Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Book Babble # 1 - My Favourite Novel of All Time

My first post and I was at a loss as to what i should write about. My eyes scanned over my full-to-the-brim bookshelf and I knew a review was in the works but I wanted my first post to be something really *worth* writing about. So here's what i figured - a spiel on the ultimate novel, as seen through my eyes.

Well I knew it was immediately going to be something Austen related. I actually got into Austen late in the game - first time I ever read anything penned by her I think I was 14 (studying Sense and Sensibility at school). I liked Austen but I didn't get the chance to read any of her work in full. Until sixth form that is. And that's when I came to know and love one of the world's best loved classics - Pride and Prejudice. But I won't go into how much I love that novel - that's another review all in itself.

I digress. I will say what I came here to say: I love Jane Austen. Yes, I know I never actually knew her. Yes, I know many, many people will disagree with me when I say she is one of the best writers ever. Yes, I know she didn't write much and there aren't too many books to judge her by. But yet, I still truly love her. Without Austen I know I wouldn't have gone on to read any other nineteenth century novels. Without Austen I wouldn't have found the joy of English Literature. Without Austen there would be no Wentworth!

Which brings me on to my main point. Persuasion is that desert island read for me - the one novel I would pick above all others as my ultimate read. Whilst it isn't as well known as Austen's other works, this novel, for me, is her best. Wentworth makes a leading hero with some traits similar to those of Darcy - Wentworth, too, is good looking and wealthy. But he also shares another of Darcy's downfalls in character - Wentworth is also proud. Hurt by Anne Elliot's rejection many years before he ignores her when he finally comes into her company again after a long absence and his pride (or anger, or pain; whatever you decide it is) prevents him from really considering how he feels about her.

All the signs are there for the cheesy, romantic read - dashing lead male, sweet and likeable heroine, torn apart by one person's wrongful act of persuasion. It isn't that typical when you really look at it though. Anne Elliot is described as being past the bloom of youth, no longer the "fresh faced", young maiden. In fact, she isn't even meant to be that pretty. Wentworth is angry with her and doesn't automatically forgive her when he first sees her. It isn't all roses and fairies from the first word. And not all the characters are lovely to encounter. In fact, for the most part, a lot of them are downright annoying. Persuasion has the blend that would appeal to a lot of people - yes, cheesy romance, perhaps. But there are also a lot of complexities in the story that shed light upon Austen's own feelings  (this novel is supposedly based on her own experiences) and also show us that it isn't only the young and fashionable girls with tinkly laughs and the ability to charm that win out in the end. The good girls can win too.

It's one of those novels that warm the heart and make you see that things can happen for the best.

My favourite novel of all time.

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