karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

Thoroughly Persuaded

I watched the PBS broadcast of Jane Austen's Persuasion last night. Austen is one of my favorite authors. I have read all her books, and I particularly enjoy watching well-done dramatizations of her work. One reason for that is that while I love her stories, and the characters are well drawn, Austen was not writing historical fiction. She didn't put in the kind of detailed description that a modern reader needs to visual her settings, because her audience knew what a lady would wear to make morning calls, what evening dress looked like, and what constituted a rural English village in the early to mid 19th century.

If you compare that with more modern stories about that period, her settings might seem sparse, but her books hold up well because while manners, clothes, and home furnishings have changed radically, human nature is more of a constant. Some people complain that's Austen's stories are overly domestic. She rarely mentions Napoleon or war or treaties or any of the great events of her time. I consider that a strength. She wrote the lives of women of a certain time and class— her time and her class— and immortalized them forever. Marriage was the sum total of a woman's ambition at that time, and her books are about how women realized their ambitions.

While Pride and Predjdiuce remains my favorite Austen novel, with Sense and Sensabilty a close second, Persuasion is creeping up there. Austen was older when she wrote it, and Anne Elliot is 27 compared to Lizzie Bennet's 20. Persuasion is about regrets and second chances, and we've all had the former and hoped for the latter.

Besides, for once it's the heroine's father who is the nincompoop, instead of her mother. If you have never read Austen, or if you're interested in re-reading her, ebooks of all her work are available free in the Kindle store and through Project Gutenberg. She won't miss the revenue.

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Tags: fiction, jane austen

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