Why I Love PERSUASION

Regular readers of this blog have long heard me wax on and on about my love for Jane Austen’s last novel, PERSUASION. It’s my favorite of all the Austens. I own about seven different editions of the novel, and three (count ‘em) three versions of BBC movies made from the novel. I even have the 1970s one, where Anne Elliot looks like this:

My love, she is deep as the ocean.

So why, oh why do I love Persuasion so much? What is its hold on me? Do I prefer Captain Wentworth to Mr. Darcy? (Um, jury’s out, actually). Anne Elliot to Emma Woodhouse (okay, yes on that one, definitely). The follies of Sir Walter and Mary Musgrove to those of Mrs. Dashwood and Lucy Stone Steele (nice catch, JJ)? (Really, can there ever be too much of a good thing?)

I admit, (as did one Elizabeth Bennett, once upon a time) that I did not always love this novel as I do now. When I was in high school, and discovering Austen for the first time, I enjoyed the brash and outspoken charms of Elizabeth to Anne’s soft silence. I didn’t understand how the hell she put up with her horrid family. But as I got older, I began to appreciate the book more and more, until eventually, it beat out Pride & Prejudice in my heart.

How do I love Persuasion? Let me count the ways:

1. I love that Persuasion is such a mature novel. Even in modern romance, I’ve always been a sucker for a reunion story, and Persuasion is the pinnacle of all reunion stories!

2. I love the psychological complexity of the main characters and their love story. I love the skill in which Austen arranges their complex dance. You think that Darcy gives smoldering glances? Re-read Persuasion sometime. The characters hardly ever speak to each other, and yet, if you read carefully, you see that they are at every moment aware of one another. Entire conversations with other people revolve around sharing the smallest fact (usually meant to injure) with the person they really, really want to be talking to.

3. I love the secondary characters. Austen often includes fantastic secondary characters in her stories, but in Persuasion, she really outdoes herself. I adore the Crofts, especially. In most Austens, you see an example of a happy, equal marriage for the main characters to aspire to (The Gardiners in P&P) but in the Crofts, you see a real insight into their love story. The Musgroves and the other Navy men are similarly well-drawn.

4. Two words: The. Letter. Oh wow, y’all, the letter. The letter, the letter, the letter. The letter might be one of the most favorite single pages in all of literature. Austen men give good letter, as any fan of Pride & Prejudice knows (heck, even Willoughby’s horrific letter is a work of art for its purposes), but no one — no one– writes a letter like Frederick Wentworth. “You pierce my soul…” I tell you, I never read that letter without crying. I never watch the scene with the letter in any of my versions of the movie without crying (even in the most recent one, where they totally screw up the whole POINT of the letter and send Anne on some bizarre marathon through the streets of Bath…)

5. And I love this reason most of all:

Children’s: Young Adult

Author of the Secret Society Girl series and Rampant Diana Peterfreund’s FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, to Kristin Daly at Balzer & Bray, in a good deal, for publication in 2011, by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency (NA).

Excited? I sure am!

Posted in Austen, PAP

42 Responses to Why I Love PERSUASION

  1. JJ says:

    HOLY CRAP. DIANA, I WOULD BUY THAT NOVEL YESTERDAY, IF IT WERE AVAILABLE. HOLY CRAP. POST-APOCALYPTIC? JANE AUSTEN? YES.

    Ahem, now that the caps are out the way, my favourite novel is EMMA. Why? Could it be that I’m a sucker for Mr. Knightley (admittedly yes, although I really kind of love Henry Tilney too)? Or that I think it’s the funniest, most satirical of Austen’s oeuvre? However, I do agree with you that PERSUASION is arguably the most mature and sophisticated of Austen’s works.

    Lucy…Steele? Or am I a bad Austen fangirl and I can’t remember a Lucy Stone?

  2. Jo Treggiari says:

    OMG, how cool is that! I can’t wait to read your new book. Post-A and Austen (hey- Post Austen, a new sub-genre).
    I agree with you about Persuasion. I didn’t it at all as a teenage reader. They all seemed so passionless and spineless but that book grips me now that I am older and know that nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
    It is also the only Austen book which makes me weep buckets. The tension is wound so tight throughout and even though as a re-reader I know it’s going to work out in the end, still I worry. I feel the barbed words pierce poor patient Anne as surely as if they were spears/forks.
    And like you I asked myself “why is Anne running all over the damn place?” in the recent TV version. They almost messed up the whole thing!
    Actually the Elinor/Edward reveal at the end of Sense and Sensibility makes me cry too.
    Cannot wait to read your book!

