Yes, this is my first time reading it. I was book shopping back in January with my 9 year old niece and she was pressuring me to read Little Women, which isn’t going to happen, and in a panic, I volunteered to read Anne of Green Gables instead.
Keeping in mind that I’m 40 years beyond the target audience for this book, omg, it’s so twee. 468 pages and about 368 of them so twee and precious I almost gave up and dnf’d it. Suffice it to say, I identified most strongly with Marilla. But if I skimmed the gratuitous expository narrative, there was a charming story that kept me going (after a 3 month hiatus). And as Anne grew up, the story got progressively easier to read. That part of the story earned it the extra half star.
The reasons this book is a classic are clear, though I’m confident I wouldn’t have been much more enamoured of this book when I was in its target audience; even as a child I lacked the requisite imagination to feel like Anne was a kindred spirit, and Heidi pretty much killed the orphan sub-genre for me anyway. But I have one niece for whom this book might be a perfect fit, and I’ll be holding in on my shelf for her next visit, assuming that happens before she’s old enough to drive, given current border closures. Or maybe I’ll just send it to her in the post.
Well, this is where I wish I paid more attention in my English Lit. classes. Then I could use this review to wax lyrical (or at least literate) about the exposition, the rising action, the climax and the ultimate resolution of Anne Elliot’s story in Persuasion. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay attention in class (or attend class very often) so here I am floundering for a way to adequately discuss one of Jane Austen’s finest. (Does this make me a cautionary tale?)
I’m going to start by saying I still like Pride & Prejudice better. I’ve heard many people describe Persuasion as Austen’s most mature work – which makes sense because it was also her last – and I can definitely see the truth in that. But Persuasion lacks the humour, the lightness, of her earlier works, although it still retains all of the bite.
If Miss Austen wrote from life she lacked any positive parental role models. In every book of hers I’ve read, at least one parent was vapid, shallow, vain, neurotic, dyspeptic, a hypochondriac or a combination of any of the aforementioned. I’d argue it’s the single uniting factor in all her work (although I’ve yet to read her juvenilia or Sanditon). Anne Elliot gets the rawest deal of all of JA’s MC’s – her family has no affection for her at all. She is the Cinderella in their lives: useful only for propping them up when they’re down, being the person applied to for attentiveness, while never receiving any attention or affection in return.
Thank goodness for Lady Russell; only Lady Russell persuaded Anne to cut off her engagement to the man she loved 8 1/2 years ago because his prospects were not guaranteed. Now that man is back and he’s rich. He might also be a tiny bit bitter about having his heart broken all those years ago.
I enjoyed the story; I definitely liked it more than Emma (sorry mom) and probably more than Northanger Abbey. Maybe. It’s a more staid, more serious work than the others. What little frivolity there is ends in disaster and is used to illustrate a defect in character. As I prefer characters who ‘dearly love to laugh’, Elizabeth Bennett holds pride of place on my favorite Austen list – but Persuasion and Anne Elliot aren’t far behind.
(NB: While the edition information is correct for this review, the cover is not. And I hate not having the correct cover on my reviews.)