1 February 2018 Susannah

‘Persuasion’ – One of the World’s Great Love Stories

Amanda Root as Anne and Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth, Persuasion, 1995 Movie adaptation

How about celebrating Valentine’s Day this month by reading (hopefully re-reading) Jane Austen’s Persuasion which has just turned 200? Her brother arranged publication after her death. It has to be one of the world’s great love stories.

'Persuasion' Mug

‘Persuasion’ Mug

I challenge all of you to come up with a more moving, wonderful love letter than the one Wentworth writes to Anne while in the same room with her: “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 …”. If there is a better love letter than that anywhere in fiction, then I am yet to find it! I am also still waiting for a man to write me a love letter even a fraction as good.

Persuasion is an utterly beautiful novel, with Anne such a marvellous heroine, a depiction of one of the greatest whiners in history in Mary Musgrove, and some wonderful comedy mixed in with the deep emotion. Give yourself one of life’s best treats and read this book this month. The picture above shows Amanda Root as Anne and Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth in a 1995 movie adaptation.

In April I am off to Philadelphia to speak at a Persuasion conference, and don’t forget that the Jane Austen Society of Australia will hold its conference on the same novel from 6 – 8 July in Canberra.

What do you think of Captain Wentworth’s letter? Can you recommend other beautiful love letters in literature? Let me know and comment here.

  Susannah Fullerton: Jane Austen, Her Life and Works
  Susannah Fullerton: Jane Austen’s Death
  Jane Austen Society of Australia Weekend Conference

   Susannah Fullerton: Jane & I: A Tale of Austen Addiction
   Persuasion by Jane Austen

I only recommend books I have read and know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.

 

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Featured image credit- Amanda Root as Anne and Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth, Persuasion, 1995 Movie adaptation
Body image credit- ‘Persuasion’ coffee mug. Susannah Fullerton
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Comments (22)

  1. I am rereading Persuasion right now. I love Austen’s books and this one is not an exception. Do you think Jane Austen would have added more, if she had been well?
    Persuasion is still my second favourite Austin novel, but it is more succinct than previous versions.
    All the best and thanks for the news letter.
    Gaila

    • Susannah Fullerton

      What joy to be re-reading ‘ Persuasion’! Yes, I think that had Jane Austen lived longer, she might have done some revision. Much as I adore the novel, I feel she might have changed some of the depiction of Mrs Smith, as she changed the ending only months before she died. So if it is your second favourite JA novel, which one do you love the most?

  2. Heather Grant

    I totally agree. It is one of the most beautiful and heart wrenching love letters ever written. Oh, to receive a letter like that! Think we will be waiting a very long time…forever!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      A bit sad, isn’t it, that we realise we are never going to receive any love letter as beautiful as that one. It is utterly wonderful.

  3. Jean kelly

    “persuasion” is my favourite Austen novel. I think “You pierce my heart” is so immediate, physical and literal. So poignant and a statement of suffering and loss in one word ‘pierce’. The best love letter of all time.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I agree! It pierces my soul every time I read it. I am so looking forward to giving talks about ‘ Persuasion’ this year and also to the JASA conference in Canberra.

  4. Eve Penny

    I am very lucky that I have 2 beautiful love letters that my late husband wrote to me in the early days of our love. After 35 years together they give me moments of happiness in the 15 years since I lost him to cancer. He also enjoyed Jane Austen’s books as well as the TV programs and movies from her books. He never had any trouble finding a gift for me & I have them all from Laurence Olivier & Greer Garson’s Pride & Prejudice to the Persuasion with Amanda Root which you mention. I even have a BBC version of Persuasion which they didn’t have at the Jane Austen museum in Bath. Sadly I had to buy the 2005 Pride & Prejudice as well as the Persuasion they were filming when I was in Bath & Lyme Regis in 2006.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Those are letters to treasure, Eve. And I envy you having a husband who shared your interest in Jane Austen. I have failed totally to convert mine.
      The Amanda Root film of ‘ Persuasion’ is mostly very well done and she is a wonderful Anne Elliot, but the most recent one with Sally Hawkins was, in my view, abysmal. Is that the one you had to buy?

