August 5, 2015

Persuasion & Prayers Read-Along :: Day 14


Oh my heart! We're at the end of Persuasion and I simply can't stop swooning. A more perfectly delightful ending could not have been written! I have said before and I will say again, this book remains my favorite Austen, this read-through proved that again. All the details and the laughter and the swoony moments combine to make me a very happy reader! :) Also many thanks to Amber for hosting this read-along and all the other ladies who participated (looking at you Courtney and Julie :). I have loved every minute of reading this story again and having the privilege of discussing it with those awesome ladies. And now, onwards to more of my gushing!

Day 14 :: Persuasion Chapters 23-24

Quote to Ponder:

"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
F.W.
I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never."

"Such a letter was not to be soon recovered from."

{I'm sorry, but I had to post that entire letter. I had to! Can you imagine receiving such beautiful words meant just for you? I don't blame Anne for being unable to even think clearly after reading that! My heart melts every single time I read it. One of the best letters in literature, in my humble opinion!}

Observation:

Some of the others who were reading this with me said they got pretty frustrated with Wentworth in the first half of the story. And I don't blame them! He does act pretty idiotically. Yet I knew that in most of that portion of the book we are only getting Anne's perspective, so we miss out on what's really going through Wentworth's mind. Which is why I love that Ms. Austen gives us clarity-of what was going on with him-in these last chapters! Because while that letter is simply amazing (it really, really is!), the fact that we can finally understand him and see him own up to his mistakes is especially wonderful. I love that he acknowledges how his actions were wrong and that it was his emotions that got the better of him (see? I told you! ;) directly to Anne, "...he was obliged to acknowledge that he had been constant unconsciously, nay unintentionally, that he had meant to forget her, and believed it to be done. He had imagined himself indifferent, when he had only been angry...".

Once you know his reasons it helps how you view him in the early chapters (especially when reading the book again) and while it doesn't make his choices less frustrating, it does make it easier to forgive him. By doing that, perhaps Ms. Austen wanted to give us a hero who is flawed, realizes this about himself, and seeks to become better. (Which is a hero I can definitely connect with and swoon over! :) It also gives Wentworth more compassion for Anne's mistake eight years ago. It takes hardship to bring both of them to that understanding though, which makes their reunion feel even more earned. Both made mistakes, both dealt with heartache and pain, both forgave, and both loved fiercely from then on. Beautiful, yes?! :D

Question :: We've finished the book! What are your final thoughts? Where does Persuasion rank among the Jane Austen stories you know and love?

My favorite, of course! But you already knew that. :D I have trouble narrowing down precisely why this story resonates with me so much, but I can definitely talk about what I love about it.

9931852First, I just adore Anne. (Here's a recent gush-fest for your consideration. :) She doesn't really change over the course of this story (at least not drastically), it's more that she comes to understand herself better. She realizes the strength that's inside her, because while she's always been strong, I don't think she'd ever have labeled herself as such in the beginning of this story. Watching her blossom into a more daring woman who can finally believe in her own worth and be firm enough to even stand up to her father when the occasion calls for it is glorious! And to then get that exquisite letter and "perfect happiness" with Wentworth? I love it!

And seriously. I know I'm repeating myself, but that letter....!!!! :D

I have to note that awesome conversation that Captain Harville and Anne have just prior to the letter as well. (Sidenote: that's one scene where the 2007 version of Persuasion disappoints me.) It is such a crucial moment when Wentworth overhears them and is unable to stay silent any longer. I love how they can't fully agree, yet they know they're both a bit biased in their own favor and still completely understand where the other is coming from. It's a mutual admiration and understanding and it's perfectly timed. I love how passionate Captain Harville is when he's talking about how he misses his wife and children when he's gone. It's also the moment when it seems very clear to me that he knows at least a bit of Anne and Wentworth's past and possibly may even know how they both feel presently. Of course, that's pure speculation on my part, but Anne notes this about him just prior to their convo "...the unaffected, easy kindness of manner which denoted the feelings of an older acquaintance than he really was...". He's so open with her during this convo, clearly comfortable sharing a bit of his heart with her. One doesn't do that with someone they don't know well, unless they know things about this person, perhaps, which leads them to know they can trust them. I could be wrong, but I like to imagine such a scenario because I simply love this scene in the book! :)

Of course, y'all know I love that wonderful happy ending. Anne and Wentworth forever!!! ;D But truly, after all the heartache and fear of rejection both of them went through, it is absolutely delightful to see them so happy together. They both deserve it. I'm also pleased with how so many ends get tied up exactly right. From Lady Russell and Wentworth's friendship, to Wentworth helping Mrs. Smith, to both Musgrove girls getting their own happy ever after, and even though Sir Walter and Elizabeth end up with more heartache and uncertainty than happiness, it's fitting for them. (Plus they still have each other! ;) And while tinged with just the right amount of reality, I am undeniably with Amber when she states "I think Anne might echo Mrs. Croft's words from chapter 8: "I can safely say, that the happiest part of my life has been spent on board a ship. While we were together, you know, there was nothing to be feared." Anne and Wentworth have a joyful future together, whatever it brings!

Have I mentioned how much I love this book? :)



4 comments:

  1. THE LETTER! That is what finally made me like the story :) Otherwise this one just wasn't my favorite Austen book(my favorite being Pride and Prejudice because it was the first one I ever read and the first movie adaptation I ever watched). But anyway, the letter was definitely sigh-worthy.

    I really liked what you said here:

    "First, I just adore Anne. (Here's a recent gush-fest for your consideration. :) She doesn't really change over the course of this story (at least not drastically), it's more that she comes to understand herself better. She realizes the strength that's inside her, because while she's always been strong, I don't think she'd ever have labeled herself as such in the beginning of this story. Watching her blossom into a more daring woman who can finally believe in her own worth and be firm enough to even stand up to her father when the occasion calls for it is glorious! And to then get that exquisite letter and "perfect happiness" with Wentworth? I love it! "

    I liked your statement of Anne not changing over the course of the story, but understanding herself more and believing in her own self-worth. I loved in the movie how we actually saw the Anne character blooming. She went from a color-less human being to having rosy cheeks and much more animation to her. They portrayed that excellently in the version that we watched.

    I have definitely enjoyed the discussion on this book and look forward to joining in more reading adventures with you gals again :) Maybe I can perfect my Twitter skills before then? ha!

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    1. That letter is absolutely wonderful, isn't it, Julie?! SO very much sigh-worthy and delightful. :) This book is quite different from P&P and Anne is certainly VERY different from Lizzy! So I can understand why lots of people would prefer P&P. But there's just something about Anne and her story that resonates with me. Maybe I just connect easier to her than Lizzy because wittiness is not my forte. :) Whatever the reasons, I do love this book. But no worries! P&P is still very high on my list of favorites!

      Yes! I love how the '95 version visibly shows Anne's transformation. That's one of my favorite parts of it, actually, and why I like that version so well. And I so wish that the '07 version could have portrayed that.

      This discussion has been awesome! Thanks so much for all of your thought-provoking comments. I would love to have another "reading adventure" with you as well! And your twitter skills are just fine. :)

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  2. Sigh. Even reading The Letter out of context, not having read the book for lo these 6 months now... it's still tingly. Thank you for reprinting all of it!

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    1. You are entirely welcome, Hamlette! My pleasure indeed. :)

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