I’m participating in the “Austen in August” read-along of my most favorite novel, Persuasion by Jane Austen.  Misty from “The Book Rat” has posted questions about the novel (linked below) and so I’ll be following along with the rest of the group!  When you are done reading here, you should toodle along over to her blog.  It’s brilliant.  It’s fun.  It’s Austenesque.

Book Discussion Part I

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?

My initial impressions of Persuasion are hard to remember since I first read the book many years ago.  I do remember thinking how much more emotionally trenchant it was than Pride and Prejudice, my then-favorite novel.  I have little difficulty with Austen’s voice as I find it timeless and rich.  Her voice is one of a kind.

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).

Originally, Anne struck me as weak.  I couldn’t understand why she would turn down the love of her life because of her family’s opinion but it occurred to me that I was looking at her situation from a modern woman’s perspective and not in the right context.  Ann, at nineteen, had had all of her family support pulled from her and faced the difficult decision of opting to marry Wentworth and then live poorly—perhaps with a child or two—while he went off to war, risking his life and possibly leaving her a widow.  She made the sensible choice and did not follow her heart.  I can understand why she did it even though she lived to regret losing Wentworth.

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?

 See above, I already answered.

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?

Anne is lost amongst a sea of strange characters.  Her father’s buffoonery, her elder sister’s snobbish pride and her younger sister’s constant attention-seeking hypochondria.  It has always angered me to see how these people treat her.  She is everything sweet and good and puts up with all of their antics.  Some would see her weak for this, but from my more mature eye, I’d call her stronger for it.  It takes more strength to bite one’s tongue and love someone, warts and all.  And wisdom, too.

Discuss Anne’s first few meetings with Wentworth, or Wentworth’s entry into the story in general.

When I first read the story, I was not inclined to like Wentworth.  I saw him as resentful and, not being the type of person to hold long grudges myself, I could never understand why he held on to his for so long.   I also saw his flirting with the Musgrove girls as an attempt to get a little payback, which did not make him attractive to me.  As usual with Austen heroes, my opinion would be overturned by the end of the story… but that is for later discussion.

Join the discussion over at the Book Rat for Austen in August.

I’ll be guest blogging over there soon.  Details to come.

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