Description

Persuasion was written by Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817), an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen’s plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favorable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, humor, and social commentary, have long earned her acclaim among critics, scholars, and popular audiences alike.
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Review

Seven years ago, a young Anne Elliot had been engaged to Frederick Wentworth, but Anne broke the engagement off when she received ill advice from family and friends that then Commander Wentworth was undeserving of Anne. Now, at age 27, Anne’s family is on the brink of financial ruin and she crosses paths again with now Naval Captain Wentworth. Is there time enough for second chances?
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Study Questions

1. This book has been described as “autumnal” do you agree? What does that mean?
2. Have you read other Jane Austen novels? How does this book rate?
3. How close does Ann come to be a perfect heroine?
4. Is Wentworth the almost perfect hero
5. What is going on in England in 1815. How does this time affect the British Navy and its officers?
6. Were you aware that naval officers profited from capturing enemy cargoes plunder?
7. How did the characters in the book deal work? Did anyone carry out work?
8. What did the men do for their own enjoyment?
9. Did the language of the book challenge you?
10. Did the author get the tale told in the number of pages? Could the book have been longer?


Discussion

The discussion of Jane Austen’s book Persuasion produced one of the liveliest sessions our club has had. We reviewed the tumultuous times in England during Austen’s lifetime. These included the Revolutionary War, George the III’s madness and the regency. Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo ending the Napoleonic Wars and riots marred the countryside. These events notwithstanding Austen looked inward at the life and times and manners of her society.

The author skillfully introduced most of the main characters in the first four pages. The final key character, Mr. Wentworth, first appeared on page 21.

The prevailing opinion was that the book was wordy, the sentences were long, and the characters were easily confused. There was Mrs. Croft and Mrs. Clay, two Mr. Elliotts, and several Musgroves.

It was clear to all that Mrs. Russel was left in charge of the girls, when their mother died, and it was her “persuasion” that kept Anne from marrying Wentworth seven years earlier. The group pretty much agreed that our heroine’s life would have been much different had she and Wentworth wed when they first met. Being in the navy he could have been killed and if he did what he could to stay safe, he may not have become rich through the capture of French ships.

The two men were much more tolerant of the writing than the women. One suggested that reading the book was like looking at a beautiful painting. The words of the book told a useful story but also “painted” a pleasing picture.

It was generally agreed that this is the kind of book that would only become more enjoyable with re-reading. Some expressed the intention to do so.

It was agreed that we should watch a recent movie based on the book and plans are being made to do this.

Grading for the book was 8.1 (10 best 1 worst).

 

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