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December 30, 2015



By: Jane Austen

During the holidays I often revisit some of my favorite books.  This year I dove right back into one of my favorites, Persuasion by Jane Austen.  Like Austen’s other romances, this is a character-driven story dealing with 18th Century British class structure and customs.   However, these characters are more flawed and the tone differs from the more popular Emma or Pride and Prejudice.

Our leading lady is Anne Elliot, daughter of the haughty and unlikable Sir Walter Elliot.  Eight years before the novel begins, Anne breaks her engagement to naval officer Frederick Wentworth.  She was persuaded to leave him due to his lack of fortune and social status.  Although they’ve not seen each other for years, they are both still in love.

Persuasion begins with the Elliots moving out of their beloved home, Kellynch Hall, in the midst of financial ruin.  Their new tenants are none other than Wentworth’s family.  By now, Wentworth is a Captain in the Navy and very wealthy…but still single!  While her home is rented out, Anne is forced to flip-flop between her sisters’ homes.  She is too polite to stand up for herself, which means she does a lot for her sisters and their families.

During the first visit with her eldest sister, Anne and Wentworth meet again.  He spends a lot of time with her brother-in-law, thus spending a lot of time with Anne.  A pair of young sisters travel with Anne and Wentworth, constantly vying for his affections…while sweet Anne keeps her composure.   In traditional Austen fashion, there are misunderstandings, red herring love interests and ultimately a swoon-worthy ending.  One of the best parts of Persuasion for me are the instances when Austen lets Anne shine and grow her confidence.  This is a different type of heroine, but her story is a joy to read.

Looking for more?  Check out these similar novels and Persuasion film adaptations:  The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman and The Light That Failed by Rudyard Kipling.  2007’s BBC miniseries starting Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones and the 1995 film with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root.

Programming note:  The new Fishers Library Book Club, Coffee by the Book, will discuss Persuasion on February 16th at 2pm.  Contact the Fishers Adult Services Department for more details.

Review By: Kirsten Edwards