"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 9
The deadline for this post sneaked up on me last night, when I realised it was Sunday and that I was in danger of publishing another backdated post. So I grabbed my copy of Persuasion right before I ran out the door on an impromptu shopping expedition. The plan was to buy a ticket for a certain concert I'm not going to tell you about yet and to do some window shopping for the perfect concert outfit. I saw a really great skirt with a palette similar to that of the band's EP jacket, but it's awfully expensive. And the ticket was pricey enough, you know?
So I got the ticket and left the skirt. Now the former is a bookmark and the latter is a dream. There are a few more days to decide whether the skirt is worth it, but the "Two or Three" Book Club post is due now.
Chapters 13 to 16
Does your edition of Persuasion have two volumes or one? Mine has two--and I'm glad of it because the division underlines the Before and After in Anne's life.
In Volume 1, or the first twelve chapters of the novel, Anne is quite the pathetic creature. She is living with a father and sister who don't value her at all and can count the number of good friends she has on a single finger. And that friend was formerly her mother's best friend. There are some neighbours who like having her around, but she's not going to be adopted by them any time soon. It has been this way for her, for over seven years--an awful price to pay for having made one poor decision in the past. Jane Austen hints that such stultifying society is one reason Anne never got over Captain Wentworth, and I understand completely.
As Volume 2 opens, however, we see that everything has changed. And for me, the change was so smooth that if my edition didn't break up the narrative into Before and After, I wouldn't be remarking on it now. The Anne of Volume 2 is remarkably different from the Anne of Volume 1 . . . and it seems to have everything to do with the new company she has been keeping. Her father, her sister, and
So at the end of Chapter 16, when Anne and that new gentleman, who turns out to be her cousin Mr. Eliot, are discussing "good company," we know that there is so much more to the issue than "only birth, education and manners." Anne's perspective, already wise, has finally broken out of the limited frame it has been trapped in for almost eight years. She has had "good company" for the past eight years and it has done her no good. A few weeks with new acquaintances, whom her usual companions would reject out of hand, have changed everything for her.
Of course, a thousand other interesting things could be said about these four chapters. Care to add one in the combox? =)