Persuasion tells the story of one of the most popular of literary heroines, the glorious Anne Eliot. Persuaded out of marrying the man she loves due to his not being a good enough match, Anne calmly and wittily takes us through her journey from her life as the middle daughter of a spendthrift and vain baronet through a sojourn in the marriage market that the City of Bath became in the 19th century to a final and merry resolution of the long search for the ideal match.
Life as an unmarried woman at the advanced and spinsterish age of 27 was something well known to Austen. She remained unmarried throughout her life, and Anne Elliot’s development of enough confidence in her own views to resist the persuasions of a society devoted to social advancement at the expense of happiness can be seen as a declaration by Austen of her own views on the matter. She writes of a countryside she knows and loves, and even the sojourn in Bath is taken from the author's own not entirely happy time in that city of gossip and intrigue.
Austen was 40 when she wrote Persuasion, and it was written in the knowledge that her health was beginning to decline seriously, with the onset of the disease of which she would die a year after finishing the novel. Her brother, Henry, published the novel posthumously in 1818, with his own money at stake in its publishing; he also made the decision to put an end to the anonymous nature of Austen's published works and declare the name of the author.
That name has become synonymous with a dryness of wit and a merriness of view that are perfectly encapsulated in the delight that is Persuasion.
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