Hi!!! Here we are at our first discussion for the Persuasion Read-a-Long! I am very excited to do this because Persuasion is my favorite of Austen’s novels. This week the discussion focuses on chapters 1-6.
What is going on? In relation to our love story, very little. In relation to Sir Walter’s ego, plenty.
Something that always amuses me is that the novel opens up talking about Sir Walter’s obsession with his status and position in society. In fact, it’s an obsession two of his three children share, as does his deceased wife’s best friend. For me that has always been the frame in which this story sits. Without understanding this one issue, you can’t understand Anne’s choice in relation to her relationship with Frederick Wentworth… both past and present relationship.
Did you notice that you actually don’t even get a real line of dialogue from Anne until chapter 3? Wentworth (the wrong one) doesn’t get mentioned for even longer. Here are the main characters of this story and it takes us 3-4 chapters to get to know them in any way.
Other things to keep in mind as we move forward. Our first read-a-long was for Northanger Abbey, which was the first novel Austen wrote, but wasn’t published until after her death. In that discussion we chatted a lot about the narrator’s commentary breaking up the flow of the story. I attributed that to this being her first novel. Persuasion, on the other hand, was the last one she wrote. It was also not published until after she died. I am interested, as we move forward, to see what people think of her maturity as a writer.
Last, this is one of my favorite lines about Anne:
A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance; but not with a few months ended Anne’s share of suffering from it. Her attachment and regrets had, for a long time, clouded every enjoyment of youth, and an early loss of bloom and spirits had been their lasting effect. (Chapter 4)
Why? This quote always sat with me at how depression happens and impacts us. Anne and Frederick are only together a few months, but it was a strong enough attachment that it causes a depression that, at least I would argue, has never left Anne. I know depression is something we talk about differently now, but it is clear by today’s standards that this is what Anne experienced. It resonated with me to the point that it is actually the frame I preferred for a modernization.
So, what about you? What did you think of the first 6 chapters? Is there any character you like already? Do you have any quotes that are standing out? Share in the comments!