Hello…it’s me. I’m back at it with multiple reviews in one post–but don’t worry, it’s just two this time! And good news: I liked them both! In fact, one of them not only got five stars and thereby made my 2016 favorites list, it made my all time favorites list. I know. I’m excited too. (Note: I finished Persuasion mere moments ago, and Sense and Sensibility in August.)
Synopsis: At twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all,it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.
Review: 5/5 stars
I’ve got a new favorite Jane Austen book, baby! My first time adding a book to my all-time favorites list in eight MONTHS!
Yes, this one usurps Pride & Prejudice. I can hardly believe it. P&P remains in my mind the greatest love story ever told (or, okay, at least the greatest one I’ve ever read). But this one has so much more than a killer romance and a wonderful set of sisters. (I still love you, Bennet sisters.)
While I adore P&P, “funny” isn’t the first adjective that comes to mind. Persuasion had me cracking. up. 1800s eloquence has never been more hilarious. Austen can also feel wordy at times, but this little number rarely had that problem. I pretty much flew through it whenever I had the pleasure of picking it up.
It was also a little more thematically meaningful. This book frequently mentioned the sexism ingrained in society, and condemned it. The field of characters were broader (which could be very difficult to keep track of, because there were multiple people with the same first or last name) and they were all full. And great. I loved them.
To everyone who told me this is their favorite Austen book: you’re so right. I respect you so much, and I’m sorry I laughed at you in my head for thinking this could be better than Pride & Prejudice. Everyone who recommended this to me, or loves it, or loves Austen:
Bottom line: this book rocks. Read it. Now. There’s nothing like some Austen when it’s cold outside.
Quote: “I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”
Sense & Sensibility
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.
God, there’s nothing quite like Jane Austen, is there? This is only my second time reading one of her works but with each novel I experienced a unique feeling–a combination of two types of satisfaction typically at odds: that of learning, of reading something intelligent and worthwhile, and that of a guilty pleasure. I’ve been reading this book since March, since I have to be in a certain mood to muster that kind of energy.
I didn’t love this book quite as much as Pride & Prejudice, though, mainly because of the last 50 pages. The two love stories that occurred in this book–or should I say the final two–weren’t as emotional, heart-wrenching, or even life-changing as Elizabeth and Darcy’s, likely because of the flatness of the love interests. This plotline could also be a hell of a lot more confusing. (Plus there are, like, three liberally used last names in the whole book and practically everybody is named John.) And Marianne, one of the two main characters, is pressed off onto the most convenient man and described frequently as his “reward” for being a good guy. So that was not the best.
But these irritants were often the price of the aspects of this book that were so good–sometimes even better than P&P. The female characters (and a couple of the male ones) are fantastic, and I want to meet all of them. Reading this book felt like living in the world. Each character felt so real, and I could picture every face, every room, every landscape, every calling card. It was also much more willing to explore the society and the unspoken rules of the day. People always say Austen isn’t just valuable for her kickass love stories, but for her entertaining and educational depictions of the period. This one in particular is a fun read that teaches so much about what it was like to be a young woman at the time (and a more average young woman than one Elizabeth Bennet).
Plus, I just really, really love books about sisters, and I really really really love Jane Austen and the way she writes.
Bottom line: Read this. Read everything Jane Austen’s ever written. I know that’s my new quest.
Quote: “I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”