Posts Tagged ‘tearoom chat’

persuasion tearoom chat My tearoom chat with Serena about Jane Austen’s Persuasion concludes this week with our discussion of Volume II, Chapters 7-12. Grab a cup of tea and head over to Savvy Verse & Wit to join the discussion.

(Click here if you missed the first discussion on Volume I, Chapters 1-6, here if you missed the discussion on Volume I, Chapters 7-12, and here if you missed last week’s discussion about Volume I, Chapters 1-6)

We hope you’ll share your thoughts with us!

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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persuasion tearoom chatPour a cup of tea, and join me and Serena for a leisurely discussion of Persuasion by Jane Austen. This week, our chat was held over a cup of Orange Passion Fruit Jasmine tea (me) and an Arnold Palmer (Serena)

Today’s discussion covers Volume II, Chapters 1-6. If you’re reading along with us, great! If you’ve read the book before and want to chime in, great! Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments.

Anna: So much happens in these six chapters. Anne leaves Uppercross to stay with Lady Russell, then heads to Bath. But what I find most striking about this section is the change in Anne. The improvement to her person is mentioned by both Lady Russell and even Sir Walter. There’s a hint that Captain Benwick may be interested in her, as well as Mr. Elliot. Do you think it’s safe to say that Anne is not as isolated as she was at the very beginning of the novel?

Serena: I think we see in these six chapters a change that even her self-absorbed relatives can see. She’s no longer wilted and in the background, but regaining some of the blush of her youth (my gosh, she’s only 27 or so). I think the glances of Mr. Elliot in the inn, the looks of gentlemen on the Cobb, and the attentions of Captain Benwick have restored her faith in her own worth as a person. Whether that means she’s better for it; I’m not sure. Should her self-worth be tied to what others perceive in her, or should it be something more internal?

I think she’s become more sociable as a result of being with the Musgroves and because of the Harvilles, et. al., but I also think seeing that Captain Wentworth is the same and no worse for her rejection, that she is feeling less guilty about how she was persuaded to break their engagement.

What are your thoughts about her as an Austen heroine, thus far? Do you find her to be one of the weaker ones?

Anna: Even if Anne keeps her composure when her family is so rude to her, it has to bother her. Yet, she remains strong and holds her ground where she can. She visits Mrs. Smith instead of Lady Dalrymple. Even though she’s tempted by the thought of returning to her home and taking her mother’s place as Lady Elliot, her good sense and suspicions of Mr. Elliot win out.

I don’t think of Anne as a weak heroine at all. (I wonder if I’ll say the same thing about Fanny Price when I re-read Mansfield Park at some point; she’s the one I’m not crazy about.) She may have been pushed to the background by her family and lost so much by breaking her engagement to Captain Wentworth, but she bears all of the burdens her family put on her with grace and dignity and strength. How she handled the whole Wentworth/Louisa thing, despite the pain it caused her, is admirable. Yet at the same time, Austen doesn’t portray her as too perfect.

What do you think?

Serena: I don’t think she’s weak, but she is definitely more subdued than say — Emma or Lizzy — in how she comports herself in front of family and others.

I did love seeing Anne stand up to her father and sister by seeing Mrs. Smith, rather than Lady Dalrymple, and while she sees Mr. Elliot as perfect in manners, she also realizes that there is something too good to be true there.

I haven’t read Mansfield Park in ages, but I don’t think Anne is as weak as she is. I find her to have a quiet strength, which is nice, but it also makes it easier for others to push her into the background.

I did note that some of Austen’s humor is lost in this one, except for the exchange between Anne and Mr. Croft about the number of mirrors in her father’s old room at Kellynch Hall. Are there other areas of her humor that I missed in this section?

the annoted persuasionAnna: There’s not as much humor in this novel, but there definitely are some humorous scenes and lines. I always crack up when Sir Walter asks how Mary is because she had a red nose last time he saw her. Admiral Croft’s going on about that painting of a poorly done ship made me chuckle. And that letter from Mary…well, Mary is pretty much ridiculous all the time.

What did you think of Louisa’s engagement to Captain Benwick?

