21 Feb

I love Jane Austen.

I know, I know. An addiction to Jane Austen seems to be an obligatory female trait, akin to a love for chocolate and chick flicks. For this reason, I have been hesitant to admit my true affection for the authoress – I don’t want my admiration to be deemed cliche. After reading Persuasion, however, I have fallen in love with Jane Austen’s writing all over again. I am smitten.

Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliott, the daughter of a self-absorbed baronet, Sir Walter Elliott. After years of living beyond his means, Sir Walter must “let” his Kellynch Park dwelling and take up new residence in Bath. Sir Walter’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, has inherited her father’s vanity and sense of entitlement. His youngest daughter, Mary, is an annoying hypochondriac. Anne, on the other hand, stands in marked contrast to her sisters. Sensible and kind, Anne bears none of the pride usually accompanying the Elliott name. She is now 27 years old and unmarried, a fact that implies inevitable spinsterhood. Yet Anne has been in love once before. Nearly eight years before Persuasion begins, Anne is engaged to Frederick Wentworth. The affection between the two young people is mutual, and their prospective union seems to promise happiness. That is, until Lady Russell – Anne’s confidante – persuades her to call off the engagement, citing Wentworth’s inability to produce an income equal to the needs of a Baronet’s daughter. Years later, Anne still pines after Wentworth. When she and her family leave Kellynch Park, Anne meets Wentworth once again. Will their love be given another chance? Or has Frederick’s affection already been won by another woman?

*Sigh.* I am enchanted by the characters in Jane Austen’s novels. Anne Elliott … Elizabeth Bennett … Marianne Dashwood … Austen’s heroines are life-like and lovable. The vivid description with which Austen describes her characters and their relationships suggests that she was a close observer of human behavior. I recently commented to my husband that if I could have lunch with any author, I would choose Jane Austen. The wit and candor present in her fiction would make her conversation most enjoyable. My husband thinks Austen and I would get along well together. What a lovely compliment!


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