“We none of us expect to be in smooth waters all our days”*
Hi from daughter #2! What are you reading?
While Katie continues to read such favorites as Peekaboo Farm and Pat the Bunny, I started off the new year with Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I had been meaning to re-read it for a long time, with the vague memory that it had been my favorite of Austen’s novels in college. I will admit that liking something in college is not always the best indicator that something is good, but I was in the mood for a classic (and relatively easy) read.
I’m pleased to report that Persuasion has been wholly enjoyable. I was correct in recalling that it isn’t exactly the most romantic novel, but I can appreciate how it is more reasonable and realistic in its setup. Jane Austen, I realized, does the best job of plotting social dynamics without devices — no lying (unless someone is an actual liar), no outrageous mishaps, no long lost something-or-others. Sure, one of the side characters falls and gets a concussion and falls in love with [redacted] because he’s nearby while her brain heals, but I’ll take that over a car (or carriage) accident any day. In Persuasion, the only thing that gets in the way of love is people being the worst. Believable stuff!
Anne Elliot has sisters and friends who don’t appreciate her, and some of these characters are unnecessarily rude, but I like how Anne, through her quiet understanding of the people and places around her, ends up with a good amount of control over her world. (Also, apparently she’s secretly very pretty? My favorite scene is when Austen describes exactly the degree to which Anne stops someone in their tracks, just, like, to look at her. No really, reader, just because he wanted to look at her face.) Perhaps most importantly, though, Anne is more humble than the others. And that’s why she ends up happy.
I only have a few pages left of Persuasion, and I think next I will turn to some Margaret Fuller, as I continue to be in the mood for nineteenth-century womanhood. I used to think about nineteenth-century womanhood all the time and I believe it made me feel a lot more sane about how I view my own womanhood now. Plus, while unpacking the final touches for shelves and dresser tops in our new house, I remembered this:
“The world was free to her, and she lived freely in it. Outward adversity came, and inward conflict, but that faith and self-respect had early been awakened which must always lead at last, to an outward serenity and an inward peace.”Margaret Fuller
*Mrs. Croft, speaking of ladies aboard warships in Persuasion