This read-along is hosted by Heidi at Literary Adventures Along the Brandywine.
Book II – Chapters 7 to 12
Wentworth arrives in Bath without any perceptible prodding and meets Anne. Later at a concert party, they are able to engage in deeper conversation, seemingly to the pleasure of both parties. She tries to speak with him in depth again during the evening, yet Mr. Eliot, her cousin, interferes with her plans and Wentworth finally abruptly takes his leave. Anne concludes that he is jealous of Mr. Eliot.
The next day Anne meets with Mrs. Smith who is curious as to her feelings towards Mr. Eliot, whereupon Anne reveals her complete disinterest in him. Mrs. Smith proceeds to label him a cad and a bounder and tells a damaging story of how he was instrumental in ruining her dear husband and driving him to his death. Mr. Eliot had married only for money and had planned to sell Kellynch. Yet upon hearing that Mrs. Clay has designs on Sir Walter, he rushed to the family’s bosom in hopes of preventing the match and a possible future heir from stealing his inheritance.
Charles, Mary, Mrs. Musgrove, Henrietta and Captain Harville arrive in Bath and Anne spots Mr. Eliot, who should be out of town, speaking with Mrs. Clay. A mystery! While visiting with the crowd of friends and relatives, including Captain Wentworth and Mrs. Croft, Anne spots Wentworth writing a letter. Imagine her shocked surprise when she is given the letter, a love letter to her confessing his enduring love in spite of the obstacles between them. When she meets him in the street and he accompanies her home, he expresses all his passionate feelings which he has been keeping pent up.
They marry and everyone is either happy or resigned, except Mr. Eliot who runs off with Mrs. Clay and sets her up as his mistress, proving himself a despicable character. Which, of course, we all knew, whether he be called Eliot, or Wickham, or Willoughby, or Mr. Elton, or ……..?
|Lady Dalrymple & Sir Walter Eliot
source Wikimedia Commons
Thoughts: Hmm ……. Honestly, the way Austen writes, it’s hard to find fault with her, but I think this novel was certainly one of her weaker ones. I was left a little puzzled by Anne and Wentworth’s romance. Okay, so they haven’t seen each other in eight years …….. shouldn’t one at least have changed? Shouldn’t they both have changed? Does it seem wise then to brood at each other from a distance, throw out pointed comments on occasion, slyly observe and then, right at the end, have a gushing profession of undying, unchangeable love? How will they know in which ways each other has changed if they don’t talk, if they don’t spend some time together in circumstances that aren’t constrained and uncomfortable? I realize that their observation of each other told something of their present characters and I realize the emphasis was that their love for each other hasn’t changed but, honestly, is that realistic?
Mrs. Smith’s sharing of her information about Mr. Eliot also made me uncomfortable. Initially she seemed to be teasing or almost encouraging Anne to confess her favourable feelings towards him, but when Anne confesses her indifference, she lets loose with a torrent of accusations against him. I would have expected her friend to be cautionary at the beginning, if she knew so much to hold against him, but instead she appeared coy. I found Mrs. Smith’s behaviour somewhat distasteful.
Now Austen had sickened with the disease that would eventually kill her when she was writing this novel, so one doesn’t want to be too hard on her, but compared to her other novels, this one certainly didn’t measure up, but understandably, I think.
|The Royal Crescent in Bath