Serena: Louisa’s engagement seems to be this random thing that comes out of nowhere, but I think the circumstances of being in such close contact all that time and they being their respective captive audiences may have helped them along. There really is no way to tell what transpired between them.

I do love that Mary is so happy to relay the news and that it’s so out of the blue, but her letters are just hilarious…especially since she contradicts herself at every turn. And Mr. Croft certainly does have a love for ships and the sea..it’s a wonder he ever set foot on shore.

Now what about Anne’s boldness in acting about Captain Wentworth, do you think she’s hoping that there will be a renewal of their acquaintance, or do you think she’s merely concerned because she has loved him in the past (and still does) even if they do not renew a friendship at the very least?

Anna: It definitely seems random to us readers because we’re not privy to the goings-on in Lyme. Louisa and Benwick’s romance would make for an interesting spin-off novel.

Of course, we knew something would happen with Louisa because she CANNOT end up with Captain Wentworth. She just can’t. I think I’d be okay with her marrying anyone but him, because the Elliots and the Musgroves being so connected would’ve really made that hard for Anne to handle, I think.

I do love that Anne was able to feel “senseless joy” when she learned the news. Being Anne, she seems concerned about how the engagement affected Wentworth and Benwick’s friendship. But whether she feels hope for a second chance or just joy that she doesn’t have to see him married to Louisa, or just joy that he’ll remain single for the time being, I don’t know.

Going back to Mr. Elliot. I was struck by the passage where Anne considers how everything he says is measured and how occasional slips of the tongue are more sincere and authentic. That made me wonder whether Anne and Emma could have ever been friends. What do you think?

Serena: I agree, Louisa and Benwick’s romance would be an interesting spin-off. Perhaps you should write that one!

Yes, I agree if Captain Wentworth and Louisa married, I don’t think Anne could have handled it, though I’m not really sure how she would have reacted to seeing them together all the time.

I did love that he said she experienced a senseless joy — that made her more human to me. Until that point, I felt like her emotions were too in check all the time. I was elated for her. Even if she doesn’t hold out hope for her and Wentworth to get back together, it was nice to see that she could be happy even senselessly.

I’m not sure if Emma would have wanted Anne for a friend — though except maybe to fix her up — but Anne would have enjoyed Emma’s company. That passage also makes me wonder about what Austen is trying to say about her own society — did it seem to stilted and measured to her? was she looking for more?

And does Anne mean that those who are measured in their thinking and speech are maybe more callous and calculating than they are perceived to be by others who simply find them delightful in manner?

persuasionAnna: I see what you mean about Anne’s emotions being too in check. Though I felt some of her frustrations being let out through the narrative describing her being pulled to and fro by Mary and the Musgroves wanting her to solve their problems with one another back in the last section, and it also shows when she compares the happy household of the Musgroves to the more stilted atmosphere at Kellynch.

I wonder if an Emma/Anne pairing would be somewhat like an Elizabeth/Charlotte friendship, a balance of the practical with the lively, though without Mr. Collins, of course. Given that Austen thought Emma was a heroine only she would like, I imagine that she herself would prefer a less stilted atmosphere. Emma is someone who comes out and says what everyone else is thinking.

I think Mr. Elliot’s manner of speech is delightful to people like Lady Russell because they are so focused on manners and social standing, whereas Anne is looking for some real conversation and companionship because all that matters to her to a lesser extent.

What do you think about Mrs. Smith and her importance to the plot? Do you think there’s more to her story as well? You sort of see that her story will intersect with that of Anne’s family, given her nurse’s connection to the wife of Mr. Elliot’s friend.

Serena: Agreed, an Emma/Anne pairing in friendship would be a balancing act of sorts.

I do think there is more to Mrs. Smith’s story, and I think that she is the cautionary tale for Anne who could have been swept up in a marriage — one not with Wentworth, but someone like him — and been left with nothing. While Austen wants us to believe in a happily ever after for Anne, she also wants to remind us that anything could happen and that she should be prepared for the worst. In Anne’s case, though, I think she’s well prepared given how little her family cares for her or her opinions, etc.

