Monday, September 26, 2016

Persuasion & Poems by Jane Austen

Title: Persuasion & Poems
Author: Jane Austen
Read by:  Alison Larkin
Publisher: British Classic Audio
Length: Approximately 10 hours and 15 minutes
Source: Review Copy from author Alison Larkin - Thank-you!

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel.  It often ties with Pride and Prejudice in my affections, but there is just something about Austen’s slim last novel that captures my heart.  Anne Elliot is a “spinster” at the ripe old age of twenty- seven.  Eight years before the start of the novel, Anne was persuaded by her neighbor, Lady Russell, to refuse a proposal of marriage from then Navy Lieutenant Frederick Wentworth.  At this present time, the once proud Elliot family has found itself reduced in circumstance.   They have to give up their family estate to a renter to live on reduced funds in Bath due to Sir Walter Elliot’s proliferate spending.  The renters, Admiral and Mrs. Croft, are none other than the now Captain Wentworth’s sister and brother in law.  When Captain Wentworth comes to visit, Anne finds herself longing for a different future.  Will Anne have a second chance at happiness?

Alison Larkin has an elegant voice with a slight British accent which is perfect for narrating Jane Austen’s works.  I found her to be completely engaging as I listened to this audiobook. She had unique voices for the different characters and really brought the tale to life.  I want to listen to some of the other Austen novels that she’s narrated.  I’ve always felt that Austen’s novels lend themselves perfectly to the audiobook format as Austen used to read her works aloud for her family’s entertainment.

This time through Persuasion, I was struck again on how well Austen creates characters and how their personalities are still identifiable in people I know and love today.  In particular, Austen captures perfectly in Persuasion that families are a complicated matter.  It’s interesting how all three Elliot sisters are so different from each other.  Elizabeth only cares about her looks.  In fact I really seemed to listen more to her and her father’s story this time through.  I love how Admiral Crawford has to move Sir Walter’s looking glasses from the dressing room as they were too much for him.  Sir Walter’s and Elizabeth’s world seems to solely revolve around their personal beauty and how they perceive the beauty of those around them. Unfortunately they only care about physical beauty and have no care for beauty within.  I’ve experienced this in my family with the constant talk of looks, people’s weights, etc. on one side of the family.  In fact, our Grandpa (who I loved a lot and was a great man) actually rated all of his granddaughters by looks.  It doesn’t help your teenage ego out when you discover this and that you are near the bottom of the list.  These conversations always annoyed me, “Have you seen so and so, they really gained weight!”  I can imagine how Anne feels in Persuasion wishing her family did not do this and actually wanted to talk about more serious issues, which in the Elliot’s case would be their lack of financial planning.

Anne does not do better with her sister Mary.  Mary has married Charles Musgrove, the eldest son and heir of Uppercross hall.  Mary is sure she is always ill.  She also seems unhappy about life in general and loves to complain about everything.  The Musgrove family is happy go lucky in particular, but they also get annoyed by Mary.  I love how Charles and Mary’s children sound like they are a bit wild and everyone blames each other.  Mary complains how Mrs. Musgrove gives them too much sugar which causes it while Mrs. Musgrove tells Anne that she only gives them too much cake as that is the only way she can keep such ill-behaved children under control.  Families are certainly complicated.  I felt like I could be Anne and can identify a Mary and the complaints of the family members in my own family.  Also like Anne, I know how it feels to have everyone share their conflicting thoughts with you.

Every time I read or listen to an Austen novel, I catch new items that I missed on previous reads.  That is what is excellent about a well written novel.  This time I really caught how oppressive Anne’s family was with different lines that I had missed in previous readings.  I also caught more onto the Mrs. Clay and Mr. Elliot meeting and Captain Wentworth’s feelings.  Although on previous reads I mostly focused on Captain Wentworth and Anne.  I love their romance.  This time through me feel like I got a better overall picture.  Captain Wentworth loves Anne – even though her family will not welcome him and will not be a fun family to hang out with at the holidays.

The last fifteen minutes or so the audiobook switched to Jane Austen’s poems.  I must confess that even though I consider myself an Austen super fan, I’ve never read or listened to any of her poems before.  I found them to be quite interesting.  I wonder if there are more – I need to research this!

I watched the 1995 film version starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds after listening to this audiobook.  It is a perfect film – I love it.  Have you ever watched this adaptation?  What are your thoughts?  I love how Amanda Root shows throughout the film how Anne grows in confidence in herself and Hinds shows the inner depths of Captain Wentworth so well.

My favorite quote from this novel is Captain Wentworth’s letter to Anne – which I consider one of the most romantic pieces in literary fiction.

"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.
"I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never."
Overall, Persuasion is a classic not to be missed and Alison Larkin is a perfect Austen novel narrator.
Do you enjoy Austen novels on audiobook?  If so, what is your favorite?
What is your favorite romantic scene in literary fiction?


  1. I really liked Persuasion too. It's the one I most identified with in some ways, which will always make it special to me. I didn't know Austen wrote poetry too! Now you've got me really curious. I'll have to look for it. This audio edition sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

    1. This is a wonderful audio edition. The poems were a nice plus at the end and Alison Larkin was a great narrator. I hope you get a chance to check it out!