This read-along is hosted by Heidi at Literary Adventures Along the Brandywine.
Book II - Chapters 1 to 6
Well, well, well. Wentworth appears frantic about Louisa's condition and will barely leave Lyme, where she is convalescing. Anne, however, has returned home to meet Lady Russell who has arrived from Bath. Charles and Mary finally return from Lyme and Charles announces that he believe Captain Benwick has a fondness for Anne and hints at the possibility of a visit, yet it does not materialize. Lady Russell and Anne travel to Bath, though Anne's enthusiasm for the trip and new lodging is tepid. A warm welcome from her father and sister, surprises her, and she learns that their cousin, Mr. Eliot has been introduced and is a frequent visitor to the house in Camden-place. Mrs. Clay, daughter of the solicitor and Elizabeth's companion, worries Anne, in case her father is considering a new wife, yet she is pleased with the manners of Mr. Eliot, though eventually decides that he appears too proper and passionless for her tastes. A renewed acquaintance with her old governess, once made wealthy by marriage and now poor by widowhood, is a pleasure to Anne but a horror to her family, though Lady Russell supports her visits. An unexpected and astonishing letter arrives from Mary declaring that Louisa is engaged to Captain Benwick and Anne is pleased, although she muses as to their attraction to each other. Mr. Croft declares that Captain Wentworth has been visiting friends too long and must come to Bath. Will he? And what delights or sorrows will his arrival bring?
Thoughts: Okay, there are a number of loose ends in the narrative so far. Louisa's impending marriage to Captain Benwick for one; what does it do, other than give us a possible suitor for Anne for a period of time, and allow musings on how suffering can improve one's character? Interesting musings, but not particularly tied to the plot, or at least not obviously. And what about her governess? Again where are the threads joined to the plot? It shows Anne's goodness, but as yet, nothing else. And something must happen that involves Mrs. Clay or I'll be astonished. So far she has hovered outside the action, yet Anne has suspicions towards her designs on her father. Will Anne have to step in with some clever strategy to save her father from this devious woman?
I'm quite enjoying the examination of the different aspects of society, from the haves to the have-nots. The perceptions of people and their treatment of others, depending on their social class, is particularly illuminating.
And I'm still fascinated by the way Austen handles Anne Elliot. We continually see her, not necessarily through self-examination and personal actions, but through the perceptions of others and her actions towards them. I'm still mulling over whether this unusual characterization is purposeful or not. Does it add to her personality of retiring shyness and quiet nobility? Or is it employed to make a commentary on the society of the time? As English society grew and metamorphosed, were people seen less as individuals and more as a collective, almost wholly viewed and constructed through the eyes of others?
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