Yes, I think that was on purpose…Austen wants us to see the caution in believing in happily ever after, but she also wants to provide a way through which Anne can have it and not fall into a bad situation unwittingly, especially since she’s mostly relied on Lady Russell’s advice in love.

Now, here’s an idea for a spin-off: Anne’s life when she knew Mrs. Smith before her marriage took her off.

What do you think about Mr. Elliot’s paying attention to Anne rather than her sister? Do you think that her sister has noticed? And what is with Mrs. Clay and her hanging on even when it would be more polite to remove herself?

Anna: I know Mrs. Smith’s story from reading the book before, so I’m going to keep quiet about it for you. It definitely is a cautionary tale in a way. I wonder if there is a book out there about Mrs. Smith? You never know!

Mrs. Clay is a very interesting character because at this point, we don’t hear too much of her. There was all that flattery at the beginning and now she’s just there, with the speculation being that she wants to become Lady Elliot. If she’s desperate to get her claws into Sir Walter (and I’m wondering if her father has anything to do with that, too), she’ll never leave as long as Elizabeth desires her company. I don’t know if Elizabeth notices Mr. Elliot’s interest in Anne at this point, or whether it’s only Lady Russell’s observations so far. But since Elizabeth never found a man worth marrying besides Mr. Elliot, and since she already dislikes Anne, I’m sure she will be none too pleased!

I can’t wait for the last part of the book, even though I don’t want it to be over.

Serena: I don’t know if there is a book about Mrs. Smith or not. There don’t seem to be too many spin-off books of Persuasion. I cannot wait to read the ones that I do have now that I’ve nearly achieved my goal of reading this one.

Mrs. Clay does seem conniving, but she’s not outwardly so, which makes me wonder about what goes on behind the scenes. Why does she want to stay? It doesn’t seem like Sir Walter even cares that much about her being there or not, and he certainly doesn’t pay her that much attention, though maybe no other woman could catch his eye like Lady Elliot did — not sure how that happened when he’s so wrapped up in status and his own distinguished looks.

I cannot wait for the last part of the book either, and I, too, do not want it to end.

We hope you’ll help us continue the discussion in the comments!

Click here if you missed the first discussion on Volume I, Chapters 1-6, and here if you missed last week’s discussion on Volume I, Chapters 7-12. And please join us next Friday, March 28th, at Serena’s blog, Savvy Verse & Wit, to discuss Volume II, Chapters 7-12, which will bring us to the end of the novel. See you there!

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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persuasion tearoom chat My tearoom chat with Serena about Jane Austen’s Persuasion continues this week with our discussion of Volume I, Chapters 7-12. Grab a cup of tea and head over to Savvy Verse & Wit to join the discussion.

Then, join us here on Diary of an Eccentric on Friday, March 21 for our chat about Volume II, Chapters 1-6.

(Click here if you missed last week’s discussion on Volume I, Chapters 1-6)

We hope you’ll share your thoughts with us!

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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persuasion tearoom chatPour a cup of tea, and join me and Serena for a leisurely discussion of Persuasion by Jane Austen.  (We pretty much failed at the whole “tearoom” thing, with our email back-and-forth happening over a glass of lemonade (me) and an Arnold Palmer (Serena), but whatever gets you through, right?)

Today’s discussion covers Volume I, Chapters 1-6.  If you’re reading along with us, great!  If you’ve read the book before and want to chime in, great!  Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments.

Anna: I hope you are enjoying Persuasion so far. When I finished it the first time, I declared it my favorite Jane Austen novel…and then I read Emma and said that was my favorite Austen novel, so I obviously can’t decide, but upon beginning this re-read, I remembered exactly why I loved it the first time.

How did you feel about the first few chapters? You don’t really get a hint that the book will center on Anne until Chapter Four, when her relationship with Frederick Wentworth is made known to the reader.

Serena: I’ve always liked how Jane Austen sort of leads you into the setting and the characters’ lives without really pinpointing at the outset who the main heroine is. She does that so well here, with Anne in the background observing everyone and quietly offering her advice.

I was wondering why you think she makes a point to have Anne seem so meek in the beginning without really explaining her relationship with Wentworth until Chapter Four?

