I seem to like kicking off my new year with reading Jane Austen novels because I did the same last year with Sense and Sensibility though that took me way longer to get through. I guess mostly because it was longer and partly because I didn’t enjoy it.
That being said, I wanted to like Persuasion more than I did. I really did but for some reason I didn’t. Maybe it was due to reading it in English. I bought a copy of Persuasion while living in Sweden in 2010. I started it but didn’t make it through. I didn’t do much reading in Sweden at all except for the required textbooks at uni. I just couldn’t stay in my dorm room and read while so much life was happening around me.
Persuasion was the last Jane Austen novel I had to read. And it isn’t my least favourite but it also isn’t my favourite but I’m afraid that it was partly due because I didn’t understand it all. My English has gotten considerably better and still does improve every day and reading this book was in parts easier than I anticipated but also more complicated at the same time. I know I tried Sense and Sensibility in English but gave up years ago.
Too often, I got lost with the characters, who was saying what and who was who. It felt like there was more than one Captain Wentworth and maybe there was, I don’t know. I liked Anne but I also didn’t connect with her and I rolled my eyes, metaphorically, a lot while reading because it were also stories I read before and it was just so Austen. All of it. But that isn’t a compliment.
Anne fell for Wentworth when she was a young impressionable girl and he hadn’t any money. She was persuaded into dropping him and eight years later he returns as a wealthy man. Of course they end up together and of course he has to write Anne a letter explaining his feelings that have been oh-so hidden. I couldn’t help but compare it with Pride and Prejudice. Not the actual words but the letter writing part. Not that I haven’t done that myself because I did.
I’m not saying I didn’t like the book but I also didn’t love it. I’m not writing it off completely either because one day I will acquire a German copy and give that another try. Maybe it was the language. Maybe I watched Pride and Prejudice too many times. And read it too many times as well but I kept thinking of story elements of it while reading. It was that I, for the first time, thought Jane Austen to be formulaic. I liked the writing style, just not the story that much.
Maybe I had too high expectations. I wanted something novel; and I didn’t find it. Every writer does that to an extend but I didn’t expect it here. I’m already dreading the glares from my friends who loved this book (I know who you are, no need to hide) because I feel like I failed Austen and myself. I even enjoyed Northanger Abbey for crying out loud. But that felt more original even if it was the first novel she wrote, at least it does in my memory.
Like I said above, maybe it was the language thing that kept me from connecting. I will try again in German and also see if a BBC adaption can’t cure my heartache. Also, also, I’m going to watch The Jane Austen Book Club again because I watched it many, many times as well as after every time I finished one of the books.