Friday, 3 March 2017

Persuasion by Jane Austen

 My Review: 5/5

A beautiful story of love, heartache and the determination of one woman as she struggles to regain her lost love. A story about a second chance. A story that makes your heart swell like there is no better thing in this world. A love story that really comes once in a life time. A love story that teaches us:
“A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman. He ought not; he does not.”
Anne Elliot comes from a high class family. She has everything one desires; Beauty, wealth, social status... you name it. She meets Fedrick Wentworth, who lacks fortune and rank.
''They were gradually acquainted, and when acquainted, rapidly and deeply in love. It would be difficult to say which had seen highest perfection in the other, or which had been the happiest: she, in receiving his declarations and proposals, or he in having them accepted."  

Not so surprising for me, Anne's family and friends oppose this marriage. Then they depart. 
“There could have never been two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.”

''He was gone; he had disappeared, she felt a moment's regret. But they should meet again.''

They seperate but Anne couldn't get over him.
“She would have liked to know how he felt as to a meeting. Perhaps indifferent, if indifference could exist under such circumstances. He must be either indifferent or unwilling. Has he wished ever to see her again, he need not have waited till this time; he would have done what she could not but believe that in his place she should have done long ago, when events had been early giving him the independence which alone had been wanting.”
Nearly 8 years later, Fedrick Wentworth returns from the Navy as Captain Wentworth with huge fortune, which reminds me of a famous quote- ''If it is right, it happens - the main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.". And here is the scene that describes Anne and Captain Wentworth's second encounter.
''He was more obviously struck and confused by the sight of her than she had ever observed before; he looked quite red. For the first time, since their renewed acquaintance, she felt that she was betraying the least sensibility of the two. She had the advantage of him in the preparation of the last few moments.''

I smiled when I read it (immediately hoped nobody in the train thinks I am mad). Anne still having intense feeling for him sees that this time, Captain Wentworth is not interested in her but her friend. Is she too late?
"He had been most warmly attached to her, and had never seen a woman since whom he thought her equal; but, except from some natural sensation of curiosity, he had no desire of meeting her again. Her power with him was gone for ever."


“She understood him. He could not forgive her,-but he could not be unfeeling. Though condemning her for the past, and considering it with high and unjest resentment, though perfectly careless of her, and though becoming attached to another, still he could not see her suffer, without the desire of giving her relief. It was a remainder of former sentiment; it was an impuse of pure, though unacknowledged friendship; it was a proof of his own warm and amiable heart, which she could not contemplate without emotions so compounded of pleasure and pain, that she knew not which prevailed.”

With common friends and relatives, Anne and Captain Wentworth frequently meet each other in social gathering, each realising their long forgotten love every time they meet. Each tries to avoid other as much as they can but they cannot.

Then finally, Captain Wentworth can no longer stay in silence. He writes a letter to Anne. I must say, this letter literally broke me.
''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 for ever. 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''

To this letter, Anne says:
''Such a letter was not to be soon recovered from''

Finally the scene when Anne and Captain Wentworth confess their love to each other for second time, the scene that will just inject into your heart and make you cry, the scene that will remain in your soul for ever:
''and soon words enough had passed between them to decide their direction towards the comparatively quiet and retired gravel walk, where the power of conversation would make the present hour a blessing indeed, and prepare it for all the immortality which the happiest recollections of their own future lives could bestow. There they exchanged again those feelings and those promises which had been followed by so many, many years of division and estrangement. There they returned again into the past, more exquisitely happy, perhaps, in their re-union, than when it had been first projected; more tender, more tried, more fixed in a knowledge of each other's character, truth, and attachment, more equal to act, more justified in acting. And there, as they slowly paced the gradual ascent, heedless of every group around them, seeing neither sauntering politicians, bustling housekeepers, flirting girls, nor nursery-maids and children, they could indulge in those retrospections and acknowledgements, and especially in those explanations of what had directly preceded the present moment, which were so poignant and so ceaseless in interest. All the little variations of the last week were gone through; and of yesterday and today there could scarcely be an end.''
Just read those words, how can someone write so perfectly? How can anyone just incise your heart with their words? Selection of words couldn't have been more classic; story line couldn't have been more interesting and realistic, ending couldn't have been more perfect. I wouldn't be more proud to have it in my collections once I have my own library. See? This is what good novels do. They make you part of it. They make you cry and laugh at the same time that you somehow become crazy. More than anything, they make you feel like they are telling your story. Have you felt that too? Have you?