I’m currently re-reading this favourite novel. I can’t quite decide if I like Persuasion or Mansfield Park the best. They are two of Austen’s finest novels. Sense and Sensibility come third and Pride and Prejudice fourth. Emma comes dead last. I realize I order the books thusly because of the heroines – I like Anne and Fanny. I’m not a huge fan of Elizabeth because she’s just a little too self-assured and Emma is an annoying snot (perhaps I also can’t get Gwyneth Paltrow out of my mind when I think of Emma…) Anne and Fanny are much more sympathetic and that’s why I enjoy the stories more.
Anne Elliot has to be, hands-down, the saddest and the most sympathetic Austen character. She’s detested by her own family and really only truly understood and loved by the man she rejected years earlier, at the behest of her father and a family friend.
Anne is barely able to control her bitter feelings of regret and of possibilities lost in the first half of the novel and so the tone is so much more sombre than that of Pride and Prejudice. There’s much less witty banter in Persuasion, for example.
But the emotional tug is stronger, I believe. Anne’s circumstances are much nastier than Elizabeth’s, the latter of whom at least has a sympathetic sister to confide in. Captain Wentworth is a less dashing hero and a more sober man than Darcy, and therefore much more likeable, imo.
The novel is short, so much shorter than Mansfield Park. It’s a delightful, atmospheric, and highly satisfying read.