July 11, 2015

Persuasion & Prayers Read-Along :: Days 1 & 2


As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I'm participating in a read-along of Jane Austen's Persuasion as well as The Prayers of Jane Austen. Fun, right?! Click over to Amber's blog for more info  and also just in case you decide you'd like to join us. We'd love for you to join in! :)

I am severely behind and I'll probably stay that way. Unfortunately I don't have the ability to post every single day of the read-along. So y'all will get one or two big posts each week (hopefully). Anyway! I hope you enjoy. And if you care to gush about Persuasion or Jane Austen with us, please feel free to do so. Because I am all about the gush when it comes to this wonderful story! :D

{Also, for any who have not read the book, there will be spoilers. So beware!}

Day 1 :: Persuasion Chapters 1-2
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Quote to Ponder:

"It sometimes happens that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she was ten years before; and, generally speaking, if there has been neither ill health nor anxiety, it is a time of life at which scarcely any charm is lost."

Observation:

For a story that centers on our heroine, Anne is severely overlooked in these first two chapters. Which is kind of brilliantly done, now that I'm thinking about it. What better way to get the reader to realize just how insignificant Anne is to her family and friends than by hardly mentioning her at all? With so little introduction to her (and that little bit mainly talks about how poorly everyone around her thinks of her), the reader immediately develops compassion and sympathy for her. (Or at least, I did.) Her family is truly awful to her! And I'm sorry, but I just don't like Lady Russell, no matter what good intentions she has. She overlooks and outright ignores Anne's opinions and feelings.

Question :: If you were an adviser to the Elliot family, what would you recommend they do about their debts? (Live more frugally and stay in their own home despite the discomfort and blow to their pride? Move to a smaller house in the country so they can stay close to their own home and acquaintances? Or move to Bath as Lady Russell recommends, where they would be far away from gossip and the sorrow of seeing their home inhabited by someone else?)

Okay, so as much as Lady Russell ignores Anne's wishes on this subject, I do have to agree that she probably has a good point. Getting Sir Walter and Elizabeth away from the gossip and sorrow is most likely a good idea. Yet for Anne's sake, I so wish that they could have stayed in the country!


Day 2 :: Persuasion Chapters 2-3

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Quote to Ponder:

"They knew not each other's opinion, either its constancy or its change, on the one leading point of Anne's conduct, the subject was never alluded to; but Anne, at seven-and-twenty, thought very differently from what she had been made to think at nineteen."

Observation:

We go from Sir Walter's foppishness and self-importance to a lovely and introspective look at Anne's past. As sad as Anne and Captain Wentworth's early love story ended up being, I love how we get a great explanation of how that situation changed Anne. It forced her to search her heart and come to understand herself. She became much stronger through the subsequent eight or so years. Have I mentioned how very much I love Anne Elliot? For all that she's "lost her bloom" at 27, she's also found her true self. She's become more comfortable in her own skin, so to speak. I know this will become more true as the story goes on, but I just love how she starts out sure of herself (even if it's only in her own mind because she does have more growing-of-a-backbone to do in regards to her family and Lady Russell! :). Also, that quote to ponder above, I love that it states "...what she had been made to think at nineteen."

(Additionally, I'd love to have met a young Frederick Wentworth! "He was brilliant, he was headstrong." What an intriguing description, yes? :)

Question: Do you believe Anne was unwise in breaking her engagement? (Going deeper: How much should someone rely on the well-intended advice of family and trusted friends in matters of the heart? Do you believe it's possible for two people to be right for each other while the timing and maturity levels are all wrong?)

First, I absolutely do believe it's possible for two people to be right for each other while the timing and maturity levels are all wrong! Some people need the chance to grow up or just have some freedom to become who they truly are before they're ready to settle down.

Second, I flop back and forth on whether Anne was unwise or not. Because of course I so want Anne and Wentworth to be happy together! (But then, we wouldn't have this beautiful story, would we? ;) Yet, just going by chapter four alone, there was so much that may not have happened if they had gotten together the first time. Anne wouldn't have had as much chance to come to understand herself and form her own opinions, and Wentworth perhaps would not have advanced as far as he did in the navy. Of course, that's only speculation, but I can imagine that (as he was described as "headstrong") he may not have been as committed to his job if he knew he had a lovely wife to distract him. Does that make sense?

Third, I think it's good to get advice from people we trust. But their opinions are just that,  their opinions. They aren't actually in our particular situation which makes it much easier to be objective, but also they can't truly understand exactly what we're going through either. So ask their opinions, yes, but take them with a grain of salt.

