I've been pondering the monthly prompt from The Classics Club, waiting to see if any other classic could top the one that instantly claimed first place. That hasn't happened. In fact, the more I think about it the more sure I am. There are many classics that I adore, and fewer that I'm passionate about; but there's only one that I could reread yearly and still be in love: Jane Austen's Persuasion.
What makes this book so incredibly dear to me? It's a combination of things, of course, but it boils down to how understood it makes me feel. I am not alone when I read this book. It's how Austen expresses the balance between passion and duty, it's the emphasis on the value of deep feeling and true friendship, it's the desire to be interesting and special & fearing you are not, it's the gift of hope when all hope is gone. So many observations and commiserations seen through Austen's characteristic wit make this book a perennial reread.
This is one of those books whose worth, for me, is greater than the sum of its parts. When I take apart the story individually, I don't find elements ensuring a perfect fit. There's the love story, which I think is a rather good and true one, especially considering the times, but outside my choice of genres all the same. There's the bit of intrigue with her cousin that wasn't fully developed, and there's the classic Austen abrupt ending, (which worked for me okay here, but didn't so much in her other books.) But it has that spark of literary magic - of human understanding - that speaks to me whenever I read it, and that's what it's all about.
Another classic that affects me the same way is Willa Cather's Song of the Lark. It is so much more than just a story to me. No matter how much I adore Tolstoy's philosophy or Wilde's humor, it's those deep, personal connections that make a book come out on top.