`All the privilege I claim for my own sex ... is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.'
Anne Elliot's heartfelt words strike the keynote of Jane Austen's last completed novel. It features a heroine older and wiser than her predecessors in earlier books, and its tone is more intimate and sober as Jane Austen unfolds a simple love-story with depth and subtlety.
She described her heroine in a letter as 'almost too good for me': Anne Elliot's goodness is not of the cloying kind, but an unsentimental quality that, combined with stoicism and integrity, enables her to find happiness in love after seven years when it seemed she had forever put an end to such a prospect.
The settings of Lyme Regis and Bath are evoked no less vividly than the characters who frequent them, and Jane Austen's achievement is exemplified by Tennyson's famous remark when visiting Lyme in 1867: 'Now take me to the Cobb, and show me the steps from which Louisa Musgrove fell.