  5. Elizabeth Rusiti

    I have just finished re-reading Persuasion – twice! First in English, then translated into French. Reading Austen translated into French is good practice for my French, and it forces me to slow down my reading and I wonder if I find things in the novels that I might not do otherwise when I devour them in English. Some of the delight of Austen’s prose is, of course, lost.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I really should follow your example as it would be so good for my French. Of course, you do lose so much of the irony in translation, but I agree it would force you to slow down and really concentrate on the words. When I was in Italy recently, the Jane Austen group there told me that there are currently 10 different translations of ‘ Pride and Prejudice’ available in Italian, so you could read 10 different versions of the same book. I imagine there at least as many available in French.

      • Elizabeth Rusiti

        I can assure you Susannah that Mary Musgrove still comes across as one of the greatest whiners in history, even in French. 🙂

        • Susannah Fullerton

          Maybe she sounds more exotic when her whining is in French?? I have some of the JA novels in French, but not ‘Persuasion’. I must get myself a copy.

  6. Ursula

    Are you coming to the USA ? Did I read it right? When? Exactly? Where? Can we come?

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, I will be speaking at a Jane Austen conference in Philadelphia on Sat 21 April. Anyone can attend. My talk will be called ‘Sir Walter Elliot: The Constant Reader’ and will focus on his passion for the Baronetage. It is a day conference on Persuasion. Email me if you want further detail, but I am sure you can find info on the web. It would be great to see you there!

  7. Jennifer Garden

    Persuasion is one of my favorites. Mansfield Park is the other. They bounce back and forth between the top spot. The Amanda Root/Ciaran Hines version is the best movie version in my opinion. I haven’t read this book in a while, but perhaps I’ll start on it again as soon as I finish the series I’m re-reading. Jane Austen wrote the most wonderful, real people characters. They act like people we either know or have heard about. They are all flawed and yet, in some way, most of her characters have some quality with aspiring to. Anne Elliot’s quiet way of running things to keep the house moving without demanding any accolades. Elinor Dashwood’s quiet support of the people around her while her own heart was breaking. Fanny Price’s gentle service to all those around her even the thoroughly unpleasant Aunt Norris. I could try every day to be like them and never fully succeed. Doesn’t mean I won’t try…

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Both such brilliant books! I love the examples you gave, and there are so many more that can be added – Emma’s patience with her annoying father, Elizabeth’s care of Jane when she is sick, the quiet dedication of the Crofts to each other. I agree with you about the Amanda Root, Ciaran Hinds film – definitely the best one. Enjoy re-reading Persuasion!

  8. Stella

    I also re-reading Persuasion cause is one of my favorite books from Jane Austen, but I didin’t like the last adaptation, I think they don’t capture the real essence of Anne Eliot in the movie. In the book She’s most interesting and determinate. Waiting for another adaptation more close to the book.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I agree that the last film version with Sally Hawkins as Anne was dreadful. Anne is such a wonderful heroine and that the film did no justice to her character or to the novel.

  9. Lindy Bonham

    I adore Persuasion and the film with Amanda Roots. I also wish I had any love letters equal to or even with half of the sentiments from Captain Wentworth. Thank you for opening my eyes to the wider world of JA and friends around the world. I greatly enjoyed your talk at Hawkesbury Library.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      So glad you enjoyed the talk. Do think of coming along to a JASA meeting. It is Australia’s largest literary society and we do have a fabulous time.

  10. Patti Travaglio

    I live near Philadelphia and would like to know where you are appearing. Thank you!
    The 1995 version of Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds cannot be improved! But my all time fave is S&S from 1995- it saved my life.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      My talk in Philadelphia will be at the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of JASNA conference. The programme will include a few other excellent speakers and it should be a fabulous day. You can find info about it on the internet.
      I totally agree with you about the Sense and Sensibility movie. My favourite JA movie ever!

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