Before this month my favorite Austen novel was Sense and Sensibility with Pride and Prejudice being my second. Well, they have now both been shifted down a notch because Persuasion is now my Jane Austen number one. I love the fact that Anne Elliot is twenty-seven, making her the oldest of Austen’s heroines. It is her age and experience that lend her insight and the beginnings of wisdom not found in the others.
Anne Elliot strikes me a bit as a mixture of Elinor Dashwood and Jane Bennet. However, unlike those ladies, Anne is the overlooked middle sister of her family. Her older sister Elizabeth is quite pretty, but not altogether a pleasant woman, which has contributed to her being still unmarried. While Anne’s younger sister Mary is married, but it is difficult to say if it is one offers any real happiness because Mary’s sense of pride demands that all attend to her and she become quite droll when not the center of attention. Anne somehow manages to be a balanced individual and steady if a bit acquiescent to everyone.
Anne sees just about everyone as they really are, but engages with a heap of grace that goes unrecognized by those who benefit most from her conflict avoidance. Just because Anne knows that there’s no point in arguing with her family doesn’t mean that she is unwilling to attempt to speak to them of her concerns. This particularly comes when Anne broaches the topic of Mrs. Clay perhaps not being an ideal companion to accompany Elizabeth and Sir Walter to Bath. Elizabeth of course dismisses Anne’s concerns, and Anne takes that as having been expected. Still Anne spoke her views.
I further loved Anne’s presence of mind to attend to things amidst crisis. Without demanding authority, everyone turns to her and trusts her judgement. She doesn’t fall into hysterics or become angry. Her brain kicks in with practical actions and provides useful direction to those around her. And all this she does without ever expecting acknowledgement.
As for leading men, think what you will, but Colonel Brandon has always been the man I adored. It didn’t hurt to see Alan Rickman’s performance in the 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. He hasn’t been replaced, but I will say that I am now torn. Torn, I tell you!
Captain Wentworth’s behavior I can easily understand of a man suffering under the duress of heartache, even in denial of such a state. The small exchanges of glances and gallant behavior, which culminates in his daring letter speak to my heart. (I know have an irresistible urge to go out and get a hold of Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange and Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion by Regina Jeffers.)
I have now rearranged my bookshelves in my library to reflect the change in my favorite hierarchy. (This does not include the shelf of books-to-read. And sadly, you can’t put a Kindle book on the shelf either.) Does anyone else do this?