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Persuasion

Persuasion - Jane Austen God, Jane Austen's book have such terrible and boring covers. "Hey, this is an old book about ladies, we should probably put an old-timey painting of a lady on the front. Probably someone kind of pretty in that ugly way of old paintings, you know what I mean." ([b:Yes, I Do.|5228087|Persuasion|Jane Austen|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DnRfLZ8yL._SL75_.jpg|2534720])I am reading this one via dailylit emails, which means my version doesn't actually have a cover, so I picked the least offensive/most interesting one I could find. I kind of like this one because it suggests to me a different kind of book, full of a-spying on sea adventures, perhaps in the manner of The Scarlet Pimpernel, in which women aren't allowed to actually do anything but they can hide in corners and watch exciting stuff happen or peer through spyglasses at far off boats upon which heroic men are doing manly and heroic deeds. If Northanger Abbey is any indication though, this book probably favors scenes of people sitting in drawing rooms and bitching about bad manners. Maybe the lady on the cover is actually peering at the neighbors so she'll have something good to criticize later.-----------------------------------------Upon finishing, my suspicions have been confirmed: this book involved hardly any spyglass action at all! They were, I suppose, mentioned; apparently Anne (our heroine, Anne) has a spendthrift father who has a bit of a looking-glass fetish; well, maybe fetish isn't the right word. But he has a whole room full of them, and that's kind of weird, but at no time does Anne, or anyone else for that matter, pick one of them up and use it to look wistfully out to sea, longing for a reconciliation that time and unfortunate circumstance has rendered all but impossible to conceive! But I was incorrect to accuse Anne of cattiness; my prejudgment could not have been more wrong-headed. Sure, there are some catty bitches in this book, like Anne's sister Mary, who can never stand not being the center of attention, even when her own son is nearly dying (or well, you know, back then every boyhood injury was cause for deathly concern, since they didn't have CAT scans and perhaps witches were lurking about). And then there's her other sister, Elizabeth, who, well, put it this way: Austen describes Mary as "not so repulsive and unsisterly as Elizabeth." But Anne herself is the very picture of decorum and level-headed reserve, not even scoffing (outwardly, anyway) at the constantly ridiculous behavior of her boorish immediate family.Which brings me to my point, which is that there is no cattier bitch in this book than Austen herself, as narrator. She delights in raking all the well-to-dos in the cast over the coals for their many crimes, be they financial frivolity, romantic betrayal, or social scheming (only Anne and her former flame, Captain Wentworth, escape unscathed). Which is good, because you may notice that not a lot ever strictly happens in this book. The eventually reunited lovers (spoiler alert!) never even share dialogue, unless you count one steamy letter (not Atonement steamy, though, this is 1814 people)! But that's ok when Austen is making snarky comments like this:"Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot's character; vanity of person and of situation. He had been remarkably handsome in his youth; and, at fifty-four, was still a very fine man. Few women could think more of their personal appearance than he did, nor could the valet of any new made lord be more delighted with the place he held in society. He considered the blessing of beauty as inferior only to the blessing of a baronetcy; and the Sir Walter Elliott, who united these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect and devotion."No, really. Just subtract all the refined British reserve out of there and you've got the equivalent of Jane rolling her eyes and making the invisible jerk off gesture. You know the one.