Masterpiece Theatre's production of Persuasion

I had a great weekend. I attended a wonderful birthday celebration on Friday, volunteered at the NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday, and invested in some super-cool running shoes on Sunday.

But the highlight of my weekend, which has been building up since my last post, was watching the new Masterpiece Theatre production of Jane Austen's Persuasion. It was a very enjoyable. The character portrayals were stellar and the script, costumes and settings were solid. It effectively captured the spirit of Jane Austen's final, completed work. Most of all, I think this production, compared to a previous BBC production I've seen, more closely depicted Anne Elliot's anxiety and distress after refusing a lover and her seeming resignation to her station as an old, spinster at 27 (!). It was a time when class, connections, and money were valued above all else--and those values were very evident in her family's pursuits and sentiments.

I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed. It even felt artificial. I think the root of the problem is that I anticipated a part 1 and 2 Persuasion saga as is common for most Masterpiece productions. So, when the time neared 1030, I was stunned that the story was rushing to conclusion. Plus, I found distressing that some of the outstanding issues (e.g., the reaction of Anne's family to Wentworth's proposal, the exposure of Mr. Elliot's true intentions, and Mrs. Clay's relationship with Sir Walter Elliot) weren't completely resolved during the 1.5 hour show. See Robert Bianco's USA Today article for other significant flaws in the production that most Jane Austen purest would abhor.

Anyway, I checked Persuasion out of the library on Sunday, so that I can revisit the story this week. I hope that rereading the novel will remind me of my own interpretation of the story to contrast that of the BBC's production.

Next up is Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, another story that I enjoy but that also makes me very anxious. I am so happy that I don't live during that time period as a woman's station was so limited by marriage and money. But, perhaps if I hadn't grown up in a post-feminist world, I wouldn't have known of my "plight." Then again, as a "light-skinned" African American woman, I probably would have been limited further. In fact, my career goal probably would have been to become a servant in the Big House, in addition to running an efficient household with ten kids of my own. Gosh, how much things have changed in just a few generations. Thank God, things have changed—though not entirely.

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