Persuasion Summary

The story describes the fate of one generation of the Elliots - a noble family that was once rich and famous but now lost all its wealth and influence, but not their pride. Even the beginning of the story recites the favourite book of the family patriarch, Sir Walter Elliot, named The Baronetcy. Sir Walter is a widower for more than fourteen years. His wife, a noble lady, gave birth to their three daughters: Elizabeth, Anne and Mary, before passing away. It is unusual for noble families but the youngest daughter, Mary, married first and has her own children already. Now she is Mrs. Musgrove, the wife of Charles Musgrove who lives in the neighboring mansion. Elizabeth and Anne remain single because their family denies everyone who, to their opinion, is not worth such noble young ladies.

After the death of his wife Sir Walter immersed himself in luxury. He lived a very high-class life with all possible comfort, preferring to ignore his diminishing finances. But now he can just pretend that he is as wealthy as he was before. The family soon can literally start to starve. Still, Sir Walter doesn’t look into his own pockets until Lady Russell - a friend and advisor of the family, so old and trusted that she is allowed to say even most unpleasant things - calls him out for it. She insists in him cutting his expenses immediately. Sir Walter is shocked. He will never allow his family live like the mere commoners! But the laws of economics are deaf to his pleas, so he decides to lease out his huge and lavish mansion named Kellynch Hall and move with the whole family to smaller town of Bath. In Bath it is much easier to maintain the same level of luxury and the money from renting the mansion shall be enough to do this.

Very soon Sir Walter receives a note from the family wishing to rent Kellynch Hall. They are not so noble and their family isn’t ancient, but they are definitely rich. Admiral Croft and Mrs.Croft seem to be decent people, despite Walter’s superstitions about the Navy (he thinks that all the captains are people of low birth who suddenly got plenty of money but no aristocratic honor and manners). Relieved, Sir Walter rents a mansion… but then the situation turns really embarrassing. Though Mr. and Mrs. Croft are strangers, Anne is very glad to see them. The thing is that the brother of Mrs. Croft is familiar to her. His name is Captain Frederick Wentworth. Once Anne was madly in love with him, and it was mutual. They got engaged, but almost before their wedding Lady Russell, prudish and cautious, persuaded Anne that Captain Wentworth isn’t a suitable husband for her. During that time he wasn’t rich at all and everything he could offer to Anne was his love. After thinking in over, Anne with a heavy heart gave up under pressure of her family and Lady Russell. The engagement was broken, to Wentworth’s shame. But now, seeing that the Crofts became rich, Anne hopes that Wentworth earned his fortune also and now he can be a decent husband for her. She decides to wait until he visits his sister in her new house and talk to him.

Sir Walter, Elizabeth and Mrs. Clay - another family friend (miraculously, the Elliots befriended someone not as noble as they!) depart to their new home in Bath. At first Anne stays with Lady Russell, but when her desire to be close to her house becomes too obvious and she needs a more plausible cover, the woman suddenly decides to visit her sister Mary and stay with her for a couple of months. Mary is quite depressed and constantly complains about her miserable life (which is, to be honest, not so miserable at all), but Anne is patient and kind. She wants to stay with Mary as long as possible, hoping to see Captain Wentworth. Gradually Anne becomes involved in the life of Uppercross Cottage and her sister’s family. Mary’s children - Henrietta and Louisa - are adorable, Charles and Mary are hospitable and interesting to be with and they clearly go along very well. It is nothing like prudish and cold Kellynch Hall.

Soon she learns that her plan succeeded. Captain Wentworth indeed returned from his sea mission and came to her former home to stay with his sister for a while. Moreover, he befriended Charles Musgrove and now he is going to pay a visit to him. Anne is very anxious and worried about this meeting, she prepares thoroughly - but now his attitude to her is coldly polite. Surprisingly, he didn’t forget and didn’t forgive Anne dumping him before the very wedding. He gladly spends time with Musgroves and pays a lot of attention to Henrietta and Louisa, but it seems that his love to Anne is long dead.

Once Captain Wentworth offers everyone to go to the short trip to visit the family of Harvilles - the head of the family is also a captain and a good friend of Frederick. They live in the Lyme village in a peaceful house near the seashore and are cheerful, simple and hospitable people. Another their guest is Captain Benwick. He lost his fiancee not so long ago and is still deeply depressed because of her death. He usually doesn’t socialize a lot, soothing himself with reading and reciting the sad poetry about loss, death and love.

