I find Jane Austen as readable as anything being written today, which is not something you can always say about books that were written so many decades ago. But despite my initial enthusiasm for that simple fact, I have to admit I was a little disappointed by Persuasion.
So long buried beneath its more popular and well-known siblings, I now know there is a legitimate reason why. It’s just not as good as Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice or even Emma.
Anne Elliot is a rather pallid character, and it seems she is almost a de facto main character simply because everybody else in the book is so much more vain, silly, pompous or useless than she is.
There is no plot apart from one girl falling down and bumping her head and the cast of characters from start to finish made me feel like I was reading the 19th century version of a gossip magazine, a very well-written one but lacking nonetheless.
Frederick is your typical jealous guy and now that he’s rich, compared to years ago when he wasn’t, he is just about considered Anne’s equal but that’s pretty much all we know about him. There isn’t a huge amount of character development in this novel, of any of the characters.
My recommendation is to start with Austen’s other novels and tackle this one if you love those. If you try it the other way around, you may be put off a writer who is truly worth the effort generally speaking.
*First published 30 January 2014 on Goodreads