Persuasion – Jane Austen

Anne Elliot, is the middle daughter of Sir Walter and Lady Elliott. When she falls in love with Frederick Wentworth a young naval officer, her father and elder sister, Elizabeth along with a long standing family friend Lady Russell do not think it is an engagement to be encouraged, he is not a man of position, status or money and listening to their advice is persuaded to break it off with him. Some seven years later their paths cross again as Wentworth now having made his fortune and promoted to Captain comes to stay with his sister at Kellynch Hall. the home Anne Elliott’s father has had to rent out because of his lack of financial knowledge and his extravagance in trying to maintain some sort of face amongst polite society and actively encouraged by his elder daughter Elizabeth.

Although Wentworth seems to have not forgiven Anne for her untimely break up of their relationship, they are forced together in many situations through friends, neighbours and acquaintances.

Anne is to spend time with her younger sister Mary, the only one married of the daughters whilst her elder sister and father move to Bath. Mary Musgrove is a delightful character and I loved her for her silly ways. She often feigns illness to grab attention and ensures that if there is something going on at the neighbouring estate which her husband will inherit she is fully apart of it. Headaches and illness can be suddenly forgotten if there is fear of not being the centre of everything. Only Anne can seem to temper Mary and cure sudden bouts of illness or borderline hysteria.

Whilst with her sister, she is acquainted with her sisters in-laws the Musgroves and in particular the two young sister Henrietta and Louisa. With these women she sees what perhaps she is missing. When both their attention is drawn to Captain Wentworth, there is speculation on which will persuade Wentworth to choose. It seems to be Henrietta although she is promised to cousin Charles Hayter a clergyman but it could just be Louisa. Who when on a days outing to Lyme (Regis) behaviours becomes excitable that she falls and suffers concussion when in Wentworth’s company. Believed to be dead by the hysterics of others Anne Elliott steps in and asks for someone to seek help whilst she administers some sort of first aid.

The resulting actions, mean despite Wentworth’s guilt for what has befallen Louisa, the strength of character of Anne is suddenly uppermost in his mind. Louisa remains at Lyme where she has a slow recovery which has somewhat changed her outgoing exuberant personality to one of quiet reflection and she is soon engaged to Wentworth’s old friend Captain Benwick who lives in quiet reflection.

Anne eventually joins her father, Sir Walter and her sister Elizabeth in Bath along with Mrs Clay a companion of Elizabeth who seems to have an ulterior motive for this burgeoning friendship. In Bath they are all joined by William Elliot, the heir to Kellynch Hall. Anne dislikes and does not trust him. Elizabeth thinks he is going to propose. Lady Russell is sure that he is after Anne and persuades her as such but Anne has started to find her own conclusions. Anne’s fears are confirmed when she meets up with a school friend Mrs Smith, recently widowed, ill and in financial difficulty who was once friends with Mr Elliott and now since her circumstances have vastly changed is no longer considered in favour.

When the Musgrove’s arrive in Bath, all three sisters are reunited and all three could not be more different and it is shown at the small evening gathering that Sir Walter holds in less than perfect surroundings. Having gained courage Captain Wentworth writes Anne a beautiful letter and with only the persuasion of her own heart and head she accepts that they be re-engaged. Ironically now fortune has changed for them all, Wentworth is accepted into the family.

This is the first Austen I have read (I hang my head in shame at this point) as a voracious reader I berate myself frequently for not having read more of what I call the classics. As television fodder they were part of growing up and still watch to this day any ‘classic’ which is adapted for the small and big screen. 

Seeing something which could help focus me to read such a book I was inspired by Book Snob and her read-along so I thought I would take the plunge and get stuck in. Now I am berating myself for not having done it sooner! I confess to having read the book before the start date because I was hooked so quickly! I am going to hopefully do a few more posts about Persuasion as there is much more I want to say about how this book struck me.