Welcome to Day 11 of the Persuasion and Prayers Read-Along! You can follow along on this three-week discussion of Persuasion and The Prayers of Jane Austen by checking out the read-along tag or by clicking the button in the sidebar.
Today we're going to discuss chapters 17 and 18 of Persuasion. If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts below! Otherwise, feel free to check in later today after you've had a chance to read today's chapters. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!
P.S. If you're a blogger, please feel free to put together your own post using the button above and linking back to the Persuasion and Prayers Read-Along tag, if you'd prefer to participate in the discussion that way. :)
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Persuasion Chapters 17 and 18
Discussion Format: One quote to ponder, one observation, and one question for each day's reading.
Quote to Ponder
"Here was that elasticity of mind, that disposition to be comforted, that power of turning readily from evil to good, and of finding employment which carried her out of herself, which was from nature alone. It was the choicest gift of Heaven" (emphasis added).
[This is another chapter with a wealth of noteworthy quotes. Had to share some of my other favorites below!]
"Hers is a line for seeing human nature; and she has a fund of good sense and observation, which, as a companion, make her infinitely superior to thousands of those who having only received 'the best education in the world,' know nothing worth attending to." - Mrs. Smith
"There are so many who forget to think seriously till it is almost too late." - Mrs. Smith
"She [Anne] prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped."
"There, take my arm; that's right; I do not feel comfortable if I have not a woman there." - Admiral Croft
[Ah, Admiral Croft...that charmer! Doesn't it seem like Austen must have had a wonderful time creating the Admiral and his wife? I bet she simply fell in love with them!]
"Do not you think, Miss Elliot, we had better try to get him [Captain Wentworth] to Bath?" - Admiral Croft
[My response? Um, hello - yes!!!]
At the beginning of chapter 18, it is said of the Crofts that "they were people whom her [Anne's] heart turned to very naturally."
One point that seems so sweetly featured in these two chapters is that the company we choose to keep - and the company we're drawn to - can say quite a bit about our own character. While Anne's father and sister disdain her for choosing a poor widow's company over their wealthy and high-class connections, it's Anne's friends who have so much wisdom and admirable examples and kindness to impart to her. And Anne is the better for it! Even though Mr. Elliot's intentions are in question, I think he got it right when he considered Anne "a most extraordinary woman; in her temper, manners, mind, a model of female excellence."
I loved the scenes in this chapter with Mrs. Smith and with Admiral Croft. Mrs. Smith's attitude is so inspiring! I was thinking today about singleness (bear with me; I'm going somewhere with this!). I suppose bridal showers will do that to a girl, even if she's happy for the bride-to-be and glad to be a part of the festivities. :) I decided that one of the hardest things about being single is the feeling of missing out on a rite of passage. And unlike natural rites of passage (like growing into womanhood) or ones you can earn (like getting your education), this particular rite is one you have no real control over. And sometimes it's just so darn hard to accept that and to not feel left out or unwanted!
But here in this book is Mrs. Smith, someone almost entirely cast aside through circumstances beyond her control. Anne lists the poor woman's hardships: she lost the man she loved and also her respected position in society all at once; she lost her wealth; she has no children to care for her; she lives in a small and dismal residence; she needs help getting from one room to the other; she can hardly do anything for herself. And yet Anne observes that Mrs. Smith "had moments only of languor and depression" vs. "hours of occupation and enjoyment."
It puzzles Anne, who determines to understand it. She comes to the conclusion that it is a part of Mrs. Smith's very character, "that power of turning readily from evil to good."
I'd like to add, if I may, that perhaps that power isn't just something that you have or don't have, and that's the end of it. While I believe it might be harder for some personalities more than others to seek the positive, the power to do it lies with the God, through whom we "can do all things" (Philippians 4:13).
And one of the other interesting things about Anne's observation? She refers to Mrs. Smith's "elasticity of mind." That phrase, coupled with the "moments only of languor and depression" paint a picture of honest struggles. Yes, "evil" and depressing thoughts come to us all, especially when circumstances are painful. But it's the "elasticity" - the choice to quickly switch gears and focus on the good - that we need. (Not negating time for grieving or honestly pouring out our hearts, of course! As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, there is "a time to every purpose under the heaven." I'm just speaking of the general tendency of our thoughts.)
May God more and more often bring to mind the truth that "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). I know I can learn a lot from the example of Anne's friend! I would do well to accept what Anne calls "the choicest gift of Heaven." :)
Who is your favorite character in the story so far, and what is it that you love most about him or her? What can you learn from that character?
Don't forget to log your giveaway entries this week using the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win a hardcover copy of The Prayers of Jane Austen!
(Giveaway open to US residents only. Prize donated by the book's editor, Terry Glaspey. Thanks, Terry!)
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Which quote to ponder, observation, and question/response would you like to share?
Join us tomorrow to discuss chapters 19 and 20!
Join us tomorrow to discuss chapters 19 and 20!