‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen *** (Austen in August)

August is already upon us, and the Austen in August project which is hosted by roofbeamreader has officially begun. I adore Jane Austen, but I still have not accomplished reading all of her works. So, Austen in August seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to do so.

I actually read Persuasion back in June, because it was the book I was mostly looking forward to and I simply couldn’t refrain from not reading it immediately, but I decided to save posting my review until the beginning of the project.9780141198835

Persuasion is Jane Austen’s last completed novel and one that slightly diverts from all her previous ones. The age of her main characters in this book is different, as they are in their late twenties to early thirties – something that must have been closer to Austen’s own age of the time this novel was being written, and also presumably reflective of the experiences and wisdom this age brings to a woman of her time.

I was prepared to adore this book, as I had heard fabulous things about it from other people that had read and loved it, but sadly it wasn’t able to fulfill all those high expectations of mine in the end. I loved the more mature perspective of the main character, Anne, and the idea of a second chance at love which permeated the novel.

Austen’s descriptions and prose were as delightful as ever, but I thought that the story was a lot slower than her other works I’ve read so far. I also loved how the tension of what will actually happen between Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth built up until the last chapters. This was the first Austen story, though, the ending of which gave me a feeling of insecurity as well.

The way Austen tackled issues of family bonds, social status, the power other people’s words have to manipulate one’s true feelings is wonderful as always. Despite the maturity with which this novel was written, one can clearly see all the characteristics of Jane Austen that have made her so loved to everyone who reads her novels.

I’m really glad I read this book, and, had it not been so slow, I would have definitely rated it higher.



The Fifty Women Challenge: ‘Paul’s Case’ by Willa Cather ***

One of Yamini’s choices for our 50 Women Challenge was Willa Cather.  I shall begin by saying that I do not tend to get on well with Cather’s work, and I always feel as though I should enjoy it far more than I do.  Rather than a novel which I may well have been disappointed with, I chose to read one of her short stories, Paul’s Case: A Study in Temperament

Initially published in McClure’s Magazine in 1905, the subject of Paul’s Case is a suspended schoolboy – named, unsurprisingly, Paul – who was ‘to appear before the faculty of the Pittsburgh High School to account for his various misdemeanours’.  He becomes frustrated with his relatively privileged lifestyle, and decides to flee Pennsylvania for New York City.

Cather’s descriptions were my favourite part of the story, particularly those of Paul himself: ‘His eyes were remarkable for a certain hysterical brilliancy and he continually used them in a conscious, theatrical sort of way, peculiarly offensive in a boy’.

The tale is rather a depressing one, but it does hold the interest throughout.    The whole is engaging and intelligent, but there is a curious distancing to the whole – perhaps due to the third person perspective which Cather has used.  Whilst I enjoyed reading Paul’s Case, it has not quite made me want to rush to read any more of Cather’s work.

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