This book, one of the six completed by Jane Austen, was published in 1818, after Jane’s death. It is the story of the Eliot family, much of which is not nearly as talented and smart as it thinks it is, and of what happens to gentry in that state – they lose their money, their home – but not always their status, because if they continue to say they are great, most folk seem to believe them. And those who don’t probably don’t see the point in undressing that emperor. Ah, well – that continues even today.
The only reason I bring it up is that Anne Eliot, the one member of the family not a social climber, and who actually has redeeming social value, is our heroine – and is looked down on and devalued by a fair number of her own family. She is pushed away from the love of her life, and pushed toward men who have no way to comprehend who she is, only that she will have an inheritance.
Luckily, that original love – from whom she was pushed away – is back on the scene, now rich and successful: Frederick Wentworth. Much of this book is about Jane’s views on marriage – marry only for love is her motto, and the social constrictions on women. It also has deep lessons on speaking up and out, not waiting on others; on being clear and direct as much as possible; and on having your own life, not someone else’s. Although those reading this in the 1800s may not have taken these lessons from the book.
Once Jane has the lovers back in love, she rushes on to the end – which I have noticed is a habit of hers. I would not have minded a few more long walks, more head on the shoulder time. But once Jane got them paired off, she wrapped up a few loose ends and was done. So I had to imagine the rest – which is also one of the characteristics of a great book, is it not? Aaaaaahhhhhh.
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has all the Jane Austen books – but most of them seem to be in large print, which makes them big, awkward and gawky. And many pages longer and heavier. Seems odd to me. But the books are terrific, and so we readers just deal with them.