How could a Jane Austen gem be made even more enjoyable? Answer: by the excellent narration of the very talented Juliet Stevenson.
I let this play during my bathtub before and after my son's birth. It took me a while to finish because I don't get as much quiet bath time as I once did, but after seeing and loving all the Jane Austen movies adapted from the books I decided it was high time I read (or listened to as it were) a few.
I have listened to at least 2 other recordings of Persuasion, and Juliet Stevenson's performance is now my favorite. I will have to listen to her other Austen recordings.
This combination of talent is ideal for any Austen fan. While not Austen's best work, definitely worth the time. The heroine Anne may not be a favorite but she has her charms. And the Captain is also an easy hero to love.
It was an excellent story. As a Jane Austen novice, I cared about the characters, and was happy to see how the story progressed.
It was "tamer" than I expected, even for a Jane Austen novel, in that no circumstances were too dire, and no characters were too awful--but that was perfect for what I was looking for.
Stevenson's performance was excellent, handling male and female characters of all ages convincingly.
Though it is excellent, I wouldn't say the audio is better than the printed book. Convenience is certainly a plus and, perhaps for someone not acquainted with Jane Austen, the narration may help understand the tone of the writing--that there is a great deal of comedy in it. I loved the book as well as the audio, so it's not really a contest for me.
Pride and Prejudice is very similar to Persuasion, which isn't surprising as they were written by the same author. Beyond that, each of the stories revolves around an intelligent woman who finds herself separated from the man she loves by unfortunate circumstances and misunderstanding. These women are surrounded by foolish snobs, but manage to hang on to their sanity through the acquaintance of a handful of sensible friends and relatives. Both books have happy endings where the lovers are finally able to express themselves and become the happiest people alive.
By using a unique accent for each person, she conveys snobbery, intelligence, silliness, humility, and any other trait that the characters might possess. She does equally well with the voices of men and women, and I never tired of her narration. Her excellent grasp on the threads of satire that run through the story, makes her performance all the more enjoyable.
I wouldn't make a film of this book.
I thought it was interesting how sailors and industrious individuals were able to make their fortunes and move into the neighborhoods of those who were supposed to be their betters. It was also interesting to see some of the "betters" losing their fortunes by over-extending themselves and getting into debt.
Popular reviewer of more than 400 historical romance titles on Goodreads. Georgian/Regency/Victorian/Edwardian.
Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen title, and over the years I've read it more times than I can remember. The audio version is excellent. Juliet Stevenson is an accomplished actress with the skill to credibly perform all of the various characters. Austen's sometimes complicated sentences roll off her tongue with ease.Highly recommended.
I have now read five of Austen's six novels. Persuasion seems to me to be the most outright romantic of those I've read, meaning that while the entire trajectory of the plot, like all of Austen's novels, was to bring the designated couple together in the end for their Happily Ever After, there wasn't a lot else to it.
Anne Elliot, a single woman who has "lost her bloom" at the ripe old age of 27 (!) has a vain, foolish father and a couple of vain and selfish sisters, but somehow has herself grown up to be wise, discerning, self-willed, and charitable. She's definitely one of Austen's most likeable heroines.
Seven years ago, she had an offer of marriage from a young man named Frederick Wentworth. Despite their being very much in love, Anne was persuaded against the marriage (hence the title) by a family friend and substitute mother figure, Lady Russell. F.W. went off heartbroken, joined the Navy, and came back rich.
Anne, of course, is still in love with Captain Wentworth. Captain Wentworth is still in love with Anne. Will these two star-crossed lovers somehow manage to get together again?
(It's Austen. Duh.)
This was Austen's final work, and apparently it's many peoples' favorite Austen. I cannot say it was mine. The simple nature of the love story left few surprises, and while of course there are the usual misunderstandings, false "entanglements," misapprehensions about who's in love with whom and who's going to get married, etc., these are all very obvious red herrings to the reader, as Austen practically spells out everyone's true motive from the beginning.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy it - I always enjoy Austen. But Persuasion was lacking the thing that made Pride & Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and Emma so delightful: humor.
That's not to say there was no humor at all (setting it above Mansfield Park, in my estimation). Anne Elliot's father, Sir Walter, is a perfectly silly man who's amusing because he takes himself so very seriously.
But the humor is biting; Sir Walter doesn't have any amusing lines, he just goes around sniffing at those beneath him, acting vain and prideful in the face of financial ruin, and generally being an aristocratic fop with zero self-awareness. Likewise, Anne's sisters and her father spend the latter half of the book kissing up to some distant noble cousins, the Dalrymples, who themselves are dull and uninteresting and only important because they've got blue blood, and thereafter making a ridiculous fuss name-dropping their connection.
So, the foibles of Anne's family are somewhat amusing in an ironic way, and there are other quotable lines, but it's basically a story about one sensible, good-hearted woman in imminent danger of spinsterhood getting properly married despite her spendthrift father and superficial, self-centered sisters.
Given Austen's own sad fate as an unmarried woman who died at 41, one cannot help suspecting a certain amount of self-identification with this heroine more than any other.
The themes of the novel are persuasion (when it's good to allow yourself to be persuaded by others, and when it's not) and a bit of proto-feminism (maybe that's just my reading of it) as Anne and Captain Harville argue over whether men or women feel more deeply and more constantly.
""But let me observe that all histories are against you--all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman's inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman's fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men."
"Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything."
Persuasion has all the usual Austen virtues - fine prose, wittiness, and sharp social criticism - and an assortment of characters just large enough to make for an interesting cast, with heroes and villains in the romance wars. But the simplicity of its plot and the missing humor element can't make this one my favorite.
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
At the head of the Elliot family is the baronet Sir Walter, a widower and a vain man who lives beyond his means and makes up his mind about people solely based on their appearance and station in life. His eldest and his youngest daughters take after him, to great comical effect, but Anne Elliot, his middle daughter, is quite different. She's a great reader of poetry and has never forgotten her first romantic attachment to Captain Frederick Wentworth, a romance which took place eight years before the story begins. But like all well bred young ladies of her day, she let herself be persuaded by a close friend of the family, Lady Russell, to break off the engagement because of Wentworth's apparent lack of fortune and prospects. But Wentworth is back, now having acquired great wealth and looking for a wife, and anyone will do, as long as she is fond of the navy. Anyone that is, but Anne.
This, the last novel Austen wrote as she was dying, is a story imbued with a sense of loss, missed opportunities and regret, but of course in the end, love must conquer all and hope wins the day.
This audio version by the ever-perfect Juliet Stevenson was quite a treat.