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It's time for my thoughts on the firs 1/3 of Persuasion, which I'm going to go ahead and admit right now, competes with P&P for my all-time favorite book. The only book I've ever read more times is Pride and Prejudice (and maybe Anne of Green Gables - but it's pretty close!)
You can find the full set of questions here, or sign up for the read along here (or just chime in in the comments!), but I'm going to get right into it:
Quick getting to know you Qs:
- Was Persuasion the first Austen book you read?
Nope, Emma was my first. It's hard to remember now, but I think Persuasion may have actually been my last...
- Is this the first time you've read Persuasion?
Lord, no. Nor the 2nd. Nor the 10th. Persuasion is one of my comfort reads, which means I crave it every so often. I really couldn't tell you how many times I've read it...
- How many other Austen books have you read?
Pfft! Take a guess.
- Will you read more of them/reread them?
Pfft! I say.
BEGINNING (chapters 1-7)
- What are your initial impressions of the story? Do you like the set-up for the world and the conflicts? Did you find any of it hard to understand or relate to?
As I said, I think this was the last Austen book I read, so by this point, I was fairly familiar with how things worked. Or I thought I was. And then I was introduced to this quiet, older, more reserved heroine who had had everything in her grasp, and she'd let it slip away! I was thrown for a loop. But there was something in Anne that just called out to me, and I couldn't help but fall for this story. I don't think it necessarily happened immediately, but gradually, and before I knew it, I was so invested.
- What are your impressions of the characters so far? Especially in regards to Anne, who is considered quite a bit different from other Austen heroines (besides being the oldest, she's had love and let it go, and now has had years to reflect on that).
Initially, I think my impressions were pretty typical: Anne, smart but too passive; Wentworth, sorta dreamy; Anne's family and many of the people surrounding her, insufferable. Now, having read it many times (and gotten a little older), I think my opinions of them are starting to evolve. I still think Anne is a bit too passive, but now that I'm a touch wiser, I find myself sympathizing with her more. - but more on that in the next question; Wentworth I find a little more suspect than I used to - he doesn't have to be such a d*ck at times (though I get it, of course I do); her family and the people surrounding her...still pretty insufferable (except those that aren't, of course. But they can't all be Hargroves and Musgroves, now can they?)
- Do you think Anne was right to have yielded to the pressure of those close to her - to have been "persuaded" - not to accept Wentworth's first proposal?
When I was younger, no. My reaction then was very: Anne, you fool, you could have had love!#*^$(*@(! Gahhh!! But now, though I don't think "right" is the word I'd use, I think the choice she made was a very understandable one, and I think really the only one she could have made - turning your back on your family and the life you've had, running off with someone without a care in the world when there are very material cares (like what to eat and how to earn enough to), on top of the whole "nation at war" aspect, is a HUGE decision, and I think a young girl is right to look for guidance in such a situation. Of course, it didn't turn out as planned...
- What do you make of Anne's family (and extended family, including Lady Russell), and her place among them? How do the people in Anne's life treat her, and what was your reaction to that?
Oh, poor Anne. This is the part that always got me. I'm not as much of a Lady Russell hater as some (she tries, and she really does have the best of intentions, but she's not a bold person, and she is a bit of a meddler...), but the rest of them. Hoo, boy! If I had to stay in a room with Mary or Sir E. for long, I don't know that we'd all make it out alive. Let's just leave it at that.
And to be the sensible one nestled among such people! And to be quiet and a pushover on top of that! It's a wonder she didn't end up in a sanitarium.
- Discuss Anne's first few meetings with Wentworth, or Wentworth's entry into the story in general.
Oh, cruel, cruel Jane! How can you tease us so! Everything about their first few meetings is so torturous and delicious! I love(hate) how Wentworth reacts to Anne, and I love(hate) how he treats her and tries to make her jealous. And Anne's reaction to him, and the way she tries to be calm and hide how flustered she is - oh! it just tickles my readerly bones every time. I never get sick of it.
And I especially love the way Wentworth - who we don't really know at this point - tries so hard to appear aloof and over Anne, and even to be a bit callous, when he is so clearly still hurting and in "very great danger of being just as in love"* with Anne as ever - love it!
*bonus points to me for P&P reference in a Persuasion discussion... ;)
So, those are my thoughts on part 1 of Persuasion! Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or go here to link up your responses and share them with all of those reading along!
And come back next Wednesday for my thoughts on part 2! (Though, um...don't go anywhere for the days in between because: awesome stuff is afoot!)