The title in itself is apt in describing the central theme of the story. Anne Elliot, daughter of Sir Elliot, belongs to a social class of higher standing. Sir Elliot, father of Anne and Miss Elizabeth Elliot, her sister, are both narcissistic and uncaring of Anne’s wishes. They are selfish and vain. They care a whole deal more about rank and status, unlike Anne. At the age of 19, Anne falls in love with a naval officer, Captain Wentworth. But because of his low social class and worth at that time, her family rejects his proposal to marry Anne and Anne is forced to give him up. But mostly, she gives him up, because her best friend, Lady Russell persuades her to do so.
Eight years later, she happens to cross paths with Captain Wentworth again. His indifference and resentment towards Anne stays and Anne resolves to suppress her own feelings which had resurfaced. She realises that even after eight long years, her love for Captain Wentworth is still very intact. While Wentworth persues other women, she strives to maintain her composure and forces herself to feel happy for him. However, a series of events unfold when her group of acquaintances, including Wentworth, visit Lyme.
There, she meets Mr. Elliot, the presumed heir of the family who slights Sir Elliot years ago and gathers his indifference. However, excessive spending and a lavish lifestyle forces Sir Elliot to rent their mansion to the Crofts at Kellynch and move to Bath where Mr. Elliot persues the family in the hope of reconciliation. As rumors spread of Mr. Elliot and Anne’s supposed marriage in future, Wentworth comes back to Bath once again and stirs old feelings in Anne.
Austen’s intellect inspired me through her writing. However, I was very unsure in the beginning because as I observed in a few instances, she stuck to a few traditional gender roles and didn’t stand up to confront them. But Anne developed as a character over time and her conversation with Captain Harville towards the end changed the whole perspective of my book. I realised that I might have been quick to judge.
The romance is subtle and the conversations so thought provoking. Austen’s way of writing women empowered me. One is bound to fall in love with the writing. The style is formal, the pacing fast and the characters brilliantly written. A few scenes towards the end actually made my heart flutter.
Anne’s relationship with Lady Russell was beautifully written and the trust she has in her predilections conveys her feelings towards Lady Russell. Having lost her mother at a young age and having a family so apathetic, Anne views Lady Russell in the form of a motherly figure. She trusts her judgement and considers her word in higher regard.
Mary was a childish and selfish character but it displayed the variety of characters Austen is capable of writing. The way Austen writes feelings touched me deeply. She describes the state of women in the society and the lifestyle they are forced into and her speeches gave me goosebumps to say the least. Overall, this book is an amazing piece of art and must be cherished by every reader.