Review-ish: Persuasion

persuasion-versionsIt was love at first sight for me and the 2005 movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and after that I sought out more Jane Austen stories. I read the book and I also watched movie versions of Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion. (Still need to seek out Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park!) But I found while reading P&P that while I loved a  Jane Austen story, I didn’t exactly love her writing style.

Fast forward a few years, to last year to be exact, when I decided that I wanted to slowly work my way through all of Jane Austen’s novels, just because. I decided to read Northanger Abbey, since I didn’t know the story, and I thought it might help me appreciate the book a little more. In a way, I think it accomplished this. Then this year, after reading the Persuasion retelling For Darkness Shows the Stars, I decided I was due for a re-watch of the movie, and that maybe it was about time to read my third Austen novel.

I did struggle with it. Jane Austen has a way with writing a really boring chapter about something that seems innate, but then there will be a wonderful, interesting scene that gets cut just way too short. I don’t know why she elaborates on the boring and minimizes the romance, especially since the romance seems to be the point of the book (I suppose there is social commentary as well, but it’s time specific and hard for me to really appreciate). So if you want my thoughts on Persuasion the book, I give it three stars.

3stars2Now for the story itself, including Diana Peterfreund’s retelling of it. Anne Elliot (or just Elliot in FDSTS)  at first seems a little meek (though less so, again, in FDSTS, but the similarities are there). She lives in a society where things are a certain way, and so she tries to live this way. She listens to her elders and respects them, but after years of living with regret, she knows she still loves Captain Frederick Wentworth (Captain Kai Wentforth in FDSTS). Anne (Elliot) sees the choice she made as necessary at the time but very unfortunate, since her heart obviously still wishes she had not made that choice. Elliot feels like she owes it to her family and their estate. Anne feels it would have been a foolish risk eight years earlier when she was only 19 and he had no money. Anne (Elliot) is smart, and I think that is clear both in the original book and in FDSTS.

In the book Persuasion, Captain Wentworth’s flirting was not nearly as obvious as the movie adaptation or in FDSTS, because Austen never shows him flirting, she just tells you he does it. Kai in FDSTS honestly made me kind of mad… he was flat out rude to Elliot on multiple occasions! Captain Wentworth is a little cold towards Anne in the original story, but he is mostly civil and you can better sympathize with him.

And then there’s Mr. Elliot, who I find interesting in the movie and in FDSTS.

Since “Mr. Elliot” is named Benedict in For Darkness Shows the Stars, I just pictured him as Benedict Cumberbatch.

In the book Persuasion, Mr. Elliot doesn’t get much face time. And honestly, everything with him is pretty boring until the concert scene when suddenly he’s like, “You know, it’d be great if you never had to change your name,” and then Anne notices Captain Wentworth getting jealous (hands-down, best chapter in the book BTW). But in the movie, he’s somewhat charming. And in FDSTS, though I got a bad vibe from Benedict at first, I almost liked him by the time he came on to Elliot. And what he was saying made sense. I mean, it seemed like Kai still might never forgive her and the two of them might not be so bad a match. Mind you, I wasn’t actually rooting for Team Benedict here, or for Team Mr. Elliot in the movie for that matter, but he seems like a more viable option than he does in the original book. In FDSTS, Elliot almost seems to consider his offer. Not quite, not really, but almost. She doesn’t say no right away and she understands the logic, but of course she doesn’t love him and she still loves Kai. So I was a little sad with how underwhelming his character actually seemed in the original story. But maybe it was because I had checked out of the story at this point, at least until Austen got back to the good, juicy stuff.

But no matter what version it is, it ends well.


So if you’ve read Persuasion, what do you think of it? And if you’ve seen/read other adaptations of it, how do they compare for you? And am I the only one who loves Jane Austen’s stories but doesn’t love her writing?

13 Responses to Review-ish: Persuasion

  1. I’ve only read one Jane Austen book and that’s P&P, but I kind of get the impression that writers 100/200 years ago tend to write like that…they really get all detailed and descriptive over the littlest things.
    I really enjoyed the 2007 adaptation of Persuasion. I think it portrayed more of a sense of urgency in Anne. She knows she is given a second chance with Wentworth and has to grab it. We often see Anne kinda breathless and there was that frantic run at the end. There’s another 1995 movie which I like too. And this one you get to see Wentworth in his naval uniform.
    If you haven’t watch Northanger Abbey watch the 2007 one…its real fun. As for Mansfield Park, I preferred the 1999 movie, it had more energy. The later TV movie with Billie Piper as Fanny Price was just too boring for me…but I heard it was more faithful? Apparently the 1999 movie was less faithful because it not only used the Mansfield Park book but also supposedly used Jane Austen’s personal letters when they characterize Fanny…so she was more witty and her tongue more sharper…I guess that’s why I like the 1999 movie better.
    I guess I’m one who love Jane Austen’s stories without really reading her books….just by watching most of the adaptations.

    • I’ll have to check out the versions you mentioned; thanks for the recommendations! I haven’t seen the 95 Persuasion but I agree I like the urgency of the 07 film.

  2. Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. I think as I’ve grown older I identify with Anne a lot more. I actually really enjoy the quietness of the novel and the angst that poor Anne goes through.
    I own both the 1995 and 2007 versions on DVD but I must admit that Rupert Penry-Jones makes a much hotter Wentworth. Sally Hawkins is pretty good but I hate how she acts with her mouth open for much of the miniseries.

    The 2005 version of P&P ranks in my favorite movies of all time. Keira Knightley and Matthew McFayden are my Lizzie and Darcy! I love everything about this version.

    • There is an underlying angst in the novel, that is true. And Sally Hawkins’ open mouth, yeah, I’m not a fan of that either!

      I’d say 2005 P&P is in my top 10 fave movies, and it was my #1 fave for a while. I actually walked down the aisle at my wedding to “Liz on Top of the World” from the movie.

  3. I read P&P when I was a teen and while I liked it, I didn’t really love it. I was (and still am) a fan of classics, but while I appreciated Austen’s wit, I didn’t really connect to the writing otherwise. Like you, I came to love P&P through the 2005 film. A few years later, I tried reading Persuasion, but that didn’t work out. But I have since decided that I should give Austen another shot, so I do plan to read a few more of her novels (Sense and Sensibility Emma, and Persuasion, at least).

    I have this sort of “rule” for myself in that I must read classics before seeing adaptations of them, so I haven’t actually seen any Austen adaptions other than P&P ones. Funnily enough, I just started reading Emma this morning to prepare for Emma Approved. We’ll see if my opinion of Austen’s writing changes; based on the bit I read earlier, I think there’s a chance it might. But I’m glad to see I’m not alone in having been ambivalent to her writing in the past.

  4. I actually haven’t read any Jane Austen books (even though I am a major fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries)– or any of the famous classics for that matter. I have always wanted to, though. Jane Austen seems to have lots of readers crushing on her 😛 I actually HAVE read For Darkness Shows the Stars, though. It’s a wonderful book 🙂

    Love your blog! Katniss definitely deserves an ode.

  5. I love Persuasion! I’m a big fan of Jane Austen 😀 Hadn’t heard of that adaptation, must check it out! I’m reading a modern version of Sense & Sensibility for a review at the moment, still not sure what I think of it….very interesting review 🙂

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