Winner Announced in the Persuasion (Naxos AudioBooks) Giveaway

It’s quite obvious by your comments that Captain Wentworth pierces everyone’s soul! The response to the giveaway of the Naxos AudioBooks edition of Jane Austen’s Persuasion was amazing. The lucky winner is in for 8 hours and 43 minutes of Juliet Stevenson reading Austen’s last and most poignant novel. Here is the winner drawn at random: 

Dana Huff 

Congratulations to Dana. To claim your prize, please e-mail me at austenprose at verizon dot net by midnight PST on March 9th, 2010. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

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Persuasion, by Jane Austen (Naxos AudioBooks) Review & Giveaway

Persuasion, Jane Austen’s last completed novel was written between 1815 and 1816, with final chapter revisions in August of that year. Published posthumously in late 1817 with her earlier work Northanger Abbey, each of the novels represents the alpha and omega of her writing career. Even though they are divergent in tone and topic, they each share a commonality in being partially set in Bath and display Austen’s trademark play on social strata, money and courtship. Austen finished the manuscript of Persuasion in declining health which may account for its slim size in comparison to her heftier previous efforts Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816). Or, quite possibly it is exactly the length that she preferred for her story, allowing for a simpler plot and focus on fewer characters. Its size in no way diminishes it value. Some scholars consider it her finest achievement and readers have long cherished it for its jab at social mobility and moving love story. 

In 1817 Austen wrote to her niece Fanny Austen Knight in her usual ironic manner, “You may perhaps like the heroine, as she is almost too good for me.” At age 27, Anne is not your typical Austen heroine. The middle daughter of Sir Walter Elliot she is from a distinguished family of a landed Baronet. Her vain father takes their aristocratic ancestry and social position very seriously and expects his three daughters to make prominent matches. Quiet, reserved and not as pretty as her father values, Anne is often overlooked and her opinions dismissed by her family; “but Anne…was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way — she was only Anne.”  Eight years prior Anne met and fell in love with a young naval officer Frederick Wentworth. Because he did not match her social and financial status, Anne was persuaded by a well meaning family friend to reject his marriage proposal. Wentworth returned to sea and forgets her. Anne never forgets him and remains unmarried. When he returns eight years later a wealthy and successful naval hero he reenters her social sphere with heightened status. On the other hand, Sir Walter’s extravagant lifestyle has out paced his income to the point of serious debt and the family must retrench, let Kellynch Hall and remove to Bath. As Anne watches the younger ladies of the neighborhood swoon and play for Captain Wentworth’s affections she is painfully aware of her lost bloom of youth, deeply regrets her decision and pensively longs for his favor until a tragic accident at Lyme Regis and events in Bath renew her hopes.  

In yet another brilliant reading of a Jane Austen classic novel, British actress Juliet Stevenson interprets Austen’s poignant story of fidelity and second chances with wry humor and sensitive pathos. Her depth of characterization is remarkable and I am never in doubt that she is relaying Austen’s intension faithfully. Those who have previously read the novel will find new enjoyment in this beautifully produced audiobook and those new to Austen’s masterpiece will be treated to an unabridged eight hours and forty three minutes of pure perfection. Such equal blending of masterful story and artistic integrity is rarely encountered and I highly recommend it. 

5 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Persuasion, by Jane Austen, read by Juliet Stevenson
Naxos AudioBooks, USA (2007)
Unabridged, 7 CD’s, 8h 43m
ISBN: 978-9626344361 

GIVEAWAY CONTEST 

Enter a chance to win one copy of a Naxos AudioBooks recording of Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion by leaving a comment by midnight PST March 2, 2010 stating who your favorite character is in the novel or movie adaptation of Persuasion. Winners will be announced on March 3, 2010. Shipping to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

The giveaway drawing has now concluded and the winner has been announced. Many thanks to all who paticipated. 

