Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Good Story Link-up and Giveaway!

First, if you’re one of those entirely splendid people who follow all three of my blogs (and will consequently be getting this not once…not twice…but thrice on your dashboard!), be forewarned. :) I know some of you (also entirely splendid) story loving folks have happened to discover and/or follow one or other of my blogs—and I wanted to be sure the word was thoroughly out. ;) Thank you all for your patience!

And now to our news! I’ve recently started a monthly link-up, Inkling Explorations, for any and ALL story lovers! As part of the grand launch, I’m also hosting a giveaway and you can follow the link here for full details.

I hope all is well and can't wait to see you over there!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Persuasion Wrap-Up & Giveaway Winners!

Thank you again to everyone for all your enthusiastic participation!!! :) Following are all our wrap-up details.

Additional Persuasion posts/links:

(And I know a few more of you posted as well so, if you did and would like your link up, leave it here in a comment and I’ll add it!)

And thank you to everyone who entered the give-away! Our two winners are:

Robert for Miniatures and Morals
Susanna for the printable collection of Jane Austen silhouettes

Congratulations! (I'll be contacting the two winners directly. Also, I need to hear back from you by Saturday, March 14th, or I will need to draw another winner. :))

With other things I have going on the writing front, it may be a while before I host another read-along here, but when I do I’d be delighted to have you all along! Meanwhile, if you run across the blog here and would like to read through Persuasion (as I know some of you might already like to! ;)) feel free to leave your thoughts on the chapters as you go along. I’m always available for comments and would love to discuss it with you anytime! :)

And (also in the meantime) if you’d like to visit more, do see come see me at: 

My author blog

or my “everything else” place: Along the Brandywine!

I'd love to have you!

Here are links to all of our Persuasion chapters:

Thanks again so much for joining me! Till our next read-along!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

On Wentworth & Anne

Persuasion, Austen’s most mature story, is full of openness and yet subtlety; beginning also in an unlikely place—where most Austen novels end—with an engagement (though broken) and a mature heroine.

It has been pointed out that Anne Elliot is Austen’s most practically perfect heroine. She hardly ever misreads a person or situation, acting throughout with a “steadiness of principle” and “the resolution of a collected mind.”

She can be puzzling sometimes, for readers trying to figure out character development and the lessons she’s learned by the end. Interestingly, I think this is because hers is actually a flat character arc. As above mentioned, a lot of her personal character development has crystallized before the story proper begins. (This isn’t to say she doesn’t learn things or develop over the course of the story), but much of the shift and change in Persuasion happens around her and within other people coming into contact with her.

Like a jewel—sitting in the dark before being turned brilliantly to the light—Anne Elliot can seem at first glance merely quiet and unobtrusive, but by the end her steadfast strength, integrity, gentleness, loyalty, and love shines out radiantly. A trustworthy confidante and counselor, she is thoroughly worthy of a friend’s full confidence and of a strong man’s love.

Captain Wentworth is one of my favorite heroes. Flawed yet overcoming his flaws, turning away from his bitterness and anger and resentment, he is a true man and a worthy hero. Though passionate in love as in war, he isn’t obsessive. His love—with its depth and humor and energetic activity—opens up Anne’s world, opening it to further friendships as well, as he feeds and cares for her physically, intellectually, and emotionally. 

Persuasion is full to the brim from the start (from before the start!) with indirections and misunderstandings—with all the hurt and awkwardness and aching silence of the things that cannot be said. Accordingly, in its climactic ending scene Peter Leithart says (in his book Miniatures and Morals) that Austen, “concocted a scene that is one of the most famous in English literature, and which more precisely represents the tensions and difficulties and indirections of love than virtually any scene in literature.” 

Throughout the book, Anne understands Wentworth—listening to him and reading his comments, his gestures, his glances. Now she speaks and it is Wentworth listening. “Anne has gained her voice, gained a hearer, communicated with her lover in the only way she can—by speaking to him through a third party.” (Leithart)

Anne and Harville’s entire debate at the White Hart is magnificent. Harville says at one point: “All histories are against you—all stories, prose and verse… Songs and proverbs all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps, you will say, they were all written by men.” Anne (almost immediately) counters by saying, “Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.” 

Leithart here again points out that, “Between these two portions of the debate, Harville and Anne are interrupted by a sound from Wentworth’s writing desk—the sound of a pen falling from his hand! In this story, at least, the pen has been wrested from the hand of a man, and the woman’s constancy has been as superlative as any man’s.” 

