Half Agony, Half Hope

This week, YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday poses an excellent question: 

What is your favorite literary moment?

For me, one of the strongest feelings in any love story is longing.  If the characters get together too soon, I’m bored.  They should be thinking of one another at every point, wishing like crazy that they could overcome their various circumstances and finally be together.

So there’s no contest for my favorite literary moment.  It’s when Anne Elliot discovers the letter from Captain Wentworth at the end of PERSUASION. 

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.

Just the thought of Captain Wentworth sitting there, listening to her conversation, consumed with all kinds of feelings.  Gah.  I die.  “Half agony, half hope” is possibly the most perfect summation of that kind of deep, raw, impossibly lengthy, romantic yearning.  Old Freddie may have made some super unclassy moves during the course of the novel, but that passion has been seething under the surface the whole time.  Just begging to find it’s way out.   

What are your favorite literary moments?  What’s your favorite part of a story?

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13 comments

  1. Colin Smith says:

    So is it that moment of expressed longing, or is it the moment when the longing is finally relieved? I ask because you don’t like couples getting together too quickly. Is it because it makes their final getting together much sweeter if they’ve had to battle to get there? That would be my take. Just curious. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      In this scene, it’s the final relief from longing that I love. But yes, it’s made so much sweeter when they have to struggle before they can be happy. I think it’s because, as a reader, you can really feel how far the characters have come and how much they are willing to go through to be with their person.

    • Susan says:

      Colin, please please PLEASE read Persuasion!!! It is just SO good. Many people believe it is Jane Austen at her best.

      This scene is the exact opposite of “couples getting together too quickly”!

  2. Susan says:

    Ohhh no I forgot about this one!!!!!

    Ahhhh it’s is such a close runner up to the one I picked! They’re really too different to compare, I guess.

    Lovelovelove.

    • Crystal says:

      Yeah, I considered a couple of other moments that were pretty strong, but this is literally the only book moment where I remember exactly where I was when I first read it. Sprawled across my old brown couch, wrapped in a blanket, in my old old old apartment. My husband had just come home and I was trying to make myself look as unavailable to conversation as humanly possible, lol.

  3. Jaime says:

    I love PERSUASION! I’m currently working on a YA retelling (which probably sounds cliche), but it’s so much fun. This is my favourite Austen story by far 😀

    • Crystal says:

      I think I remember seeing that mentioned on your blog. I would totally read a YA PERSUASION. I’ve read a bunch of random retellings, but I’ve toyed with the idea of bringing the story to YA as well. I think the themes are quintessentially YA. In fact, I think that pretty much all of Austen feels very YA, even if the MCs aren’t always the right age for it.

  4. Jennifer Hoffine says:

    I do love Persuasion also…a close second to P & P for me.

    I almost picked Darcy’s first declaration to Elizabeth…or, rather, her wonderfully cutting speech to him, but you’re right, it’s all the longing that comes after that is the best part.

    • Crystal says:

      PRIDE & PREJUDICE does have a lot of awesome longing moments, too. I almost convinced my husband to watch the BBC version over the weekend! He totally said he would, but we didn’t have five hours to set aside for pure, unadulterated Regency romance. Maybe this weekend!

  5. Lora says:

    Ah, longing. What a great sort of moment when two characters finally come together after longing, a battle, and after driving us as readers to distraction rooting for it to happen for them.

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