Persuasion Read-Along Update #1

Read-along hosted by Heidi from Literary Adventures Along the Brandywine who, I must say, is doing an amazing job with her chapter updates!

Book I – Chapters 1 – 6

Sir Walter Elliot, widower, and the father of three young ladies, Elizabeth, Anne and Mary Elliot, is the proud owner of Kellynch-Hall in Somersetshire.  Due to financial difficulties and, perhaps a too liberal economy, Sir Walter is forced to come to the realization that the family must tighten their purse strings in order to retain their respective position in society and avoid ruin.  Through a manipulative type of convincing by Lady Russell, an old family friend, and Mr. Shepherd, his lawyer, Sir Walter abandons his principles and agrees to let Kellynch to Mr. and Mrs. Cole, a mere admiral and his wife.  It just so happens that the brother of Mrs. Cole, Captain Wentworth, at one time had had an understanding with Anne and they were set to marry.  Yet when both Sir Walter and the respected Lady Russell rejected the match, Anne backed down and the engagement was broken.  As we reach chapter 6, Sir Walter and Elizabeth have removed to Bath to find a new lodging, Anne is visiting Mary who is ill (it seems perpetually ill), the Coles take possession of Kellynch Hall and there is the impending visit of Captain Wentworth to his sister.

Thoughts:

I use the word “manipulative” in describing Lady Russell’s and Mr. Shepherd’s behaviour, but honestly, nothing less would work with Sir Walter.  His wife had been a model of tact, economy and amiability and her beneficial character traits had tempered Sir Walter’s trying ones, but since her death his vanity and pretentiousness had not only re-emerged, but grown to gigantic proportions. His value is for outward appearances, and inner qualities are completely discounted in his arrogance.  He is not a pleasant person.

Anne is not yet well-sketched.  We sense she is quiet and moderate but she gives us little insight into her private thoughts or emotions.  In fact, I find that the other characters act as a foil to hers:  Sir Walter’s selfishness and elitism, Elizabeth’s snobbiness and sense of entitlement, Mary’s ill health and complaining, Mr. Shepherd’s manipulation, etc.  In comparison, Anne is set in a golden halo of goodness.  Sadly I have not quite bought into her character yet. And heavens, it doesn’t help that I had watched the movie years ago, before I’d read the book, and was so disappointed with Amanda Root’s portrayal of Anne.  I had hoped that Anne would have some unique qualities that set her apart but, aside from being an extremely good person, I’m still waiting to find that true and special flower among the weeds of her companions.

Lady William Henry Cavendish Bentinck
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
source Wikiart

16 thoughts on “Persuasion Read-Along Update #1

  1. I'm interested to see what you think of the rest! I wish I had time to read this along with you.. It's been a long time since I read it the first time and it was right at the start of my foray into adult literature so I'm sure my views will have changed enormously since then, especially having read more Jane Austen since! I'll be checking out the rest of your posts for the verdict 😛

  2. I wish you had time too! It would be fun to hear your comments. I'm actually getting a little scared. What if I don't like Anne? What if I can't get Amanda Root out of my mind? I just borrowed another DVD of Persuasion from the library and am mulling over whether to watch it or not. Will it help or hinder? So many questions, huh, and so far, no answers. I'll just have to press on! 🙂

  3. This was going to be an end of the year read but when the read-along popped up, I decided to go ahead. I'm not surprised that it's a re-read for you. Soon you'll have trouble finding classics that you haven't read yet! 😉

  4. I don't know about that – I was perusing some people's Classics Club lists recently and I was rather regretting listing so many re-reads for mine – I still have A LOT of reading to do! 🙂

    By the way – your above comment – "What if I don't like Anne?" – no pressure or anything, but you know that Jane Austen quiz a lot of people have done – "Which Jane Austen heroine are you most like?" I always get Anne. So you'd better like Anne! 😉

  5. Uh oh! Now the pressure is on! 😉 I'm apparently Elizabeth Bennett ….. which I think is rather accurate, although I'm probably a little bit of an Emma too. I would have loved to know your answers to the questions! 😉

  6. Oh dear, now you're making me want to reread Persuasion! I don't remember it as a favorite at the time, and I wasn't a fan of the Amanda Root movie version, but I liked the more recent TV adaptation so much better and have seen so many positive blog posts about it over the years, that I really feel I should quite like it the 2nd time around. I can't remember if Anne develops any of the qualities you are hoping for or not, but I hope the reading improves for you!