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Collector’s Library Re-issues Jane Austen Classics

Collector's Library Banner

Great news for Jane Austen readers and book collectors. The Collector’s Library, a UK publisher has re-issued their popular and distinctive editions of Jane Austen’s six major novels. These compact 5.9 x 4 inch volumes are beautifully designed for easy handling and include these great features: 

  • Full-cloth hardcover bindings
  • Ribbon markers
  • Head and tail bands
  • Gilt edges
  • Classic illustrations by Hugh Thomson

Sense and Sensibility (Collector's Library) 2009Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by Henry Hitchings
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson

Two sisters of opposing temperament but who share the pangs of tragic love provide the subjects for Sense and Sensibility. Elinor, practical and conventional, the epitome of sense, desires a man who is promised to another woman. Marianne, emotional and sentimental, the epitome of sensibility, loses her heart to a scoundrel who jilts her. True love finally triumphs when sense gives way to sensibility. ISBN: 978-1904633020 

Pride and Prejudice (Collector's Library) 2009Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by Henry Hitchings
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson 

A tour de force of wit and sparkling dialogue, Pride and Prejudice shows how the headstrong Elizabeth Bennett and the aristocratic Mr. Darcy must have their pride humbled and their prejudices dissolved before they can acknowledge their love for each other. ISBN-13: 978-1904633013 

Mansfield Park (Collector's Library) 2009Mansfield, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by Nigel Cliff
Illustrations by Hugh Thomson  Park

Mansfield Park is a novel about town and country, surface dazzle and lasting values. Fanny Price, a poor relation, is brought up at the wealthy Bertrams’ country house and falls for Edmund, the younger son. Their lives are disrupted, however, by the arrival of the worldly Mary Crawford and her brother Henry. With her usual psychological insight and attention to detail, Jane Austen paints an irresistibly lifelike portrait of shifting values and split loyalties. ISBN: 978-1904633297 

Emma (Collector's Library) 2009Emma, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by David Pinching
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson 

When Emma Woodhouse sets out on a career of match-making in the little town of Highbury she manages to cause confusion at every step. Jane Austen was particularly proud of Emma, in which she takes apart the desires and foibles of small-town society with unnerving accuracy. ISBN: 978-1904633006 

Northanger Abbey (Collector's Library) 2009Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by David Pinching
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson 

Northanger Abbey tells the story of Catherine Morland, a naive young woman whose perceptions of the world around her are greatly influenced by the romantic gothic novels to which she is addicted. When she moves to Bath she sees mystery and intrigue all around her. This is one of Austen’s early works, a broad comedy about learning to distinguish between fiction and reality. ISBN: 978-1904633303 

Persuasion (Collector's Library) 2009Persuasion, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by Henry Hitchings
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson 

Jane Austen’s final novel, her most mature and wickedly satirical, is the story of Anne Elliott, a woman who gets a second chance at love. To achieve happiness she must learn to trust her own feelings and resist the social pressures of family and friends. ISBN: 978-1904633280 

Enjoy!

Persuasion: Does Anne Elliot have poor judgment?

Portrait of Maria Bicknell, by John Constable (1816)“Any acquaintance of Anne’s will always be welcome to me,” was Lady Russell’s kind answer. 

“Oh! as to being Anne’s acquaintance,” said Mary, “I think he is rather my acquaintance, for I have been seeing him every day this last fortnight.” 

“Well, as your joint acquaintance, then, I shall be very happy to see Captain Benwick.” 

“You will not find any thing very agreeable in him, I assure you, ma’am. He is one of the dullest young men that ever lived. He has walked with me, sometimes, from one end of the sands to the other, without saying a word. He is not at all a well-bred young man. I am sure you will not like him.” 

“There we differ, Mary,” said Anne. “I think Lady Russell would like him. I think she would be so much pleased with his mind, that she would very soon see no deficiency in his manner.” 

“So do I, Anne,” said Charles. “I am sure Lady Russell would like him. He is just Lady Russell’s sort. Give him a book, and he will read all day long.” 

“Yes, that he will!” exclaimed Mary tauntingly. “He will sit poring over his book, and not know when a person speaks to him, or when one drops one’s scissors, or any thing that happens. Do you think Lady Russell would like that?” 

