Category Archives: Persuasion

Jane Austen: Ordinary in Her Time and Extraordinary in Our Time

Most of us are ordinary in our day to day lives. We go about our business until the day when we shuffle off this mortal coil.

During her lifetime, Jane Austen was an ordinary woman. But in our lifetimes, she is considered to be extraordinary. She is of the creators of the modern novel, a proto-feminist, a woman who was not afraid to speak her mind and an all around bad-ass.

Tomorrow is the 202th anniversary of her passing. She died at the young age of 41, with only four published books to her name and a modest success as a writer. Every time I read one of her books, I find myself asking what if she had lived a little longer or even into old age? What books and characters might she have introduced to the world?

Wherever she is, I hope that she is looking down on us and smiling, knowing that her name will live on for eternity.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility

By the Book: A Novel Book Review

Among the Janeite community, Persuasion regularly lands on the top spot or near the top spot when it comes to ranking Jane Austen‘s six published novels. The story of love, loss and second chances has resonated with readers for more than 200 years for a reason.

By the Book: A Novel was published last year.  Written by Julie Sonneborn, the novels follows the story of Anne Corey. Anne has a lot on her plate: a book to write to ensure tenure at the university where she is employed, her aging father whose health is fading and a new boyfriend who is her college’s the writer-in-residence. The last thing she wants or needs is her ex-fiance, Adam Martinez. Recently hired as the new President of her college, Adam’s presence is a reminder of what was and what may never be again.

Anne is trying to focus on what she needs to do, but Adam’s constant presence brings up old feelings. Will Anne and Adam have a second chance at love or is their relationship fated to be referred to as past tense?

I really enjoyed this novel. Ms. Sonneborn successfully marries Persuasion with the modern world. Anne Corey is still Anne Elliot and Adam Martinez is still Frederick Wentworth. From my perspective, the best thing about this book was that I knew what was coming in terms of the narrative, but I was still surprised by the end of the story.

I recommend it.

 

 

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Rational Creatures Book Review

When it comes to creating well written fanfiction, a good writer knows how to balance their narrative and their voice with the narrative and voice of the original work.

Christina Boyd’s new Jane Austen inspired anthology, Rational Creatures, was published back in October. Containing 16 new stories from well-respected JAFF (Jane Austen Fanfiction) writers, the focus of the stories of Austen’s female characters. The question that each story asks is if the heroines are the standard romantic heroines or strong, capable women who are able stand on their two feet in spite of the era that they live in?

I’ve been a fan of Ms. Boyd for the last few years, I enjoyed her previous anthologies, The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. This book is well written and an easy read. I would caution, however, that this book is not for the newbie Jane Austen fan. It requires a level of knowledge that comes with multiple readings of Austen’s work and a deep knowledge of the fictional worlds that she created.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Fanfiction, Jane Eyre, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility

Happy Birthday Jane

On this day, in 1775, a young lady entered this world. The circumstances and the family she was born into did not give any hint as to what she would become as an adult. Her father was a man of the cloth, her mother had successfully brought into the world six previous children and would bring one more into the world after her. In infancy, she was known as Jenny.

Today, we know her as Jane Austen, a literary giant that many have imitated, but few have duplicated. Her six completed novels, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion, are beloved the world over.

On the surface, Austen wrote love stories. But a deeper dive reveals that she was an astute observer of her world. Weaving her observations into her six completed novels, her books were much more than the standard boy meets girl, boy gets girl narrative. She wrote about politics, she was a proto-feminist and she mocked/revealed the inconsistencies that were part of the world she knew.

Most of all, she inspired and continues to inspire female writers not just to write, but to question the inconsistencies of their own worlds.

Wherever you are, dearest Jane, Happy Birthday.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Thoughts On The 2018 JASNA AGM

*Warning: this post contains slight spoilers about Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Read at your own risk if you have not read the books or seen any of the adaptations.

