Persuasion is the last completed novel by Jane Austen and it was published posthumously in 1818. Readers have often connected Persuasion with Northanger Abbey as the setting of both stories is in Bath, a highly fashionable health resort with which the author was well acquainted. Another interesting point to note is that the title of ‘Persuasion’ was probably not envisioned by Jane but by her brother or sister. Another theory is that her two siblings had a great role in choosing the title of the story.
Persuasion opens with a brief spotlight on the Elliot family. The reader gets to know that the Elliots are a well-respected family who are landowners. Lady Elliot died a long time ago leaving behind her three daughters - Anne, Elizabeth & Mary (married). Due to mounting debts, Sir Walter decided to move to a house in Bath with far less comforts. They were lucky to find tenants for their home as Admiral & Mrs. Croft were well-mannered people from the Navy. Anne is very excited to see Mrs. Croft as she is the sister of the man whom she loves dearly. But to understand the situation we need to go back 8 years when he she was happy to be betrothed to Frederick Wentworth, a naval officer. However, Anne broke off the engagement when she was persuaded to think that the match was unworthy by the widow Lady Russell, her mother’s friend. Anne felt deep regret as a result of this decision and Wentworth too was bitter after seeing the unwanted interference of Lady Russell and the lack of fortitude on the part of Anne.
Wentworth has now returned from the sea as a rich and successful captain and finds that Anne and her family are on the verge of a financial breakdown. He is also intrigued by the fact that his own sister is actually a tenant in the Elliot estate - Kellynch Hall. The tension of the story revolves around one pertinent question - will Wentworth be re-united in love?
Readers of Persuasion will realize that even in her final work, Jane Austen has successfully managed to implement her skill for delicate observations on various social customs, love, marriage and the much touted English morals and manners.