Have I mentioned yet how much I freaking love my book club's pick this month, Jane Austen's Persuasion?! I love, love, LOVE it!
Right now, I've just finished up chapter four, which tells the tale of Wentworth and Anne. And ohmygoodness! ALL THE SWOONS! ALL THE SADNESS!
When they met, Wentworth had not yet established himself in a successful career in the military. Despite that, he is described as "a remarkably fine young man, with a great deal of intelligence, spirit, and brilliancy." Anne, at the time, was "an extremely pretty girl, with gentleness, modesty, taste, and feeling." The two gradually were introduced to each other, and immediately fell deeply in love.
"Half the sum of attraction, on either side, might have been enough, for he had nothing to do, and she had hardly anybody to love; but the encounter of such lavish recommendations could not fail."
He proposed, and she happily accepted.
But all was not bliss for long. Sir Walter, while not outright stating his refusal, was cold, silent, and flatly said he would do nothing for his daughter when she entered such a degrading match. Lady Russell, feeling it her duty as a mother-figure and mentor, strongly opposed the engagement. She felt Anne much too young to throw herself away on such a gamble of a man. After all, Wentworth had no family or fortune, and even though he was confident he would quickly rise through the ranks and find success in the navy, Lady Russell viewed his confidence, passion, and daring as a danger that must be mitigated at all costs.
Under the pressure of such disapproval, Anne caved. She could withstand her father's displeasure, but not the wise and loving negative opinion of Lady Russell. Anne was persuaded to think the engagement was imprudent, and incapable of success. Not only that, she truly felt that it was in Wentworth's best interest for her to call off their attachment.
Wentworth was devastated. He was angry that Anne felt forced to give him up, and quickly left the country in pain and resentment.
Anne's broken heart over the ordeal stole her youth, good looks, and spirit. In the seven years that passed, no man compared in her mind to the dashing fellow she let go.
At one point, Charles Musgrove asked her to marry him. It would have been an excellent match- his property and importance in the area was second only to Sir Walter's, but Anne refused. He was no Wentworth. Instead, Musgrove married her younger sister, Mary. Lady Russell was distressed at Anne's refusal, but even her advice could not sway Anne. Now Lady Russell worried that Anne might never marry.
Though it was never discussed, Anne felt very differently now than she did at nineteen, when she allowed her friend's influence to alter the course of her life. She did not blame Lady Russell, or even herself for having listened to her, but she did sincerely feel that she would have been much happier had she maintained the engagement, even if delays and disappointments had transpired.
Wentworth, in this time, had achieved everything he claimed he would and more. Anne gathered through the navy lists and newspapers that he was quite successful, rich, and unmarried.
Now, with his sister coming to stay at Kellynch Hall, all of Anne's emotions are stirred up. She takes comfort in the fact that the only ones who know, or remember, the details of the history are herself, Wentworth, and Lady Russell, and she feels confident that little awkwardness should arise.
My overall impressions from this chapter include feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness. One, I'm pissed at Sir Walter and Lady Russell for forcing Anne to break up with Wentworth. But then again, I'm ticked at Anne for giving up her love so easily. I can understand wanting to respect one's elders and take good advice, but if he were really that important to her, how could she send him away? I wish Austen explained more about how Anne felt it was in Wentworth's best interests if she ended things with him. That might give a better explanation as to how on earth she could give up on her love. Maybe this is just an area where I can relate, and that's why I'm feeling so emotional over the whole thing, but Sir Walter and Lady Russell are most definitely on my shiz list. Whether or not they can redeem themselves remains to be seen.
Also, I love Wentworth! I know I haven't been formerly introduced to him yet, but he sounds so confident, optimistic, brave, passionate, and sexy! *sigh* *swoon* It hurts that I know he had his heart stomped on by Anne, and I hate that Anne is STILL broken up about it. Such a sad, sadday.
Chapter four was definitely all about swoons and sadness.
What do y'all think? What were your thoughts on this portion of the book?
As always, happy reading, everyone!