So for late November, I finally finished Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” with much ado about procrastination, particularly, film viewings. The last part of the novel engrossed me so, especially the letter from Capt. Frederick Wentworth to Anne Elliot, the most romantic, sweetest but filled with sugary phrases love letter classic literature has ever known, “…you pierce my soul, I am half agony, half hope”. This memorable missive also sealed the deal (methinks) for Jane Austen as the quintessential queen of literary romance worthy to be viewed a hundred or more years after her works have been published to modern-day audiences who put her on a pedestal in book-clubs and money-grubbing film studios which delight in her accessibility to romance that there’s always a film version of her work. Her take on the life and times of the Victorian era, with a love angle added, is truly timely and remarkable in today’s world. There has never been a generation of women who set aside romantic inclinations for career or independence as now and Jane mastered or perfected the craft of writing about women who wisely chose their “sense of self” over societal pressures but always with a happy ending for the female and male protagonists.
The movie version with British actress Sally Clarke as Anne Elliott and a host of British actors in supporting roles make this movie seem like a Merchant Ivory production, set in a Victorian era rural countryside England, with quaint mansions and seaside towns as picturesque backgrounds for an impressive cinematography. I find the film version just satisfying and somewhat a faithful interpretation of the book but like most adapted screenplays, it deviates from the book a little to come up with a more compress and compact script designed for time constraints and plot simplifications. The actress who plays Anne, the lead character, looks simple but wise, and possessing of a certain beauty even if she’s already 27 and deemed quite old by the superficial society who don’t think much of her. Her family, the father, an older sister and a younger sister also underestimates her but Anne’s strong sense of self prevails and eligible gentlemen actually took notice of this but her affection remains with Capt. Wentworth who disappeared for eight years after Anne broke off their engagement due to parental and societal pressures. When they continually meet again, feelings came back and it helps that he is now richer and more handsome, girls gush at his mere presence and charm. In the end, they got back and lived happily ever after (I presume) but not after going through numerous obstacles and the cruel test of time. That’s why it’s called “persuasion” because love always find a way if it’s meant to be. My inner female lovestruck self just can’t help but be momentarily drawn to Jane Austen’s well-written but fictionalized genius.