Monday, 29 April 2013

Letter No. 5

Dear Ashleigh

Thank you so much for hosting the third Jane Austen Tea.  It is exceedingly generous of you to open your home to the readers and non-readers of Jane’s work at a time in your life when every moment is filled with the needs of your wee Angus.  Our reading guests found Persuasion to be a great source for discussion.  We covered feminism, insensible parents, rejection, meddling, and types of carriages.  Our non-readers took home prizes!  The Elliot-Wentworth cake is a keeper.  Perhaps you have a picture?

I have thought a great deal about invisibility since spending this time reading and listening to Persuasion.  Anne Elliot is so invisible to her family and many of their acquaintances.  Frederick Wentworth appears to not see her but we learn that he is conscious of her presence at every moment, unknown to Anne.  The tension is heartbreaking as Anne moves through her daily life doing what she reliably does, all the while thinking about Frederick, what is taking place with the flirtatious Musgroves and what might have been.  She tells no one, unable to talk with her friend Lady Russell assuming that she will not approve since she separated them 8 years before.   Is Anne the loneliest of Jane’s characters?  Fanny Price has Edward’s friendship and Eleanor has her family.

Persuasion presents us with the best example of the stable and experienced marriage in Admirable and Mrs. Croft.  They have travelled the world together, lived in small spaces, and seen wars and storms.  I am sure that they have had lively conversations with each other on many topics.  We see Mrs. Croft challenging her brother on his outdated attitude about women. We can only project compatible and congenial relationships between Darcy and Elizabeth, Jane and Bingley, Col. Brandon and Marianne, Emma and Mr. Knightly and Eleanor and Edward and so on.

You have heard me say that the best confrontations are in Pride and Prejudice and the most extraordinary apologies are in Sense and SensibilityPersuasion has unrelenting tension: the arrogant, self -centred people; the agony of past rejection; loss and grief; a head injury; deceptive people; a friend who is destitute; misunderstandings; and rules of conduct associated with the time and class.  That might explain why the movie has Anne running through Bath like a mad woman in search of Frederick!

Have we picked out book for the next Tea?  I have forgotten.  As you know I went off the road into a snow bank after our tea.  That would not have happened had I been in one of the 5 carriages mentioned in the book.  I hope wee Angus has a good sleep this night.

Yours truly,  Anne

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