BY JANE AUSTEN
Published posthumously, ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen is a short and accessible classic that is an optimistic love story, written at the end of the author’s lifetime. A wonderful opportunity to complement the recent Netflix adaptation starring Dakota Johnson as the lead heroine.
Set in the West Country at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, ‘Persuasion’ follows Anne Elliot’s story who is persuaded by her family friend Lady Russell to break her engagement to Frederick Wentworth. Returning some 8 years later as a wealthy and eligible navy captain, old feelings are reignited between Anne and Captain Wentworth who are forced into the same social circles. Whilst Anne is perceived as gentle and dependable and a useful aunt, her friends and family are now eager to attract the attention of the eligible Captain Wentworth. As the story unravels Wentworth shows interest in Louisa Musgrove and Anne is encouraged to consider William Elliot, a distant cousin and heir to the Elliot's Baronet title and Kellynch Hall.
Now older and wiser, Anne has to confront her heartache and her own missed opportunities. In pursuit of love and happiness Anne also reflects on her own family’s attitudes to status and class and reconsiders her own position and views. ‘Persuasion’ explores the role of women at this time and there is an inner voice throughout the novel that provides a commentary to the social status of women and the extent at which they can be independent and lead a fulfilling position.
Jane Austen’s story is preoccupied with the heroine finding her own voice. The Den found it interesting that the author had been romantically involved with a young man who had been persuaded by his own family to not pursue the relationship with Jane. Whilst Austen remained single it is clear that she believed love could conquer in fiction, even if she knew she could not achieve this in her own lifetime.