Lady Russell could not help laughing. “Upon my word,” said she, “I should not have supposed that my opinion of any one could have admitted of such difference of conjecture, steady and matter-of-fact as I may call myself. I have really a curiosity to see the person who can give occasion to such directly opposite notions. I wish he may be induced to call here. And when he does, Mary, you may depend upon hearing my opinion; but I am determined not to judge him beforehand.” 

“You will not like him, I will answer for it.” 

Mary Musgrove, Charles Musgrove, Anne Elliot & Lady Russell, Persuasion, Chapter 14 

Jane Austen knows a bit about family dynamics. This conversation regarding Captain Benwick appears to be about Mary Musgrove’s objections to him, but it is more about her opinion of her sister Anne and her judgment. It is a theme running throughout the novel. Her family generally shuns her opinions “but Anne…was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way — she was only Anne.” Lady Russell her closest female advisor didn’t trust her judgment either. We learn about her choice of Captain Wentworth as a spouse eight years before the novel begins and how Lady Russell persuaded her to reject his offer of marriage because he did not match her social or financial station. However, some characters do trust Anne, but are not in the family. After Louisa Musgrove is injured in a fall on the Cobb at Lyme, only Captain Wentworth sees the truth. “But if Anne will stay, no one so proper, so capable as Anne.” This line is the turning point of the novel for our heroine. As readers we have never doubted Anne’s judgment; we were just not sure until this moment if Captain Wentworth did.

*Portrait of Maria Bicknell, by John Constable (1816)

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Jane Austen Naxos AudioBooks Giveaway

Persuasion, Naxos AudioBooksWin a copy of a Jane Austen audio book!

A gentle reminder to readers that the Jane Austen birthday celebration contest is still open for seven unabridged copies of Jane Austen’s novels by Naxos AudioBooks until December 31st. Just leave a comment answering why you love reading or viewing Jane Austen, and seven lucky Janeites will be the winners of these wonderful audio books. What a great way to start the New Year!

Follow this link to the original post on my other blog, Jane Austen Today, and leave a comment today!

Persuasion: “I am so ill I can hardly speak.”

Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, Persuasion, The Folio Society (2007)

“So, you are come at last! I began to think I should never see you. I am so ill I can hardly speak. I have not seen a creature the whole morning!”  

“I am sorry to find you unwell,” replied Anne. “You sent me such a good account of yourself on Thursday!”  

“Yes, I made the best of it; I always do: but I was very far from well at the time; and I do not think I ever was so ill in my life as I have been all this morning: very unfit to be left alone, I am sure. Suppose I were to be seized of a sudden in some dreadful way, and not able to ring the bell! So Lady Russell would not get out. I do not think she has been in this house three times this summer.”  

Anne said what was proper, and enquired after her husband. “Oh! Charles is out shooting. I have not seen him since seven o’clock. He would go, though I told him how ill I was. He said he should not stay out long; but he has never come back, and now it is almost one. I assure you, I have not seen a soul this whole long morning.”  

“You have had your little boys with you?”  

“Yes, as long as I could bear their noise; but they are so unmanageable that they do me more harm than good. Little Charles does not mind a word I say, and Walter is growing quite as bad.”  

“Well, you will soon be better now,” replied Anne cheerfully. “You know I always cure you when I come. Anne Elliot & Mary Musgrove, Persuasion, Chapter 5 

I would like Anne Elliot to come to my house today and cure me of this retched flu bug that has taken over my life for the last five days. I can’t seem to shake it, and am beginning to feel like Mary Musgrove spread out on her divan bemoaning her ailments to her kind and loving sister Anne. 

Jane Austen treats illness and death in her novels almost like another character. She seems to plant a sick one or death in each of her novels causing reaction in the community: Mr. John Dashwood Senior dies in Sense and Sensibility causing the whole plot to begin, Mrs. Bennet and her nerves in Pride and Prejudice, Lady Bertram and her mysterious languor in Mansfield Park, Mr. Woodhouse the valetudinarian who fusses over drafts and gruel in Emma, Mrs. Tilney whose mysterious illness and death in Northanger Abbey ignites heroine Catherine Morland’s Gothic imagination, and so many sickies and deaths in Persuasion, (Mary Musgrove, Mrs. Smith, Captain Harville, Captain James Benwick, Louisa Musgrove, Fanny Harville, and Mrs. Elizabeth Elliot) that you can not turn a page and not be reminded of it. 

