, love, and marriage nor her ability to apply a sharp focus lens to English manners and morals has deserted her in her final finished work. (source)
I just love when a book completely sweeps me off my feet and astounds me with how good it is. I think Persuasion could easily be one of Austen's most under-rated novels (alongside Northanger Abbey, which, coincidentally, is my other favorite) and yet, this one has stolen my heart and I think is now my favorite of her works.
This book differs from the others in a few ways. Anne Elliot is several years older than Austen's other heroines and she's known her romantic interest for years. Yet, despite these differences, Persuasion is very clearly an Austin novel. It is witty, the heroine is surrounded by people who are ridiculous and, in many ways, inferior to herself, and she ends up with Mr. Perfect - and I mean all of this in the most complimentary way, because these elements are what make Austen novels so wonderful and so prolific.
I really liked reading about Anne Elliot. I usually prefer Austen's spunkier heroines, and I think only Fanny Price surpasses Anne in being a wallflower. Anne is a people-pleaser to the upmost degree, to the point that she sacrifices her own happiness to please others (this is precisely why she didn't marry Wentworth eight years prior to the time that the story takes place). In this way, she actually reminds me of my sister Mary Kate, who is also entirely selfless, and I think that is part of why I liked Anne so much - I just hope that my sister Elyse and I do not bulldoze Mary Kate's happiness even half so often as Anne's sisters do! Even though Anne is so gentle and submissive, and while she'll never be as outspoken as Emma Woodhouse or Lizzy Bennet, by the end of the novel she grows into a person who is not afraid to speak her mind and ultimately, she does choose to make herself happy. I loved watching Anne grow and I was so glad that she finally got her happy ending.
Captain Wentworth is a wonderful match for Anne, too. He is a perfect gentleman to her by the end of the book, but he is far from perfect beforehand. As he himself points out, he allows his hurt pride to get in the way of rekindling his relationship with her, even though he comes to realize that he never stopped loving her. His letter to Anne was so perfect and, though I definitely saw the ending coming, I was SO excited by how things did turn out.
I loved this book. I will admit that there were some parts that were definitely slow and, because of that, I had a hard time paying attention at some points - much like almost all of Austen's other novels. But all of that paid off in the end, as always, and now this is at least tied with Northanger Abbey as my favorite. I'm so glad that I've finally read all of Austen's works. Pride and Prejudice is wonderful, but it seriously doesn't do Austen justice. If you're a fan of classic literature and romance, I absolutely recommend that you pick up Persuasion - it is so worth reading.