Penguin Classics
by Jane Austen, Gillian Beer (Introduction)
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Mass market paperback, 236 pages
List Price: $7.00 Sale Price: $5.95

First published in 1818, this was Jane Austen's last work. Its mellow character and autumnal tone have long made it a favorite with Austen readers. Set in Somersetshire and Bath, the novel revolves around the lives and love affairs of Sir Walter Elliot, his daughters Elizabeth, Anne and Mary, and various in-laws, friends, suitors and other characters. In Anne Elliot, the author created perhaps her sweetest, most appealing heroine.

At the center of the novel is Anne's thwarted romance with Captain Frederick Wentworth, a navy man Anne met and fell in love with when she was 19. At the time, Wentworth was deemed an unsuitable match and Anne was forced to break off the relationship. Eight years later, however, they meet again. By this time Captain Wentworth has made his fortune in the navy and is an attractive "catch." However, Anne is now uncertain about his feelings for her. But after various twists and turns of fortune, the novel ends on a happy note.

In Persuasion, as in such novels as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Emma, Austen limned the plight of young women who could escape the constraints of family life only by marrying, and suggests the foolishness of women who believed they were free and not dependent on the financial an social resources of men. At the same time, Persuasion offers an ironic and subtle paean to the true love that enables one woman to rise above straitened economic circumstances and the stifling social conventions that restricted women to narrowly circumscribed lives in the common sitting room.

Sure to appeal to admirers of Jane Austen, Persuasion will delight any reader with its finely drawn characters, gentle satire and charming recreation of the genteel world of the nineteenth-century English countryside.

In her introduction, Gillian Beer discusses Austen's portrayal of the double-edged nature of persuasion and the clash between old and new worlds. This edition also includes a new chronology and full textual notes.

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FLAWS: Someone falls off a wall and bashes their head. There is blood.
Summary: Eight years ago, Anne Elliot was persuaded to turn down the affections of Captain Wentworth. Now they meet again, and feelings must be worked through and resolved.

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  Not Convincing
Sincerelyornot, 7/8/2011
Maybe its the high standard that "Northanger Abby" and "Sense and Sensability" have set, but to me, this novel falls short of Austen's great talent. As a whole package, "Persuasion" falls flat. Overall, its a light romance novel, not a classic.

A sense of bitterness pervades "Persuasion." The reader is supposed to sympathize with our heroine, but what does she have to complain about? Parties to go to? Relatives to meet? Dinner with the neighbors? Her family isn't perfect, but whose is? Ann is a lovely, responsible girl, but she comes across as dreary and dull, unwilling to try new things or to engage her family in a productive way.

Like our heroine, Jane was an unmarried hanger-on of a wealthy middle class family. When they moved to Bath, so did she; the result was a series of parties, long walks, and dinners with other families in town. Its clearly not Jane Austen's idea of a good time, and her writing was probably an outlet for the resentment she felt.

Everyone who enjoys themselves in Bath is, in the book, portrayed with a cartoonish meanness, or as a busybody, and both are excused on the grounds that, oh, its such a horrible place anyway why bother enjoying yourself? The happy ending feels forced and unrealistic, more like a fairy tale than something that might happen to a real person.

In the end, the book provides insight into how Austen felt about one part of her life. Its worth reading as either a light beach romance, or to understand Jane's feelings on the subject of all things social. Her other works are so excellent, "Persuasion" seems out of place.