There is a book devoted to interpreting Jane Austen’s view on health that I have not read, but could shed some light for interested readers entitled Jane Austen and the Body: ‘The Picture of Health’, by John Wiltshire which Austen scholar Juliet McMaster recommended as “…a fine book, informed and sensitive, and it throws a spotlight on an aspect of Austen’s work all too rarely noticed.” in the literary journal Eighteenth-Century Fiction. With that clout behind it, it is well worth a peek. 

Image of Anne Elliot and Mary Musgrove by illustrator Niroot Puttapipat, Persuasion, The Folio Society, London, (2007)     

An Austen Intern Reports in from The Jane Austen Centre: Week 6

Virginia Claire Tharrington with friends at Lyme Regis (2008)

The ultimate Austen adventure continues with our featured weekly columnist, Virginia Claire Tharrington straight from the trenches of Austen central, The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England where she is interning until December. Join her every Saturday as she shares with us her incredible adventure that every Janeite, and even Austen’s heroine Catherine Morland would envy.

Off to Lyme Regis…

This past weekend one of my house mates and I went to Lyme Regis. Jane Austen visited the town with her parents in 1804 and part of her beloved novel Persuasion is based in it. Lyme was such a wonderful picturesque fishing village we really enjoyed a nice weekend there. Getting to Lyme was not easy though because my friends and I took the wrong train and such which made us very late to check in, but our bed and breakfast was lovely.

Virginia & friends on the Granny Teeth steps on the Cobb, Lyme Regis

We got up on Saturday morning to good weather so we headed out to see the Cobb. This was the highlight of the trip for me because I got to walk along the top like they did in Persuasion. We loved going to the Cobb and walking though we almost got blown off the top. I can see why the women in Persuasion could not walk all the way out because it was to windy so they had to go down the stairs and that’s when Louisa’s spill took place. We also went to the aquarium that was run by this lovely old fisherman. I am pretty sure that he had just put fish that he caught in tanks and called it an aquarium, but he did have some nice pictures and stories of the filming of Persuasion. We took so many pictures on the 3 sets of stairs on the Cobb because in each version of the movie Persuasion they use a different set of stairs. I thought it was interesting that there is no real answer to what stairs Jane Austen was talking about. But I personally think the Granny Teeth steps were the ones that Jane might have been thinking of when writing.

View of Lyme Regis harbour from the park

We then went to the Jane Austen Gardens which were lovely. I had a copy of Persuasion with me so I of course had to read the Lyme section while I was in Lyme and in the park. We loved wondering through the gardens which had a wonderful view of the Cobb and the sea. We had a wonderful rest of the day walking around shopping in Lyme. The weather got a little rainy around tea time so my friends and I went back to our bed and breakfast and watched the 1980’s Pride and Prejudice which is my favorite because we were talking about Pride and Prejudice adaptations in Jane Austen class last week. They really enjoyed that version as well but don’t think it helped that I was reciting the lines with the movies.

Virginia at the The Jane Austen Gardens, Lyme Regis

This week at the Jane Austen Centre has been wonderful as well. I have been doing a lot more guiding which I think is really helping my confidence with public speaking. The people at the Centre are who make it so fantastic. I will be doing a survey tomorrow at the Centre and possibly dressing in Regency attire with a guy from my house. We will have to see if I can convince him to dress up with me.

My Jane Austen class is also going very well. We just finished Pride and Prejudice and now starting Mansfield Park which is nice since I haven’t studied it yet in class. We studied Northanger Abbey which was neat because since I live in Bath I pass Milson Street, the pump rooms and many other places that the novel mentions which really bring it to life.

Cheers till next week!

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England