The letter that Captain Wentworth writes to Anne declaring his love ‘For you alone I think and plan’ is so moving that I’ve overlooked something else in the final pages. Austen envisions a life for her characters beyond the end of the novel. She doesn’t hold out much hope for the chilly and elegant Elizabeth:
‘It would be well for the eldest sister if she were equally satisfied with her situation, for a change is not very probable there.’ Persuasion, Jane Austen
The artful Mrs Clay who absconds with Mr Elliot has either been ruined by him or is about to make him her husband and Austen leaves us guessing whether 'his cunning or hers, may finally carry the day.’
Mrs. Bingley's is exactly herself--size, shaped face, features, and sweetness; there never was a greater likeness. She is dressed in a white gown, with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I had always supposed, that green was a favourite colour with her. I dare say Mrs. D. will be in yellow. Jane Austen 1813
I hadn’t noticed that Austen extends the character’s lives beyond the end of the novel in Persuasion before, but then, she was a novelist ahead of her time.Like a lot of book bloggers I’m not buying many new books this year or scouring Waterstones and Amazon for new novels to read. Sometimes, the very finest writing is already sitting on your shelves!