He goes on to say: “Anne’s rejection of male writing on women’s inconstancy is said in jest, but it fixes attention on an important theme in Persuasion. The book, after all, is mainly about the indomitable, unchangeable, eternal love of a woman for a man. …Anne is fully persuaded from beginning to end that Wentworth is the man, the only man, she could love. She perfectly exemplifies the ‘privilege’ she claims for her own sex—‘that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.’ Love that endures when hope is past—this is love by faith, by sheer endurance, by persuasion of things not seen. Wentworth takes up his pen again, and when he does it is to record his constancy in love for Anne. 

“Wentworth is a sea captain; he is no landed gentleman… Anne is his shore, the shore that he finally finds, the only shore he needs or wants. Like every shore, she was there all the time, constant, awaiting his return. Organized by real merit and self-sacrifice rather than vanity and pride, the naval community is the wave of England’s future. And with it comes the possibility of recognizing, against the pens of men, the persistence of a woman’s love.”

Truly beautiful!

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Persuasion" Giveaway!

And now for our splendid celebratory giveaway! Each winner is eligible for one prize and the two winners will be drawn on Friday the 6th. (And note: if you've been participating in the read-along, but aren't quite finished, do still feel free to enter! :))

And now for our grand prizes!

1 - Ashley (of Printable Wisdom Design) has most generously
offered her ENTIRE printable silhouette collection to one happy winner!
(Click here to see all five pictures: Jane Austen Silhouette Collection)


2 - Yours truly is contributing a paperback copy of one of the best books ever written on Jane Austen! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, if you've written anything up for Persuasion on your own blog during the read-along leave your link/s here in a comment and I'll post them in our final link-up at the end of the week! 

~ Do have fun everyone and thanks so much for participating! ~

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 24

We finished!!! On the 28th of February!!!!!

And first, thank you all so much for enthusiastically joining in here and making it all such a thoroughly splendid success!! :) (As a note, don’t worry if you’re still finishing up… There’s no rush. Feel free to read and comment whenever you can! ;))

~ ~ ~

In this chapter Austen wraps everything up so wonderfully. Realistically (without happy tidiness in every direction), but with resolution and a good amount of cheerful spirit spread into the corners—and with deep happiness for the people we love most. 

(Oh, my…. I do love Persuasion so much! But I mentioned something about that in my last post, didn’t I? ;))

Next week there will be a celebratory giveaway and I’m also hoping to do a post on Wentworth and Anne—so keep visiting! 

Favorite lines/quotes:

“Sir Walter, indeed, though he had no affection for Anne, and no vanity flattered, to make him really happy on the occasion, was very far from thinking it a bad match for her. On the contrary, when he saw more of Captain Wentworth, saw him repeatedly by daylight, and eyed him well, he was very much struck by his personal claims, and felt that his superiority of appearance might be not unfairly balanced against her superiority of rank; and all this, assisted by his well-sounding name, enabled Sir Walter at last to prepare his pen, with a very good grace, for the insertion of the marriage in the volume of honour.” pg. 244

“There is a quickness of perception in some, a nicety in the discernment of character, a natural penetration, in short, which no experience in others can equal, and Lady Russell had been less gifted in this part of understanding than her young friend. But she was a very good woman, and if her second object was to be sensible and well-judging, her first was to see Anne happy. She loved Anne better than she loved her own abilities; and when the awkwardness of the beginning was over, found little hardship in attaching herself as a mother to the man who was securing the happiness of her other child.

“Of all the family, Mary was probably the one most immediately gratified by the circumstance. It was creditable to have a sister married, and she might flatter herself with having been greatly instrumental to the connexion, by keeping Anne with her in the autumn…” pg. 245

“Anne, satisfied at a very early period of Lady Russell's meaning to love Captain Wentworth as she ought, had no other alloy to the happiness of her prospects than what arose from the consciousness of having no relations to bestow on him which a man of sense could value. There she felt her own inferiority very keenly. The disproportion in their fortune was nothing; it did not give her a moment's regret; but to have no family to receive and estimate him properly, nothing of respectability, of harmony, of good will to offer in return for all the worth and all the prompt welcome which met her in his brothers and sisters, was a source of as lively pain as her mind could well be sensible of under circumstances of otherwise strong felicity.” pg. 247

“Captain Wentworth, by putting her (Mrs. Smith) in the way of recovering her husband's property in the West Indies, by writing for her, acting for her, and seeing her through all the petty difficulties of the case with the activity and exertion of a fearless man and a determined friend, fully requited the services which she had rendered, or ever meant to render, to his wife.” pg. 247

“She (Mrs. Smith) might have been absolutely rich and perfectly healthy, and yet be happy. Her spring of felicity was in the glow of her spirits, as her friend Anne's was in the warmth of her heart. Anne was tenderness itself, and she had the full worth of it in Captain Wentworth's affection.” – pg. 248

Possible discussion question/s:

~ What do you think of the final revelation of Mr. Elliot and Mrs. Clay’s characters?

