Persuasion is Jane Austen’s last completed novel. She began it soon after she had finished Emma and completed it in August 1816. More than eight years before the novel opens, Anne Elliot, then a lovely, thoughtful, warm-hearted 19-year old, accepted a proposal of marriage from the handsome young naval officer Frederick Wentworth. He was clever, confident, and ambitious, but poor and with no particular family connections to recommend him. Sir Walter, Anne’s fatuous, snobbish father and her equally 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. Her older friend and mentor, Lady Russell, acting in place of Anne’s late mother, persuaded her to break the engagement, for she, too, felt it was an imprudent match that was beneath Anne. 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.
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