Anna: Anne hardly speaks at all in the first few chapters, but so much is revealed about her when Lady Russell consults her about Sir Walter’s finances and how he could get out of debt. Keeping her in the background allows Austen to unfold the events that will bring Wentworth back into Anne’s life. If it wasn’t for Sir Walter’s debts, he wouldn’t have to let Kellynch, and the Crofts wouldn’t have been found as tenants.

I’m surprised by how much Austen reveals about her characters, especially Sir Walter and Elizabeth, in just a few short pages.  What do you think about Sir Walter, in comparison to the other patriarchs you’ve encountered in Austen’s novels?

Serena: I agree, Austen’s approach in Persuasion gives her a lot more latitude in unfolding Anne’s story.

It seems like Sir Walter is even more inept than some of the other patriarchs she’s depicted. Mr. Bennet is a reader, and while his home and finances are entailed away from the female line, he still cares for all his children, even if he thinks some of them are ridiculous, while Emma’s father, Mr. Woodhouse, is mostly preoccupied with his ailments and his own comforts, though his house and estate are still doing well. Sir Walter seems to just presume that everything will take care of itself because he’s titled, though a Baronet is not in the upper echelons of the aristocracy. Although, I just thought that perhaps Sir Walter is an even more ridiculous version of Mr. Woodhouse.

It’s odd that Sir Walter would favor Elizabeth who is so like him in her vanity and privilege, though I suppose in many ways, she’s like his own personal “yes” man, agreeing with whatever he wants. It makes me wonder how the mother would have fit into this family and what role she would have played between the sisters and between the sisters and their father.

Lady Russell seems to play a role in keeping Anne’s interests alive, but I wonder if she too has a selfish streak, particularly given her persuasion of Anne against an alliance with Wentworth.

the annoted persuasionAnna: It seems like Sir Walter and Mr. Woodhouse are complete opposites in that Sir Walter is so full of himself when it comes to appearances (both physical and status-wise) and Mr. Woodhouse goes way overboard in worrying about other people. In a way I’m reminded of General Tilney with the focus on wealth and status.

Austen does say Lady Elliot modeled restraint and kept him in line. I’m curious as to what prompted her “youthful infatuation” with Sir Walter? That would make for some interesting scenes, I’m sure!

Lady Russell is hard to get a finger on. There might be some selfishness there, but she also seems truly upset that Anne is deemed unimportant by Sir Walter and Elizabeth, in particular.

Serena: Yes. I see your point about Sir Walter and General Tilney, though I haven’t read that Austen book yet; I’m going on scenes in the movie.

Lady Elliot must have had a hold on Sir Walter to keep him in line…she must have been a charmer for sure. Wonder what kind of persuasion she employed! I really cannot imagine how she would have been attracted to him in the first place though.

Lady Russell is an enigma. She seems preoccupied with status, too. But I still wonder if she just wanted to keep Anne close for her own reasons, and that’s why she wanted to persuade her against Wentworth.

Do you think Anne rejected Charles Musgrove because she was still heartbroken?

Anna:Well, I hope I got the General Tilney thing right; now that you mention it, I did watch the movie again a couple of weekends ago, so maybe that’s what I’m thinking of. [Added after the discussion: I think our next Tearoom Chat should be Northanger Abbey! I can’t believe you haven’t read it yet!]

Hmm, that’s a good question about Anne and Charles. I think anyone who would turn around and marry her sister, Mary, really wasn’t the right kind of guy for Anne.

From the description Austen gives of Anne and Wentworth’s personalities when they first fall in love, they really were well suited to one another. That in itself would be difficult to get past, but then to see that all he’d predicted for himself in terms of career and fortune came true…well, I don’t know how Anne could not blame Lady Russell for her role in separating them. Given that she was 19 at the time and lived a relatively sheltered life, it’s not surprising that she would be so easily persuaded.

Serena: I can see how she would be persuaded given the family life she’s led with her father favoring her other sister, Elizabeth, and not thinking much about her at all. And with only Lady Russell’s guidance, it would be hard to know that she should stand up for what she wanted.

