I definitely enjoyed reading Persuasion and I would heartily recommend it to others. I find that each Austen novel must be appreciated on its own terms, which makes comparisons wearisome, and yes, odious.
I found it a more somber novel than those I count as my favorite Austen works, among them Northanger Abbey (Austen's satire of the gothic genre had me laughing all the way through), Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. (Thus far I have not read Emma or Mansfield Park.)
The tone was somber and reflective, as in the portrayal of the behavior and character of Anne Elliott, who is neither the favorite daughter nor the married daughter. By her family, she is considered merely an indispensable aide when any one of them require her assistance. No one ever considers her feelings, or even realizes that Anne may have feelings, desires, or dreams of her own. This point is certainly the "autobiographical" aspect that Austen critics and biographers refer to. Even when Jane Austen, toward the end of her life, was feeling sick and asking for respite from the visits of her nieces and nephews and other relations, she really had to hammer the point home. After all, they pondered, "Jane? Sick? She can't really be too sick to help out, can she?" Austen wrote about this very fact, but as an unmarried woman in the family, she had expectations to fulfill that superseded her own needs.
Back to Anne Elliott, to her family and friends, she seems settled in this role of fifth wheel. Each member of her family disregards her at times and, when she is needed, desperately desire her attentions, for which she is not thanked or valued.
As a reader I felt sympathy toward Anne rather than compassion. She never put up a fuss when her family or others were using her. This created tension in me, the reader, as I expect Austen intended. But eventually, and rather serendipitously, Anne finally does reconnect with her true love, a man she was "persuaded" to give up eight and a half years previously. A man who will respect, value, and love her. And so happily, the novel draws to a close.
If you have thoughts about this review of any sort, please do comment. I value your thoughts!
P.S. I also have finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult and am zooming through a wonderful novel about the young Queen Victoria, entitled Victoria by Daisy Goodwin. Can I finish this 400-page novel by 12 midnight New Year's Eve? I do hope.
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