For many Janeites, the highlight of their fall the JASNA AGM. It is an opportunity to spend a weekend with hundreds of other Janeites, immerse themselves in everything that pertains to Jane Austen and forget about the rest of the world for three days.

This year’s AGM was held in Kansas City, Missouri. The theme was Persuasion and the title was 200 Years Of Constancy And Hope.

For many Jane Austen fans, reading Persuasion is a bittersweet experience. We love this novel and its main characters, Anne Elliot, Captain Frederick Wentworth. Unlike her previous novels, there is a mature feel to the work, a what if question when it comes to love, mistakes and second chances. Anne is the oldest of the Austen heroines. She is in her late 20’s while the other heroines are either in their late teens or early 20’s. For his part, Frederick Wentworth is unlike any of Austen’s other heroes. He has had to pull himself up by the figurative bootstraps instead of being born into a wealthy family and automatically inheriting a fortune. He also feels, to me, at least more human than let’s say, Mr. Darcy.

Mr. Darcy is almost like a too good to be true Prince in a fairy tale, a rich man who learns to tame his pride to win the affection/heart of the lower born woman that he loves. Frederick Wentworth is also proud, but he learns to understand Anne’s feelings over the course of the novel. He also realizes that their separation was not simply a one sided separation. His anger kept him from returning to Anne and renewing their relationship at an earlier juncture in their lives.

While every AGM has it moments, there are two of them that made this AGM amazing.

In 1995, a big screen version of Persuasion hit theaters. In the film, Amanda Root played Anne and Ciarian Hinds played Captain Wentworth. Attendees this past weekend were blessed to have Miss Root join us for part of the weekend.

 

She is gracious, warm, down to earth and I think she was a little surprised by the reaction from those in attendance.

There are many who have written about Jane Austen. There are few who can write with warmth, humor and speak to the reader without the academic feel that comes with the subject of Jane Austen. John Mullan is one of those people.

In this crowd, he is a rock star. His book, What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved, is one of my favorite books about Austen and her novels.

And, as usual, the high point of the AGM is the ball on Saturday night. While not everyone dresses up and dance, it’s fun to do so if one wishes.

All in all, it was an amazing AGM and I look forward to next year in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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Filed under Books, Fairy Tales, Jane Austen, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

Jane Lives On

201 years ago yesterday, Jane Austen left this Earth.

In her lifetime, she published four completed novels: Sense And Sensibility, Pride And Prejudice, Mansfield Park And Emma. Persuasion, her last completed novel and Northanger Abbey, her first completed novel were published posthumously.

I sometimes wonder if she had any inkling of her pending immortality. Though her mortal bones have long since returned to the Earth, her name lives on. She is as famous as any contemporary author. Her books are read for pleasure and for academic purposes. There have been more than a few film, television and stage adaptations of her works (some which are better than others) and while many modern authors have tried to replicate Jane’s style as a writer, only a handful have succeeded in doing so.

Her work lives on because they still speak to us 200 years later. Above all else, she wrote about the human condition and the ordinary experiences that we all live through.

Wherever you are Jane, thank you.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

5 Reasons To Attend The 2018 JASNA AGM

Every year, for one weekend, Janeites across the country gather together at the JASNA AGM to celebrate all things Austen. This year, the AGM will be held in Kansas City at the end of September.  The subject is Persuasion and with a little luck, Amanda Root, who played Anne Elliot in the 1995 Persuasion will be in attendance.

Below, are the five reasons to attend the 2018 JASNA AGM:

  1. The chance to travel to cities that you otherwise might not have visited. Last year’s AGM was held in Huntington Beach, California. I can say now that I’ve been to California, which I couldn’t say before last fall.
  2. You get to meet Janeites from across the country and across the world.
  3. The speakers are amazing. The variety of subjects that relate to Jane Austen and novels are nothing short of dizzying.
  4. The Emporium is heaven. T-shirts, books, tea, etc. Every year, I have to remind myself that there is only so much room in my suitcase.
  5. Last, but not certainly least is the ball. Not everyone dresses up or dances, but it is certainty the highlight of every AGM, for me at least.

