Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book - Jane Smiley

I continue to be a very slow reader. And as I have lacked the imagination of late to invent other reasons to write, I have needed to finish another book before returning here. Although I have been elsewhere.
But here I am. A month after my last post. Not very productive methinks. How do people read two or three books a week? I don't care to be pressured by the activity of others. All the same...
Still I am happy to share my thoughts on Jane Austen's Persuasion. Which I have just now finished. For all my thoughts are happy ones. In spite of the fact that this was the book of Austen's that I least wanted to read. The least appealing. The most grim. In my memory, at least. And yet I found it one of the most satisfying. On so many levels.
The tale of Anne Elliot and her lost love, Captain Frederick Wentworth, is perhaps not as invigorating as JA's other novels. And littered with accidents, death and deception, it is also perhaps not the lightest and brightest of her stories.
Yet for me Anne Elliot is one of JA's most endearing characters. The most deeply developed, least frivolous. She is reflective, principled. Gentle. Discerning. And well read. She is discreet and put upon. Despised and loved. And she neither bursts forth youth nor beauty. Thus she is charming through her very nature, which is always to me the best of charms.
Captain Wentworth for his part is the devoted, dejected lover. Angry and spurned. Yet unable to stay far from his love any longer. His letter admitting his feelings and pronouncing his intentions is stunning. In that moment, he beats any of JA's lovers for me. So manly, so emotive. Sooooo romantic.
The characters are perhaps not as lively, not as immediately appealing as say an Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy, an Emma and Mr Knightley. But their feelings, love and attachment seem deeper, more passionate, more real for their durability. The romance intensified for its duration. And therefore the whole effect is more. Just more.

I was eager to finish Persuasion, and equally sad to arrive at the end. Always the sign of a good read for me. And so I will pursue Austen to the finish. Mansfield Park to be followed by Sense and Sensibility. I will try to pop by more frequently in between reads with some intelligible musings. But make no promises. On either regard...