Monday, November 7, 2011

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Source: LibriVox
Length: 7 hours, 15 minutes
Reader: Karen Savage

The book: Persuasion was recommended to me as "the man's introduction to Jane Austen."  The book has several qualities that make it good for men interested in Austen: it's short, reducing the time you've wasted if you don't like it, it's one of Austen's later works, showing a more polished style for those unused to her writing, and many of the male characters are naval officers, making it sort of a shoreside version of a Patrick O'Brien novel. Being male and having already listen to (and mildly enjoyed) Pride and Prejudice, I looked forward to reading this one.

As with Pride and Prejudice, I liked the novel, but failed to see why Austen is so hugely admired by her fans. The plot concerns Anne Elliot, a spinster at age 27, who is re-introduced to her old beau, Captain Frederick Wentworth. Anne and Captain Wentworth had been engaged when Anne was younger and Wentworth was much poorer, but the engagement had been broken off at the advice of Anne's guardian. The reconnaissance and rebuilding of their relationship is an interesting story, full of Austen's wry observations on human nature, but I couldn't really get excited about a novel with so obvious a direction. I appreciate Austen's writing, but I still haven't learned to love her.

Rating: 7 /10

The reader: Karen Savage does a marvelous job at bringing Austen's characters to life. She has a bright tone of voice that manages to convey plenty of emotion with great subtlety, as is fitting for this book. The characters are clearly drawn without the performance of drastically different voices. I can't imagine why anyone would want a professionally made recording when this one is just perfect.

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