Anne Elliot, a lovely, thoughtful, warm-hearted 19-year-old, accepts a proposal of marriage from the handsome young naval officer Frederick Wentworth. Clever, confident, and ambitious, but poor and no family connections to recommend him. Sir Walter, Anne's snobbish father and her self-involved older sister Elizabeth were dissatisfied with her choice, maintaining that he was no match for an Elliot of Kellynch Hall, the family estate. Even her older friend and mentor, Lady Russell, acting in place of Anne's late mother, persuaded Anne to break the engagement, for she, too, felt it was an imprudent match that was beneath her. Now 27 and still unmarried, Anne re-encounters her former love when his sister and brother-in-law, the Crofts, take out a lease on Kellynch. But Wentworth is now a captain and wealthy from maritime victories in the Napoleonic wars, and he has not forgiven Anne for rejecting him. He publicly declares that he is ready to marry any suitable young woman who catches his fancy, he privately resolves that he is ready to become attached to any appealing young woman with the exception of Anne Elliot. Although at the time of writing Persuasion, Austen was suffering from an illness, the novel still manages to be masterfully original in several ways. The first of Austen's novels to feature as the central character a woman who, by the standards of the time, is past the first bloom of youth.
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