 

This is one trip I am looking forward to. Perhaps I will see one of you there.

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Reading Jane Austen Book Review

Jane Austen and her novels continues to be read and discussed for good reason.

Jenny Davidson’s new non fiction book, Reading Jane Austen, basically explains not only why her novels are timeless, but why we are still reading them 200 years later. While talking about the formal structure of the novels and how Austen created new techniques to develop her narrative and her characters, Ms. Davidson also talks about themes such as the rules of society and how women were seen treated.

This book is well written and enjoyable to read. I will however warn that it meanders towards academic writing at several points and new Janeites may not understand the writing as well as Janeites who are well versed in Jane’s novels.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Thoughts On Jane Austen’s Birthday

Tomorrow is Jane Austen‘s birthday.

She was a pioneer in so many arenas. She unknowingly developed the modern novel as we know it to be today. She was a feminist without overtly wearing the label of feminism. Unlike other women who quietly followed the rules of the period without question, Jane asked the questions, both in her fiction and in her own life.

For my birthday a few weeks ago, I received a magnet that states “nasty women make history”. Jane Austen was a nasty woman.  She had a sharp tongue, a quick mind, loved to laugh, loved to have a good time and most of all, never went along with the crowd just because everyone else was doing it.  It would have been easy for her to follow the path in life that according to her society was pre-ordained (i.e. marriage and children), but she didn’t.  Jane Austen knew that marriage for marriage’s sake was not what she wanted. Marriage, in her eyes, was for love, not to fulfill an obligation that she was told to fulfill.

Instead, she chose to remain single. While her ring finger was never covered in gold, she had children: her books. Referring to them as her own darling children, Austen published six of the greatest books in English literature: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

Jane Austen will always be one of my heroes. As a writer and a woman, she paved the way for future generations of women to not only break from the expected roles of wife and mother, but she also paved the way for women to be themselves without having to put on a mask to be liked.

Happy Birthday Jane.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Thoughts On The 200th Anniversary Of Persuasion

No one goes through life without making mistakes or having regrets. It is part of being human.

200 years after, Jane Austen‘s final completed book, Persuasion, was published posthumously with Northanger Abbey, the first novel she completed.

It’s been nearly a decade since Anne Elliot saw Frederick Wentworth, her former fiance. At the time, Anne was 19 and living with her sisters and her emotionally bankrupt, but spendthrift aristocratic father. Frederick was a penniless sailor, not exactly an appropriate match for a daughter of the aristocracy.  Lady Russell, who was a close friend to Anne’s late mother and acts as a mother figure to Anne and her sisters, convinces Anne to break off the engagement. Anne does as advised.

Cut to the present time. Anne’s father has bankrupted the family and they must leave their ancestral home, Kellynch Hall, for more financially feasible lodgings in Bath. Before going to Bath with her father and sister, Anne spends some time with her married younger sister, Mary. Among the visitors to Mary’s home are the Admiral and Mrs. Croft, who have signed the lease on Kellynch Hall. Frederick Wentworth is Mrs. Croft’s brother, he too is welcomed into Mary’s home. The tension between Anne and Fredrick is palpable. Can their relationship be repaired and move forward or will they both be stuck in the past?

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. Not just because of the maturity of Austen’s voice as a writer, but also because the narrative contains a maturity that did not exist in her previous novels.  Their breakup weights heavily on the mind of both lead characters and colors how they see themselves and their world for most of the novel. That breakup and that unspoken anger/grief feels very modern, even though the book was published 200 years ago.  Austen was writing this novel at the very end of her life. It almost feels like she was using this novel as a way of exploring her own regrets, especially when it came to the question of how her life had turned out, had she made a different set of decisions.

Persuasion is beautiful, heartbreaking, romantic and simply one of the best books ever written. If you have not read this book, do yourself a favor and read it. I promise you that you will not be disappointed.

 

 

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