~ Do you think everyone and everything is well resolved?

~ Have you enjoyed Persuasion?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 23


From Mrs. Musgrove and Mrs. Croft at the beginning on through Anne and Captain Harville and then…yes, I can’t say anymore. It’s my favorite chapter in all of Austen!

Lord willing, I’ll be discussing this chapter quite a bit in a summary post next week, so I really am refraining from saying much at present. More to come soon!

And…my apologies, but I gave up on favorite lines. :) I’ve read and listened to this chapter so many times I quite truly and literally have it memorized. After starting off with the first three I promptly realized it was hopeless!!! So here you have those first three and CW’s letter (which has to be transcribed no matter what, whatever else happens).

Favorite lines/quotes:

“Her faith was plighted, and Mr Elliot's character, like the Sultaness Scheherazade's head, must live another day.” pg. 225

“…There was no delay, no waste of time. She was deep in the happiness of such misery, or the misery of such happiness, instantly.” pg. 225

“Mrs Musgrove was giving Mrs Croft the history of her eldest daughter's engagement, and just in that inconvenient tone of voice which was perfectly audible while it pretended to be a whisper.” pg. 226

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

“I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never.” pg. 233

~ ....THE ENTIRE CHAPTER!!!!!! ~

Possible discussion question/s:

~ What is your favorite moment in this grand, marvelous, splendid, beautiful chapter? Your favorite line?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 22

This chapter is wonderful—and I’m so glad to see Mary and Charles again! There are LOTS of quotes (naturally), but one thing I particularly love about this chapter is the description of the Musgroves' hospitable and spacious hotel dining room:

“A morning of thorough confusion was to be expected. A large party in an hotel ensured a quick-changing, unsettled scene. One five minutes brought a note, the next a parcel; and Anne had not been there half an hour, when their dining-room, spacious as it was, seemed more than half filled: a party of steady old friends were seated around Mrs Musgrove, and Charles came back with Captains Harville and Wentworth. The appearance of the latter could not be more than the surprise of the moment. It was impossible for her to have forgotten to feel that this arrival of their common friends must be soon bringing them together again.” 

(Such an overflow of warm delight! And all of this cheerful hospitality is now directly contrasted with the cold insipidity and elegance of Elizabeth and Sir Walter.)

I also love the short conversation between Wentworth and Anne, filled with all the awkwardness of not knowing what in the world to say—what can be said when so many doubts and fears and uncertainties are hovering under the surface. A conversation filled most of all with the fear of opening up only to be hurt again, and the burning fear of being too late.

Favorite quotes/lines:

“There was no longer anything of tenderness due to him (Mr. Elliot). He stood as opposed to Captain Wentworth, in all his own unwelcome obtrusiveness…” pg. 208

“She…had all the distress of foreseeing many evils, without knowing how to avert any one of them.” pg. 208

“…till Sir Walter and Elizabeth were walking Mary into the other drawing-room, and regaling themselves with her admiration, Anne could not draw upon Charles's brain for a regular history of their coming…” pg. 212

(Charles speaking): “…I am sure he has always been a very kind, liberal father to me. Mary does not above half like Henrietta's match. She never did, you know. But she does not do him justice, nor think enough about Winthrop. I cannot make her attend to the value of the property. It is a very fair match, as times go; and I have liked Charles Hayter all my life, and I shall not leave off now.” pg. 214

“To be sure he (Captain Benwick) is. Nobody doubts it; and I hope you do not think I am so illiberal as to want every man to have the same objects and pleasures as myself. I have a great value for Benwick; and when one can but get him to talk, he has plenty to say. His reading has done him no harm, for he has fought as well as read. He is a brave fellow. I got more acquainted with him last Monday than ever I did before. We had a famous set-to at rat-hunting all the morning in my father's great barns; and he played his part so well that I have liked him the better ever since.” 