They all spend some wonderful time together. Even Benwick is warmed up to Anne when he learns that she have read some of his favourite poems and can discuss them. But the fun is suddenly over in a darkest way possible. Louisa, who is trying her abilities to flirt, decides to jump from the staircase into the arms of Captain Wentworth. The man fails to catch her and the poor girl hits her head very hard. Everyone is shocked and Anne is the only one who manages to overcome her horror and aid Louisa. It appears her injury isn’t fatal, but still she has to stay in bed for long. She can’t be transferred home right now and has to be left in Harvilles’ home. Captain Wentworth blames himself for letting it happen and stays with Louisa and the Harvilles to help them nurse the girl back to health. Mary and the rest of her family return home and soon Anne leaves her, returning to Lady Russell again.

Before Christmas, Lady Russell decides that it would be proper for a young lady to spend the holidays with her family. She sends her away to Bath, disregarding Anne’s own wishes. The woman joins the rest of the family and, despite her bad mood, the holidays are really enjoyable. In Bath she meets another young man, William Elliot, her distant relative. But that’s strange because the two branches of Elliot family aren’t going along very well. It seems that William came to apologize because he needs something from Sir Walter. Anne is polite enough to keep silent about it, but her attitude to her cousin is quite cold without any visible reason. William, on the contrary, is seemingly interested in Anne. He is excessively attentive to all her needs and too flirtatious for a cousin. Soon it becomes obvious that his persistent advances are clearly romantic and there are gossips in the town already about the two being engaged. Anne is again the last to hear them.

Anne gets a message from Mary. Young Louisa is going to marry… but to her greatest relief, not Captain Wentworth. While lying ill, Louisa studied poetry a lot and the neighboring poetry lover spent more and more time with her, discussing it, until Captain Benwick shockingly realized that his soul wound is finally healed and his heart is filled with the new love. So the flirt of Captain Wentworth and Louise was just a game to make her feel jealous? Or is she just lying to herself, pretending that he still feels something towards her?

This question becomes more acute when she suddenly meets him while going shopping with Elizabeth and Mrs. Clay. It looks like a pure accident, but what he is doing here, in Bath? Anne soon stops thinking about it, dedicating her days to exploring her new hometown. She meets her old school friend, Mrs. Smith. She has also widowed recently and now lives at the brink of poverty. Nevertheless the two women are very glad to see each other. But when they exchange the latest gossips, Anne learns a very unpleasant truth about William Elliot. Once Mrs. Smith loved him and he horribly mistreated and left her. He is very cold and calculating and it is unlikely that he is capable of genuine love.

Thinking about it a bit longer, Anne understands the cunning plan. William is the only man in her generation now, so, by reconciling the two branches and being sweet, he restores himself as a heir to Kellynch Hall. But if Sir Walter marries Mrs. Clay (as William seemingly jokingly supposed) and she gives birth to a son, William will not inherit anything that belongs to Sir Walter. So he decided to marry Anne to preserve his chances to inherit the mansion.

Disgusted, Anne returns home. Now she has a powerful reason to decline his advances - his affair with Mrs. Smith and his attitude to her. Soon she discovers, why Wentworth is in Bath: all the Crofts family came to congratulate the Elliots with two engagements: Henrietta’s with her cousin and Louisa’s with Captain Benwick. So Frederick is just coming with them. Now Captain Wentworth is rich enough to be invited by Sir Walter personally, and the reputation of the rest of his family shields him from the Elliots’ family prejudice against Navy officers.

Anne meets him several times more: at the street, in the theatre - and notices that he is not at all indifferent to her. The unresolved tension between the two grows and finally, after the countless hints from Anne’s side, Captain Wentworth writes her a letter, full of anger, passion and love simultaneously, where he expresses that he always was and will be devoted and faithful to her and is madly jealous, because Anne is so friendly with William Elliot. After reading the letter, Anne meets him again, on the street, completely accidentally - but they finally have a talk and forgive each other. Soon they become engaged again, this time fully determined to make it and get married.

After Sir Walter and even Lady Russell approve this engagement, admitting that Captain Wentworth is a perfectly suitable husband for an Elliot lady, and tearful reconciliation between everyone involved, the families notice that Walter Elliot left Bath together with Mr. Clay. Seeing that his plan failed he decided to use a backup one, taking away the possible love interest of Sir Walter. Now he thinks that his right to inherit Kellynch Hall is secured. But no one cares.