  7. I just might decide to watch the new movie version for inspiration. And I think I've seen many of the blog posts you have, which was why I was looking forward to this read so much. I have high hopes for Anne's improvement!

  8. So, is this your first reading of Persuasion? I don't know why I thought you had read it already. I didn't like it the first time; but this time has been AMAZING!!!! I've kind of did a "Forest Gump" and went way ahead of the read-along. I'm loving it so much. This reread has been like using a magnifying glass. But enough about me.

    Anne may have been designed to appear reserved and service-oriented, but I think her moment to rise up and bloom is going to come. She is the kind of character that the reader looks to be rewarded for her good works, at some point. That's how I've been looking at it.

  9. Yes, it's the only big work of Austen that I had not read completely and Sense and Sensibility I've read half of. Isn't that crazy?! I love Austen but tend to stick with the old favourites —- I've read P&P multiple times, Emma about 3 times, Mansfield Park 3 times and Northanger Abbey at least twice.

    It's really helpful that you told me that Anne will get her time to shine. I'll look forward to that moment. Right now though, I can't wait to meet Captain Wentworth!

  10. It's been so long since I've read this one so it's probably time for refresh. I kind of like the Amanda Root version. She does seem completely lackluster and unappealing in the beginning but as the movie goes on she very subtly improves in both looks and personality. Anne is supposed to be an introverted private person whose passions run deeply under the surface and I imagine that is hard character to act.

  11. So all you need to do is complete Sense and Sensibility. I have only read P&P and Persuasion. I had S&S set to read this year, so if you read it this year, too, maybe I can join you.

  12. Ruth, I was going to read Sense and Sensibility in February, if that works for you. I'm trying to read the Austen books in published order (the read-along mixed up Persuasion, but that's okay) and S&S is first. My March is pretty booked so I kind of need to get to it next month. I hope that's okay. It's always nice to have a buddy. 🙂

  13. I own the movie so I should probably watch it again. I do LOVE Ciaran Hinds as Wentworth. When I've watched it before I thought Amanda Root had the personality of a wet sock, but you are right …… I think it would be extremely difficult to show Anne's character on the screen as much of her character is internal. I'm going to watch it again but after I finish the book so as not to colour my read of it.

    I will admit I can be extremely picky with Austen movies. I cannot watch the Kiera Knightley P&P ….. in fact I would argue that it is P&P and I didn't like the Emma Thompson version pf S&S because of some of the character's portrayals. One of my favourite actors (David Rintoul) plays Darcy in another version of P&P and I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it, just in case it's terrible. How silly is that? However I absolutely adore the A&E version of P&P with Colin Firth and quite enjoy the "new" BBC version of S&S, so there's hope for me yet, I guess. 😉

  14. Ohhhh….why thank you! 😉 I'm so glad to have you along and much enjoyed reading your thoughts here!

    As a note, I was reading your comment just above and thought I'd mention that I have seen the David Rintoul P&P. In fact, it's what I grew up with. I now absolutely love the '95 (Colin Firth) version, but I still like the 80's one quite well. I think some of the minor characters aren't done quite as well, but Darcy and Lizzy are fairly satisfactory. All in all, it's a bit stiffer, but not terrible. Incidentally, this afternoon I actually just posted a look at the '05 version (with Keira Knightley) over on my "everything else" blog. You can check it out here and I'd love to know your thoughts!

  15. I really appreciate all the work that you're doing, Heidi. It helps us other readers get much more out of the book.

    I'm going to try to get ahold of the David Rintoul P&P. In spite of vowing not to watch the Keira Knightley version ever again, I've been spurred on by your post on your "everything" blog to try to target what I really hated about it, so I've ordered it again from the library. I'm popping over to your other blog to post now.

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!