Books: Persuasion by Jane Austen (Chapters XIII–XVIII)

So after all that fuss at Lyme over Louisa Musgrove's fall and head injury, Anne eventually returns to Kellynch to stay with Lady Russell until it is time to go on to Bath to meet up with her father and older sister. (You'll remember them as Sir Walter and Elizabeth.) And the somewhat awful widow Mrs. Clay continues to hang on to Elizabeth and, by extension, Sir Walter as well.

In Bath, Anne begins a formal acquaintance with that Mr. Elliot, her cousin and Sir Walter's heir, the one she twice passed so briefly in Lyme. Mr. Elliot, it seems, has attached himself to Sir Walter's household and has been forgiven for past slights which have been explained away as misunderstandings and foolish, youthful follies. Lady Russell has it in mind that once Mr. Elliot's formal mourning for his wife is over, he will make a play for Anne to be the next Lady Elliot. And while there is some comfort in the idea to Anne—of being what her mother once was, lady of Kellynch Hall, secure in her home and place—she cannot bring herself to entirely like or trust Mr. Elliot. It's almost as if his manners are too pretty. Anne finds the fact that everyone likes him a mark of dishonesty; that is to say, if everyone likes Mr. Elliot, it must mean he works to ingratiate himself to all, and is therefore not entirely sincere or honest about his true feelings about things (assuming he knows himself how he does feel). And Anne has seen Mr. Elliot speak ill of Mrs. Clay behind Mrs. Clay's back.

Also in Bath is a Mrs. Smith, now a impoverished widow but once a great friend of Anne's when Anne was away at school; they strike up a new friendship. And Lady Dalrymple, cousin of Sir Walter, whose favor Sir Walter and Elizabeth seek. Sir Walter is singularly focused on people's looks and rank; he goes on about how unattractive are so many of the people at Bath.

Then Admiral and Mrs. Croft—those who have been renting Kellynch Hall—also come to Bath because of the Admiral's gout. They bring with them letters from Mary to Anne that say Louisa is engaged to Captain Benwick! And when Anne meets with Admiral Croft one day, he talks to her about the engagement and how surprised he and Mrs. Croft were that Louisa and Frederick had not ended up engaged instead. But Anne is forced to admit (to herself, never aloud!) that she is oddly happy to hear that Frederick Wentworth is not attached . . .

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