“Here they were interrupted by the absolute necessity of Charles's following the others to admire mirrors and china; but Anne had heard enough to understand the present state of Uppercross, and rejoice in its happiness; and though she sighed as she rejoiced, her sigh had none of the ill-will of envy in it. She would certainly have risen to their blessings if she could, but she did not want to lessen theirs.” pg. 214-215

“They found Mrs Musgrove and her daughter within, and by themselves, and Anne had the kindest welcome from each. Henrietta was exactly in that state of recently-improved views, of fresh-formed happiness, which made her full of regard and interest for everybody she had ever liked before at all; and Mrs Musgrove's real affection had been won by her usefulness when they were in distress. It was a heartiness, and a warmth, and a sincerity which Anne delighted in the more, from the sad want of such blessings at home. She was entreated to give them as much of her time as possible, invited for every day and all day long, or rather claimed as part of the family; and, in return, she naturally fell into all her wonted ways of attention and assistance…” pg. 216

“The visitors took their leave; and Charles, having civilly seen them off, and then made a face at them, and abused them for coming…” pg. 218

“Don't talk to me about heirs and representatives,” cried Charles. “I am not one of those who neglect the reigning power to bow to the rising sun. If I would not go for the sake of your father, I should think it scandalous to go for the sake of his heir. What is Mr Elliot to me?” The careless expression was life to Anne, who saw that Captain Wentworth was all attention, looking and listening with his whole soul; and that the last words brought his enquiring eyes from Charles to herself.” pg. 219

“Anne felt truly obliged to her for such kindness; and quite as much so for the opportunity it gave her of decidedly saying— “If it depended only on my inclination, ma'am, the party at home (excepting on Mary's account) would not be the smallest impediment. I have no pleasure in the sort of meeting, and should be too happy to change it for a play, and with you. But, it had better not be attempted, perhaps.” She had spoken it; but she trembled when it was done, conscious that her words were listened to, and daring not even to try to observe their effect.” pg. 220

“Captain Wentworth left his seat, and walked to the fire-place; probably for the sake of walking away from it soon afterwards, and taking a station, with less bare-faced design, by Anne.” pg. 220

“Whether he would have proceeded farther was left to Anne's imagination to ponder over in a calmer hour; for while still hearing the sounds he had uttered, she was startled to other subjects by Henrietta, eager to make use of the present leisure for getting out, and calling on her companions to lose no time, lest somebody else should come in. 

“They were obliged to move. Anne talked of being perfectly ready, and tried to look it; but she felt that could Henrietta have known the regret and reluctance of her heart in quitting that chair, in preparing to quit the room, she would have found, in all her own sensations for her cousin, in the very security of his affection, wherewith to pity her.” pg. 221

“The comfort, the freedom, the gaiety of the room was over, hushed into cold composure, determined silence, or insipid talk, to meet the heartless elegance of her father and sister. How mortifying to feel that it was so! 

“Her jealous eye was satisfied in one particular. Captain Wentworth was acknowledged again by each, by Elizabeth more graciously than before. She even addressed him once, and looked at him more than once. Elizabeth was, in fact, revolving a great measure. The sequel explained it. …The truth was, that Elizabeth had been long enough in Bath to understand the importance of a man of such an air and appearance as his. The past was nothing. The present was that Captain Wentworth would move about well in her drawing-room.” pg. 221-222

“Anne caught his eye, saw his cheeks glow, and his mouth form itself into a momentary expression of contempt, and turned away, that she might neither see nor hear more to vex her.” pg. 222

“…They were reckoning him as certain, but with her it was a gnawing solicitude never appeased for five minutes together. She generally thought he would come, because she generally thought he ought; but it was a case which she could not so shape into any positive act of duty or discretion, as inevitably to defy the suggestions of very opposite feelings.” pg. 223

Possible discussion question/s:

~ It says: “Elizabeth was, for a short time, suffering a good deal. She felt that Mrs Musgrove and all her party ought to be asked to dine with them; but she could not bear to have the difference of style, the reduction of servants, which a dinner must betray, witnessed by those who had been always so inferior to the Elliots of Kellynch. It was a struggle between propriety and vanity; but vanity got the better, and then Elizabeth was happy again.” 

In a way, Elizabeth is given a final chance to change in this chapter—and she turns it down. Later she shows a bit of change by inviting Captain Wentworth, but even then it’s not a heart change so much as wanting to have him fit tidily into the new, nice, spick-and-span world she’s constructing. Anne (while living actively and readying herself to be proactive) isn't trying to construct the world around her. 

Do you see this as a strong contrast between them?