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Stevenson has read all of Austen's novels for audiobook, in abridged or unabridged versions, and her experience shows in this delightful production. Though dominated by the intelligent, sweet voice of Anne Elliot-the least favored but most worthy of three daughters in a family with an old name but declining fortunes-Stevenson provides other characters with memorable voices as well. She reads Anne's haughty father's lines with a mixture of stuffiness and bluster, and Anne's sisters are portrayed with a hilariously flighty, breathy register that makes Austen's contempt for them palpable. Anne's voice is mostly measured and reasonable-an expression of her strong mind and spirit-but Stevenson imbues her speech with wonderful shades of passion as Anne is reacquainted with Capt. Wentworth, whom she has continued to love despite being forced, years before, to reject him over status issues. Listening to Stevenson, as Anne, describe a sudden encounter with Wentworth, one hardly needs Austen's description of how Anne grows faint-Stevenson's perfectly judged and deeply felt reading has already shown that she must have. Even those who have read Austen's novels will find themselves loving this book all over again with Stevenson's evocative rendition ringing richly in their ears. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
• "Everyone has their Austen, and this is mine. Sparer, more savage — and also more poignant than Pride and Prejudice, this is a novel that tells us wisely and wittily about the nature of romantic entanglements and the follies of being human. It isn't riven with the deep, muscular ironies of, say, Emma, but there is something about the dry lightness of Persuasion that is deceptive. It stays with you long after you've read it." —Nigella Lawson
• "I worship all of Austen's novels, but if I have to choose one over the others, I plump for the autumnal pleasures of Persuasion. This is the last work Austen completed before her death in 1817, and it is rather more tender and melancholy in tone than the novels that preceded it. I read it once or twice a year, whenever I feel in need of a good cry." —Zoe Heller
|The Original Ending of Persuasion||185|
|Reading Group Guide||203|
1. Lady Russell persuades Anne to break off her engagement to avoid
"youth-killing dependence." Does she ultimately succeed in sheltering Anne from this?
2. Persuasion is the aim of rhetoric, yet in this book it often hinders lives and harms feelings. What is Austen commenting on? Consider what happens when Lady Russell or Mrs. Clay persuade others as opposed to what happens when Anne persuades others.
3. Look at how Anne's feelings and perceptions are shown-never through her direct words or thoughts but through an approximate report of these through a distant narrator. What does Austen accomplish by doing this?
4. Consider how sailors such as Wentworth and Admiral Croft have made their fortunes-by capturing enemy ships and enjoying the spoils. With their newfound wealth, they re-join English society in higher social standings. What is Austen's opinion of this? In what ways and situations does she relay this opinion?
5. Many of Austen's earlier works take place in the spring, but this story plays out in autumn. Very often, the characters and narrator notice the colorful leaves and cool air around them. How does the season promote this story?
6. The narrator describes the Christmas scene at the Musgroves' as a "fine-family piece." What is Austen implying with her sarcasm? Do you think she is antifamily?
7. Admiral and Mrs. Croft have the most successful and loving relationship in the novel, even though they are unromantic, eccentric, and deeply rooted in realism. Yet many of the idyllic lovers look to their marriage as a model. What is Austen commenting upon with this ironic reversal?
8. Mr. Elliot is the catalyst forthe reunion of Anne and Captain Wentworth, provoking jealousy in Wentworth, which in turn prompts him to reconsider his love for Anne. However, Austen chooses not merely to make Mr. Elliot Anne's unwanted lover but instead to reveal him as a rich and immoral scoundrel, to be cast out of the story. What does Austen accomplish by doing this? What is she saying about the world of property and rank?
9. Compare the original ending chapters and the "real" ending chapters. Why did Austen make these changes? What did she accomplish with them?
Posted May 23, 2010
I Also Recommend:
All of Jane Austen's novels are wonderful in my opinion, but for me, "Persuasion" is the most brilliant of her accomplishments. There are many reasons for this. First, I like the fact that Anne and Wentworth have a past with each other, and that there was a long period of separation--I'm intrigued by the thought that things didn't get smoothed out really quickly and yet they found each other again (I'm a hopeful romantic, but I like a few bumps in the road. It just makes it more realistic).
I also like that fact that the hero of the story is basically a good, middle-class bloke who made his own fortune. He had to work hard to get what he has, and that wealth means something--not just to him, but about him. He is a man of character, ambition, skill and intelligence. He may be harsh at times, but he has a good head. Because of that, he was successful. I can't say that Darcy couldn't have done the same, but it's not really a matter to be thought of in "Pride and Prejudice."
Also, Wentworth is a bit more obviously flawed in the beginning of "Persuasion" than Darcy is in the beginning of "Pride and Prejudice". We know that Mr. Darcy has pride, but it is thought to be only from position. Wentworth's fault is pride too, but it is injured pride. At the same time, his bitterness at this injury is perfectly understandable. It comes from a "real" place and is even justified. He seems more human and approachable to me. I know Darcy is supposed to be somewhat mysterious, but we know Wentworth's circumstance, and because of that, I feel empathy for both Anne and Frederick. Just as bitter as Frederick is, his tenderness is just as poignant, even when he doesn't want to show it, as when he helps her into the carriage. His confession of love in the letter to Anne is full of desperation, and well, almost pain--all of the pain that he's been silently enduring for the past eight-and-a-half years.
Another characteristic of the protagonists of this novel is that they are both a bit older than the usual courting couple. Life didn't end for Anne at 23. She still manages to end up with the love of her life beyond the age of 27. At the same time, she has grown a lot since she has been apart from Frederick. She's always stubborn after that first time her family persuades her not to marry Frederick. She refuses to marry Charles; and she refuses to give into her father's insistence that she go to the Carteret's. I think Anne had to suffer through one "persuasion" to learn to stand her ground later on, and if you really look, you can see that even though she can still be flexible in regard to helping her family, she cannot be made to do something against her will when it comes to her personal relationships--after the one wrenching she had from Frederic early on. She has become capable in caring for others, as if she knows those skills might be needed on board ship one day. Anne's personality falls somewhere between Elizabeth Bennet's mocking, biting playfulness and Fanny Price's quit acquiescence.
Finally, "Persuasion" is just full of joyful little bits: Admiral and Mrs. Croft, the most intense love letter at the end (that I think is one of the best in literature). I love this version of the book, too, because it includes the original ending of the novel in the appendix. It often shows up in the movie versions, and I'm glad screenwriters appreciate it.
Posted March 1, 2007
As a Jane Austen fan, I found this book to be very enjoyable. However, for those impatient for a quick story line, Persuasion is probably not the best choice. It has all the Austen wit and character development, but moves slightly slower than some of her other books, such as Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice. All in all, I enjoyed this book greatly, particularly the singular main character. Unlike the fiery Marianne Dashwood or spirited Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot is a more subdued individual, creating a different feel in the novel. I recommend this book as one that will catch you in its elegance, and make it impossible for you to put it down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 24, 2009
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Posted October 24, 2008
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Posted May 24, 2010
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