Persuasion by Jane Austen: Chapters 16-20

I have to say that I am enjoying this book. It moves fairly slowly, especially to today’s standards, but the characters are fairly well developed, and there are surprises in the plot. It actually has a bit of a plot, too, kind of.

So Anne is in Bath with her family, and she doesn’t like it much. Anne’s dad seems way too close to this nobody, Mrs. Clay (widow). Anne has pride in her own way. She doesn’t feel like she deserves special treatment, but she doesn’t think her family should grovel at the feet of some higher ranked cousins just to gain their favor.

She’s been visiting an old friend from school who’s now a poor invalid widow (there seem to be a lot of widowed people in this book).

And in the romance front, Benwick has been taken–he’s proposed to Louisa. So that means that Frederick is available again. Mr. Elliot is very interested in her–creepily interested on a kind of stalker level, and luckily Anne is creeped out by him as well. Her reasoning is different than mine (he’s her cousin). She finds him “too agreeable,” which given his history with their family–earlier completely blowing them off–it seems like he’s hiding something. I totally get that because I feel really uncomfortable around too friendly, too nice people. I don’t believe anyone can really be nice all the time, and when I encounter such people (as in searching for new churches after my move here) I cringe away. They’re like pod people. They need to show all of their sides for me to really feel comfortable–they need to act normal, not try to put on this touchy-feely, super nice front. It’s like when you read a book and the character seems too perfect to be real, so you don’t like them but when you read a book about a violent jerk you love him (Alex in Clockwork Orange) Plus, I don’t like being touched. I especially don’t like being hugged by strangers. (I did not find a church here, by the way, and it’s been 6 years–I have stopped looking).

So Anne does not like Mr. Elliot and wishes he would either leave her alone or be genuine. Unfortunately, Frederick has seen them together and seems jealous, and though they were close for one half a scene, he has detached from her again. The square has shrunken to a triangle, but it’s a more complicated triangle.

We’ll just have to see what the next five chapters brings.

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