Mini classic review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Eight years ago Anne Elliot bowed to pressure from her family and made the decision not to marry the man she loved, Captain Wentworth. Now circumstances have conspired to bring him back into her social circle and Anne finds her old feelings for him reignited. However, when they meet again Wentworth behaves as if they are strangers and seems more interested in her friend Louisa. In this, her final novel, Jane Austen tells the story of a love that endures the tests of time and society with humour, insight and tenderness.

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.”

Jane Austen never misses. It’s hard to explain how a book written over 200 years ago evokes so much from me, but it’s true!

Persuasion is Austen’s most adult novel — the protagonist, Anne, is older than any other Austen heroine before, the book is sadder and more darker than previous books, and it deals with a lot of adult themes, such as second chance romance. Not to say this book is superior to other Austen books, but it is definitely the most different, even when including Northanger Abbey.

If I had to rank Persuasion with other Austen books, it would sit roughly in the middle: I still vastly prefer Pride and Prejudice and Emma, but Persuasion is a solid, well-written book that can’t be excluded. Anne is perhaps one of my favourite Austen heroines: she grows up with incredibly obnoxious sisters and a sillly father who can’t handle his finances and put the family into ruin. Despite all this, Anne is tranquil and the pinnacle of respectability. It’s so inspiring to read about her forgiving the people in her life who ostensibly manipulate her into rejecting a man she loves and consigning her to a deeply sad life. Honestly, couldn’t be me.

Although I place other Austen books above this one, I have to admit, Captain Wentworth is one of the best Austen heroes she’s ever written. Even after many years, Wentworth is so devoted to Anne — his letter (there’s always a letter in an Austen novel lol!) is passionate and emotional. I’m honestly so surprised that such a short book can evoke so much! In other Austen novels, we read about secondary characters and the rich lives they lead, but in Persuasion the focus is solely on the main characters — which I didn’t mind.

I definitely recommend Persuasion! It’s one of Austen’s lesser read books, but I think that’s a detriment. I will note, I’ve seen the trailer for the new adaptation starring Dakota Johnson and let’s just say, I’m not hopeful at all — maybe I’ll just reread this book again.


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