I went through a Jane Austen kick several years ago, and read all of her books. So while I know that I read Persuasion at some point, somehow it didn't make much of an impact. However, like I mentioned in my last post, I was in the mood to read the book that inspired the wonderful For Darkness Shows the Stars. And, can I just say, that this time it made a much bigger impression. You can tell that this is one of Austen's later works. Everything wonderful is there: the pitch-perfect characterisation, the keen observation, the social interactions, and the wonderful love story. But everything is refined and honed and mature. Austen is at the top of her game.
In addition to the beauty of the book from a craft perspective, the love story really resonated with me this time around (you could argue that perhaps that is directly related to the quality of the writing). The characters are in a different place -- the "meet-cute" has already happened. The initial rush of love has come and gone. In its place is longing, regret, hurt, resignation, pride, and a deep steadfastness. I like that the obstacle that Anne and Wentworth face in getting to their happy-ever-after (which all Austen heros and heroine's face) is not misunderstanding, or miscommunication, or the lack of revelation. Everything is out there: they love each other, they communicate that, then Anne makes a choice to step back, they fight, they part. And eventually, they face each other again, to see what time and distance have done. I love that Captain Wentworth goes from basically ignoring Anne (although you know he is painfully aware of her at all times) to being jealous (even though Anne is the smartest person in the room and can smell Elliot's smarminess a mile a way) to realizing how awesome Anne is. And I love how Anne is sweet and loyal and true and kind, but also strong and confident (in her way) and steadfast. I would want her for my best friend. And I love how she calls Wentworth out -- she could never have gone after him because she's not one to buck the system entirely, but when he's all "would you have accepted me the first time I came back from sea" she's all "duh, you big idiot".
And of course, there's that letter. Watch out Knightly, you've got some competition for my favorite Austen man.
Anyway, lots of rambling to just say that I think I have rediscovered my favorite Jane Austen novel.