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|What would Jane have revised?
Written by Mary Ellen
(9/22/2005 1:02 p.m.)
I read my DH the first 4 chapters of Persuasion while he was baking cookies. His only comment was that he knew Anne was the main character (despite her unimportance in the text) because she seemed such a typical Jane Austen heroine, so good and slightly downtrodden.
Sadly, though DH is a very nice fellow, I really don't think that he was drawn into the story by these chapters. It is really only in the last line of the 3rd chapter and the whole of the 4th that any mystery is presented to the reader.
I was looking at the beginnings of the other novels. P&P has a really great opening line, and better yet, a great first chapter, witty, light, funny, that makes you want to know what will happen next. Emma has quite a good opening line. The book starts slow with descriptions of the characters and their histories. At the end of Ch 3 we are introduced to Miss Smith. Wondering what will happen to her keeps me reading the book the whole way through, every time. S&S draws you right in with the pitiful story of the poor Dashwood girls in Ch 1. Overall, I would rate Mansfield Park as my least favorite of the 6 novels, but it has a firm start in the first chapter, drawing you in to the sad story of Miss Fanny Price.
I realize that this is sort of an 'airport bookstore' sort of a review of the 6 novels. Would you buy it to read on the plane after you read the first chapter? But Persuasion does seem to have one of the weakest beginnings with little to recommend itself. Even if one compares the character descriptions at the beginning of Persuasion to those in Emma, I am less than satisfied. Emma has the sublime, the sweet and the ridiculous. Persuasion has the pompous the mean and the well meaning.
The first 4 chapters do provide a good start to the book, but I do wish that they held more sparkle to captivate DH.
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