(Also! What a fabulous question, Amber! I am loving how much you're making me really think about this story. :)



10 comments:

  1. Kara! I love that you put together some blog posts to join in the Persuasion read-along chat! (And it's so cool to show the different covers for the book! Great idea. :))

    You have some awesome thoughts on this, your favorite of Jane Austen's books. :) This line: Some people need the chance to grow up or just have some freedom to become who they truly are before they're ready to settle down. Yes!! And maybe that's just what Anne and Captain Wentworth needed. Regarding Wentworth, as you said, He may not have been as committed to his job if he knew he had a lovely wife to distract him. I totally get that, and I think it could very well have been the case. A new spouse is certainly distracting, from what I understand (in a good way!). It would be especially hard to stay focused while just starting an enterprise/career, likely even more so than if you were well-established, as Wentworth now is eight years later.

    As for Anne, you make the observation that the time apart gave her the opportunity to grow in her own convictions and the knowledge of who she is and what she wants. :)

    And that's a great point, about how the story begins with Anne's family and shows us just how left out she is. Definitely makes the reader feel sorry for her!

    Thanks so much for participating in the read-along and sharing your insights on this story!

    ~Amber

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    1. Thanks! I figured I'd better do my own posts because I was afraid I'd get really lengthy for your comment section. Turns out I was right! :D Also, I got the idea for the different covers from Hamlette. She did the same thing for a Little Women read-along she hosted and I just happened to remember that when I was creating this post...

      Yes! You understood exactly what I was trying to say. If they'd married earlier, then I do think it would make a difference on how focused Wentworth would have been able to be. He'd probably have felt much more divided between work and home life than he will now. :)

      Sorry for the late responses, but thank you for commenting! I'm loving these discussions so much.

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  2. Oh, and yes, I'd love to have met a young Frederick Wentworth, too! ;)

    ~Amber

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  3. Even though I don't have time to join another read-along at present, I'm really looking forward to your posts, Kara! Kind of vicariously reading it through you. Since I just read this back in January and February, it's pretty fresh in my mind, so that helps :-)

    I love what you pointed out about how Anne had been made to think things at nineteen -- such an important little detail, and I've totally missed it before. Good observation!

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    1. I hope you enjoy my thoughts, Hamlette! Because I'm realizing that I have a lot of feelings about this story and my posts are quite lengthy and gushy accordingly. :D

      And thank you! That quote jumped out at me while I was reading and you're exactly right. It's a very important detail! Austen is quite excellent at burying all these important details throughout her story. I love finding them!

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  4. Kara, you have pointed out so many awesome things about these first few chapters! I agree, it was brilliant of Austen to NOT focus on our heroine for the first few chapters. We get to see her through her family’s eyes (or opinions) before we really see her and learn the amount of true character she has.

    And I love the description you’ve pointed out of Frederick Wentworth being brilliant and headstrong. Doesn’t that remind you of another fav classic hero with the initials of JT? :) :)

    That’s a great response to Amber’s question -- how different would it have been if Anne and Frederick had not had time to grow and change personally if they had stayed together? This reminds me, in a way, of the Emily Blunt/Matt Damon movie “The Adjustment Bureau”. Have you seen it, by chance? It presents an interesting dilemma of someone obtaining personal achievement individually (like a fantastic career) or less materialistic success while staying with their soul mate and being happy.

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    1. Thanks, Courtney! This book sure does bring out my FEELINGS. ;)

      Exactly! I hadn't ever thought about that before, but the more I pondered, the more I realized how brilliant Austen is to begin this story that way.

      Oh, most definitely! I can see Wentworth and Thornton being very similar in personality! I hadn't thought about it, but I'm so glad you mentioned that. They would probably differ a lot in how they respond to their respective ladies' rejections (Wentworth gets bitter and seeks to forget her, Thornton decides to love her anyway), but they are both very headstrong and brilliant! And they both also use heartbreak to push their determination to do well in their careers. (Thornton's heartbreak from his father's death, I mean.)

      I have seen that one! It's been a while though, so I kind of forget what all happened. But what you said is ringing a bell. It definitely could be a good analogy for my possible "past-future" idea. Because I really do think a half of the reason why Wentworth did so well in the navy was that he used his career to battle his heartbreak.

      Thanks so much for your comments, as always! :)

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  5. Great points! I'm playing catch-up on my blog reading, so that's why this is in August. :) I'm always so torn about whether or not Anne and Wentworth should have gotten together before. On one hand, it would have saved them so much anguish. But on the other, I really agree that it gave them time to establish themselves as individuals, which is so important as an adult. Also, Wentworth was in the Navy. Even if he didn't find Anne distracting, he wouldn't have connected with the men on his boat in the same way if he had been married. My husband had a different friendship with his friends in his first years in the Army than he did in the first years of our marriage, just from spending more time with them and such. It's the same in college, when you live in the dorms versus off-campus. Anyway, nice points! I'm looking forward to reading the rest of these!

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    1. Thanks, Hannah! I'm SO behind on my blog reading as of late, so I understand completely. And am very glad you stopped by! :)

      As in your husband's example, I wondered if such a thing might would be true. That just makes sense. Your focus and values are different when you're married than they are when you're single. So I can easily see their story going very differently had they gotten together before. I think there's just so much learning about themselves they would have lost. Thanks for the input! :)

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