  3. Diana says:

    Thanks, JJ. Good catch. It is Steele. More tea, clearly.
    I think I respect Knightley more now than I dd as a teen, when he just seemed really bossy and patronizing to Emma. I always liked the Clueless version better. Their relationship seemed way less creepy.

  4. JJ says:

    Clueless was probably my introduction to Austen. Am I ashamed? Nay, I am proud of it! ;)

  5. Diana says:

    Clueless is a FANTASTIC movie. There is no shame at all in discovering retellings before the original. Retellings are done WITH LOVE. The author WANTS you to discover the original if you haven’t. (At least, I do!) I’m pretty sure I saw West Side Story before Romeo & Juliet.

  6. Shveta says:

    Congratulations, Diana!!! So exciting. :)

  7. Lell says:

    You’ve talked PERSUASION up so much on this blog that I went back and reread it about a year ago (and watched two of the BBC versions, but I seem to have missed the Anne Elliot one). I came to the conclusion at the time that I missed a heck of a lot the first time through, back in college. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for that, so: thank you. :)

    And I’m really excited about this new book. The title is just stellar (pun mostly unintended, but seriously, I love it). Given just the depths of your love for PERSUASION, was it at all daunting to write a retelling? Or was it one of those fun “This is what I was meant to write” situations with singing and bluebirds?

    Either way, I’ve got something to be really excited (and intrigued by just what kind of apocalypse–there are so many to choose from, you know!) about in 2011, so thank you for that.

  8. Melissa says:

    Oooh! Amazing. The dream of retelling a long beloved story comes true! Yay, Diana!

  9. Malinda Lo says:

    Congratulations! I’ve finally read PERSUASION (working on a blog post about it) and I really enjoyed it. And I cannot wait to see a postapocalyptic spin on it!

  10. Alexa says:

    OMG I am SO excited! I love Persuasion and I love post apocalyptic and I love your writing – so yay! I seriously can’t wait to get my hands on this and see what you do with it.

    Congratulations!

  11. Rhiannon says:

    When you had the post-apocalyptic conversation a few weeks ago, I looks at the Tickers and wondered if “PAP” was Post Apocalyptic P_______.

    So is that it? Post Apocalyptic Persuasion?

    Congrats, Diana!

  12. Patrick Alan says:

    Congrats on a ‘Good’ deal!

    I’ve never read Austen, but I like that this is sold as a retelling. I like retellings.

  13. Connie says:

    Persuasion has always been my favorite Jane Austen novel. Which is funny because I prefer the Pride & Prejudice movie. I had been very excited to see the new Persuasion adaption but like you was very sad that they missed the mark. But it is a hard movie to make because there is not a lot of action. Like you said it all happens in the dialogue which does not translate as well to screen. Not that I don’t own Persuasion and watch it, because as yous said the letter is the best letter of all time! I am excited to see what this new novel will be!!

  14. Lisa S. says:

    I have to get the caps out of the way now too. I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK! PERSUASION AND POST APOCOLYPTIC??? (as JJ so eloquently put it) YES!

    Ok, I’m good now. I am on the same page as JJ. Clueless was my introduction to Austen and I was hooked. I read Emma and loved it then I read Pride and Prejudice and loved it more then I read Sense and Sensibility and liked it (although there was much crying/rejoicing during the Elinor/Edward scene, sigh!) then I read Persuasion and became disinterested. I ended up coming back to Persuasion after college when I realized that maybe I just wasn’t mature enough to get it. When I read it again, I cried so hard it was ridiculous! I am a HUGE Persuasion fan now.

  15. Celia says:

    HOLY HELLCATS, I cannot wait to own that novel. Fellow Persuasion junkie, right here. YAY!

  16. Hey! Finally another PERSUASION lover. Can’t wait to read your take!

    -Amy (Brecount White)

    -author of FORGET-HER-NOTS, Greenwillow/ HarperCollins, 3/2/10

    (And fyi, I’m local too.)

  17. stacy says:

    HOLY CRAP is right. That’s AWESOME. As I said on Twitter, that’s my favorite, too–it’s been so ever since I first saw the 90s version with Ciarin Hinds on video on my little b&w TV in college. I couldn’t tell several characters apart because in b&w their hair and clothing was too similar, so I had to watch it over and over to figure out all the little nuances. Such a quiet, though-provoking story. How the heck did you make it into a post-apocalyptic story? This I must investigate as soon as an ARC is available.

