All throughout my life as a book reader people suggested Jane Austen’s works to me. While I initially stubbornly refused I eventually turned to the books in my senior year of high school in a realization that people would continue to expect me to read them. Thinking the most famous was the best to start with, I began by reading Pride and Prejudice.
Now Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books in existence, and I had read it only a short while before starting into Pride and Prejudice. Having been recommended both and knowing they were from the 1800’s and written by women, I figured they would be fairly similar. Instead I was distressed to find that Austen’s book simply couldn’t hold a candle to my beloved Jane Eyre.
Now before Austen lovers berate me for my comparison, I will admit I entered in with unrealistic expectations. And I suppose if I read it again I might find it more likeable. However, at the time I decided Austen only wrote about women chasing after men and gossiping and being somewhat annoying.
And then I read Persuasion.
I read it because someone commented that they didn’t think Pride and Prejudice was a very accurate representation of all of Austen’s works. And how right they were.
I related much more to Anne Elliot than I did with Elizabeth Bennet. She was quiet and musical and smart. I liked her personality and enjoyed her story. I am glad to have been able to rethink Jane Austen thanks to this book. I don’t know that I can even truly describe why I love this book, but perhaps its simply because I was more open to it than I was in my first Austen encounter. I simply enjoyed it for the story and the characters and kept some of my critiquing skepticism at bay. Perhaps I need to read Pride and Prejudice again to really see if it was the book, because I strongly suspect it was myself that caused the problem.
However, I think the main thing I’ve learned from reading Persuasion has little to do with the book itself. This was my life lesson this fall: you should never give up on things too soon, and should never define limits of what you will not try. Just because you hate one thing doesn’t mean you’ll hate another.
My friends are often surprised when I sit down to watch movies with them because I am very picky about what movies I like. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t try and enjoy, and I hope I can continue to inspire this attitude for years to come.
I suppose in many ways this attitude fits with Persuasion though not obviously perhaps. Anne has all but given up after falling out with her love, but this story is one of her trying to love again. And how fitting that was in trying an Austen book for a second time.
So I encourage you dear readers to do the same. Expand your limits. Try new things. And don’t let one failure with a genre, or author, or style keep you from ever venturing into that area again. For there is nothing so disappointing as a person unwilling to try new things.
What things have you surprised yourself by liking after a second try? Did you like Austen right from the start? Any feedback you have is wonderful.