Back to Top

Tag Archives: Persuasion

Two_women_are_arguing_in_the_street_watched_by_a_crowd._Etch_Wellcome_V0040755How better to start 2016 at Risky Regencies than with a cat fight? Not a real one, of course, but a literary one pitting Jane Austen against Charlotte Brontë.

I just read Why Charlotte Brontë Hated Jane Austen by Susan Ostrov Weisser (Daily Beast, 10/19/2013) and, intrigued, looked around and found The Austen vs Brontë Smackdown on the blog Austen Pride (5/16/2009). I also found a long discussion of Austen vs the Brontës on Goodreads, which I skimmed, but did not read.

Apparently Charlotte Brontë had never read Jane Austen until a critic suggested she do so after she’d written Jane Eyre. She studied Pride and Prejudice and, among other things had this to say:

She ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him with nothing profound. The passions are perfectly unknown to her: she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy sisterhood…

Austen Pride makes the point that Austen, who had passed away a year after Charlotte Brontë was born, could not rebut this accusation. In Northanger Abbey, Austen did, however, parody the emotional excesses of gothic tales, of which the Brontës’ books could be included.

Of course, those of us who love Austen would also argue that there is plenty of passion in Austen’s work, although it is brimming beneath the surface. How could you not think so of Persuasion?

Austen Pride concluded that the two authors were writing from different perspectives. Austen was writing about her keen observations of the world in which she lived; Charlotte and her sisters, on the other hand, wrote what was in their imagination.

Me, I was never a huge fan of Jane Eyre. I loved the beginning when she was in the orphanage, but I never believed in the romance between Jane and Rochester. And the coincidences of falling in a ditch and being found by her long-lost cousin didn’t work for me. I also hated how Rochester treated Jane. And don’t get me started on Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff and Cathy have to die to be together? And who would want Heathcliff anyway? I preferred Edgar to Heathcliff.

I think I hold my fictional heroes to very high standards, ones that the Rochester and Heathcliff don’t quite meet. I understand the forces driving the Brontë heroes, but I much prefer heroes I can admire and even fall in love with. Heroes like Austen creates.

I also love all the finely drawn characters in Austen’s books. Their actions and feelings are much more believable to me and that gives me the sense that I’m in a real place, among real people.

But that is me, thinking on the surface of the stories, which is mostly how I read books.

What about you? Do you prefer Austen or the Brontës? Or do you like both for different reasons?

I came late to loving the Regency, not until I started writing in 1995. I’d read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility in some English class along the way, but it wasn’t until my writing pals Helen and Julie introduced me to Georgette Heyer and Regency Romance (the Signets and Zebras) that I began to really fall in love with the Regency.

One event clinched it.

Helen, Julie, and I went to see the 1995 Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds movie Persuasion, which had been a BBC TV production in the UK but released in theaters in the US. It was this movie adaptation of a Jane Austen book I’d never read that made the Regency come alive for me.

From the country house of the Elliots to the chic rooms in Bath to the simple seaside abode of the Harviles, the Regency world the move depicted seemed so real to me. Maybe it was because the whole movie was filmed on location, but, even so, the details were not prettied up for film. The livery of the Elliot footmen looked a bit shabby, as it would have for a baronet whose fortunes were dwindling. Skirts and boots got muddy during country walks, as they would have in a time without paved walkways. The dancing was boisterous but not polished and practices, as professional dancers would have performed. The hero and heroine were attractive but not “beautiful people.”

The Regency people in the story also acted in ways I believed were true to the period. The emphasis on status, on honor and obligation seemed genuine to me. There were bored privileged young women, proud impoverished ones, scheming social climbers. There were also “normal” people, like the Musgroves and the Crofts. And Ann and Wentworth, of course.

Jane Austen may have been exploring the role of persuasion throughout the story, but she also crafted a lovely, satisfying romance, with familiar Romance themes. Persuasion is both a reunion story (Ann and Captain Wentworth were once betrothed) and a Cinderella story (Ann, the put-upon sister finds great love in the end). The conflict was poignant – Ann regretted breaking her betrothal to Wentworth; Wentworth remained bitter that she threw him off in order to seek better prospects.

There’s a lovely villain in Ann’s cousin, William Elliot, who becomes intent on courting her, and more complications ensue when Wentworth considers himself obligated to marry the injured Louisa Musgrove. The steps Ann and Wentworth each make to find their way back to each other are subtle, but very satisfying and very typical of romance novels of today.

After seeing the movie, I had a picture in my mind that was my Regency. I read Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice and all of Jane Austen’s books, even Lady Susan. Persuasion is one of the few books I’ve read more than twice. I’ve watched the movie more times than that. The social attitudes from Jane Austen’s books seeped into my brain, as did the language, the rhythm of the conversation.

So you might say Jane Austen helped create my Regency world! And now I’ve decided to write my own Persuasion story. It is just the germ of an idea right now, but, if all goes well, it should be for sale late this year or early next year.

It will be my homage to Jane Austen and her wonderful book, Persuasion.


(I adapted this blog from an earlier one written in 2012)

Welcome to our new home and thank you for visiting!

I hope to soon have the non-writing life under better control and not be so horribly scattered and stretched a wee bit thin.  But hey! The Riskies have done our thing and ported our blogger blog to WordPress and our very own domain. I say “we” but I really mean Risky Elena, who did all the work.

Big loud HUZZAH for Elena!

So, aside from welcoming you to our new digs, I want to talk about Jane Austen. Like most readers of this blog, I am not alone in having read Jane early in life. I read everything, naturally, including Austen’s work. I re-read P&P several times. The Darcy grovel scene was among my favorites. I discovered, later in life, that I continued to appreciate Austen throughout my life, and that has not been true of many books.

Though I adore P&P, I think Persuasion might just be one of my favorite Austen novels. Even now, I so very much identify with Anne and her travails with family and love. Austen is a master of the showing us the woman whose quality goes unappreciated by those closest to her. I’ve often wondered if Austen herself fell into that category. Depended upon, vital to the functioning of the family, and completely dismissed. It’s a familiar theme for women.

Austen, as we all know, was the master of longing. Oh, Elizabeth and Darcy, the longed for so much! She shows us how her characters navigate all that longing and end up happy. As a young girl, having read so much Fantasy where the women either died or just didn’t matter except in their domestic or sexual capacities, it was a revelation to read stories where the female mattered.

Thank goodness we have her stories!

Giveaway!

I have a hardback copy of Persuasion up for grabs. Leave a comment to be in the running for this giveaway. You can say anything, but it would be awesome if you completed this phrase:

Pink, my dear, is

Rules: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. You must leave your comment by midnight Pacific on Sunday December 16. International OK. Winner picked at random.

 

Follow
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com