While I find it interesting that she would reject Musgrove, it is telling that he would so soon after offer for her other sister.

That’s a whole other ball of dysfunction over there at the Great House, isn’t it? What do you think was going on there that Austen was trying to show? And how does that family’s dysfunction compare to Anne’s family?

Anna:  Anne considers Henrietta and Louisa “some of the happiest creatures of her acquaintance” and even laments that they have an affection for one another that she never knew with Elizabeth or Mary. The whole Musgrove family seems so far removed from the world of the Elliots, yet Mary married into it and doesn’t seem all that happy about it.

The description of them being “friendly and hospitable, not much educated, and not at all elegant” makes them sound like they are so far beneath the Elliots, yet the Musgroves are the closest to them in social standing in the neighborhood. It makes me wonder, if Sir Walter is so obsessed with being a Baronet, why Mary married into that family, even if they were landowners? Is there any significance in that?

persuasionSerena: It’s also raises an interesting point about why Mary was allowed to marry into this family that is “below” the Elliots, and Anne was not allowed to marry Wentworth. Merely owning land means that you are eligible, or is it because Sir Walter really only cares about what is best for Elizabeth and not the others?

I think Anne loves the Musgroves because they are affectionate — something she lacks at home — and Mary has never been pushed so far in the background like Anne, and may find it stifling to be in such an affectionate family.

Anna: Well, you saw Sir Walter’s poor opinion of the Navy men when Mr. Shepherd approached him about renting to one of them. And Wentworth, at the time, had no money to his name, no status, just ambition. At least Charles will inherit his father’s property. But wasn’t it said that Anne could have overcome whatever objections Sir Walter might have had; it was Lady Russell’s opinion that really mattered? So if Sir Walter could be overcome, then maybe it didn’t really matter so much who Anne and Mary married.

And what does it say that at 29, Elizabeth is still unmarried? Yes, she was disappointed by Mr. Elliot, and yes, she didn’t find any one else as suitable as him for a husband for someone of her standing. But if she’s as handsome as she’s described, and the Elliots have some standing in society, why wasn’t there talk of someone else at least showing interest in her?

Serena: Yes, that’s what I wonder about too, why hasn’t Elizabeth had any other men coming after her if she’s so beautiful? I mean after all, Jane Bennet was considered a beauty, and she had admirers, and even Darcy thought she was pretty. Here, Elizabeth is supposed to be angelic, almost.

I guess it does mean that Lady Russell’s opinion mattered more to Anne, perhaps because they are friends.

I cannot wait to see what develops next, though at this point the book seems pretty close to what I’ve seen in the movies for the most part.

Anna: And, of course, she views Lady Russell as sort of a mother figure.  I wonder if her mother had lived, what would she have said about her engagement to Wentworth?

I am looking forward to the next part as well. Even though I’ve read it before and haven’t forgotten the story, it’s like I’m reading it for the first time. I’ve had that feeling every time I’ve read Pride & Prejudice, and I think that’s part of the magic of Austen for me.

We hope you’ll help us continue the discussion in the comments!

And please join us next Friday, March 14th, at Serena’s blog, Savvy Verse & Wit, to discuss Volume I, Chapters 7-12.  See you there!

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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the annoted persuasionPersuasion is one of my most-favorite Jane Austen novels, and when Serena said she wanted to read it for the first time this year, I thought it would be fun to read it together — especially since I bought the annotated version pictured here and have yet to read it.  Even though life continues to be hectic, I’m making time for a comfort re-read.

We’re taking a more laid-back approach to this read-along.  We’re going to chat about the book in real-time, then post those chats once a week throughout March.

Here’s our schedule:

Friday, March 7 — Chat about Volume I, Chapters 1-6 here on Diary of an Eccentric

Friday, March 14 — Chat about Volume I, Chapters 7-12 on Savvy Verse & Wit

Friday, March 21 — Chat about Volume II, Chapters 1-6 here on Diary of an Eccentric

Friday, March 28 — Chat about Volume II, Chapters 7-12 on Savvy Verse & Wit

We’d love it if any of you want to read along with us, and those of you who’ve already read it, please feel free to chime in.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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