08 August 2007

250 word review: 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen

Persuasion is one of Austen’s lesser known novels – everyone knows Lizzie Bennett, and most have heard of Emma Woodhouse and Margaret Dashwood. But what about Anne Elliot? I can see why this novel is less popular than others; it’s very difficult to get into and it takes a long time for anything in particular to happen. Nor is it a very well developed plot – a hint of intrigue fails to go anywhere and even the main love story is a bit rushed. Despite this, I loved it.

The plot is well suited to a modern chick-lit reader; Anne Elliot, past the first bloom of youth and unmarried, is brought into contact (through rambling circumstances) with Captain Wentworth, an old flame she was persuaded to abandon by her friend years before because he had no money. He’s now rich and still handsome, but resentful about the ‘break up’, so it looks like the flame has died. I read most of it wondering why Helen Fielding had chosen Pride and Prejudice as the model for Bridget Jones’s Diary when this story of an older singleton seems far more suited than that of some desirable teenager. It wasn’t until the end that I realised that The Edge of Reason is almost entirely based on Persuasion. Although at least poor Anne doesn’t get banged up in Thailand.

It’s not an easy read, but I’d recommend Persuasion for both lovers of the classics and of the chick-lit movement. Go on, try the original lit chick!

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