Anyone who knows my husband and me knows that we’re readers. We really just love to read. No matter what time it is or how tired I am, the last thing I do before I go to bed each night is read. We even have a nerdy little book club, a group of our friends, who all get together every couple of months to discuss the latest novel on our list. It is so amazingly rejuvenating to take the time to be with good friends and discuss literature and munch on snacks and drink wine. It is the kind of activity with the kind of people who feed my heart and nourish my soul. Yep, I am a big fan of reading. So exactly why am I sharing this post about a Jane Austen novel? Well, I’ve read through a decent amount of classic love stories and thought that it would be fun share my thoughts on one of my very favorites. So without further ado, here is why I LOVE Persuasion by Jane Austen.
Spoiler alert: There are some glimpses into how this love story ends! Here goes...
I’m always game for a good love story, but it can be pretty hard to find one that doesn’t leave you cursing the agony of true love, or crying like a baby over the star-crossed destiny of the ingénue and her hero. One thing I love about Jane Austen is that she is one of a very small group of authors (who I have read anyway) who has written a classic, lasting love story that actually ends well. And not just one, but several. I also admire the wit and sarcasm that Austen brings to her novels as she sheds a clever critical light on the constraints of society at the turn of the 19th century (I think that’s the history nerd in me coming out).
Persuasion doesn’t have the reputation of what I consider to be her most well known novels, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, but Persuasion takes you on a journey into an enduring love. Austen thrusts the reader into a time in her heroine Anne Elliot’s life where she is 27 years old--officially past her prime by 19th-century standards--and still single. She is facing a life of spinsterhood and to top it off she is the quiet, odd-woman-out in her own family. Where Anne prefers quiet evenings at home, her father and older sister revel in high society and are always looking for the next opportunity to dine and entertain in style. A reunion after nearly a decade with Captain Wentworth, Anne’s ex-fiancé, ignites a series of awkward interactions, strained gatherings, and tormented thoughts and emotions for both. As a reader, the fact that so much time and history is developed in Persuasion’s main characters is extremely rewarding. The lovers are not merely youthful and naïve, but rather older and guarded and they are grappling with a host of mature feelings that ring true.
Maybe my favorite thing of all about Austen, and especially about Persuasion, is the importance of writing letters. Anne and Captain Wentworth communicate most openly through letters to each other. For Austen, it is simply a time where writing letters happened every day and was therefore a natural authorial choice to make, but these days the hand-written letter is considered an antiquated form of communication. The rarity of a hand-written note makes me appreciate more fully the simple elegant beauty of putting one’s thoughts and emotions on paper.
I believe myself to be a lucky lady when it comes to love letters because Scott and write to each other. Every birthday and Valentine’s Day, and every now and then “just because,” we share our thoughts and emotions in letters or little notes. We don’t email or type, we sit down and write. And those cards and letters from Scott are some of my most treasured possessions. They speak uniquely to who my husband is and how he feels about me and our life together. They hint at how he holds his pen, whether his message was hasty or not. They have parenthetical remarks and a surprising amount of exclamation points and they make me smile, laugh, and cry. So I know exactly what Anne and Captain Wentworth were thinking while writing to and reading letters from each other. And so, if you are looking for a love story that celebrates a mature lasting love, as well as the freedom and power of the written word, check out Persuasion. Let me know what you think!