  18. Saundra says:

    Congratulations, Diana! That’s fantastic news!

  19. Gina Black says:

    I was just thinking I’d have to read PERSUASION just because you read FFTS on my recommendation and, though I love Austen, I’ve never read PERSUASION–and to be honest the version of it with Ciaran Hinds makes me gag because *he* makes me gag (do I get an award or something for the longest most run-on sentence yet)–when I saw your DEAL!!

    Congratulations!! And I will, of course, have to read your re-telling. I’m so not the post-apocalyptic type, but for you, Diana . . . :)

  20. Annie says:

    How exciting!!! Congratulations! Looking forward to 2011 now!!

  21. eatrawfish/sara says:

    Congratulations!

    I’m not into Post-Apocalyptic stories, but you may have me on this one. I too suffered from teenage disinterest in Persuasion (she’s OLD, and she had her chance already…). Earlier this year I realized that now *I* was older and the book actually interested me, though in general I’m not into reunion stories. Still does not beat P&P for me, but I Heartily Enjoyed It.

  22. Angie says:

    Well, you know how excited I am for this. And thrilled for you. I’ve had a big smile on my face all morning after reading this.

    :)

  23. PurpleRanger says:

    My sister-in-law is a big Jane Austen fan, so this is definitely something that I will be keeping in mind as a gift for her.

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  25. Julie Polk says:

    That is awesome, congratulations! And it only adds fuel to my growing “I need to re-read some Austen” fire. (See? Already you’re helping to spread the Austen love, and you haven’t even written the book yet! Very impressive.)

  26. Wow, congratulations, that sounds like a complete dream come true for you!

  27. Meg says:

    OH. MY. GOD. Post-apocalyptic Austen? And one of my favorite Austens to boot (it ties with LADY SUSAN for second after P&P)? I’m so there!

  28. Laura says:

    Holy crow that sounds AWESOME. Hooray for books to look forward to!

  29. lisslalissar says:

    Can’t wait to read it. Glad to see Persuasion, my favorite Austen, getting some recognition.

  30. Allison says:

    *gasp* That sounds AWESOME!!!!! I haven’t read Persuasion, but now… I think I will! I do love Pride and Prejudice. And Sense and Sensibility (though I’ve only SEEN it… but, I mean, any character that Alan Rickman portrays is a character I can get on board with). So, I’ll read it… but only because you gushed about it so fervently. (And also because I want to have it read before your book comes out next year.)

  31. stephanie says:

    POST-APOCALYPTIC. ::dies:: that’s like, one my favorite things ever! and you are going to have the romance of austen and everything, and it’s such a cool juxtaposition. eeee!!!!

    i want it now!!

    congrats, and i am so. excited.

    though what age will the heroine be? because i don’t think of persuasion as a young adult book.

    can we pre-order it yet?? ;)

  32. Congratulations on the sale! I have to admit to not really being a fan of Austen, but I’m a fan of post-apocalyptic stories and I’m a fan of yours. Here’s hoping your work can show me a side of Austen I hadn’t seen before. Lord knows, Daughter’s been trying to get me to read her novels for years now.

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  35. Tiff says:

    Congrats on the book deal, Diana! All your talk finally paid off, and a couple days ago, I ordered the Penguin edition of Persuasion (gotta match my other Austens!) online. I’ll let you know how excited I am for your book after I read the original…but honestly, how could I not be excited?!

    Love the 70s Anne Elliott picture. Have you seen the ridiculous BBC Anne of Avonlea from 1972? I think it’s worse.

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  37. Congratulations!!! What a wonderfully constructed post. Way to break the news. Go, Diana! Go, PAP!

  38. Kristin says:

    Oh my word! Congratulations! And to Kristin Daly! She’s wonderful!!! What a great post.

  39. Lenore says:

    Of course I think this is AWESOME!

    My book club plans to read Persuasion this year. Perfect timing!

  40. Jen says:

    Congrats!! This sounds awesome!

  41. Angela says:

    Hi Diana!
    In my obsession with Persuasion I just typed in “I love Persuasion” and found your blog.
    It´s a joy just reading about shared love for a book! I have “The Letter” printed in Jane Austen font on my wall, on antique-looking paper…:-)
    So, from another Persuasion-Lover (nothing beats the 1995 BBC version!) to another: Thank You (for letting me share and enjoy your reasons).
    Angela

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